Drought boosts political will at the Capitol

Sep 17, 2014

California’s first set of groundwater regulations were singed into law yesterday, which Gov. Jerry Brown admitted wouldn’t have been possible without extreme drought. 


John Myers reports for KQED: “The new laws signed by Brown in a state Capitol ceremony will require groundwater management plans to be crafted on the local level over an eight-year period, based on underground basins identified and prioritized by state officials. Locals would then have a few more years to begin getting a handle on groundwater use and would have new enforcement powers.”


“Today, we do set into law a framework that’s been resisted for a long, long time,” said Brown as he signed the bills.”


“But it’s simply the latest example of how the state’s historic water crisis has changed the political dynamics inside the halls of the statehouse. The governor, more than many of his recent predecessors, thrives on working behind the scenes to recast proposed laws to his liking before they ever officially make it to his desk. Brown’s administration pushed and pulled on the groundwater bills, much to the chagrin of some legislators who wanted less and some interest groups who wanted more.”


And in a few months the governor will face reelection, seemingly without any campaign.


Carla Marinucci reports for The San Francisco Chronicle: “Brown's strategy is "a non-campaign, which makes it a very smart campaign," said Jessica Levinson, who teaches political ethics as a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles."


"The 76-year-old Brown, who first held statewide office in 1971, "doesn't need to introduce himself" to voters, Levinson said. "He has better name recognition than anyone else in the state. His platform is totally known. He's been governing since the Earth cooled."


"And clearly, she said, "he's running against someone people don't even know."”


Brown will be holding a presser down in L.A. today, to formally sign a film tax credit expansion bill.


Richard Verrier reports in The Los Angeles Times: “The bill, AB 1839, would boost funding to $330 million annually over five years, beginning in 2015. That compares with the current level of $100 million per year. The measure would also allow more projects to qualify for the subsidies, including large-budget features and TV pilots, and phase out an unpopular lottery used to select applicants.”


Also pending Brown’s signature, streetlights throughout the state could soon be synchronized.


Chris Nichols reports in U-T San Diego: “Assembly Bill 1447, by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, would clarify that synchronization projects can qualify for money from raised by California’s controversial cap-and-trade program. The so-called carbon marketplace is expected to raise as much as $1 billion for the state this fiscal year.”


“In an interview this week, Waldron said intersections that are timed to work together can move large streams of cars more efficiently along city corridors and adapt to changing traffic patterns in real-time using new technology. They would save people time, money, gas and lower harmful vehicle emissions, she said.”


Dozens of protesters urged the California Housing Finance Agency’s board to step up their spending of $2 billion in homeowner aid.


Hudson Sangree reports in The Sacramento Bee: “Keep Your Home California still has about $1 billion of the money it received from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Hardest Hit Fund several years ago. It must spend that remaining amount by 2017.”


“Critics say the program has been dragging its feet as more homes are lost to foreclosure.”


“”What do we want? Principal reduction! When do we want it? Now!” the protesters chanted as they marched in circles around the room at the Holiday Inn on J Street, disrupting the meeting.”


California’s Department of Motor Vehicles issued its first driverless car permit to Audi yesterday, but that doesn’t mean these autonomous vehicles haven’t already been on the road.


Justin Pritchard reports for The Associated Press: The permits formally regulate testing that already was underway. Google alone is closing in on 1 million miles. The technology giant has bet heavily on the vehicles, which navigate using sophisticated sensors and detailed maps.”


“Finally, government rules are catching up.”


“In 2012, the California Legislature directed the DMV to regulate the emerging technology. Rules that the agency first proposed in January went into effect Tuesday.


Drunk driver arrested? Not news. Drunk driver arrested with a python wrapped around his neck? Now we’re talking.


Tony Perry reports in The Los Angeles Times: “Late-night revelers in the city's Gaslamp Quarter had spotted the driver and the snake around 1:30 a.m., police said.”


“The pedicab driver -- Travis Young, 27 --  was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. The snake, a 2-foot-long ball python, was seized by the San Diego County Department of Animal Services and taken to a shelter.”


“The snake is not a restricted species and can be purchased at pet shops, animal services officials said.”

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