Drug fight

Feb 22, 2019

Drug companies sue CalPERS, state prisons to block disclosure of drug prices


Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "CalPERS could be on the hook for attorneys’ fees after a Los Angeles County judge ruled that pharmaceutical companies don’t have to publicly disclose plans to raise drug prices, according to information CalPERS’ legal office is presenting to its Board of Administration this week."


"Three drugmakers’ lawsuits tested part of a landmark drug pricing bill in California that requires pharmaceutical companies to notify the state before the companies raise drug prices. The 2017 law aims to help the state find alternatives to paying surprise price hikes that in some cases have leapt to 2,000 percent or more in recent years."


"After companies filed the notices last fall, news organization Reuters requested the filings from California Public Employees’ Retirement System and California Correctional Health Care Services under the state’s public records law."


You kill it, you grill it? New California bill would let drivers legally eat roadkill


Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "You’re driving down the road at night when, out of nowhere, a deer jumps in front of your car. It doesn’t survive. It’d be a shame to let all that meat go to waste, right?"


"That’s the thinking behind Senate Bill 395, sponsored by Sen. Bob J. Archuleta, D-Montebello."


"That bill would amend state law, as well as the Fish and Game Code, to allow drivers of vehicles that fatally strike an animal to retroactively apply for a wildlife salvage permit, at no cost, within 24 hours of the collision. The bill also would allow non-drivers who come across roadkill to salvage the dead animal."


PG&E says splitting utility would improve wildfire safety, but there's a downside


Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "Driven into bankruptcy by runaway wildfire claims, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says splitting the utility in two would increase customer safety but raises the possibility of higher rates."


"In a lengthy filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, the troubled utility said separating its gas and electric divisions into separate companies “has the potential to reduce the total risks managed by a single entity.” The separation could “improve the development of each entity’s safety management system,” it added."


"The commission launched a formal investigation into PG&E’s safety culture in December, a month after the Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed much of the town of Paradise. Among other things, the PUC is examining whether the $17 billion-a-year company should be carved into two separate companies."


Trump’s plan to take back $2.5 billion in California’s high-speed rail funding ‘unprecedented’


RALPH VARTABEDIAN, LAT: "The Trump administration’s decision to cancel a $929-million grant to California’s troubled high-speed rail project and claw back $2.5 billion in funds already spent has thrust the federal government into uncharted legal territory and poses an existential threat to the state’s largest investment ever."


"Never before, experts say, has the federal government attempted to take back such a large sum of money from California, particularly after it was spent under federal supervision."


"California has for years struggled to comply with the grants, which are laid out in lengthy legal documents that have been repeatedly modified over the last decade. At the same time, the project has dealt with funding shortages, contract mismanagement, legal disputes and myriad other complex challenges — issues that were identified in a critical state audit in November."


National Enquirer's biggest investors include California taxpayers and state workers


LA Times's MATT PEARCE: "The National Enquirer has been one of President Donald Trump's most controversial allies, delivering scathing coverage of his opponents to supermarket check-out lines and funneling $150,000 to one of his alleged mistresses to buy her silence."


"So it will probably come as a surprise to California state employees and taxpayers to learn they were helping fund those efforts."


"During the 2016 presidential campaign, California's massive public pension fund, CalPERS, was one of the biggest investors in the debt-laden owner of The National Enquirer, according to public records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times."


SF suit over Trump admin's move to scrap civil rights guidelines dismissed


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "A lawsuit by San Francisco challenging the Trump administration’s withdrawal of guidelines on issues affecting poor and disabled people has been dismissed by a federal judge, who said the city could not show how it would be harmed by the repeal."


"The Justice Department guidelines, issued during the final years of the Obama presidency, included standards for state and local courts to avoid disproportionately harming poor people when imposing criminal fines. Another set of standards addressed compliance with a Supreme Court ruling requiring state and local governments to allow disabled people to live in their own homes or group homes and share workplaces with able-bodied workers. Further guidelines advised employers on compliance with laws banning job discrimination based on national origin."


"Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew the guidelines in December 2017 after President Trump ordered an overall reduction in federal regulations. Sessions offered only a general explanation for his action, saying the repealed guidelines were “unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper."


Embattled California DMV gets its third director in just 32 days


Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "The agency struggling to register licenses is also struggling to find a leader."


"The California Department of Motor Vehicles has gone through two directors in just over a month. The latest leadership shake-up came on Jan. 30, when acting director Kathleen Webb replaced acting director Bill Davidson, who had replaced permanent director Jean Shiomoto on Dec. 31, 2018."


"Webb comes to the DMV by way of the California Government Operations Agency. Before that, she worked as the chief risk and compliance officer for CalPERS."


Kamala Harris hires California political strategist Courtni Pugh


The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "Sen. Kamala Harris has hired a seasoned California political strategist to run her campaign in the Golden State, which will be a delegate-rich battleground in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary."


"Courtni Pugh will serve as Harris’ California director, leading campaign efforts in the senator’s home state. Harris is the first 2020 presidential candidate to publicly name a director in California."


