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Good morning, California. It’s Thursday, March 10.
It’s full speed ahead for zero-emission cars in California.
The Golden State got the green light Wednesday to proceed with its nation-leading clean car program after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reinstated a waiver reaffirming its decades-old authority to set emission limits stricter than the federal government’s — setting the stage for California to develop auto emission rules to meet Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of eliminating new gas-powered cars by 2035.
The move wasn’t a surprise — President Joe Biden had long hinted at plans to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to block California from setting its own tailpipe pollution standards for cars and light trucks.
And although California had continued to set its own standards even without the waiver, the stakes surrounding gasoline-powered cars have heightened in recent weeks.
California is reeling from the highest gas prices in the nation — Wednesday’s average price was $5.58 per gallon, up 14 cents from the day before and an all-time high when not accounting for inflation — and oil industry groups are increasing pressure on Newsom and state lawmakers to ramp up the state’s oil production in the wake of a U.S. ban on imports from Russia.
Newsom, however, doubled down on clean energy production in his Tuesday night State of the State speech — “We need to be fighting polluters, not bolstering them … freeing us once and for all from the grasp of petro-dictators” — and in a Wednesday statement applauding the federal waiver.
Newsom isn’t alone in urging the state to stay the course on transitioning away from fossil fuels.
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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Tuesday, California had 8,419,654 confirmed cases (+0.1% from previous day) and 86,025 deaths (+0.2% from previous day), according to state data. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
1. Big bonuses for youth prison workers?
Workers at the California Division of Juvenile Justice could receive bonuses of as much as $50,000 for staying on the job until the state’s youth prisons close next year under the terms of a deal Newsom’s administration is negotiating with at least six unions, CalMatters’ Byrhonda Lyons reports. If approved by state lawmakers, the bonus would appear to be among the largest California has ever offered to retain a group of workers. Data shows roughly 23% of 1,000 authorized positions inside the Division of Juvenile Justice’s institutions are vacant, Byrhonda reports.
In other youth corrections news: In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, at least 20 women alleged they were sexually assaulted by at least 10 staff members at Camp Scott, Los Angeles County’s all-girls juvenile detention facility, between 1996 and 2008, the Los Angeles Times reports.
2. Key state programs fall short
Wednesday brought with it three more examples of government programs struggling to live up to their goals of helping low-income and vulnerable Californians:
3. CA braces for long COVID
From CalMatters health reporter Ana B. Ibarra: Even as California looks to turn the page on the pandemic, a Wednesday legislative hearing revealed the state will likely have to grapple with another type of COVID wave — debilitating long-term symptoms and disabling disease affecting people’s daily lives and ability to work.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Newsom ignored some of California’s knottiest problems during his fourth State of the State address.
Addressing California’s homeless crisis: Comprehensive, ongoing case management is instrumental in helping families on the brink of homelessness, argue Brittany Collier, Aneesa Motala and Olivia Ta, graduate students at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
Stopping anti-Asian hate crimes: Two new bills in the state Legislature would help protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on public transit and in other public spaces, writes Camille Serrano of IGNITE.
Ukrainian mom killed identified as Silicon Valley tech firm accountant. // Mercury News
Returning money to California taxpayers may aid state budget. // Associated Press
S.F.’s vaccine mandate ends Friday, but many restaurants will still check cards. // San Francisco Chronicle
L.A. moves to lift vaccine verification mandate at indoor businesses. // Los Angeles Times
Judge declines to order sheriff to improve COVID-19 protections in San Diego County jails. // San Diego Union-Tribune
Two more LAPD officers fired over COVID-19 vaccination mandate, bringing total to three. // Daily News
High-ranking prosecutors allege Gascón demoted them for complaining about policies. // Daily News
Federal whistleblower died by suicide, California sheriff announces. // Sacramento Bee
Picking up an online purchase? O.C. to create ‘safe zones’ for the exchange. // Orange County Register
California is living in a domestic violence ‘nightmare.’ Could Seattle hold the solution? // Sacramento Bee
Thousands of SoCal grocery workers hope to avoid strike as contract with supermarkets expires. // ABC 7
Why layoff notices are back in some California school districts in a year of plenty. // EdSource
A wealth of cash in L.A. Unified but for how long? // Los Angeles Times
Police break up massive Crenshaw High fight, seize gun at other campus. // Los Angeles Times
Card room operators sue over tribal sports gambling initiative. // Sacramento Business Journal
Fresno lost $400K in a phishing scam and never told the public. // Fresno Bee
‘San Francisco is coming back.’ Mayor Breed hits optimistic note in annual address, but says work still needed in housing, public safety. // San Francisco Chronicle
San Diego makes little progress preserving affordable housing with money, new law. // San Diego Union-Tribune
UC Berkeley to relocate homeless community at People’s Park to make way for student housing. // San Francisco Chronicle
Mentally ill people in S.F. are cycling in and out of emergency rooms. One doctor shares stories about our broken system. // San Francisco Chronicle
Big Sur beaches are getting wider. Scientists say it’s the result of fire and flood. // San Francisco Chronicle
California tightens grip on PG&E, but wildfire risk persists. // Sacramento Bee
Genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida, California get OK from EPA. // USA TODAY
See you tomorrow.
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