Ride-sharing is a focus for new state regulations

Jun 18, 2014


A new audit of California’s Public Utilities Commission blasts the agency for putting riders across the state in danger.  


Laura J. Nelson reports in The Los Angeles Times: “Although the audit focused on limo, bus and shuttle investigations, the same department also handles a new sector of transportation — ride-sharing companies — that has proved difficult to regulate.”


“Last fall, California became the first state to formally regulate peer-to-peer ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber. PUC transportation investigators are now enforcing new rules for those companies, including permits, background checks and vehicle inspections.”


A legislative push to implement regulations on ride-sharing services receives blowback from stakeholders.


Daniel Rothberg reports in the Sacramento Bee: “Lawmakers and the California Public Utilities Commission, citing a general safety concern, are seizing upon what they view as a gap in regulation for the fledgling industry. In recent weeks, the Legislature and commission have pushed several proposals that are attracting support from a litany of interested stakeholders – insurance companies, taxicabs and limousines – whose own interests hinge on the outcome.”


“But ride-sharing firms, the primary targets of new regulations, reject nearly all of the proposed rules. While companies like UberX and Lyft say they are willing to compromise, they view the current push as an unnecessary threat to their popular business model, one intended to leave them at a competitive disadvantage.”


The first state survey measuring water use shows the public, for the most part, is not responding to the governor’s calls to cut back.


Kurtis Alexander reports in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The push for conservation comes as California wrestles with its third drier-than-normal year. Most of the state saw just half its average rainfall this past winter, while Sierra snowpack, which provides much of the state's drinking water, has been sparse.”


“Tuesday's report showed that areas with the biggest water shortages - while not always meeting conservation targets - were the biggest water savers. Many agencies in these areas have initiated restrictions of their own.”


Even in California, Speaker Toni Atkins says gay people have not reached full equality.


Laurel Rosenhall reports in the Sacramento Bee: “Atkins talked about her upbringing in a poor family in Virginia and touched on her experience of coming out as a lesbian in her late teens. She said she found it easier to be openly gay after leaving a more conservative community for San Diego.”


“Now that she's risen to such a powerful position in California politics, Atkins said, her hometown is taking notice. She pointed to an article about her in the Roanoke Times that included a picture of her kissing her spouse, Jennifer LeSar, on the day she was sworn in as Assembly speaker.”


In charter schools, the quality of education varies for students with disabilities.


Robin Urevich reports in Healthy Cal: “For years, Frederick Weintraub has monitored the LA school district’s compliance with federal special education law as part of a lawsuit settlement. In 2009, he found charters did not educate their share of disabled students, enrolling far fewer than traditional schools. But Weintraub said that charters have improved since then.”


“What hasn’t improved is that charters take kids with more mild disabilities that are lower cost, kids that require less intervention and services,” Weintraub said. “The school says you’re welcome to apply, but we don’t currently have a program.”


Grocers could make millions if plastic bags are banned in California.


Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross reports in the San Francisco Chronicle: “"This is one of the single greatest government transfers of wealth from private citizens to private corporate grocery interests that anyone has seen," said Jon Berrier, spokesman for the plastic bag industry's American Progressive Bag Alliance, which ran TV ads in Sacramento and select legislative districts last month blasting the plan.”


“Ron Fong, president and CEO of the California Grocers Association, called the argument that grocers would make big profits on the bags "sensational sound bites.”


Local congressman Tom McClintock stalls an effort to expand Yosemite National Park in California.


Paul Rogers reports in The Mercury News: “If approved, it would allow the National Park Service to appraise the properties and buy them using existing money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a pot of money funded by royalties on offshore oil drilling.


“Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has introduced a bill in the Senate to expand the park boundary. A vote is expected this summer. But if McClintock doesn't support the measure, the GOP House leadership is unlikely to act, since the land is in his district.”


“The deal would become Yosemite's largest acquisition since 1939, when the federal government bought 7,200 acres near Wawona known as the Carl Inn tract from a timber company.”


Oakland may be on track to lose their A’s.


Matthew Artz reports in The Mercury News: “Relations between the team and their landlords in the city and county have been acrimonious at times. Last year, MLB intervened on the A's behalf to seal a two-year lease extension that required the team to increase its annual payments from $800,000 to $1.75 million but didn't include additional concessions sought by the Coliseum board.”


“Talks on a long-term extension came to a halt two months ago as both sides traded barbs in the press. Negotiations heated up again in May when the framework of an agreement was hashed out during a meeting between Wolff and Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty.”

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