A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week…
California to Speed Graduation, Offer Debt Cancellation at Community Colleges
Governor Gavin Newsom today announced he signed legislation to boost graduation and transfer rates and offer debt cancellation at community colleges.
“California is increasing resources, adding services, and advancing equity to boost graduation and transfer rates throughout our higher education systems,” said Governor Newsom. “Thanks to the Legislature’s leadership, we’re building on my Administration’s efforts to ensure all of our students are well-equipped to succeed and prepared for California’s future.”
The bills signed today will:
- Ensure that students attending California Community Colleges enroll directly into transfer-level math and English courses, if their program requires it or they are seeking to transfer.
- Expand supervised tutoring offered for foundational skills and transfer-level courses.
- Offer debt cancellation to encourage students to re-enroll and enroll at community colleges, building on budget appropriations.
Attorney General Bonta: Credit Card Codes for Firearms Will Save Lives
California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, as part of a multistate coalition of 11 attorneys general, welcomed a decision by three major credit card companies to adopt a spending merchant category code (MCC) for firearms. The code will help law enforcement crack down on illegal firearm sales and potentially assist them in identifying transactions associated with mass violence.
“This decision by the three largest credit card companies in the U.S. will go a long way in helping us in our fight to save lives and combat senseless violence,” said Attorney General Bonta. “This has never been more urgent — people are dying from gun violence each and every day. Preventing gun violence is on everyone: from law enforcement to business leaders to community members, and the MCC is a necessary tool to help protect our communities from more tragedies. Efforts to discourage this critical move to save lives are misguided and misleading.”
Governor Newsom Vetoes Mandatory Kindergarten Bill
On Sunday, Sept. 25, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 70, which sought to expand compulsory education to include kindergarten.
In his veto message, Newsom stated: “While the author’s intent is laudable, SB 70 is estimated to have Prop. 98 General Fund cost impacts of up to $268 million ongoing, which is not currently accounted for in the state’s fiscal plan. With our state facing lower-than-expected revenues over the first few months of this fiscal year, it is important to remain disciplined when it comes to spending, particularly spending that is ongoing. We must prioritize existing obligations and priorities, including education, health care, public safety and safety-net programs.”
Read more about this story at the Los Angeles Times.
Two California Wolf Packs Welcome Pups
On Tuesday, Sept. 27, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that two of the three known breeding packs of gray wolves in California produced litters this year. The Lassen pack in northeastern California gained five pups, growing its numbers to 12. The Whaleback pack gained six pups, for a total pack size of at least 13 living mostly in Siskiyou County.
Gray wolves are a native species to California, but were eradicated from the state in the 1920s. The first confirmed gray wolf to cross the Oregon-California border in nearly a century – a radio-collared individual called OR-7 – did so in 2011. The Lassen pack was first identified in 2017, the Whaleback pack in 2020, and the Beckwourth pack of Plumas County in 2021.
Read more about California’s new wolf pups at the Los Angeles Times.
Wine and Liquor Bottles Added to California’s Recycling Program
Governor Newsom signed into law SB 1013 by Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to expand California’s bottle recycling program. The state recycling rebate program that pays a nickel or dime for beer cans and bottles is being expanded to cover wine and spirits containers. The law adds a 25-cent deposit and refund for wine and spirits containers, including bottles, bags and pouches. It will go into effect in July of 2024, according to the Associated Press, which covered the story here.
PG&E Under Investigation for Starting the Mosquito Fire
KQED reports that PG&E is facing a criminal investigation for possibly starting the Mosquito Fire in the Sierra Nevada, the largest wildfire in California this year. The company filed a brief with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday stating that U.S. Forest Service investigators have seized a PG&E transmission pole plus other potential evidence. Investigators have also made a not-yet-official assessment that the fire started near a PG&E power line. The Mosquito Fire is currently at 90% containment, having burned 76,788 acres in Placer County.
Click here to read last week’s news roundup.