"Pugh worked most recently as a strategist at Hilltop Public Solutions, heading up the political firm’s California operations. She was a consultant on former state Sen. Kevin de León’s unsuccessful campaign last year to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein."


READ MORE related to Harris 2020: Kamala Harris' father rips her comments on weed -- The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI


Bernie Sanders enlists Ro Khanna for presidential campaign


The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Fremont Rep. Ro Khanna will be a top adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential run, with the assignment of being the Vermont independent’s point person in Silicon Valley."


"Khanna, who was one of only nine Democratic House members to endorse Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016, was named Thursday as one of the national co-chairs of the senator’s run for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Joining him are former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner; Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream."


"Khanna said he will help Sanders frame how Medicare for all and free public-college tuition, two cornerstones of his campaign, will help the tech sector. He will also help Sanders craft policies on how to bring tech jobs to rural parts of America and communities of color, particularly as artificial intelligence looms as a potential replacement for workers in many job sectors."


Judge grants citizenship to twin son of gay couple


AP's CHRISTOPHER WEBER: "A federal judge in California ruled Thursday that a twin son of a gay married couple has been an American citizen since birth, handing a defeat to the U.S. government, which had only granted the status to his brother."


"The State Department was wrong to deny citizenship to 2-year-old Ethan Dvash-Banks because U.S. law does not require a child to show a biological relationship with their parents if their parents were married at the time of their birth, District Judge John F. Walter found."


"A lawsuit filed by the boys' parents, Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks, sought the same rights for Ethan that his brother, Aiden, has as a citizen."


No speed limit? That could become a reality for two California highways


Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "A California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would make the state part of an exclusive club: The state would become one of the rare places in the world with highways with no speed limit."


"State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, has introduced Senate Bill 319, which would add two lanes each to the north- and south-bound lanes of I-5 and Highway 99 — those lanes would have no upper speed limit. Moorlach argued in the bill language that “traffic congestion increases the emissions of greenhouse gases as it causes automobiles to idle longer while on roadways.“"


"Germany’s Autobahn is famous for allowing drivers “to scorch down the autobahn at warp speed,” the BBC reported in 2013."


Dignity Health will donate $1M+ to Sacramento-area nonprofits in 2019


Sacramento Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "Dignity Health announced Thursday it is distributing $1.05 million this year to dozens of community-based organizations in Nevada, Sacramento and Yolo counties to help meet community health needs outside its hospital walls."


"The grants are going toward assisting the most vulnerable residents of the region: at-risk children, survivors of human and labor trafficking, individuals living with mental illness and dementia, the homeless and ethnic groups with high rates of chronic disease."


"At Dignity Health, we ... understand that doesn’t start in our hospitals,” said Liza Kirkland, manager of community health and outreach at Dignity. “It starts out in our communities. Our role at Dignity Health is really to take health care outside hospital walls to create and build healthier communities from the ground up."


READ MORE related to Health: This F500 healthcare company just landed in Sacramento, and promises 2,000 new jobs -- Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK


Video: Sacramento City Unified School Board on the brink of looming crisis


Sacramento Bee's JOSE LUIS VILLEGAS: "Michael Fine from FCMAT and David Gordon of SCOE address the Sacramento City Unified School Board on reducing operational costs in the Sacramento City School District on Thursday, February 21, 2019 in Sacramento."


READ MORE related to Education: Charter school disclosure bill on fast track after push by Gavin Newsom -- Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG; Oakland school strike: Teachers picket, classrooms empty and no end in sight -- The Chronicle's ASHLEY MCBRIDE/KIMBERLY VEKLEROV/NANETTE ASIMOV


SF cop suspended for racist texts pleads guilty to bank robbery


The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "A San Francisco police officer suspended four years ago for sending racist and homophobic text messages to other officers pleaded guilty Thursday to robbing two city banks last year, officials said."


"Rain Daugherty, 44, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of bank robbery as part of a negotiated deal with prosecutors, according the the U.S. Attorney’s Office."


"Daugherty was indicted on Jan. 10 for the Nov. 29 robbery at the East West Bank on Irving Street in Sunset District and the Dec. 13 robbery at the Cathay Bank on Clement Street in the Richmond District. In both robberies he handed the teller a note demanding money."


Sexual misconduct allegations against Time’s Up CEO Lisa Borders’ son prompted her resignation


 MEG JAMES and AMY KAUFMAN, LAT: "When Lisa Borders announced her resignation this week as the inaugural chief executive of Time’s Up, she cited a need “to address family concerns that require my singular focus.”

"Borders, 61, did not explain the circumstances behind her abrupt exit, which came after just four months on the job. But the Los Angeles Times has learned that Borders suddenly found herself at odds with the core mission of Time’s Up because of a desire to stand by a man — her son — facing allegations of sexual misconduct."


"Borders stepped down four days after a 31-year-old Santa Monica woman alleged, in a Facebook post, that Borders’ 36-year-old son had been sexually inappropriate with her. People familiar with the situation who were not authorized to comment said Borders quickly brought the allegations to the attention of the Time’s Up board. The group and Borders, these people said, soon recognized that she was in an untenable position."


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