An attempt to weaken California's principal environmental protection law by limiting the court challenges of opponents of specific projects is moving ahead in the final days of legislative session.
From the OC Register's Brian Joseph: "The proposal, Senate Bill 317 by State Sen.Michael Rubio, D-Bakersfield, seeks to scale back lawsuits faced by construction projects under the California Environmental Quality Act, a 42-year-old law that requires state and local agencies to analyze and require mitigation for the environmental impacts of proposed developments."
"CEQA, as the law is known, has long been a source of contention among Republicans, who say its provisions, particularly those that allow for litigation by environmental-protection groups, dramatically increase the cost of doing business in California."
"Every year, it seems, the Legislature approves a handful of bills that create CEQA exemptions for specific projects, like the one approved last year for the proposed Farmers Field football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. Republicans, however, have pushed for broader reforms and some said Wednesday that the Rubio bill might just be the solution they’ve been looking for."
If the trouble-plagued San Onofre nuke plant is to be brought back up to par, the question of who is going to get stuck with the tab is uncertain.
From the LAT's Abby Sewell: "Nearly seven months after the San Onofre nuclear power plant was closed because of a leak, officials are grappling with whether it makes financial sense to bring the plant fully back online, and if so, who should pay for the necessary repairs."
"Fixing San Onofre is shaping up to be an expensive proposition, with the price tag jumping into the hundreds of millions of dollars if the plant's massive steam generators require replacing."
"But keeping San Onofre shuttered is also proving costly to the two utilities that own the plant. Southern California Edison had spent $117 million by June 30 to replace the power lost when San Onofre went offline, and San Diego Gas & Electric had spent $25 million, costs that ratepayers may be asked to pick up."
Peope who swipe copper and other metals are targeted in legislation that has been approved and sent to the governor's desk, culminating a four-year effort to close the loopholes in an earlier law.
From Jim Miller in the Press-Enterprise: "Lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a pair of bills meant to deter scrap-metal thieves by setting new rules for recyclers and scrap-metal dealers."
"The measures, which go to Gov. Jerry Brown, come more than four years after lawmakers passed legislation meant to deal with the problem."
"In many areas, though, metal theft has only gotten worse, darkening neighborhood streets, turning school classrooms into saunas, and disabling agricultural water pumps across the state."
A witness called by lawyers for a lawmaker being tried on drunken driving charges says a blood sample from the legislator was mishandled during his arrest.
From Malaika Fraley in the Contra Costa Times: "An independent forensic toxicologist testified Wednesday that a phlebotomist mishandled the blood sample taken from state Assemblyman Roger Hernandez after the West Covina Democrat was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Concord."
"David Lewis, the second witness for the defense at Hernandez's misdemeanor drunken driving trial, said the phlebotomist who drew Hernandez's blood at the Concord police station on March 27 shook the sample in defiance of the instructions given by the manufacturer of the blood-drawing kit."
"Hernandez's blood-alcohol level tested .08, the minimum level constituting drunken driving in California. Lewis, a former chief toxicologist for several Northern Californian counties, testified that the shaking action compromised the integrity of Hernandez's blood sample."