L.A. wants to charge drivers by the mile

traffic-los-angelesFor years, Southern California lawmakers have tried to steer clear of decisions that make driving more expensive or miserable, afraid of angering one of their largest groups of constituents.

But now, transportation officials say, congestion has grown so bad in Los Angeles County that politicians have no choice but to contemplate charging motorists more to drive — a strategy that has stirred controversy but helped cities in other parts of the world tame their own traffic.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is pushing to study how what’s commonly referred to as congestion pricing could work in L.A., including converting carpool lanes to toll lanes, taxing drivers based on the number of miles they travel, or charging a fee to enter certain neighborhoods and business districts.

Imposing more tolls would offer a smoother drive for those who choose to pay. Getting more drivers off the road could free up space to speed up bus service, while the billions of dollars in revenue could fund a vast expansion of the transit network, Metro said. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

California Sen. Kamala Harris announces 2020 presidential bid

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris urges funds for tracking prescription drugsIn 2008, Barack Obama, a freshman Democratic senator, became the first African-American man elected president of the United States. A decade later, another first-term Democrat from the Senate is making a bid for the White House, this time to become the first African-American woman to lead the nation.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California announced Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she is running to unseat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

“I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up for who we are,” Harris said.

Harris, 54, plans to launch her campaign at a rally Sunday in Oakland, California, where she was born and raised. In 2017, Harris, whose mother emigrated to the USA from India, became the first South Asian-American, and the second African-American female, senator in history, according to her biography on her Senate page.

“The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values. That’s why I’m running for president of the United States,” Harris says in a campaign video released on social media. …

Click here to read the full article from USA Today

Why Gov. Newsom Wants to Pay for the Health Care of Illegal Immigrants

Gavin NewsomCalifornia’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, wants it understood that he’s not declaring war on Big Pharma, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

Yes, he wants to give Medi-Cal more power to negotiate drug prices and, yes, he wants to make those prices significantly lower.

But Newsom was surprisingly candid when we spoke Wednesday about his healthcare agenda.

He told me he gained a whole new appreciation for the value that drug companies can bring to people’s lives while seeing his father grapple with dementia for months. William Newsom, a retired state appellate court justice, died last week at age 84.

“I don’t see Pharma as the enemy,” Newsom said. “I’m not saying anyone’s evil.”

He paused, shifting gears back into politician mode. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Will Gavin Newsom’s Drug Pricing Plan Save You Money?

Pills health careGov. Gavin Newson wants to deliver lower drug prices by harnessing the full weight of the state against the pharmaceutical industry, but it’s unclear whether his team can get a better deal without giving up something Californians want.

In his first act as governor, Newsom issued an executive order creating the largest single purchaser of prescription drugs in the country.

It combines negotiations for some 13 million people in government-administered plans like Medi-Cal and eventually invites other organizations to join. His argument centers on the idea that a bigger organization can extract a better price from pharmaceutical companies.

“We believe this will significantly reduce costs,” he said at a press conference last week, adding that he’d ask other governors if they want to participate. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

PG&E to file for bankruptcy following devastating California wildfires

A home burns as the Camp fire tears through Paradise, California on November 8, 2018. - More than 18,000 acres have been scorched in a matter of hours burning with it a hospital, a gas station and dozens of homes. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

California’s largest power company intends to file for bankruptcy as it faces tens of billions of dollars in potential liability after massive wildfires devastated parts of the state over the past two years, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Pacific Gas and Electric said Monday that declaring insolvency is “ultimately the only viable option to restore PG&E’s financial stability to fund ongoing operations and provide safe service to customers.”

The California wildfires, which have killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes, have led to a surge in insurance claims. PG&E estimates that it could be held liable for more than $30 billion, according to the SEC filing, not including potential punitive damages, fines or damages tied to future claims. The company’s wildfire insurance for 2018 was $1.4 billion.

The PG&E bankruptcy promises to be more complex and political than most bankruptcies, pitting fire victims, ratepayers, bankers, insurance companies and renewable-energy providers against one another. Homeowners with property insurance will collect from their insurers, and a person familiar with the bankruptcy planning said that hedge funds are already offering to buy settlement claims from insurance companies. …

Click here to read the full article from the Washington Post

L.A. Teachers Proceeding With Monday Strike Plan

Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district will go on strike as soon as Jan. 10 if there's no settlement of its long-running contract dispute, union leaders said Wednesday, Dec. 19. The announcement by United Teachers Los Angeles threatens the first strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District in nearly 30 years and follows about 20 months of negotiations. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) ORG XMIT: CADD303

Without any new proposals from Los Angeles Unified School District officials coming over the weekend, the union representing 34,000 district educators is moving forward with a strike set for Monday morning, Jan. 14.

