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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, will endorse Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor on Friday.

Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in 2011. She and Kelly have become ardent gun control activists since her recovery.

Peter Ambler, the executive director of the Giffords’ Courage to Fight Gun Violence group, said the couple is endorsing Newsom because of his history of action on progressive causes, notably Proposition 63.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats
  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
  • State government
 A customer test-sniffs the cannabis at the MedMen dispensary in West Hollywood this month.
A customer test-sniffs the cannabis at the MedMen dispensary in West Hollywood this month. (Eugene Garcia /EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)

Just weeks after California began licensing marijuana sales, a state lawmaker on Thursday proposed legislation to allow financial institutions to handle money from cannabis businesses.

Because marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law, federally insured and regulated banks have refused to conduct transactions with firms profiting from the drug.

That has state officials worried about robberies and other crimes as hundreds of state-licensed marijuana business are forced to conduct many transactions, such as paying taxes, with large amounts of cash.

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Sen. Tony Mendoza had his leave of absence extended up to 60 days on Thursday.
Sen. Tony Mendoza had his leave of absence extended up to 60 days on Thursday. (Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

A state Senate panel voted unanimously Thursday to extend the leave of absence taken by Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) by up to 60 days to allow the completion of an investigation into sexual harassment complaints, even though the senator has not agreed to an extension beyond his planned Feb. 1 return date.

The bipartisan action by the Senate Rules Committee came after the full Senate voted 27-9 following a heated debate to grant the rules panel the power to extend leaves taken by legislators.

Democratic senators said Mendoza should not be allowed to return to work next week before the investigation is completed because it would send the wrong message and be intimidating to women who work in the Capitol who have complained about him.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
  • State government
An aerial view shows burned-out homes in Ventura County following the Thomas fire.
An aerial view shows burned-out homes in Ventura County following the Thomas fire. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

A new task force of scientists and forestry experts will “review thoroughly the way our forests are managed and suggest ways to reduce the threat of devastating fires,” Gov. Jerry Brown announced in his State of the State speech Thursday. 

Brown cited California’s growing severity of wildfires — eight of the state’s most destructive have occurred in the last five years — and the effects of climate change as driving the need to develop new forestry policies.

The governor said the task force also will examine how the state can increase resiliency and carbon storage capacity in forests.

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