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State news briefs
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15 OF 23 CAL STATE CAMPUSES CHARGE GRADUATION FEES: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Graduating students at more than a dozen California public universities will have to hand over money before they are handed their diplomas, a newspaper reported.

Across the state, 15 of Cal State's 23 campuses have graduation fees.

Cal State East Bay charges $45 to graduate. At San Francisco State, the fee is $100 — $60 more than it was two years ago.

"There is a fee for everything," said Natalia Aldana, a Cal State East Bay communications major and journalist who will graduate in June. "I think it's really unfortunate that they have to charge students for everything they do, including graduation."

The fees are not new, but students are noticing them at a time when they have experienced tuition fee hikes nearly every year they were on campus,.

At San Jose State, some students recently learned they'd have to pay $75 to participate in their department's celebration.

"You've worked so hard," said Rebecca Krueger, who started a blog about the fees. "It's this time of honor and celebration, and you're hit with this fee just to participate. You feel nickel-and-dimed."

Cal State spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp said because tuition money can only be used for instruction costs, campuses must look elsewhere to pay for graduations. The state's Master Plan for Higher Education has created a complicated set of fees, the Tribune reported.

UC Berkeley graduates don't pay a separate fee to get their diplomas, but commencement tickets cost $10 a head — even for graduates themselves.

CALIF. TO ASK US HIGH COURT TO REJECT INMATE ORDER: SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown's administration filed notice Monday that it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to again weigh in on the long-running prison population case.

It wants the high court to reject a lower court order requiring California to reduce its prison population by an additional 9,000 inmates by year's end. The Democratic governor had promised to appeal.

The state filed its three-page notice of appeal about a month after federal judges threatened to cite Brown with contempt if he fails to comply with a previous order upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011.

California is required to reduce its prison population to about 110,000 inmates as the best way to improve inmate medical and mental health care but remains about 9,300 inmates over the limit. Brown has said further inmate reductions are expensive, unnecessary and dangerous to the public.

"The Court did not fully or fairly consider the evidence showing that the State's prison health care now exceeds constitutional standards," the state said in its filing.

ASSEMBLY OKS BILL PREVENTING SCHOOL BOND CONFLICTS: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Lawmakers have advanced a bill that would prevent taxpayer money from being used to promote local bond measures.

It is illegal for school districts to use tax dollars to hire political consultants to pass bond measures. But critics say municipal finance firms include campaigning in their package of bond services when they contract with the districts. They recover the costs through other fees.

The legislation from Republican Assemblyman Don Wagner of Irvine would prohibit school districts and other local agencies from contracting with firms that provide campaign services for bond measures.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has asked the attorney general to issue a legal opinion about whether districts have illegally contracted to promote bond measures.

The Assembly approved AB621 Monday on a 51-10 vote, sending it to the Senate.