Calling the offer on Friday by district officials unacceptable, Alex Caputo-Pearl, United Teachers Los Angeles president, said the union was engaged in a “battle for the soul of education” at a news conference Sunday afternoon at union headquarters near downtown Los Angeles.

“We are more convinced than ever that the district won’t move without a strike,” Caputo-Pearl said as he was flanked by roughly two dozen teachers, parents and students.

“Let’s be clear, teachers do not want a strike. Teachers strike when they have no other recourse,” he said.

Union leaders illustrated four demands that remained unresolved Sunday. They included a cap on class sizes, providing a full-time nurse in every school, reforming co-location policies and improving special education. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Daily News

California police unions are preparing to battle new transparency law in the courtroomc

The Fredericksburg, Va. Police Department has introduced the use portable video camera devices worn by all on-duty officers. The Taser Axon Flex is the product in use. (Copyright, Robert A. Martin/Freelance)

Just as a landmark police transparency law is going into effect, some California police agencies are shredding internal affairs documents and law enforcement unions are rushing to block the information from being released.

The new law, which begins to unwind California’s strictest-in-the-nation protections over the secrecy of law enforcement records, opens to the public internal investigations of officer shootings and other major uses of force, along with confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty. But the lawsuits and records destruction, which began even before the law took effect Jan. 1, could tie up the release of information for months or years, and in some instances, prevent it from ever being disclosed.

“The fact that police unions are challenging this law is on some level not surprising,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, one of the principal supporters of the new law. “They have a long history of fighting tooth and nail against transparency.”

Before this year, the public couldn’t access police disciplinary records outside of a courtroom. The same prohibitions, which were first put into place four decades ago after a push from police unions, applied to prosecutors as well. California was the only state in the nation where that was the case. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Gov. Newsom Recycles Bill to Limit Individual Gun Sales

GunNewly inaugurated California Gov. Gavin Newsom is pushing a bill to limit individual gun sales to one a month – a measure that even the recently departed former governor, Jerry Brown, didn’t try to push through the legislature.

But this time might be different.

“The Democrats have a supermajority in California,” Los Angeles-based firearms policy, risk, and strategy analyst Dennis Santiago told Fox News. “The bill is likely to pass.”

California Senate Bill 61, introduced by Democratic state Sen. Anthony Portantino, will ban the purchase or transfer of more than one firearm within a 30-day period. The state already has laws to prohibit an individual from buying more than one handgun a month. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

Democratic Lawmakers Want to Ban Paper Receipts

ReceiptsWe’ve all been there. We go to a grocery store or pharmacy, buy an item and walk away with a receipt as long as the Nile River.

One California lawmaker says enough is enough.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, unveiled a plan on Tuesday to take the state off of printed receipts. Under Assembly Bill 181, businesses would have to give customers electronic receipts if they don’t ask for physical copies.

“Most people assume that all these receipts can be recyclable. Guess what? They can’t,” Ting said. “It’s common-sense legislation. We think it’s a minimal cost, and it’s really putting the power back in the consumers by saying, ‘Hey, if you want the paper, yeah, you can ask for it, but why force you to take the paper?’”

If passed and signed into law, California would be the first state in the country to shift the default from paper receipts to electronic ones, according to Green America, a nonprofit environmental organization. The plan would go into effect at the start of 2022. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Newsom Vows ‘Sanctuary To All Who Seek It’

Sanctuary StateCalifornia’s new governor is promising the most populous state will be a “sanctuary to all who seek it” in a direct affront to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom challenged the Trump administration repeatedly as he was sworn in to office Monday, particularly on immigration.

The former San Francisco mayor became the state’s 40th governor, succeeding the term-limited Jerry Brown.

 

“People’s lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe — they all hang in the balance,” Newsom, 51, told a crowd of hundreds packed into a tent outside the state Capitol. …

Click here to read the full article from CBS Local