Alarmed by skyrocketing prices for some prescription drugs, the California Senate on Tuesday approved a measure aimed at increasing pressure to hold down costs to consumers by requiring more public reporting of price hikes.
The lawmakers approved a bill that would require drug manufacturers to notify health plans and state purchasers such as the prison department of increases in the wholesale cost of drugs in writing at least 90 days before the new costs were to take effect.
The measure also requires that health plans and insurers notify state regulators of pricing information for the most costly drugs.
Just months after state voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the state Senate on Tuesday voted to prohibit its use in automobiles because of concerns over drugged driving.
A bill by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) makes it an infraction for drivers and passengers to use marijuana in motor vehicles. Stiffer penalties already exist for motorists found to be driving while impaired by drugs.
California voters legalized recreational use of marijuana in November although the state does not plan to begin issuing licenses for its legal sale until January.
California lawmakers are once again seeking to expand the state's paid family leave program to smaller businesses after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar measure last year.
SB 63, authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), on Tuesday moved out of the state Senate with a 25-13 vote. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.
The legislation, a priority bill for the California Legislative Women's Caucus, would allow parents at companies with 20 to 49 employees to take 12 weeks of leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child — without fear of losing their jobs. Under the current state law, only workers at businesses with 50 or more workers can take advantage of program.
The candidate who narrowly lost the race to be the next leader of the California Democratic Party on Tuesday filed a formal challenge of the election result.
Kimberly Ellis’ campaign, which was already in the process of reviewing the ballots cast during the state party’s convention two weekends ago, said they were filing the challenge to meet a requirement in the party bylaws that such an action must be taken within seven days of the contested act.
"Our review process is ongoing. It's critical that all formal processes outlined by the CDP's bylaws are followed at this time so that there can be no concern about raising issues in the manner prescribed by our party," said Hilary Crosby, immediate past controller for the state party and an Ellis supporter.
It began when one of Rep. Darrell Issa's 2018 opponents, Mike Levin, posted an image on Twitter, saying the Vista congressman was hiding on his office roof from hundreds of protesters on the street below.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said Tuesday that the alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election was about far more than favoring one candidate over another. He said it was an effort to undermine the foundation of American democracy in order to prop up an authoritarian regime in Moscow.
“Now if you look at this as just a one-off intervention, you might be inclined to dismiss the greater significance of it, or if you listen to the president, you might be inclined to dismiss this as simply efforts to relitigate a lost election,” Schiff told several hundred people at UC Irvine. “But the significance is really far greater. Quite separate and apart from the desire of the Russians to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton was a more fundamental objective, and that was really to tear down at our democracy.”
Schiff is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating allegations of Russian intervention in the presidential election, including the leaking of hacked Democratic emails and contacts between Trump associates and Russians.
House Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told hundreds of local Republicans at a recent private fundraiser that congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election are about Democrats trying to justify Hillary Clinton’s loss.
“The Democrats don’t want an investigation on Russia. They want an independent commission. Why do they want an independent commission? Because they want to continue the narrative that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are best friends, and that’s the reason that he won, because Hillary Clinton would have never lost on her own; it had to be someone else’s fault,” Nunes told Republicans the day after he stepped away from leading the House investigation.
His remarks were recorded on video and provided to The Times.
The bill by Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) would shift much of the power over staff and spending authority away from the independent tax board and create a new inspector general to watch over its actions.
"What we're trying to do is make sure that the reform is transparent," Ridley-Thomas said. "That's what I think the moment demands."
A coalition of California businesses launched a new advertising campaign on Saturday to pressure lawmakers against enacting tighter policies on climate change and air pollution.
The campaign includes online videos and television advertising that warn of higher costs for business and residents. It arrives as Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are debating whether to extend the cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases, and how restrictive the system should be.
The first lawmaker being targeted is Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), accusing him of allowing "unelected state employees" to raise "hidden taxes" on gasoline and electricity because he voted last year for a tougher target to reduce emissions by 2030. Other lawmakers could face similar advertisements.