CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES UPDATE
Body found inside perimeter of California wildfire
REDDING, Calif. (AP) — Authorities have found a body inside the perimeter of a wildfire that destroyed 30 homes and forced the evacuation of 300 others in Northern California.
State fire spokesman Mike Witesman says Shasta County sheriff's deputies discovered the body while checking a home in the community of Igo (EYE'-goh).
The coroner's office identified the man as 56-year-old Brian Stanley Henry.
The Clover Fire broke out Monday afternoon in the community of Happy Valley, about 150 miles north of Sacramento. Winds sent it spreading at 500 acres an hour. Residents were given just minutes to grab their belongings and leave.
The fire burned nearly 11 square miles. Cooler weather has helped firefighters contain 40 percent of the blaze.
Legislature sends Brown bill on Calif. prison deal
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Legislature has approved a compromise plan to deal with California's prison crisis by passing a bill asking federal judges to extend the deadline for releasing thousands of inmates.
The proposal passed the Assembly and Senate on Wednesday, a day before the end of this year's legislative session.
It includes Gov. Jerry Brown's original plan to lease cells in private prisons and county jails if the court sticks to its year-end deadline for reducing the prison population by about 9,600 inmates.
If the judges grant the extension, part of the $315 million that would be spent to rent the cells will go instead to pay for rehabilitation programs. Attorneys representing inmates in the long-running federal court case have said the legislation is too vague.
The Senate approved SB105 on a 35-2 vote, hours after the Assembly passed it 75-0. It now heads to Brown for his signature.
CALIFORNIA PRISONS-SEX OFFENDERS
Bill boosts penalty for sex offenders who cut GPS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sex-offender parolees who remove or disable their satellite-linked tracking devices would face an increased penalty under legislation sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.
A law passed two years ago to ease prison overcrowding sends parole violators to county jails instead of state prison. But many serve little or no time because jails have become overcrowded.
SB57 by Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu of Torrance requires that the state parole board order offenders who remove their GPS-linked ankle bracelets to serve six months in jail. It was narrowed from the original version, which would have sent offenders back to state prison.
The measure received final approval from the state Senate Wednesday with a 39-0 vote.
California lawmakers approve fracking bill
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Oil and gas drillers that use a technique known as fracking would face new rules in California under legislation headed to the governor's desk.
The measure includes a requirement that drillers disclose the chemicals they use in the process of hydraulic fracturing. The process involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into deep rock formations to release oil or natural gas.
Senators approved SB4 by Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills on a 28-8 vote Wednesday. They acted hours after the Assembly voted 47-17 to approve the plan amid concerns from conservation groups over last-minute changes affecting environmental reviews.
Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill.
Environmentalists across the nation have been questioning whether the chemicals used in fracking could harm public health or air and water quality.
Bill grants overtime to Calif. domestic workers
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The state Senate has approved a bill that will require paying overtime to domestic workers, but the mandate will expire in a few years unless renewed by the Legislature.
Senators approved AB241 on a 22-12 vote Wednesday, sending it back to the Assembly for a vote on amendments.
The bill was scaled back from the version originally proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco.
AB241 now exempts baby-sitters, but it requires that other domestic workers be paid time-and-a-half if they work more than nine hours in a day or 45 hours in a week. That requirement expires on Jan. 1, 2017, unless renewed by the Legislature.
If signed into law, the so-called Domestic Worker Bill of Rights also will create a committee to report on its effects.
Bill would expand role of pharmacists in Calif.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The state Assembly has approved a bill that would expand the services California pharmacists can provide to patients.
The legislation is part of what had been a package from Democratic Sen. Ed Hernandez of West Covina intended to help address the state's expected shortage of primary care physicians. Under SB493, pharmacists could order certain laboratory tests and prescribe smoking-cessation drugs.
Two other bills from Hernandez aimed at expanding the roles of nurse practitioners and optometrists failed to pass out of Assembly committees.
Supporters, which include pharmacy schools and Blue Shield of California, say the legislation would allow pharmacists to better use their training and could help control health care costs.
The Assembly passed the bill 56-0 Wednesday, returning it to the Senate for a final vote.
San Jose settles police shooting lawsuit for $5M
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — San Jose officials have tentatively agreed to pay nearly $5 million to settle a lawsuit by a man who was shot more than 20 times by police after they mistook his toy gun for the real thing.
The San Jose Mercury News reports Wednesday that the proposed deal would settle Javier Gonzales-Guerrero's federal lawsuit against the city.
The construction worker had passed out drunk at a hotel after attending a Halloween costume party Oct. 23, 2011.
Hotel guests became concerned about the sleeping man, who was dressed as a surgeon and had a gold-colored revolver tucked in his waistband.
Police said that officers who responded to the scene fired at Gonzales-Guerrero when they saw him move his hands toward the gun.
Gonzales-Guerrero survived the gunshot wounds after multiple surgeries.
Umpqua buying Sterling Financial in $2B deal
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Umpqua Holdings Corp. says it is buying fellow regional bank Sterling Financial Corp. in a $2 billion cash-and-stock deal.
The two said Wednesday they will combine under the Umpqua name to form a bank with about $22 billion in assets and branches in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California and Nevada. Umpqua is based in Portland, Ore., while Sterling has its headquarters in Spokane, Wash.
Under the terms of the deal, Sterling shareholders will get 1.671 shares of Umpqua common stock and $2.18 cash for each share of Sterling common stock. The deal is expected to close in the first half of next year.
Umpqua CEO Ray Davis will remain at the helm of the combined bank, while Sterling CEO Greg Seibly will become a co-president.
Yahoo CEO says company now has 800 million users
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says the Internet company now has about 800 million worldwide users, a 20 percent increase since she was lured away from Google 15 months ago to steer a turnaround.
The gain disclosed Wednesday at a technology conference in San Francisco is the latest evidence of the progress that Yahoo Inc. is making under Mayer's leadership. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company's stock has nearly doubled since Mayer came aboard, though she and analysts say that gain primarily stems from the value of Yahoo's holdings in China's rapidly growing Alibaba Group.
Mayer says the figure for the 800 million Yahoo users doesn't include the traffic that the company has picked up from its $1.1 billion acquisition of Internet blogging service Tumblr earlier this year.
Facebook CEO says IPO made company stronger
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn't really want to take his company public last year, but he has changed his mind now that the Internet social network's stock is steadily rising.
Zuckerberg told a San Francisco audience attending a technology conference that he believes the initial public offering of stock completed 16 months ago turned Facebook Inc. into a stronger company than it would have been had it remained private. He made his remarks late Wednesday, a few hours after Facebook's stock hit its highest price since the IPO.
The stock gained $1.44 to close at $45.04, slightly above the previous peak reached on its first day of trading in May 2012. The shares then slipped into long descent amid concerns about Facebook's slowing growth before bottoming out at $17.55.