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California Lawmakers Vow To Protect Federal Environmental Laws

By Amy Quinton California senate Democratic leaders announced proposed legislation aimed at strengthening environmental regulations that they say President Donald Trump could weaken. The three bills would make current federal clean air, clean water, endangered species and workers' safety standards enforceable under state law, even if the federal government rolls back those standards. "Californians can't afford to go back to the days of unregulated pollution," says Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León. "So we're not going to let this administration or any other undermine our progress." The measures could also make it more difficult for federal lands to be sold to private developers for mining or other resource extraction. Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson has proposed a bill that would protect scientific information from federal censorship or destruction. "It is almost inconceivable that we are at this point where we need to protect science from the politics of ideology, regardless of what side," says Jackson. The bill would also ensure federal employees don't lose state licensure for revealing violations of law, unethical actions, or dangers to public health or safety. While many California environmental laws are already more stringent than federal regulations, some aren't. "The state really relies on the federal Endangered Species Act. We have our own state analog, but it's not as comprehensive as the federal one," says Ethan Elkind with the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment. Elkind says California relies on federal government agencies for enforcing some environmental regulations and they could see their budgets trimmed or their mission curtailed. Senate leaders say if passed, the measures may require hiring more agency staff or lawyers. Democratic leaders have already hired former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to represent them in any legal fight against the Republican White House.

California Lawmakers Vow To Protect Federal Environmental Laws

New And Improved Amtrak Station Opens In Sacramento

By Sally Schilling A new and improved Sacramento Valley Amtrak station opened its doors today. Members of the public got an inside look at the renovations of the Sacramento Valley Station. Officials say the $34 million dollar project is a celebration of Sacramento's past and its future. One goal was to preserve the history of the building, including a mural depicting the 1863 groundbreaking of the station as a terminus of the transcontinental railroad. The redesign also includes commercial space. Sacramento Bee publisher McClatchy wants to lease a large portion of the space for a digital video lab. The station is used by the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin Amtrak lines and connects to Sacramento's light rail system. According to Amtrak data from 2015, it is the seventh busiest station in the country.

New And Improved Amtrak Station Opens In Sacramento

Air Quality Advocates Worry EPA Waivers At Risk

By Steve Milne Some people are afraid California's ability to create it's own environmental policies may soon suffer a major setback. The federal Environmental Protection Agency's new chief - Scott Pruitt - has not committed to continuing the state's waiver authority. At the state Capitol yesterday, air quality advocates talked about how the waivers have made life better in California...such as strict emissions standards. Kevin Hamilton heads the Central California Asthma Collaborative. "When I'm driving up the freeway now, on the 99, I'm not seeing a bunch of old clunkers smoking up the road so much anymore," said Hamilton. "I see very few of those, in fact almost none. But thanks to this we see that forward progress. That would all stop." Hamilton told lawmakers his first car was a 1965 Ford Galaxy. "It looked a lot different than the car that I drove here today - a Ford Edge," said Hamilton. "So, maybe not the most emission clean car in the world, but a hell of a lot cleaner than that Galaxy was, I'll tell you right now." Bill Magavern with the Coalition for Clean Air says the state Legislature should call on California's Congressional Delegation... "...to make it an urgent priority to preserve California's authority, under the Clean Air Act, to set standards that are tougher than the federal standard," said Magavern. "We know there are those who would like to take that away." "We need to be ready for the very real possibility that this administration will not be providing the help that we need," said Magavern. "And in that case this Legislature and the Air Resources Board need to be ready to fill the void left if the federal government retreats from clean air." Any efforts to end the waivers would likely face legal challenges.

