You'll have to ask if you want a plastic straw in California under new law
Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "California restaurants will only provide plastic straws to customers upon request after Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation that aims to cut down on pollution."
"The change covers full-service dining, but not takeout establishments like fast-food restaurants. It will take effect in 2019."
"Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” Brown wrote in a signing message for Assembly Bill 1884, pointing to plastic waste found in dead animals and tap water around the world. “It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative."
Fight for the house: Dems smell victory
ANTHONY YORK in Capitol Weekly: "Nine races in November could determine which party controls the House for the next decade — and the map looks good for Democrats."
"This fall, Democrats face a bad map in the Senate and are in a tough battle to take back the House. But the party is on offense in nine crucial contests around the country that could determine control of Congress for the next decade."
"The governors who are elected in 2018 will preside over their state’s redistricting after the 2020 census, and Democrats seem poised to pick up a number of statehouses this fall."
87 days of smog: SoCal just saw its longest streak of bad air in decades
LA Times's TONY BARBOZA: "Southern Californians might remember the summer of 2018 for its sweltering heat waves, record ocean temperatures and destructive wildfires. But it also claimed another distinction: the summer we went nearly three months without a day of clean air."
"The region violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days, the longest stretch of bad air in at least 20 years, state monitoring data show. The streak is the latest sign that Southern California’s battle against smog is faltering after decades of dramatic improvement."
California olive oil producers experience shortage due to 'borderline catastrophic' harvest
The Chronicle's SARAH FRITSCHE: "Thanks to some unusual weather in the first three months of 2018, olive harvests are down by about 25 percent, according to the California Olive Oil Council, which represents 90 percent of olive oil production in California."
"Last year, the council’s members produced about 4 million gallons of extra virgin olive oil. This year, the number is expected to be about 2.8 million gallons, says executive director Patricia Darragh."
"Olives trees are alternate bearing, so while it’s not unusual to have lighter crops every other year. In 2018, some olive growers saw zero budbreak — the mark of the beginning of growing season during which buds first appear on the trees, leading to flowers and eventually, fruit."
Pocketbook issues and big visions are highlighted in California's race for governor
LA Times's DAKOTA SMITH: "Sometimes it seems that California's two candidates for governor are running for different offices."
"Democrat Gavin Newsom casts himself as the leader of the state’s resistance to President Trump, pushing big-ticket issues such as healthcare, education and climate change."
"Republican John Cox has focused on pocketbook issues that are narrow in scope but emotionally charged — repealing California’s increased gas tax, and problems at the Department of Motor Vehicles."
A $7,812.03 hospital bill started a case that is now at the California Supreme Court
Fresno Bee's BARBARA ANDERSON: "The California Supreme Court has been asked to look at an appellate court decision involving a Fresno hospital patient’s emergency department bill that could have a far-reaching effect on what hospitals in the state charge patients with no insurance."
"At issue is an unpublished opinion by the 5th District Court of Appeal issued on July 11 that would allow self-pay patients who were treated at two Fresno-area hospitals to challenge their bills as part of a class action."
"Community Medical Centers appealed the decision to the Supreme Court."
Hoover Dam as giant battery? The hurdles are more legal than technical
Water Deeply's ANTHONY FARRIGO: "Los Angeles is looking into whether it should spend an estimated $3 billion on a massive, 20-mile underground pumped hydropower storage system that would be connected to the iconic Hoover Dam on the Colorado River outside of Las Vegas."
"If it does get built, this system would essentially serve as a giant battery to store power."
"Having written a book about the aggressive propaganda program behind the Hoover Dam’s construction in the 1920s and 1930s, I can say that the technical and financial challenges of this plan are sure to pale in comparison to the legal and political roadblocks that will have to be overcome."
'They are incompetent.' Republican blasts latest DMV outage
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "Thousands of customers walked into the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Thursday unable to have their transactions processed."
