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Is hate speech illegal? | Stopping rape kit DNA from being used in other investigations | Undocumented Californians could receive EDD benefits 

The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Tuesday, March 8.

Chico hate speech incidents raise legal questions

There have been several incidents of overt hate speech in Chico over the past few months, including a neighborhood in the north end of the city being blanketed with antisemitic flyers in January and two cars on Chico’s State’s campus being vandalized with racist and misogynistic graffiti in February.

Dylan Saake, Chico State’s assistant vice president of equal opportunity and dispute resolution, said hate speech causes a lot of harm but it’s not necessarily illegal and is protected by the First Amendment to a large degree.

He said it might have legal consequences when it’s associated with another crime or is specifically targeted and threatening.

Ultimately, Saake said when and how to make these determinations is a matter for district attorneys and the courts.

— Ken Devol, NSPR

CA lawmakers, prosecutors want to block police from using rape kit DNA for other investigations

A group of California lawmakers and prosecutors want to stop police from using rape survivors’ DNA samples against them in the future when investigating other crimes.

The revelation came to light in recent weeks, after San Francisco police connected a woman to a felony property crime after finding her DNA in a department database. She had submitted the DNA sample years earlier after coming forward with a rape allegation.

San Francisco’s district attorney has since dropped the property crime charge and the city’s police chief committed to reviewing the department’s policies, but calls for broader change persist.

Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener has introduced legislation that would restrict law enforcement statewide from using a sexual assault survivors’ DNA for any purpose other than identifying the perpetrator.

Less than a quarter of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice.

— CapRadio Staff

Assembly bill would give EDD benefits to undocumented Californians

Undocumented people in California who lose their jobs would be eligible for unemployment benefits under a bill introduced in the state Assembly this week. Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is the bill's author.

“So, it's a pilot program for [a] one-time budget request of $690 million and then we’ll be able to make the case why this needs to be permanent,” Santiago said.

The money translates to $300 a week for up to 20 weeks. Santiago said it would go to people who work and pay into the system but are unable to receive benefits under current law.

If it passes the Legislature and is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the pilot program would go into effect from Jan. 1, 2023 until Jan. 1, 2025.

— CapRadio Staff

Some lawmakers want to halt California’s gas tax

The war in Ukraine and volatility in global energy markets have led to the price of gas topping $5 a gallon for the first time in California history. The sticker shock has left some lawmakers pushing to suspend the state’s gas tax.

Republican state lawmakers are calling for a six-month suspension of the tax, which now totals 51.1 cents per gallon.

However, Democrats say the tax is essential in paying for transportation infrastructure improvements and suspending it would cost the state around $500 million in revenue.

— Saul Gonzalez, The California Report

Governor will deliver State of the State address in Sacramento tonight

Gov. Gavin Newsom will deliver his annual State of the State address in front of an audience of state lawmakers for the first time in two years tonight.

Last year’s speech focused mainly on the pandemic: Newsom delivered it at an empty Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles as the state’s vaccine campaign was picking up steam. The year before, homelessness was the top issue. This year’s speech will likely touch on both.

A recent UC Berkeley poll showed only 47% of Californians approve of Newsom’s job performance and 66% think he is doing a poor job on homelessness.

— CapRadio Staff

You can listen to the State of the State address on North State Public Radio beginning at 5 p.m. today. 

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • Bok Kai brings back traditions: “The Bok Kai Parade and Festival returned in full capacity with all its traditions Saturday for the 142nd edition through downtown Marysville.” — The Appeal Democrat
  • River Fire human caused, Cal Fire officials say: “The River Fire destroyed 142 buildings and burned 2,619 acres in Placer and Nevada counties in August of 2022. While Cal Fire says the fire was human caused, there's no evidence of "malicious intent or criminal activity." — CapRadio
  • How UCSF’s data science team took on COVID: “COVID-19 was the biggest data story of the past several decades, and the UCSF data science team was at the heart of understanding it. We spoke to members of this team to understand how they took on the pandemic.” — San Francisco Chronicle

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Sarah is an award-winning host, reporter, producer and editor. She’s worked at North State Public Radio since 2015 and is currently the station’s Assistant Program Director. She’s responsible for the “sound of the station" and works to create the richest public radio experience possible for NSPR listeners.
A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.
Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Adia White is a broadcast journalist and producer with nearly 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on WNYC, This American Life, Capital Public Radio and other local and national programs. She started at North State Public Radio as a freelance reporter in 2017 before leaving for a stint at Northern California Public Media in Santa Rosa.