Drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services could soon face stricter background checks under a measure that passed the California Legislature on Wednesday.
The bill would prohibit the companies from hiring drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies or, within the last seven years, have a driving-under-the-influence conviction.
The bill's author, Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), said the measure “will help ensure the safety of passengers utilizing [ride-hailing] services." He noted that prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco last year found 25 people with lengthy criminal histories driving for Uber.
Alarmed that dozens in Los Angeles have been sickened after ingesting a synthetic drug called “spice,” state lawmakers on Wednesday sent the governor a bill outlawing possession of the substance.
The urgency measure requested by the California Narcotics Officers Assn. would make a first offense of possession of specified synthetic cannabinoids or stimulants an infraction. A second or third offense could be a misdemeanor. It is already a crime to sell the drugs.
Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) cited the situation on Los Angeles' skid row in which more than 50 people have been hospitalized in the last few weeks, many suspected of using the drug.
California soon could expand its family leave law to 2.7 million residents across the state, the latest of legislative efforts this session that have sought to assist working parents.
SB 654, dubbed the New Parent Leave Act, is headed to the governor’s desk after it passed out of the state Senate on Wednesday with a 24-12 vote.
The bill would allow parents at smaller companies with 20 to 49 employees to take six weeks’ leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, without fear of losing their jobs. Current state law extends only such job protection to those at businesses with 50 or more employees.
The California Legislature wraps up its two-year session Wednesday. As lawmakers debate and vote on hundreds of bills in the final few days, lobbyists and residents have swarmed the Capitol to advocate on issues ranging from energy policy to farmworker overtime pay.
Here are some images showing what it's like in Sacramento at the close of session. Click the link to see the full gallery.
Ana Matosantos, who served two governors as budget director, was appointed Wednesday by President Obama as one of seven members of a financial oversight board to assist cash-strapped Puerto Rico.
Matosantos' role on the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, created through a new federal effort to help the U.S. territory through its fiscal crisis, will be to help create a new dialogue between the island's government and its creditors.
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.