Air Quality Advocates Worry EPA Waivers At Risk

Hit That Snooze Button Again? Middle And High Schools Could See A Later Start Time

By Daniel Potter Bleary-eyed teenagers shuffling to school barely after daybreak could become a thing of the past if a state lawmaker has his way. A new proposal would push back middle and high school start times to at least 8:30 a.m. The idea is simple: if school starts later, students get more sleep, and good things result, Anthony Portantino, Los Angeles County Democratic Senator, says. "It's amazing, the number of positive benefits from this simple little tweak, of start time," Portantino says. He points to research showing benefits like better grades and fewer disciplinary problems. Well-rested students may also get along better at home – as anyone who's had to roust a crabby teenager can attest. One challenge Portantino expects will be the disruption to morning routines and commutes. "We're not just gonna say Jan. 1 this starts," Portantino says. "So there's going to be a lead-up time for families to discuss local logistics, figure out carpools, figure out who's walking to school, who's taking the bus to school, who's driving to school." One other benefit Portantino highlights for high-schoolers who drive themselves: They get into fewer car wrecks when they're not so groggy every morning.

Hit That Snooze Button Again? Middle And High Schools Could See A Later Start Time

Capitol Chat: Congressional Town Halls And Dam Inspection

Congressman Tom McClintock returned to the Sacramento region this week for a town hall meeting just weeks after an uproarious crowd in Roseville led to a police escorting him out of a public meeting. The 2-hour long convening in Mariposa had some fireworks as the crowd sparred over immigration, climate change and healthcare. Congresswoman Doris Matsui held her own town hall on Monday focusing specifically on the Affordable Care Act. Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler attended both forums and discusses the experience. Adler also shares his story on the Oroville Dam inspection safety program following the Oroville emergency spillway failure.

Capitol Chat: Congressional Town Halls And Dam Inspection

"A Face In The Crowd" To Most, A Dear Friend To One

Sacramento artist Tony Natsoulas will have his new documentary play this weekend at the Manetti Shrem Museum in UC Davis. Natsoulas is a familiar figure to many in the region. From his deep roots in Davis, where he began sculpting and attended university, to Roseville, where he serves as the exhibition curator at Blue Line Arts, Natsoulas has created a legacy. His film titled "A Face In the Crowd" attempts to capture that legacy for generations to come. It was directed by Benjamen Fargen, a longtime friend of Natsoulas. We'll learn more about Natsoulas' work and why Fargen turned his attention from building guitar amplifiers — his day job — to making a film about the life of his friend. The documentary will screen Feb. 25 at 2 p.m.

"A Face In The Crowd" To Most, A Dear Friend To One

Flood Problems Plague Area East of Carson City

By Ky Plaskon The TESLA Gigafactory east of Reno is spawning a housing boom in the small community of Dayton, Nevada. Developers plan to build thousands of homes along the Carson River. But the area is constantly flooding. A dump truck drops a pile of sand where Dayton resident Ray Tolgeson has a shovel in one hand and a bag in the other. "Bring your own thing, ain't nobody gonna do it for you," says Tolgeson. It's a constant battle. Three floods since January in three spots. Just down the road, Lyon County Manager, Jeff Page is sitting in his truck, looking at a puddle, which an hour earlier was a torrent. "I have been in this very spot in 86, 97, 2005 and now 2017,coming from the same drainages causing the same problems," he says. This year's floods caused $5-8 million of damage. He says they fix roads, only to watch them wash away into the Carson River. "Crap. Ha ha. It is hard, it is a challenge, do you not fix something and people can't get to their property or do you make the necessary repairs so they can get in and out?" So to fix the problems once and for all Page has proposed creating a flood control district and imposing a tax to pay for it. "I have a very conservative board of commissioners in a very conservative county. Nobody likes taxes," says Page. Right now engineers are figuring out the cost of infrastructure for a 30-mile stretch from one county line to the next. That cost will determine the tax. "I am not going to just say 'ya' for anything, cuz I'm not for taxes," says Page. Back at the sand pile Tolgeson quickly softens his attitude about taxes with each shovel of sand. "The more I shovel, the more I think, you might be right," says Tolgeson. "We would definitely rather have a tax than a flood. When you are here living in it, Definitely."

