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February 24, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO -- A measure to block California's transgender students rights law failed to qualify for the November ballot Monday, according to the secretary of state's office. The referendum would have repealed a law passed last year that requires school districts to let transgender students participate in school programs and use school facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, based on their gender identity instead of their biological sex.  The measure was backed by a coalition called Privacy for All Students.
February 23, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - California farmers markets want to get tough with interlopers who don't sell what they grow. They're backing a bill to crack down on vendors who falsely claim to offer pesticide-free or locally grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. "Californians are fortunate to have the highest concentration of farmers markets in the nation," said the bill's author, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). The bill, AB 1871, he said, would "increase consumer protections and accountability at our certified farmers markets, protect local farmers and help this growing sector of the economy continue to thrive.
February 21, 2014 | By Ralph Vartabedian
After a spate of high-profile accidents, the railroad industry agreed with government regulators Friday to reduce speeds on trains carrying crude, conduct more frequent track inspections and improve braking by July. The measures come on top of an effort by the Department of Transportation to upgrade tank car safety and an emergency order last year to tighten operating procedures on trains that can haul about 100 tank cars at a time across long stretches. The response comes after a handful of major North American crashes of oil trains that set off fires and explosions, the worst one killing 47 people in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, last summer.
February 20, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO-The Assembly approved a measure Thursday that would ramp up disclosure requirements for nonprofit groups and other organizations that spend money in California campaigns, a response to a infamous multimillion-dollar anonymous donation in 2012. The measure, by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) would establish thresholds under which organizations would have to disclose their donors, such as when an organization receives $1,000 or more from donors for the purpose of making expenditures or contributions.
February 20, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
KIEV, Ukraine - The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday passed a measure calling for a halt to a day-old "anti-terrorism operation" and ordering all law enforcement officers to cease fire and return to their barracks, the UNIAN news service reported. If the steps are carried out, they could ease the political crisis that has cost scores of lives this week in clashes between protesters and security forces in Kiev, the capital. Even if the move is not successful, the ability of opposition lawmakers to push through the measure in a parliament dominated by the ruling Party of Regions was widely seen by them and many others as an important victory for their cause.
February 18, 2014 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - A protracted political battle over California's medical malpractice law may be coming to a new front: the voting booth. For decades, trial lawyers and consumer groups have railed against limits on certain damages in malpractice cases, arguing that such restrictions deny victims fair compensation for grisly medical mistakes. Insurance companies, doctors and other healthcare providers have been equally vigorous in defending the law, saying it is crucial to controlling costs and maintaining the availability of care.
February 13, 2014 | By Amy Hubbard
Money worries are killing romance right when we need it, on Valentine's Day. The holiday means pricey dinners and sparkly gifts, an outlay of cash -- and added financial stress -- for many Americans. For those wanting to add some romantic sizzle, money worries are a cold shower. PHOTOS: For Valentine's Day, monogamous animals A recent survey shows money-related stress may be snuffing out sexual desire.  A majority of Americans surveyed in the Harris poll, conducted for financial data company Yodlee , thought about money more often than sex -- 62% of those 18 and older.
February 12, 2014 | By Kathleen Hennessey and Chris O'Brien
WASHINGTON - The White House has released guidelines aimed at prodding companies that run some of the nation's most essential services such as utilities, cellphone towers and banks to better protect themselves from cyberattacks. Officials said the guidelines, developed under an executive order that President Obama signed a year ago, provide companies overseeing the nation's crucial infrastructure with a blueprint for identifying potential threats, protecting themselves from cyberattacks and, if an attack occurs, recovering from it. But the voluntary nature of the guidelines showed how sharply proponents of strong regulation have scaled back their ambitions - and even their language - in the face of industry opposition to government intervention.
February 11, 2014 | By Michael A. Memoli and Lisa Mascaro
WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday to extend the nation's borrowing capacity for another year, lifting the threat of government default and ending - for now - three years of partisan fiscal battles. House Republican leaders rushed the measure to the floor after their fractious majority failed to agree on what, if any, conditions it would try to attach to the must-pass legislation. In the end they submitted a bill with no strings, leaving it to the chamber's Democratic minority to provide most of the votes for passage.
February 11, 2014 | By Michael A. Memoli
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday to extend the nation's borrowing capacity for another year, all but ensuring that Congress' recent fiscal cease-fire extends through the summer. Republican leaders brought the measure quickly to the floor after the fractious majority failed to agree on what, if any, provisions to attach to the must-pass legislation. The chamber's Democratic minority provided most of the votes needed to approve the measure, with only 28 Republicans voting on the so-called clean debt limit measure.
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