In the closing hours of the legislative year, lawmakers approved a last-minute deal Wednesday to free up hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s cap-and-trade program to fund green projects across the state. Under the agreement, which broke a two-year impasse, the state will spend $900 million on programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — nearly two-thirds of $1.4 billion that has been raised but was tied up unspent in a political stalemate. The money will go toward subsidies for electric cars, new park space and pedestrian-friendly affordable housing. California’s 4-year old cap-and-trade program raises money from businesses that purchase permits to pollute.
The deal was announced on the Legislature’s final day, and was hailed by the governor and legislative leaders. It comes not long after they inked an ambitious plan to combat climate change by extending and expanding California’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“California’s combating climate change on all fronts and this plan gets us the most bang for the buck,” Brown said in a statement. “It directs hundreds of millions where it’s needed most – to help disadvantaged communities, curb dangerous super pollutants and cut petroleum use – while saving some for the future.”
The White House on Wednesday announced a series of new funding and environmental programs to address the deteriorating health of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding forests caused in part by the increasing temperatures brought about by climate change.
The announcement came just hours before President Obama was scheduled to address the Lake Tahoe Summit, an annual environmental conference that California and Nevada leaders began two decades ago because of concerns about the declining water clarity in the once crystal-clear Sierra lake.
Tahoe’s surface water temperature in 2015 was the highest ever recorded, while annual snowfall levels have been on the decline. The increasing air temperatures in the Lake Tahoe region also have stressed the surrounding forests, causing an alarming increase in tree mortality and fire danger, according to the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.
California lawmakers on Tuesday sent the governor a bill to end the statute of limitations for prosecuting rape and other felony sex crimes.
If the governor signs the bill, crimes including rape and child sexual abuse could be prosecuted at any time.
Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) introduced the bill in the wake of news that dozens of women have said comedian Bill Cosby raped them. Most of their cases cannot be prosecuted because the statutes of limitations for those crimes have expired.
Lawmakers on Tuesday narrowly rejected an effort to create new disclosure rules for California political mailers and money gathered from several donors into a single contribution.
Assembly Bill 700 failed by a single vote in the state Senate, needing a supermajority of 27 senators to pass.
The complex campaign finance bill became ensnared in a disagreement this month over whether it represented more or less donor disclosure. The state's Fair Political Practices Commission voted to oppose late amendments to AB 700 regarding the disclosure rules for "earmarked" contributions.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on Tuesday took to Twitter to voice his support for a California bill that would expand overtime pay for thousands of farmworkers across the state.
Assembly Bill 1066, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown after it was approved Monday in a historic vote on the state Assembly floor. Brown has made no indication as to whether he will sign the legislation, and his office said Tuesday he generally does not comment on pending proposals. A spokesman also said he would not comment on Perez's support for the bill.
Farmworkers that put food on our table deserve same protections that other industries have had for years. CA bill would ensure fairness.
The proposal would roll out new rules for farmworker overtime in 2019, lowering the current 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour day by 2022. It also would phase in a 40-hour standard workweek for the first time. The governor would be able to suspend any part of the process for a year depending on economic conditions.
U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris on Tuesday called for new national policies to reduce recidivism by felons released from prison and to make data on crime and police actions more accessible to the public.
Harris, California’s attorney general, made the comments during a roundtable discussion on criminal justice at Community Coalition in South Los Angeles.
California lawmakers on Tuesday sent the governor a bill that could help students graduate in four years from California State University schools.
Only 19% of students at Cal State campuses graduate in four years, state Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) said, citing statistics from 2011. Glazer's bill would create programs at Cal State campuses to help students graduate on time. Students in the programs would receive extra support from academic advisors and priority registration in classes. They would be required to take a minimum number of credits and maintain a qualifying GPA.
Low-income and first-generation students, as well as community college graduates and students from communities with low college attendance rates, would be given priority to participate in the programs. They would also have to be eligible for in-state tuition.