Weekly News Roundup for Friday, June 14th, 2024

View across the wetland habitat of Dos Rios State Park, which opened as California's newest state park on June 12, 2024

A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week…

California’s Newest State Park Opens to the Public

Dos Rios State Park, the first new state park in California in 10 years, opened to the public on June 12. The 1,600-acre park is about 8 miles west of Modesto in the San Joaquin Valley. Its ongoing development represents the largest public-private floodplain restoration project in California. The park project is transforming former farmland into habitats for threatened and endangered wildlife at the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers. The state is collaborating on the project with the nonprofits River Partners and Tuolumne River Trust. 

Dos Rios State Park is still in development and will expand recreational opportunities with public input. Picnic areas and some hiking areas are open, and the park promises to be a top destination for bird watching as it is located along the Pacific Flyway. Future plans include river access for swimming, fishing and boating, and trails for hiking and biking. 

The park’s opening kicked off the third annual State Parks Week (June 12-16). Dos Rios State Park is currently open Fridays through Sundays, with guided tours and backcountry hikes available. Entrance is free during the initial opening phase. Dos Rios is located at 3599 Shiloh Road, Modesto, CA 95358. 

Did you know? Free state park day passes (and so much more) are available to borrow from your local library.

Governor Newsom Increased Deployment of California National Guard to Crack Down on Fentanyl Smuggling

Governor Gavin Newsom announced on June 13 that he is more than doubling the California National Guard’s (Cal Guard) Counter Drug Taskforce operations statewide, including at ports of entry along the border. The taskforce has expanded from 155 to now nearly 400 service members. The move is intended to crack down on illicit drugs and those who smuggle them into California. 

Embedded in cross-government initiatives to combat transnational criminal organizations and the trafficking of illegal narcotics – like fentanyl – these CalGuard members with the Counter Drug Taskforce have been hired, trained, and placed at key locations statewide.

“Our top priority is the safety of our communities statewide. By working with state, local, and federal partners to take down transnational organizations and the illegal drugs they attempt to bring into our state, the state’s Counter Drug Taskforce is making a profound difference to hold smugglers accountable and take deadly drugs off our streets,” said Governor Newsom. 

Specifically, the taskforce focuses on gathering information to interdict illegal narcotics trafficking, utilizing air and ground assets to build criminal investigations, and supporting personnel at border ports of entry to stop illegal narcotics trafficking. 

New Laws to Go into Effect in California on July 1

A number of new bills signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom at the end of the last legislative session will go into effect on July 1, 2024, as reported by foxla.com.

  • AB 12 caps security deposits for renters in California. Landlords can no longer ask for security deposits larger than one month’s rent.
  • AB 1013 requires drug testing kits to be available in bars for free or for sale. The law also instructs bars to display notices about the kits’ availability and use in prevention of drink spiking. 
  • AB 28 adds an 11% tax on firearms and ammunition sold in California – the only U.S. state to have such a tax. Revenue from the tax will help fund violence prevention programs. 
  • SB 478 makes it illegal for businesses to charge hidden fees a.k.a. “junk fees,” by requiring all displayed or advertised prices to include all fees and charges, with the exception of government taxes and fees. 
  • SB 533 requires employers to establish, implement and maintain a workplace violence prevention plan.
  • SB 274 stops schools from suspending California TK-12 students for minor misbehavior.
  • AB 367 expands an existing law requiring schools to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms. The law now includes grades 3 to 5 in addition to 6 to 12.. 
  • SB 244 gives consumers the right to repair electronics by requiring manufacturers to make spare parts, tools and documentation available.

Invasive Lanternflies Reached California For the First Time

A shipment intercepted at the Truckee Border Protection Station along the California-Nevada state line contained an egg mass from invasive lanternflies, as reported by ABC7 News Bay Area on Thursday. Invasive lanternflies have already threatened the ecology of the East Coast, where anyone spotting them is encouraged to kill the insects on sight. Any lanternfly presence in California would threaten trees and the wine industry. The intercepted shipment, within which the egg mass was found on a metal art installation, was sent to Nevada to be power-washed. 

Attorney General Bonta Secures Victory in Prohibiting Firearms and Ammunition Sales on State Property

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on June 11 that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled in favor of the state defendants in B&L Productions, Inc. v. Newsom, two cases that challenged recent legislation prohibiting the sale of firearms and ammunition on state property, including at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego and the Orange County Fair & Event Center. The plaintiffs, which include a gun show promoter called B&L Productions (B&L), claimed that this sales prohibition violated their First and Second Amendment rights. 

“Guns should not be sold on property owned by the state, it is that simple,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Sales of illegal firearms and ammunition, and sales of firearms and ammunition to prohibited persons, have happened on state property and these laws will further help to prevent that going forward. This is another victory in the battle against gun violence in our state and country. I am thankful for all the hard work my team has put into this case, and we will continue to fight for commonsense gun laws in our communities.” 

The three laws upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals were signed into law between 2019 to 2022. Assembly Bill 893 (2019), Senate Bill 264 (2021), and Senate Bill 915 (2022) prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Orange County Fair & Event Center, and all state property, respectively. The plaintiffs, including B&L, challenged these three laws in two different district courts, and the Ninth Circuit consolidated the appeals before issuing its decision.

You Can Vote to Name the Natural History Museum of LA’s Green-Boned Dinosaur

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) is opening a new wing this fall, and the centerpiece will be a 75-foot, long-necked sauropod with green bones. The composite specimen, discovered in Utah in 2007 by NHMLAC’s chief paleontologist Dr. Luis Chiappe and an international field crew, is the only one of its kind in the world. The dino is a new species of sauropod. The bones were buried in a riverbed 150 million years ago and their unusual green color is caused by the mineral celadonite. 

NHMLAC is asking the public to vote on a name for the dinosaur. Select your favorite from five names: Olive, Gnatalie, Sage, Esme or Verdi. Voting ends on June 20, 2024

Related: Museum Monday: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.