Cap-and-trade on life support

Aug 18, 2016

The state Senate has released spending plans to extend the life of California's 'cap-and-trade' program.


Jeremy B. White with Sacramento Bee reports: "A vehicle trade-in program for low-income families and projects in poor communities would be among the chief recipients of money from California’s cap-and-trade program under a Senate proposal unveiled on Wednesday amid an attempt to win enough votes to extend the climate program."


"A large pot of money is sitting unused as lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown negotiate over the future of the program, which requires businesses to buy permits for the carbon they emit. Money from those auctions flows into a fund that can be used for projects to mitigate the environmental effects of greenhouse gases."


"In the past, policymakers have set aside money for areas such as high-speed rail and affordable housing. Lawmakers have proposed using money on anything from port improvements to soil. Money has recently flowed to local projects such as a Sacramento streetcar. But Brown and lawmakers did not reach a deal on spending cap-and-trade moneylast year, and this year’s budget did not allocate any funds."


SEE MORE related to Environment/Energy: Lawmakers, Brown spar over spending cap-and-trade cash -- AP's Jonathon J. Cooper in O.C. Register


Wildfires continue to tear through California as the Cajon Pass 'Blue Cut' fire reaches over 25,000 acres and 4% containment.


Staff with L.A. Times reports: "A rash of fires this summer has destroyed homes, caused power outages and subjected residents to repeated evacuation orders."


"Here are some of the fires now raging in California:"


READ MORE related to The Early Fire Season: Here's how the Blue Cut Fire in Cajon Pass grew so big so fast -- Lauren Williams with O.C. Register; 'We got our butts kicked,' firefighters say as Blue Cut Fire defies containment -- Angel Jennings, Bettina Boxall and Paloma Esquivel with L.A. Times


While Rep. Bera's father awaits prison sentencing, Republican hopeful Scott Jones talks campaign finance reform


Sac Bee's Christopher Cadelago reports: "As Rep. Ami Bera’s father prepares for sentencing Thursday for election fraud, the candidate’s Republican challenger Scott Jones is proposing a set of campaign finance changes aimed at the Democratic incumbent."


"Jones issued a statement calling for campaigns to take “proactive steps” to prevent straw donors such as issuing first-time maximum contributors notices where they acknowledge they aren’t being reimbursed. Jones also wants the Federal Election Commission to require that campaigns indicate if donors are relatives of candidates as well as impose more frequent reporting of contributions."


“More has to be done to root corruption out of politics and expose conflicts,” Jones, the elected sheriff of Sacramento County, said in the statement."


PG&E's lawyers are working hard to appeal the criminal convictions and punishment against the company during its near-6 week 'pipeline safety' trial.


Bob Egelko reporting for The Chronicle writes: "Pacific Gas and Electric Co. wants a federal judge to throw out its convictions for safety violations uncovered during an investigation that followed the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion, arguing that there was no evidence the company or any of its employees knowingly broke any laws."


"Prosecutors in the 5½-week trial failed to show that “anyone at PG&E had any evil intent or subjective belief that they were violating a clear legal duty,” as required for criminal convictions under the safety laws, the company’s lawyers contended in papers filed late Tuesday."


"They also argued that PG&E was wrongly convicted of failing to properly inspect and test its pipelines for signs of danger because the law it was charged with violating does not require pipeline operators to choose the best methods of assessing those threats, but merely mandates that they document the methods they actually chose."


'Big Pharma' has won a decisive battle over drug costs after SB 1010 is blocked in the Capitol -- but voters will still have the final say come November.


L.A. Times' Melanie Mason and Sophia Bollag report: "An effort to shed more light on prescription drug prices sputtered in the Legislature on Wednesday, dealing a setback to a burgeoning national movement to rein in healthcare expenses by curbing the cost of medication."


"The decision by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) to yank his bill from consideration after it was watered down in an Assembly panel marks an abrupt end to what promised to be the marquee lobbying battle of the legislative session, pitting Capitol heavyweights such as labor groups and health insurers against drug manufacturers."


"The measure’s demise is a significant victory for pharmaceutical companies, but not a full reprieve. A separate ballot initiative to clamp down on drug costs will go before voters this fall, and the measure’s advocates hope to capitalize on the Legislature’s inaction."


Meanwhile, a bill aimed at legalizing internet poker in California is coming alive -- again -- in the Assembly.


