News

Los Angeles Times: California wildfires fuel a new push to ban smoking at state parks and beaches

Los Angeles Times


By Patrick McGreevy

After more than a decade of attempts to ban smoking at California beaches and parks, environmentalists have advanced new legislation to prevent lighting up in certain public places.

The proposals, approved Thursday by the Senate, now go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed three previous bills on the issue.

Supporters feel this year’s devastating wildfires have bolstered their argument and given their proposals new urgency.

Bay Area News Group: Bill to protect California consumers from PG&E disaster-related rate hikes heads to governor

Bay Area News Group


By George Avalos

State legislation designed to curb efforts by PG&E and other utility behemoths to saddle consumers with costs triggered by a company’s negligence has been approved by the Legislature and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 819, authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, would prohibit utilities from passing costs that result from the company’s negligence along to ratepayers in the form of higher monthly gas and electricity bills.

Insurance Journal: Wildfire Insurance Bill Signed by California Governor

Insurance Journal


California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill that is intended to combat what are believed underinsurance issues revealed by 2017 wildfires.

AB 1797 by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Marin County, is expected to create a requirement for insurers writing residential property insurance to conduct a replacement cost estimate on an every other year basis.

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“We heard from wildfire survivors about the devastating realization of being underinsured due to inaccurate or outdated replacement cost models used by insurers,” Levine said in a statement. “After facing the most destructive wildfires in state history, Californians should not have to begin the recovery process underinsured. California has prioritized protecting consumers and helping prevent underinsurance.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Verizon, under fire for throttling firefighters’ data speed, lifts caps for first responders

San Francisco Chronicle


By Kevin Fagan

Verizon executives came to the Capitol on Friday to get a tongue lashing over the cell phone giant’s throttling of data service for firefighters battling the massive Mendocino Complex fire — but en route they nipped the scolding in the bud by abruptly lifting all data caps on emergency first responders.

The policy went into effect for fire-ravaged California and Hurricane Lane-lashed Hawaii on Thursday, the company said, and a fuller plan for the rest of the nation will be rolled out next week. Public agencies will be able to switch to the new plan at no additional cost.

“It was a little surprising to hear, and the right thing to do,” said Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, who had called for a hearing Friday before the committee he co-chairs to investigate Verizon’s decision to drastically slow data speed. A firefighting agency said that move put their first responders in danger because they were relying on the service to communicate during the fight against the fires.

Levine’s committee went ahead with its session anyway, hearing from Verizon brass as well as leaders of the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, whose data was throttled last month as they were in the thick of helping fight the Mendocino Complex, the biggest wildfire in state history. But with Verizon’s surprise announcement, the conversation switched from how to address the individual problem that the Santa Clara County firefighters faced to how to craft future policy preventing similar trouble for other emergency responders.

Fresno Business Journal: Locally Made Brandy Finds A Tasting Home

Fresno Business Journal


By Edward Smith

A local distiller endeavoring to make a product to rival French Cognac is finding an established home in a new tasting room in Atwater.

Ken Andrus of Fresno, owner of In Distill of the Night, will be serving Velvet Night Brandy alongside other liquors being offered at tasting room Sweet Potato Spirits when Atwater-based D & S Farms opens the location in October.

The tasting room will feature gin, potato vodka, rye whiskey and brandy  where servers can spend time explaining each of the different flavor profiles before them.

“We’re talking about people enjoying an experience and more true spirit-tasting instead of slamming a glass of wine down,” Andrus said. “You’ll be able to see the different character of the spirits and why they have those characteristics.”

Los Angeles Times: Verizon lifts data restrictions on first responders after criticism for slowing service to firefighters

Los Angeles Times


By Hannah Fry

Verizon Wireless on Friday said it will immediately stop imposing data speed restrictions on first responders throughout the West Coast and Hawaii after facing intense criticism for reducing service to firefighters battling California’s largest-ever wildfire.

The telecommunication giant also said it will move forward in the coming weeks on a plan that will feature unlimited data without restrictions for public safety officials.