Needles declared itself a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” city

One of San Bernardino County’s easternmost cities wants to be a sanctuary, not for undocumented immigrants, for gun owners.

Needles this month declared itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City” a message that city leaders say is partly about support for gun rights and partly a desire to get an exemption from state law so out-of-state gun owners can travel through town and for residents to purchase ammunition.

The former railroad town of about about 5,000 is near the Colorado River, close to the Arizona state line, and city officials say that California’s gun laws are prompting Arizona residents to stay out of Needles, hurting business in the town. …

Click here to read the full article from the Riverside Press-Enterprise

California State University stashed $1.5 billion in reserves while hiking tuition

The California State University stashed away $1.5 billion in discretionary reserves while raising tuition and lobbying the Legislature for more funds, according to a report released Thursday by California State Auditor Elaine Howle.

CSU put the money, which came primarily from student tuition, in outside accounts rather than in the state Treasury, the report said.

The investigation mirrors Howle’s 2017 report on the University of California Chancellor’s Office, which charged that top UC brass kept a $175 million slush fund while hiking students’ tuition. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

California poised to have the highest gas tax in the country

On July 1, the excise tax on gasoline in California will go up 5.6 cents a gallon, enough to push the state’s total taxes and fees past Pennsylvania to become the highest in the nation.

The 5.6-cent increase represents the second iteration of Senate Bill 1, commonly called the gas tax, that was passed by the Legislature in Sacramento in the spring of 2017 and signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

Under the terms of SB1, the tax increase comes in stages.

Drivers first experienced a 12-cent per gallon rise at the pump in November 2017. An additional 5.6 cents per gallon will be tacked on at the beginning of next month, which will boost the state’s total excise tax to 41.7 cents a gallon. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Diego Union-Tribune

More Than 1,000 Small Earthquakes Hit Southern California

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

Over the past three weeks, more than 1,000 small earthquakes have hit Southern California — mostly in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Some are calling the region’s increased seismic activity “swarmageddon,” but seismologist Lucy Jones told the Los Angeles Times that the small quakes don’t mean the big one is more or less likely. According to Jones, there’s only a 5% chance that any single quake will be followed by a larger one.

But experts still encourage Southern California residents to prepare since it will happen, though they don’t know when or where. …

Click here to read the full article from CBS Local News

Amendments end Gov. Newsom’s unease on vaccine bill

Amendments to an emotionally fraught bill designed to crack down on fraudulent vaccine exemptions change the legislation’s focus just two days before a key Assembly committee hearing.

The bill’s author, Sen. Richard Pan, negotiated the amendments after Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed reservations about shifting too much power to state bureaucrats. He now says he’ll sign it.

Among the changes:

— Instead of every medical exemption, state health officials would target their reviews to doctors who issue five or more exemptions in a year, and to exemptions at schools where the vaccination rate dips below 95%. …

Click here tor read the full article from the Associated Press

Gas prices have dropped, but a new California tax will change that soon

Although gasoline prices in Sacramento keep falling, a statewide tax set to take effect next month may change all that.

Prices dropped 8 cents in Sacramento last week amid a continued decline, bringing the average cost for a gallon of regular-grade gas to $3.74, according to fuel price tracker GasBuddy.

But beginning July 1, drivers may see a change in the trend, when a new California gas tax kicks in.

The current statewide tax on a gallon of gas is 41.7 cents, while the new tax will be 47.3 cents per gallon, a 5.6-cent increase. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Inmates Can Legally Possess Marijuana, but Not Smoke It, California Court Rules

A California court has ruled that prison inmates are legally allowed to possess marijuana, but that they are not permitted to use it.

Last week, the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento overturned the convictions of five inmates who were found with pot, pointing to the language of Proposition 64, the 2016 ballot initiative that made possession of less than one ounce of marijuana no longer a felony in the state.

“The purpose of the language is to describe the vast array of means of consumption, and consumption, not possession, is the act the voters determined should remain criminalized if the user is in prison,” said the ruling, which was handed down on Tuesday. “We agree with defendants that consumption can be achieved in ways not strictly involving smoking or ingesting, such as inhaled as a nonburning vapor or applied topically such that it is absorbed through the skin.”

However, the court pointed out that smoking or ingesting marijuana remained a felony. …

Click here to read the full story from the New York Times

California DMV budget rises 17 percent in Real ID push

Millions of Californians have yet to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s license that will soon be required if they want to board airplanes or enter other federal facilities, including prisons and military bases, without a passport.

To help the DMV promote the federally mandated Real ID program and navigate ongoing implementation challenges, state lawmakers approved a budget on Thursday that will boost the department’s budget by more than $242 million.

It’s a 17 percent increase that brings the DMV’s total budget to $1.36 billion. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

California lawmakers poised to approve $214.8 billion budget

California lawmakers are poised to approve a framework for a $214.8 billion operating budget on Thursday, the first step in a spending package that seeks to address the teacher shortage, expand health care to some adults living in the country illegally and bolster the state’s top firefighting agency following the most devastating wildfire season in state history.

State law requires lawmakers to pass the framework by midnight Saturday. If they don’t, they don’t get paid. Lawmakers reached an agreement on Sunday night and scheduled a vote for Thursday, days ahead of the deadline.

“I do think it’s a good budget,” said state Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. “In every budget there is good and there is could be better.”

The massive bill, totaling more than 900 pages, directs tax dollars in the state’s most populous state. But lawmakers must still pass more than a dozen other bills to implement the budget. These “trailer bills” could contain important details, including implementing a monthly fee on cellphone bills to pay for upgrades to the 911 system. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press

Marijuana industry wants L.A. to crack down on illegal pot shops

The legal marijuana industry urged Los Angeles City Hall on Monday to get tougher with illegal shops that are gouging their businesses in open sight.

Illegal pot shops are widespread throughout Los Angeles and typically look like the real thing. And they’re thriving — they sell cheaper products than their legal rivals because they don’t charge hefty state and local taxes.

In a letter Monday, the industry group Southern California Coalition recommended the city consider seizing cannabis inventory and cash from illegal shops that are found to be selling tainted products.

In the legal market, marijuana, concentrates, cookies and other products must be tested by independent labs for consumer safety — a requirement that illegal shops can ignore. …

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