L.A. Times Patrick McGreevy reports: "A long-delayed bill that would legalize Internet poker in California is being amended to address concerns by a group of Native American casino operators who had opposed the measure, setting the stage for a possible vote in the state Assembly on Monday."


"One change to the bill by Assemblyman Adam Gray would create a five-year disqualification period for those who were providing I-poker games to U.S. citizens while it was against federal law to do so."


"A group of Native American tribes that operate casinos had opposed the bill when it allowed so-called “bad actors” easier access to state I-poker licenses. The amendment appears to address what those opponents had asked for."


Members of California's transgender community are on a well-funded campaign to promote and share their experiences growing up and navigating society. 


Laurel Rosenhall reporting for CalMatters writes: "One after another they stepped to the podium telling stories of liberation through transformation."


"There was the man, in suit and bowtie, who once played college basketball on a women’s team. There was the woman, in a red lace dress, who said attaining a female physique was like “holding a prize in my hand.” Gone were the anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide that came with living in the male body that didn’t match her spirit."


"The stories they shared at this press conference outside the state Capitol were part of a broader statewide effort to make Californians more familiar with transgender people and the discrimination they say they face. Similar events have already taken place in Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco, with more planned for Fresno, Palm Springs and San Diego. Videos about Californians who changed their gender are featured on a website, and a media ad campaign is in the works."


Spanish-speaking potential voters are being urged by L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti and actor/director Edward James Olmos to get to the polls come November.


Brenda Gazzar with Daily News writes: "Actor and director Edward James Olmos and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are launching a Spanish-language get-out-the-vote campaign ahead of November’s contentious presidential election."


"Olmos, whose high-profile movie and TV credits include roles in “Stand and Deliver,” “Blade Runner,” “Miami Vice” and “Battlestar Galactica,” made a surprise appearance Tuesday at the Aspen Institute’s second annual Latinos and Society summit “America’s Future: Reimagining Opportunity in a Changing Nation” at the California Endowment in downtown Los Angeles. There, Olmos urged the community to exercise its precious right to vote and spilled the beans about the new campaign."


"The single most important thing we have in this country is our voice ... if you don’t want to vote for any of the candidates because I know there are a lot of people sitting here that are really frustrated, then put my name in there,” Olmos told about 200 leaders who had converged at the day-long summit."


And now for a page from our 'Officer Walmart' file ... 


A day in the life of an officer-slash-security-guard at a Walmart in Tulsa, OK reads more like the script to a potential thriller or action movie.


Bloomberg Businessweek: "Darrell Ross—Officer Walmart to his colleagues in the Tulsa Police Department—operates for up to 10 hours a day out of the security office of a Walmart Supercenter in the city’s northeast corner. It’s a small, windowless space with six flatscreen monitors mounted on a pale blue cinder-block wall, and on this hot summer day, the room is packed. Four Walmart employees watch the monitors, which toggle among the dozens of cameras covering the store and parking lot, while doing paperwork and snacking on Cheez Whiz and Club Crackers. In a corner of the room, an off-duty sheriff’s officer, hired by Walmart, makes small talk with the employees."


"As soon as Ross walks in the door, around 2 p.m., he’s presented with an 18-year-old who tried to leave the store with a microwave oven. Ross focuses his gaze and talks in a low voice to the young man, who just graduated from high school and plans to go into the military. He also attempts to calm the boy’s mother, who rushed to the store and is worried that her son won’t be able to enlist if he gets a criminal record. “You need to start taking responsibility for your actions,” Ross tells the teenager. “You’re a man now.” He tells the mother that because it was the boy’s first offense, he won’t be arrested—but if he messes up twice more, he’ll be charged with a felony. Ross slips a pair of reading glasses out of his bulletproof vest and writes the young man a summons to appear in court."


"Before he can finish the paperwork, Walmart security employees catch another shoplifter. They bring in a middle-aged woman with big sunken eyes and pale cheeks, her hair tied in a messy bun. Employees caught her using phony gift cards. She rattles off excuses: The cards were given to her by a friend, she’s just gotten out of the hospital, she’s dehydrated. At one point she pretends to vomit into a trash can. Picking up the odor of pot, Ross takes a look in her handbag and finds marijuana roaches, along with a small scale and a pill bottle full of baggies. A computer check reveals five outstanding warrants for her arrest."

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