California Policy and Politics This Morning

Rick Santorum wins Kansas caucuses -- Rick Santorum has won the Kansas Republican caucuses, according to Associated Press and network projections, his eighth statewide victory in the GOP presidential nomination battle. John Hoeffel in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

California sales taxes show evidence of recovery -- The Board of Equalization on Friday estimated that taxable sales in California rose 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 from the same period of 2010. The estimate was based on early calculations of cash receipts. It provides fresh evidence that the state's economy is strengthening. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/10/12

Hueso won’t pursue F&G commissioner; seeks reforms -- Assemblyman Ben Hueso said Friday that he will no longer pursue the ouster of embattled Fish and Game President Dan Richards over a legal but contentious mountain lion hunt in Idaho. Michael Gardner and Ed Zieralski UT San Diego Patrick McGreevy LA Times PolitiCal Torey Van Oot in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/10/12

Union seeks to cut California hospital billings, boost care for poor -- SEIU proposes two ballot measures that would have a major effect on facilities it has tried but failed to organize, while exempting those where many of its members work. Michael J. Mishak in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

Effort to put marijuana legalization measure on ballot is in disarray -- After Proposition 19 received 46% of the vote in 2010, proponents took heart. They vowed to put a measure to fully legalize marijuana on the 2012 ballot. Instead, four camps vie for funding. Joe Mozingo in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

Denham, Feinstein seek deal on California water bill -- Lawmakers have quietly begun laying groundwork for a California water bill that could pass the Senate and become law. If it happens, it will be less ambitious than one passed recently by the Republican-controlled House. Michael Doyle in the Fresno Bee -- 3/10/12

Polarizing politics in California's delegation -- What do Democrat Barbara Lee of Oakland and House Republican whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield have in common? Yousur Alhlou in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/10/12

Candidate filing deadline passes -- for some -- The deadline for candidates to file in this year’s congressional and legislative races passed at 5 p.m. Friday. But that doesn’t mean the field has been set. For one thing, the filing period is extended to Wednesday (March 14) in districts with no incumbent running. Jean Merl in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

Field is close to being set for several state and congressional races -- With a slight asterisk, a bold new era in electoral politics opened in Ventura County on Friday as the candidate fields were set for the state's first wide-open primary that will give voters unlimited choices and present unknown challenges to candidates. Timm Herdt, Gretchen Wenner in the Ventura Star -- 3/10/12

Ellen Corbett won’t run for House in 2012 -- State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, has decided not to run against Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in the newly drawn 15th Congressional District this year. Josh Richman Political Blotter -- 3/10/12

Jerry Brown attends lecture by Ralph Nader, who commiserates -- On Friday afternoon, while college students started their weekends barbecuing down the street, Gov. Jerry Brown found himself on the University of California, Berkeley, campus, at the symposium "Anthropology in the World." David Siders in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/10/12

Facebook posts fuel attacks in Bermudez vs. Calderon race -- Lesson for political hopefuls seeking office in the age of social media: Watch what you post. Torey Van Oot SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/10/12

Courage Campaign fires back at California Business Roundtable -- The war over tax increase ballot measures escalated Friday when sponsors of the so-called "millionaires' tax" denounced the Business Roundtable for its opposition. Dan Walters SacBee Capitol Alert -- 3/10/12

Politics lights a fire under L.A. Fire Department -- A mayoral hopeful unwittingly exposes overstated emergency response times. Kate Linthicum in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

Berkeley police chief sends sergeant to reporter's home to request story changes; First Amendment experts call move 'despicable' -- Minutes after reading a late-night news story online about him that he perceived to be inaccurate, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan ordered a sergeant to a reporter's home insisting on changes, a move First Amendment experts said reeked of intimidation and attempted censorship. Kristin J. Bender and Thomas Peele in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/10/12

   Taxes - Fees

LAUSD board to vote Tuesday on whether to put parcel tax on November ballot -- The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education will consider Tuesday placing a parcel tax on the November ballot in hopes of slashing a $390.2 million budget deficit in the next academic year and providing a local revenue source for schools for five years. The item is in in the Los Angeles Daily News -- 3/10/12

   Economy - Jobs

California unemployment at lowest level in three years -- California’s unemployment rate in January fell below 11% for the first time in nearly three years. The percentage of jobless workers fell to 10.9% from a revised 11.2% in December, based on a household survey. Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

Unemployment rates increase across Bay Area due to seasonal losses -- Jobless rates in Bay Area counties increased in January due to seasonal losses of retail and education workers; on a seasonally adjusted basis, California reached an unemployment rate not seen since early 2009. Jeremy C. Owens in the San Jose Mercury -- 3/10/12

California job trend points to gradual growth; Sacramento jobless rate up slightly -- The national economy continues to churn out jobs, and California's unemployment rate is at its lowest level in nearly three years. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/10/12

California's exports up again year-over-year; down slightly from previous month -- Rising oil prices and debt crises in Europe were not enough to derail a two-year-plus hot streak for California exporters. Mark Glover in the Sacramento Bee -- 3/10/12

Loan growth at California banks outpaces nation -- California-based banks expanded lending much faster over the last year than the national average for the industry, reflecting an economic recovery taking hold in the Golden State, according to a study conducted for the California Bankers Assn. E. Scott Reckard in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

   Health Care

Health Care Exchange Rules to Be Set -- The Obama administration is about to carry out a major provision of the new health care law by issuing standards for health insurance exchanges, the markets where consumers and small businesses will be able to buy coverage from competing private plans. ROBERT PEAR in the New York Times -- 3/10/12

   Environment

La Niña on its Way Out, but so Is Winter -- This has been a historically dry winter, dry enough that it’s likely to land a spot as one of the top ten driest since the gold rush. And even though La Niña is waning, that probably won’t make much of a difference, because there’s a delay between when ocean surface temperatures change, and when that change actually has an affect on our weather. Molly Samuel KQED Climate Watch -- 3/10/12

Army of volunteers maintains Bay Area's backyard -- On a windy weekday afternoon on the edge of spring, a crew of young people was digging holes on a bluff above the Golden Gate. It was a labor of love. Carl Nolte in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/10/12

   Occupy

Occupy SLO encampment gone, but leaders won't say why -- A week after their encampment in front of the county courthouse came down, leaders of the Occupy SLO movement have not explained publicly why they dismantled it or what direction, if any, they intend to take. Bob Cuddy SLO Tribune -- 3/10/12

   POTUS 44

Obama highlights positive trends in jobs report -- President Obama seized on a new jobs report as evidence that "the economy is getting stronger," as he pitched a set of manufacturing initiatives in territory key to his reelection chances. Kathleen Hennessey in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

   Beltway

For the GOP, It’s Back to the Future -- Given the protracted battle for the Republican presidential nomination and the regional, ideological and political underpinnings of the four remaining candidates, one might think the GOP is engaged in a pitched battle for the direction, future and soul of the party. Except it’s not — at least not as a matter of policy and generational leadership. David M. Drucker Roll Call -- 3/10/12

Santorum pivots to national security in Alabama -- Rick Santorum sought to broaden his pitch to Alabama and Mississippi Republicans beyond his conservative stands on social issues Friday with scathing attacks on President Obama over national security, energy and global warming. Michael Finnegan in the Los Angeles Times -- 3/10/12

Big Labor plots 2012 revenge -- Labor unions wounded by a GOP-led war on collective bargaining rights are plotting their revenge. ROBIN BRAVENDER Politico -- 3/10/12