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January 30, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO -- Treated waste exported from Los Angeles and other counties into the Central Valley would be subject to additional testing under a bil approved by the Assembly on Thursday. The measure, by Assemblyman Rudy Salas Jr. (D-Bakersfield), is the latest show of long-simmering tension in Kern County, where residents have objected to imports of sewage sludge, the semi-solid material leftover after treatment of human waste. The city of Los Angeles owns 4,700 acres in Kern County, where the sewage sludge, also known as "biosolids," is recycled as fertilizer.
January 30, 2014 | By Gary Goldstein
"The Great Flood," an all-archival clip documentary revisiting the events and effects of the devastating Mississippi River flood of 1927, is by turns hypnotic, playful, wildly evocative and even a bit trippy. But most of all it's a unique, highly immersing audio-visual experience that would be as at home in a museum as it is in a movie theater - and that's a first-order compliment. Experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison ("Decasia," "The Miners' Hymns") has masterfully assembled a collage of silent, monochrome archival footage of this largely forgotten catastrophe - call it the Hurricane Katrina of its day - in which the Mississippi's levees broke in 145 places, engulfing 27,000 square miles of land from southern Illinois to New Orleans.
January 27, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO -- The California Assembly overwhelmingly approved Monday a measure that aims to preserve beach fire rings and, by a narrower margin, a bill that would make condoms available in prisons. Beach fire rings have been at the center of protracted battle in Southern California's beach towns, particularly in Newport Beach, where local air-quality regulators have stepped up their regulation of the bonfires due to concerns over their effect on health and the environment. Opponents say the regulations could put a beloved beachfront recreation at risk, harming local tradition and tourism revenues.
January 22, 2014 | By Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Two Southern Californians are poised to lead the state Legislature for the first time in four decades, after lawmakers put aside the geographic rivalries that typically cleave the powerful posts between north and south. San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins was selected as the next speaker of the Assembly by unanimous vote in her caucus Wednesday, about a week after state Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles was anointed heir to the top Senate job. Both are expected to take over after formal floor votes in their respective houses.
January 9, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - The top Democrat and Republican on the California Assembly budget committee both reacted with cautious optimism to Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal Thursday, while calling for greater investments in their parties' divergent priorities. "What's good is that there's a number of similarities or compatibilities between what the Assembly released and what he has in his budget," said Rep. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who chairs the Assembly budget panel. Skinner noted that the plan does not include some of the Assembly's budget priorities, including universal transitional kindergarten or restoring cuts for Medi-Cal providers.
January 8, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO -- Prompted by the uproar over an incident of alleged racial harassment at San Jose State University, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) announced Wednesday the formation of a special committee addressing hate crimes at California universities. “Over these past few years we have seen too many incidents on California college campuses perpetrated by people with malicious intent to harm or demean others,” Pérez said in a statement. “We need to act vigorously to ensure that our campuses are welcoming to all and reflective of the rich diversity of this great state.
January 5, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - California's two top legislative leaders - both Democrats - have their eyes on 2014 as California faces big challenges in continuing to improve the state's still underperforming economy. They're pleased that after years of austerity, the Assembly and Senate along with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown have stabilized the state's budget, raising revenues, keeping spending in check and even socking away money for future downturns. Even so, state unemployment remained high at 8.5% in November, despite a quickening job creation pace.
December 13, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Top Assembly Democrats have revealed what they'd like to do with billions of dollars in extra tax revenue that the state is projected to receive, and their top priorities were reassuring: expanding the reserve fund and paying down the debts that Sacramento accumulated over the last decade. Their budget blueprint also calls for a lot of new spending on education and anti-poverty programs, however. If state government really has entered a sustained period of large surpluses, lawmakers can afford to make more long-term investments in California's infrastructure and its people.
December 13, 2013 | By Elizabeth Hand
The fury of a woman scorned is just one of the perils encountered in "Dangerous Women," a splendid cross-genre anthology featuring original stories by a number of writers, male and female. The title invokes that of "Dangerous Visions," Harlan Ellison's groundbreaking 1967 science fiction anthology, and even though there are no real game-changers here, it's an impressive assembly of work by mostly well-known authors, with a few relative newcomers who make a strong impression. Gardner Dozois, former editor of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine and founding editor of "The Year's Best Science Fiction" series, has at least 100 anthologies to his credit, six co-edited with George R.R. Martin.
December 9, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- Republican Assembly candidate Susan Shelley said Monday that she was calling off a recount from the Nov. 19 election after one day of re-tallying ballots found little difference. The decision means Democrat Matt Dababneh is the winner of the election in the 45th Assembly District, which extends from the San Fernando Valley to a sliver of Ventura County. "The recount today confirmed that the optical scanners tallied the votes correctly," Shelley, a Woodland Hills author and publisher, said in a statement.
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