Council Members Call For More Openness in San Jose's Permit Process

Two San Jose council members say their city makes it too tough on small business owners who want to open shop or expand.

CPUC to File Revised PG&E Penalty

The California Public Utilities Commission is set to file a revised penalty proposal Monday for PG&E’s part in the fatal San Bruno gas line explosion.

Midterm Preview: Will the GOP Take Control of the Senate?

With just a few weeks to go before the midterm elections, most polls are showing the GOP gaining a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate. Can the Democrats hold on? Meanwhile, the Ebola crisis is emerging as a major campaign issue. Forum discusses the national races to watch, the latest polls and the key issues in this campaign season.

Final Day for Brown to Sign or Veto Bills

Tonight is the deadline for Gov. Jerry Brown to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature. One of the more notable measures in the governor's to-do pile would enact a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags. At a gubernatorial debate earlier this month, the governor hinted at his decision, saying he will "probably sign it."

PBS NewsHour

WATCH LIVE: South Dakota Senate debate

Four candidates in South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race will debate live from Vermillion, S.D., at 9 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. MT) on Thursday, Oct. 23. Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) participate. Live stream courtesy South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, the four candidates in one of this cycle’s most intriguing U.S. Senate races will meet for a live debate at 9 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. MT) tonight.

Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) will face off on the campus of the University of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D). South Dakota Public Broadcasting is hosting the hour-long debate alongside AARP and the S.D. Newspaper Association. Stephanie Rissler, a producer and journalist for SDPB, moderates.

Long thought a lock for the Republican Rounds, a former governor, this race has been thrust into the national spotlight in recent weeks as Weiland and Pressler have gained on him in the polls, raising concerns among the GOP, who need to gain six seats this cycle to win control of the U.S. Senate.

The race even received a “Colbert Bump” last week, when the comedian poked fun at the sudden attention being showered on a state usually neglected during election cycles.

Controversy entered the competition when questions began to arise about Rounds’ knowledge of and participation in an alleged scheme to sell immigration visas during his tenure as governor. Following the death of Richard Benda, who directed the program through which the EB-5 visas were administered, investigations revealed that key documents had been destroyed, and that the alleged embezzlement had likely lost the state millions of dollars.

Weiland and Pressler, Rounds’ closest competitors, have hammered upon these accusations in recent weeks. Weiland, a former FEMA administrator and CEO of a building safety advocacy group, has made reforming the role of money in politics a centerpiece of his campaign.

Howie, a former state legislator who is running the most traditionally conservative campaign, trails his opponents.

Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) will face off on the campus of the University
         of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D).

Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Larry Pressler (I), and Gordon Howie (I) will face off on the campus of the University of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D).

Tonight’s debate come on the heels of one more round of accusations being levied on the former Governor. On Wednesday, a Sioux Falls newspaper published an article asserting that, shortly before leaving office, Rounds had granted state funds to a private company Benda was about to begin working for. It is unclear whether Rounds knew of his cabinet member’s conflict of interest before signing off on the grant.

In light of these allegations, as well as a spate of outside ad spending pouring into the Mount Rushmore State, the outcome of this race is guaranteed to be a squeaker. Expect passion to run high at tonight’s debate, especially as new polls show Pressler, a former Republican congressman and Senator for the state, now running as an independent, making an increasingly strong showing.

Notably, Pressler has recently been joined on the campaign trail by John Good, a retired FBI agent who oversaw a sting operation that offered bribes to several Congressman in 1980. Pressler was the only lawmaker to refuse the offer.

In case alleged corruption and outsider spending do not entirely dominate tonight’s debate, the state of the economy is sure to be up for discussion. South Dakota is one of five states considering a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. Healthcare may also be a topic of debate — Pressler recently came out in favor of the Affordable Care Act — as well as the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The post WATCH LIVE: South Dakota Senate debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

What are your midterm election questions?

Election day is fast approaching. What burning questions do you need answered before making your way to the voting booth? Not sure what initiatives are on the ballot in your state? Curious how voter ID laws and early voting could impact turnout? Wondering whether President Obama’s low approval rating will benefit the GOP as much as analysts predict? What about the 36 states who are electing officials to occupy not just the Senate, but the governor’s mansion? And what is #fangate?

PBS NewsHour’s politics team has agreed to answer your midterm questions in a Twitter chat. Share your questions using the form below, and join us on Twitter on Thursday, Oct. 30, from 1-2 p.m. EDT. Senior politics producer Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoPBS), producer Mary Jo Brooks (@MaryJoBrooks) and politics reporter/producer Rachel Wellford (@rachelwellford) will address the questions you submit using #NewsHourChats.

