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Who pays taxes in California

April 14, 2010

Low-income families with children paid state income taxes in 2009 after making about $35,000, according to a new report from the California Budget Project. In 2008, a family of four didn’t pay income tax until they made more than $51,000. The change is largely due to the reduction in the size of the dependent tax credit.

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Senate Health Committee passes ban on sport drinks in schools

April 14, 2010

The Senate Health Committee has approved legislation that would ban the sale of sugar-sweetened sport drinks at California public schools during school hours.

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Prevention: insurer to pay Y to keep its customers fit

April 14, 2010

United HealthGroup is trying to act on research that shows keeping patients healthy can cut costs for everyone, including the insurance company. The firm is going to start paying the Y.M.C.A. to offer weight loss and nutrition counseling to consumers who are at risk for developing diabetes. Research has shown that losing just a few pounds can dramatically reduce the risk of an overweight person developing the disease. That weight loss is no doubt a marker for other lifestyle changes that come with a commitment to eating better and exercising. This kind of policy is likely to be more common once insurance companies shift from trying to keep risky customers out of their business to finding ways to reduce the risk that comes with accepting all comers regardless of their health condition. This story from the New York Times details the company’s initiative.

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AB 32: finances, effect on the poor and minorities

April 14, 2010

Two reports due today will shed light on different parts of the plan to implement AB 32 — California’s law to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

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Bill would restrict drug company marketing practice

April 13, 2010

Legislation that would restrict the ability of drug companies to gather and use information about the prescribing habits of individual doctors is scheduled for a hearing today in the Assembly Health Committee. The bill, by committee chairman William Monning, would prohibit anyone from selling or releasing physician prescribing information for marketing purposes.

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Governor signs bill for borrowers, renewable projects

April 12, 2010

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed Senate Bill 401, which will extend a law that exempts homeowners who get mortgage debt relief from having to pay income tax on their savings as if it were a gift.

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New foreclosure rules blessed by Senate banking panel

April 8, 2010

Legislation to give California homeowners more protection as they modify their loans is moving through the state Senate. Senate Bill 1275 has won passage in the Senate Banking committee and is now headed for the judiciary panel.

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Ban on smoking at beaches, parks nears final vote

April 8, 2010

Sen. Jenny Oropeza is expected to push for a final vote as soon as today on her bill to ban smoking on state beaches and in common areas of the state park system.

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The place to go for data on kids

April 7, 2010

If you follow issues involving children and their health and well being, you should be aware of a web site that provides tons of data on California kids, organized in a way that is easy to find and use. Kidsdata.org, a project of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, presents the information on a statewide basis and broken out by region. The site houses millions of facts presented by school district, city and county, making it easy to compare and contrast how kids are doing in different places.

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Is your city friendly to bicycles?

April 6, 2010

The folks at Bicycling Magazine have rated US cities for their bicycle friendliness. Although California has its problems, I was surprised that only two cities here (SF and Long Beach) made the top 50 in the country. Then I saw that the editors admitted twisting their selection process for “geographical diversity” so that California would not dominate the list. Nice.

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