"The embattled agency confirmed 68 offices experienced connectivity problems due to “an issue with a router."
"Cullen Grant, manager at a Los Angeles DMV field office, said he was unable to even log onto his email because network connectivity was unavailable."
Meyers Fire damages two structures near Camino and jumps Hwy. 50, prompting evacuations
Sacramento Bee's VINCENT MOLESKI: "A brush fire in El Dorado County that jumped Highway 50 on Thursday east of Camino destroyed at least two structures, including one home along 8 Mile Road, prompting evacuations and a brief closure of the roadway."
"The so-called Meyers Fire chewed through 12 acres and was 60 percent contained by Thursday evening, said Brice Bennett, a spokesman for the Amador-El Dorado unit of Cal Fire."
"At least two structures were damaged before fire crews were able to stop the forward progress of the blaze, Bennett said. He could not confirm the type of structures that were burned."
After bawdy photos, California Lottery workers demand resignations
Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "Five veteran Lottery employees on Thursday demanded that senior department executives resign amid investigations into hiring practices and alleged misconduct on a work-related trip two years ago."
"They addressed the state Lottery Commission one month after an anonymous writer sent a letter to officials in Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration that included pictures of senior Lottery leaders carrying on at a Southern California bar. It also included anecdotes describing disparaging treatment of employees."
"This is unacceptable in state service. It is not who we are and it is time for these people to go. We are here today to demand resignations,” said Paulina Vasquez, a lottery sales representative and union shop steward."
Eric Swalwell apologizes for 'boo hoo hoo' tweet at Susan Collins
The Chronicle's MELODY GUTIERREZ: "East Bay Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell apologized Thursday for a “stupid” tweet sent in the early morning hours that mocked a Republican senator who said her office was receiving threats over the battle to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court."
"Sen. Susan Collins, who is seen as a potential swing vote in the confirmation battle, told a radio station in her home state of Maine that her office has “received some pretty ugly voice mails, threats, terrible things said to my staff.” Collins made the remarks while discussing threats that both Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of trying to rape her while they were in high school, Christine Blasey Ford, have received. Collins called the entire confirmation process “very ugly."
"Ford and her family have been forced to leave their Palo Alto home because of death threats, Ford’s attorneys say."
After years of dramatic increases, rents are finally showing signs of slowing
LA Times's ANDREW KHOURI: "After a remarkable run-up in housing costs that has crimped budgets, forced families from their neighborhoods and contributed to homelessness, it appears rent growth is slowing in Southern California and across the nation."
"Experts attribute the tapering in part to an increase in new apartment buildings that, although not giving tenants the upper hand, is giving them a bit more leverage than in years past. And after years of steady increases, some renters are simply unable or unwilling to stretch further, with the richest among them choosing a mortgage instead."
Kavanaugh's accuser says she would testify under right terms
AP's ALAN FRAM/LISA MASCARO: "Christine Blasey Ford may testify against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after all, her attorney says, breathing new life into the prospect of a dramatic Senate showdown next week over Ford's accusation that he assaulted her when they were in high school."
"Ford's preference is to testify next Thursday, and she doesn't want Kavanaugh in the same room, her attorney told Judiciary Committee staff in a 30-minute call that also touched on security concerns and others issues, according to a Senate aide. That aide wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity."
"Ford is willing to tell her story to the Judiciary Committee, whose senators will vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh's confirmation — but only if agreement can be reached on "terms that are fair and which ensure her safety," the attorney said in an email Thursday. In the call with committee staff later, she said Ford needs time to make sure her family is secure, prepare her testimony and travel to Washington. No decisions were reached, the aide said."
READ MORE related to SCOTUS: Trump abandons restraint, calls out Kavanaugh's accuser -- AP's ALAN FRAM/LISA MASCARO; Kavanaugh's accuser's offer to testify about alleged sexual assault puts key Republicans in a bind -- LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN/SARAH D WIRE