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Oct 16, 2017

 Northern California is facing catastrophic wildfires more typically seen in the southern part of the state. Experts aren't sure why.


LA Times' BETTINA BOXALL: "Block after block of tidy housing tracts reduced to heaps of ash. Death counts in the double digits. Homeowners numbly poking through the ruins of domestic life."

"California has seen this before."

"But the harrowing images of loss and destruction usually come out of the south."


READ MORE related to The West is Burning: After devastating Atlas fire, utility crews work to restore power to 29,000 customers -- LA Times' JOSEPH SERNA; California wine country wonders when tourists will return -- Sacramento Bee's RYAN SABALOW/DALE KASLER/ELLEN GARRISON; Calistoga evacuation lifted -- Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER/RYAN SABALOW/ELLEN GARRISON; As crews gain ground, California fire victims return home -- APCalifornia fires deal devastating economic blow to victims--many poor and elderly -- Sacramento Bee's MARJIE LUNDSTROM/DARRELL SMITH/PHILLIP REESE; Hundreds of horses saved from fierty death in volunteer-led Napa rescue operation -- East Bay Times' ETHAN BARON


Gov. Brown vetoed fewer bills in 2017 than he did the previous year.


LA Times' JOHN MYERS: "For a governor with the distinction of vetoing fewer bills than any chief executive in modern California history, Gov. Jerry Brown didn't abruptly change course in 2017."

"As he's done the last seven years — and the eight years he served as governor a generation ago — Brown signed the vast majority of bills that reached his desk this year."

"On Sunday night, he weighed in on the final bills approved by the Legislature before it adjourned for the year on Sept. 16. In all, Brown signed 859 bills in 2017 and vetoed just 118. That veto rate — 12% — is lower than the 15% of proposed laws he rejected in 2016."


READ MORE related to State: Kevin de Leon formally launches bid to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein -- Sacramento Bee's CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO; Dads' diaper duty just got easier in California -- Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF; What it's like for one lawmaker to wait for Gov. Jerry Brown to act on the final bills of the legislative session -- LA Times;


Speaking of Brown, Donald Trump won't have to disclose his tax returns to get on California's ballot, as Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes bill.


From the LAT's JOHN MYERS: "An unprecedented effort to force President Trump and other White House hopefuls to disclose their personal income tax returns was blocked by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday, who argued the plan would likely be overturned by the courts.'


'Brown's veto of Senate Bill 149 put him at odds with legislative Democrats who insisted its mandate for five years of income tax information would help voters make an informed choice. In his veto message, though, the governor said the proposal could have led to other litmus tests for candidates.'


"Today we require tax returns, but what would be next?" Brown wrote. "Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?"


Republican lawmakers' troubles deepen, as Koch donors and Bannon take aim


LA Times' LISA MASCARO: "Less than a year after Republicans gained control of Washington with President Trump amid heady promises of action, political pressures from multiple directions are bearing down on House and Senate lawmakers whose stalled agenda threatens to exact a toll heavy enough to endanger their majorities."

"The messy dilemma congressional Republicans face was starkly visible at two venues in recent days, where powerful factions within the party vented their anger."


"At one — a gathering at an expensive New York hotel of wealthy donors aligned with the conservative Koch brothers — frustrations ran so high over the GOP’s inability to deliver on campaign promises that some warned of a wipeout in the 2018 midterm elections. Donors suggested that their financial backing for Republican campaigns could dry up if lawmakers fail to make progress, particularly on tax cuts."


READ MORE related to Federal: House Dems choose a 2018 villain, and it's not Trump -- McClatchyDC's ALEX ROARTY; Over a decade, FEMA rejects $1.2 billion in appeals from disaster victims -- AP; 'I'm intact,' Tillerson says, brushing off drama with Trump -- AP; Inside the 'adult daycare center': How aides try to controle and coerce Trump -- WaPo's ASHLEY PARKER/GREG JAFFE


California will provide a year of free community college for new students


Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "California community colleges will provide a year of free tuition after Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation that aims to boost declining enrollment and address a shortage of college-educated workers in the state."

"Assembly Bill 19 waives the first year of fees for any first-time student who enrolls full-time at one of 114 community colleges in the state. About half of the system’s 2.1 million students already receive fee waivers because of financial need."

"At $46 per credit, or less than $1,400 annually for a full course load, California’s community colleges are the cheapest in the country. But other educational and living expenses can run into the thousands of dollars per year, and less financial aid is available than for students at four-year universities."


READ MORE related to Education: California voters strongly back expanded K-12 science and computer education, poll shows -- EdSource's CAROLYN JONES; US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos finds out about personalized learning at California school -- EdSource's THERESA HARRINGTON


What you need to know to catch up with the case 


Sacramento Bee's DARRELL SMITH: "It’s a case – and a legislative battle – that could rewrite the future of free speech online."

"The people of the state of California vs. executives of classified advertising website has all the elements of a John Grisham legal thriller. Maverick online publishers turned criminal defendants. Charges of multimillion dollar money laundering schemes related to the illicit sex trade. Powerful politicians hashing out the limits of Constitutional rights in the digital age."

"As the case, which is being tried in Sacramento, turns 1 year old this week, The Bee takes a look at its history, its players and what likely will come next."


Porter Ranch residents exposed to Aliso Canyon gas leak have uranium, lithium and other chemicals in their bodies, health study shows


Daily News' SUSAN ABRAM: "High levels of uranium, lithium and a synthetic chemical used to make plastics were present in the urine and hair samples of residents who live near the site of the massive 2015 Aliso Canyon natural gas leak, according to results released Saturday by a local physician."

"The long-awaited, independent health study by Dr. Jeffrey Nordella, who practiced in Porter Ranch, showed a pattern of symptoms from patients he followed and tested just after the leak was capped in February 2016 and then months later, up until this year."


"More than 300 people packed the Hilton Hotel in Woodland Hills to listen to Nordella’s presentation, and many gasped as he showed them charts with patterns of substances that he found in hair and urine of patients he had tested and followed, including styrene, a derivative of benzene, which is a known carcinogen. Chronic exposure to styrene leads to tiredness and lethargy, memory deficits, headaches and vertigo. Nordella also said:"


California slaps surcharges on some health care policies


KHN's CHAD TERHUNE in Capitol Weekly: "California’s health exchange said Wednesday it has ordered insurers to add a surcharge to certain policies next year because the Trump administration has yet to commit to paying a key set of consumer subsidies under the Affordable Care Act."

"The decision to impose a 12.4 percent surcharge on silver-level health plans in 2018 means the total premium increase for them will average nearly 25 percent, according to Covered California. Taxpayers, not consumers, will bear the brunt of the extra rate hike because federal premium assistance for policyholders, which is pegged to the cost of coverage, will also increase."


"Statewide, rate increases will vary by insurer and region. What consumers pay depends on where they live, their income, what level of coverage they want and which insurer they choose."

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