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When federal regulators voted late last year to roll back net neutrality protections, state Democratic leaders pledged to wage a fight with the Trump administration to preserve fair and open access to the internet in California.

Now two bills facing final approval in the Assembly and Senate this week have become a proxy battle in the larger national fight to reshape the internet.

The ambitious proposals would establish the strongest net neutrality rules in the nation, safeguards that advocates say would be stronger than those rejected by the White House. One would prevent internet service providers from blocking or slowing down websites and video streams, or charging websites fees for faster speeds. The other would deny public contracts to companies that fail to follow the new state regulations.

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The FBI and Capitol Police want to talk with Rep. Maxine Waters’ 2018 Republican opponent about a fake letter he posted to Twitter that falsely indicated the congresswoman wants to resettle tens of thousands of refugees in her Los Angeles district.

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  • California Legislature
A sign at the Cadiz Ranch in the Mojave Desert on April 18, 2012. Cadiz holdings proposes to pump groundwater from the Mojave Desert.
A sign at the Cadiz Ranch in the Mojave Desert on April 18, 2012. Cadiz holdings proposes to pump groundwater from the Mojave Desert. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Environmentalists are mounting a last-minute bid in the final week of the California legislative session to revive a stalled effort to require more review for a project to pump more groundwater from the Mojave Desert.

The project by Cadiz Inc. to sell that water to urban Southern California has been the subject of a long-running political drama. It was blocked by the Obama administration, then revived under President Trump

A 2017 measure by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) that sought to impede the project has languished in a state Senate committee. Now, the effort has a new shot at life through an 11th-hour bill by state Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside).

  • State government
Cody Wilson with the Liberator, the first completely 3-D-printed handgun, in 2013 at his home in Austin, Texas.
Cody Wilson with the Liberator, the first completely 3-D-printed handgun, in 2013 at his home in Austin, Texas. (Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman)

A federal judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction continuing a prohibition on the Trump administration proposal to make available blueprints for so-called ghost guns, untraceable weapons that can be manufactured on a 3-D printer, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said.

California was one of 20 states led by Washington that won the decision from U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik in Seattle. The injunction extends a ruling last month that barred the Trump administration from taking steps that would allow the firm Defense Distributed to disseminate 3-D gun blueprints. 

“When the Trump Administration inexplicably gave the green light to distribute on the internet blueprints of 3D-printed, untraceable ghost guns, it needlessly endangered our children, our loved ones and our men and women in law enforcement,” Becerra said in a statement. “The Trump Administration’s actions were dangerous and incompetent.”

The state Capitol was the scene of a partisan spat this week.
The state Capitol was the scene of a partisan spat this week. (Rich Pedroncelli)

A controversial proposal to boost fundraising power for legislative leaders was put in jeopardy Friday when the Senate Republican Caucus said it would not vote for the measure amid concerns that two GOP bills have been held up by the Democrats.

An aide to Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), who introduced the legislation, said the situation was “still fluid.”

But the letter signed by Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates and 11 other members of her caucus puts a cloud over the future of the bill, which needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

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  • California Legislature
A motorist on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas fire in December.
A motorist on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas fire in December. (Noah Berger / Associated Press)

California’s largest electric utility companies could use payments from customers to help underwrite the cost of their wildfire liability under a broad outline released Friday by a special state legislative committee.

The proposal comes just four days before a key legislative deadline. Specific details were not presented during an afternoon committee hearing and may not be submitted until next week. That could leave little time for public review, as both houses of the Legislature will adjourn for the year Aug. 31.

Any attempt by a utility to borrow money for wildfire damages — which would likely depend on using a specific amount of money collected from ratepayers as collateral — would have to be authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission, according to the outline released Friday. Lawmakers were adamant the final plan would not let utilities and their shareholders off the hook.

  • California Legislature
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens)
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Immigrants living in California who are not U.S. citizens could be appointed to public boards and commissions under a bill passed in the state Legislature Friday.

California law requires civil officeholders to be U.S. citizens. Senate Bill 174 would make it legal for non-U.S. citizens to serve in these offices, and would also clarify that children born in California are citizens of the state, even if their parents are not.

The bill’s author, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), said that SB 174 would provide tax-paying noncitizens fair representation in public life, while benefiting the state as a whole.

Actor Jeff Bridges
Actor Jeff Bridges (Mini Racker / Los Angeles Times)

Every year, tens of thousands of heirs across California not only inherit their parents’ homes, but also their parents’ low property tax bills. 

This system, unique to California, was subject of a Los Angeles Times story last week detailing the substantial advantages accruing to some of the state’s most prominent families and the billions of dollars in lost revenue to cities, counties and school districts.

Inheritors don’t need to live in their parents’ homes to receive the benefits — or even in California. The Times’ found that in Los Angeles and a dozen other coastal counties, heirs were predominantly using these properties as rentals or second homes. 

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California Secretary of State Alex Padilla
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Following digital attacks on two House candidates, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told the state’s major political parties on Thursday to be vigilant. 

Recent news reports revealed that hackers infiltrated the campaigns of Dave Min and Hans Keirstead. Both are Democrats who were challenging Republican incumbents in Orange County and both failed to secure spots in the top-two primary. Keirstead was running for the seat of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), who has long been friendly toward Russia.

“We’ve only heard about two candidates,” Padilla said. “But it can happen to anybody.”

Actor Jeff Bridges.
Actor Jeff Bridges. (Mini Raker / Los Angeles Times)

Actor Jeff Bridges said he was “kinda shocked” after reading a Los Angeles Times article last week about a substantial property tax break he and his two siblings receive for a Malibu beach home once owned by his parents.

“Tax stuff is very complicated,” Bridges said in a brief interview before appearing at the Sacramento Press Club on Thursday. “Sometimes the tax bills are in your favor, sometimes they aren't.”

The Bridges siblings have benefited from a state ballot measure passed in 1986 that allows children to inherit their parents’ property tax advantages under Proposition 13 when they inherit their parents’ homes.