Federal regulators gave California a thumbs-down on the state's request to exempt a stretch of the proposed bullet-train project from a lengthy federal review. The result: more delays.
From the LAT's Ralph Vartabedian: "The action affects part of a 29-mile rail section to be built near Fresno, where state officials have already awarded a construction contract. The decision is likely to complicate, delay and substantially drive up the cost on that initial $1-billion package of work."
"The ruling marks the second time in nine days that the rail agency's planning process has been rejected by authorities."
"A state court judge last week ruled the High-Speed Rail Authority could not use billions of dollars in voter-approved bond money because it failed to comply with legal requirements. Now, the powerful Surface Transportation Board has turned down a request for an exemption from review for the bullet train segment that runs from Fresno to Bakersfield."
Two-thirds of those surveyed in the latest PPIC survey say they are aware of the new health care law, and most of those who don't have health coverage hope to get it.
From the Chronicle's Victoria Colliver: "Most Californians have at least heard about the state's new health insurance marketplace, and the majority of the uninsured who participated in a survey released Wednesday said they plan to get covered next year as required by the federal health law."
"About 68 percent of the 1,701 Californians surveyed Nov. 12-19 - more than a month after the national launch on Oct. 1 - said they were aware a health care exchange is available to people in the state to buy medical insurance."
"But the survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, doesn't make clear whether Californians understand the difference between the state-run marketplace, called Covered California, and the glitch-plagued federal website. California's site has run much more smoothly than the federal portal, which serves 36 states that don't have their own sites."
Google's "mystery barge" at Treasure Island is a getting a close look from authorities, who apparently decided to look into the construction project last week after media reports.
From Reuters' Alexei Oreskovic: The agency that oversees development in the San Francisco Bay in California has begun a formal investigation into the construction of a secretive Google Inc barge on an island in the bay."
"The probe, which began in the past week, will examine what permits are needed to build the barge and whether the owners of the Treasure Island pier where the vessel is moored have the proper permits, said Larry Goldzband, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission."
"We want to make sure that the permits that are used by the owners of the pier actually allowed for construction to happen," Goldzband told Reuters on Wednesday, referring to what he described as "a preliminary and formal enforcement investigation."
A Democratic lawmaker called for a legislative probe into a GOP-created web site that Democrats say targeted California's healthcare reform law.
From the Bee's Jeremy White: "Adding his voice to a rising chorus of criticism, a Democratic assemblyman called on Wednesday for a legislative investigation of a health care website created by California Republicans."
"Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, became the latest California Democrat to assail a website he says Assembly Republicans created to amplify critiques of the law, rather than help Californians enroll in insurance via Covered California, the state's newly operational exchange. Gomez has sent the Assembly Rules Committee a letter asking them to investigate."
"In a statement released earlier Wednesday, California Democratic Party Chair John Burton said the website demonstrated "Republicans in California have no qualms about following their national Party's lead when it comes to spreading misinformation about the Affordable Care Act."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, has a clear edge among California Republicans, according to a new survey.
From the Oakland Tribune's Josh Richman: "Don't go calling California's 2016 GOP presidential primary or general election for Chris Christie just yet, but a new Field Poll finds the Golden State's voters like him better than four other potential Republican candidates."
"For now, the colorful New Jersey governor is leaving the others in the dust: 47 percent of California voters view him favorably, while 19 percent view him unfavorably and 34 percent have no opinion."
"Christie is the only potential GOP candidate who's viewed more positively than negatively in the Golden State. And he's the only one who not only has a favorable image among Republicans but also among Democrats and independent voters."