The post What are your midterm election questions? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Despite appellate rulings, 3 states refuse to allow gay unions

Demonstrators march in Columbia, South Carolina, on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, in celebration after the U.S. Supreme Court
         struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Photo by Tim Dominick/The State/MCT via Getty Images

Demonstrators march in Columbia, South Carolina, on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, in celebration after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Photo by Tim Dominick/The State/MCT via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The writing is on the wall for gay marriage bans in Kansas, Montana and South Carolina after federal appeals courts that oversee those states have made clear that keeping gay and lesbian couples from marrying is unconstitutional.

But officials in the three states are refusing to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses without a court order directing them to do so. It could be another month or more before the matter is settled.

In a political campaign debate Monday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vowed to defend his state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. A federal court hearing is scheduled for Friday.

There seems little doubt that U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ultimately will set aside the state’s gay marriage ban. That’s because the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, encompassing Kansas and five other states, has said a state may not deny a marriage license to two people of the same sex.

“He is absolutely bound and has to make that decision,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign.

The same requirement holds true for federal judges who are hearing same-sex marriage lawsuits in Montana and South Carolina.

John Eastman, chairman of the anti-gay marriage National Organization for Marriage, agreed with Warbelow that federal judges almost certainly will rule to allow same-sex marriages. But Eastman urged state officials to continue to put up a legal fight until the Supreme Court decides the issue one way or the other.

“Until the Supreme Court decides it, this remains a viable option,” Eastman said.

State officials in Colorado, North Carolina and West Virginia chose a different path. They helped speed the process for legalizing gay marriage in their states when they announced they would no longer defend their state laws in the aftermath of the appeals court rulings.

The latest wave of court rulings that has made same-sex marriage legal in 32 states and the District of Columbia began with the unexpected decision by the Supreme Court on Oct. 6 to reject appeals by five states hoping to keep their bans in place.

The high court’s refusal to step in affected appeals courts in Chicago, Denver and Richmond, Virginia, which in turn oversee 11 states that did not previously allow same-sex couples to marry. Since the justices’ terse order, same-sex couples have been able to marry in nine of those 11 states, with Wyoming on Tuesday becoming the latest to permit it. Only Kansas and South Carolina have not followed suit.

A day after the Supreme Court action, the federal appeals court in San Francisco struck down gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada in a ruling that also appeared to apply to Alaska, Arizona and Montana. Since then, federal judges in Alaska and Arizona quickly ruled on pending marriage lawsuits. But in Montana, a federal judge has set a hearing in a marriage challenge for Nov. 20.

No court date has been set for South Carolina, where Attorney General Alan Wilson has said he will continue to defend state marriage law and predicted a final ruling could be months away.

The timing of court action varies from judge to judge, depending on what other matters are before the court and how much say the judge wants each side to have, Warbelow said.

In North Carolina, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. acted on his own to strike down the state ban after the Richmond-based appeals court ruling became final.

James Esseks, leader of the American Civil Liberties Union’s same-sex marriage efforts, said Wilson and other officials have no excuse to keep up their fight. “The circuit law is what it is. They need a little push and we’ll give it to them,” Esseks said.

The post Despite appellate rulings, 3 states refuse to allow gay unions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Your Election Night roadmap

Twelve days out, here's a look at the Senate landscape for the midterm election. Image by Noel Hendrickson and Getty

Twelve days out, here’s a look at the Senate landscape for the midterm election. Image by Noel Hendrickson and Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • GOP with better than 50-50 chance of winning the Senate
  • But it could be a late Election Night
  • We could all be waiting on Iowa, Alaska, or go into overtime

On the 12th day from Election Day, we give to you, the Senate landscape: We’re just 12 days out from Election Day, and where do things stand? Forecasters are giving Republicans a better than 50-50 chance of taking back the Senate. Let’s break it down… Republicans need to net six seats to win control. Despite the surge of former Republican-turned-Independent Larry Pressler in South Dakota, the GOP is still favored there. For argument’s sake, give Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota to Republicans. That’s three. They then have to win at least three of the following seven races (in alphabetical order): Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina. (We say “at least,” because there’s the chance that Democrats pick up either Georgia or Kentucky or the independent wins in Kansas.)

Could we all be waiting on Iowa? Right now, Republicans are favored (even if slightly) in five of the seven: Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and Louisiana. If Democrats don’t pick up Georgia or Kentucky — and Republican Pat Roberts holds on in Kansas — that would give the GOP a three-seat majority. In this good-case scenario for Republicans, we would still not mathematically know the outcome of the Senate until pretty late on Election Night, because Louisiana is headed for a runoff with no candidate likely to get 50 percent on Election Night; Alaska’s polls close at 1 a.m. EDT, and Iowa doesn’t close until 10 p.m. EDT, and that race is expected to be close. So, it’s possible we’ll all be waiting on the Iowa results. And if the Republican loses in one of Georgia, Kentucky or Kansas, it’ll come down to Alaska in the middle of the night. There’s also the possibility that Democrats pull off Colorado, because they are bullish about their ground game there, and then we’re waiting for the Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana or a Jan. 6 runoff in Georgia. The bottom line is there’s a wider path for Republicans to take control of the Senate today than there was a month or two ago, as even New Hampshire has tightened to within a few points.