Flood Problems Plague Area East of Carson City

Police Clear Black Lives Matter Protesters At Stockton City Council Meeting

The Stockton City Council meeting Tuesday turned into a shouting match, that took police in riot gear to clear 50 protesters from City Hall. It's the second time this month that protesters have disrupted the meeting. Protesters upset over past police shootings chanted throughout the council session, holding signs of Black Lives Matter. Local NAACP President Bobby Bivens asked the council to bring in outside agencies such as the FBI. "Investigate these shootings to make sure all of us understand what has taken place," said Bivens. But then some started arguing, more chanting, and Mayor Michael Tubbs called for a recess. "Council is in recess for 5 minutes...(chanting) You call this running a meeting?" But the recess lasted 45 minutes as police escorted chanting protesters out of the building. When the meeting resumed, Mayor Tubbs had this to say. "I didn't sign up to run for mayor so I could have armed guards at council meetings. It's ridiculous but also points to a need for us as citizens to hold each other accountable," he said. Tubbs also said he would continue to have protesters thrown out until the message gets understood.

Police Clear Black Lives Matter Protesters At Stockton City Council Meeting

During The Oroville Evacuation, Some Senior Citizens Were Not Evacuated

By Bob Moffitt The Oroville evacuation order went out to 180,000 people Feb. 12. But some nursing home and hospital patients in Sutter County didn't go anywhere. Sutter County has a list of assisted living facilities and hospitals that require help moving patients to pre-designated facilities during an emergency. When Sutter County issued its evacuation order, Nancy O'Hara, director of Sutter County's Health and Human Services Department, began calling the facilities on that list. Some of those facilities chose not to evacuate even though she encouraged them to do so. "Well, having lived here all my life and been through two floods, it would not be a decision I would make because I've seen what has happened when people don't evacuate when they should," O'Hara says. "People have died." She says while some didn't evacuate at all, others — like River Valley Care Center in Live Oak — took hours to do so, despite frequent calls from her and other agencies urging the center to do so. River Valley was the first hospital she called. "I did relay that information to the administrator, that because they are in Live Oak, they are a priority," O'Hara says. "I want to get the transportation out to you first. So, you know, you do it in the order because of the location that they're at. But, that person was just unclear as to whether they really needed to evacuate." The county is compiling a list of which facilities evacuated and which did not. O'hara says she plans to review evacuation plans with those facilities. The county, though, cannot compel a facility to move patients during an emergency. "Each facility is responsible for their own evacuation plans. That's part of their licensing, that they must have a place where they evacuate to. We do know they have issues with transportation and so we assist them with that." Rideout Hospitals and senior care facilities in Yuba City and Marysville evacuated their patients or moved them to higher floors. River Valley did begin moving patients — 12 hours after receiving the evacuation order. The facility refused to comment. Phone calls to 10 facilities in the county found four evacuated Sunday night and two did not fully evacuate the night of the order, including River Valley. Three other facilities could not be reached for comment.

During The Oroville Evacuation, Some Senior Citizens Were Not Evacuated

Farmers Wary Of Too Much Water From Weather Ruining Crops

By Bob Moffitt Some farmers are watching and waiting to see how their fruit and nut trees handle ground that is soaked by water, but some said they have seen this before. Richard Taylor has prune and walnut trees in standing water adjacent to the Feather River levee in his Taylor Brothers Farms in Yuba City. He says too much water from seepage and boils can kill young walnut and peach trees. "In 1955, when the levee broke, where we are right now was about 10 feet of water, it laid in here and stayed in here and didn't drain and it killed all the orchards," Taylor says. Taylor says farmers sued the State of California for not breaching a Feather River levee downstream to let the water out. He says the farmers eventually won but received only about one-third of the value of the crops that were lost. He recently moved about 1,200 tons of prunes to a packing plant up north and about $1 million worth of farm equipment to higher ground.

Farmers Wary Of Too Much Water From Weather Ruining Crops

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