Here are your clip-and-save poll-closing times (Note: All are in Eastern Time):
7 p.m.: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia
7:30 p.m.: North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia
8 p.m.: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee
8:30 p.m.: Arkansas
9 p.m.: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska,New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming
10 p.m.: Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah
11 p.m.: California, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington
Midnight: Hawaii
1 a.m.: Alaska

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1995, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton agreed to a joint peacekeeping effort in the war-torn Bosnia. Where did the meeting take place? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Rich Polanski (@ao2666) for guessing Wednesday’s trivia: Why did JFK send troops to blockade Cuba? The answer was: Because Russians had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba.


  • President Obama will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Thursday.

  • Watch for a White House shakeup. Politico reports that Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has asked senior aides to let him know if they plan to leave, as he contemplates restructuring staffing for the final two years of the Obama presidency.

  • Another man jumped the White House fence Wednesday night, but was quickly brought down by Secret Service dogs. After being treated for minor bruising, the two dogs — Jordan and Hurricane — have been cleared for duty.

  • Just kidding! The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is putting money back up for Alison Lundergan Grimes in the Kentucky Senate race, after the latest polling shows her still within striking distance.

  • Republican Joni Ernst is leading Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, 48-46 percent among likely voters in the latest Quinnipiac Poll.

  • Internal polling by the NRSC paints a much better picture for Republicans in South Dakota.

  • The latest CNN/ORC New Hampshire poll has Sen. Jeanne Shaheen up just 49-47 percent over Scott Brown. A New England College poll has Brown leading 48-47 percent.

  • Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is up 46-39 over Sen. Mark Udall in a new USA Today/Suffolk University poll.

  • Sen. Ron Wyden is being very critical of CIA censorship of the agency’s upcoming torture report. The Oregon Democrat told reporters, “The intelligence leadership are doing everything they can to bury the facts.”

  • Some GOP lawmakers are spending the final weeks of the campaign courting their fellow lawmakers as well as voters. Eleven to 12 committee chairmanships in the House could be contested during the lame duck session.

  • Jill Lawrence writes of a coming Republican retreat on Obamacare.

  • Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley tries an outsourcing ad. “Huge corporations don’t need a senator,” he says directly to the camera. “You do.”

  • North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis is the most attacked candidate (by money spent against him in negative ads). The Washington Post lists the top 10.

  • How much can Colorado’s “progressive voting utopia” boost Democratic Sen. Mark Udall? All voters receive ballots in the mail, and they can even cast them in drive-through drop-offs.

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley may have learned from her earlier loss, but she’s still not a strong campaign personality, doesn’t have much of a political agenda, and underscores a central Republican attack — that Dems take the Bay State for granted.

  • The Bangor Daily News endorsed Independent Eliot Cutler for Maine governor, while George and Barbara Bush have announced their support for Gov. Paul LePage.

  • Republican Martha McSally, who is running for Gabby Giffords old seat, is out with a new ad to counter the negative spots that have been run against her, and this one features a puppy.

  • A judge in Oklahoma allowed a law restricting abortion-inducing drugs to go into effect Wednesday. In addition, the judge ruled that for the time being, doctors in the state will not be sued if they do not follow the law.

  • Economists, including conservatives, are not impressed with the proposals Republicans are planning to push if they win control of the Senate. They don’t see them addressing Americans’ top concern: jobs.

  • The Georgia Democratic Party sent out a mailer urging early voting with this message: “If you want to prevent another Ferguson…Vote.”

  • Google’s political spending is ahead of even Goldman Sachs’ PAC, and it’s not all going to Democrats.

  • Once again, Kansas has missed its revenue targets, proving June’s shortfall wasn’t temporary. The fiscal pain, stemming from tax cuts enacted under Gov. Sam Brownback, is animating the state’s gubernatorial race.

  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will gather with his top aides and advisers one week after the election for an all-day 2016 strategy session.

  • South Miami has voted for Florida’s 23 southern counties to secede out of frustration that the state isn’t concerned enough about climate change.

  • Win or lose on Nov. 4, Rep. Bruce Braley, Sen. Kay Hagan and Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf can be comforted by the fact that they’re winning in Facebook likes.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter:

The post Your Election Night roadmap appeared first on PBS NewsHour.