News

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wielding his pen, Gov. Jerry Brown has reinforced the Affordable Care Act, stood up to pharmaceutical companies and boosted testing for childhood lead poisoning.

Brown had until Sunday, Oct. 15,  to approve or reject measures passed by the legislature this year, Brown weighed in on some key health care bills, including measures to protect Californians who buy insurance for themselves.

One law will ensure that consumers have three months to shop for health plans in future years, rebuffing a move by the Trump administration that cuts that time in half. Another law will help people keep their health care providers if insurers cancel their policy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sacramento, CA – On October 6, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 231 (Hertzberg) and Assembly Bill 574 (Quirk) into law, paving the way for California communities to tap two climate-smart local water sources: rainwater and drinkable recycled water. California Coastkeeper Alliance and ten local Waterkeeper organizations championed the bills because they advance water security while reducing polluted runoff that contaminates rivers, streams, and coastal waters.

“Recycled water and rainwater harvest are win-win solutions. We have just put these climate-smart water supplies in reach for more California communities,” says California Coastkeeper Alliance Policy Director Sean Bothwell. “Senator Hertzberg and Assemblymember Quirk’s legislation will help us turn a liability into an asset by reducing flooding and pollution while bolstering local water supplies. This is how California leads.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A third of young California children at risk for lead poisoning are not being tested despite state and federal laws that require it, according to a new study—a problem at least partly addressed by legislation now on the governor’s desk.

Researchers using data from the state Department of Public Health found that 160,000 children 1 and 2 years old who needed testing never received it. That’s a 34 percent failure rate, the study says.

“Our most vulnerable kids, the ones that are the most lead-poisoned, are not getting tested,” said Susan Little, who led the study for the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that crossed the state’s testing reports with census figures. “The state is failing its mandate.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Lead is a major threat to children’s health, and an EWG analysis of California’s most recent lead testing data shows the state has fallen far short of its responsibility to test children at the highest risk of exposure.

The new EWG report, based on U.S. Census data and Department of Public Health data from 2013, estimates that at least one-third of high-risk 1-and 2-year-olds were not tested for the highly potent neurotoxin that can cause permanent brain damage in children. The records from 2013 are the latest such statewide data released by California’s lead testing program.

State regulations mandate that all children enrolled in Medi-Cal or other public assistance programs should be tested at 12 months of age and again at 24 months to see if intervention is needed to protect against further exposure.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

At about this time every year, the legislative session in California is winding down. Sept. 15 is the last day for the governor to sign any bill this year. As the legislative year comes to an end, I once again summarize several of the new laws that I believe are of most importance to our readers:

LANE-SPLITTING
Assembly Bill 51 was authored by Democratic Assemblymember Bill Quirk, whose district District 20 encompasses Hayward, Union City, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo, Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview, Sunol and North Fremont. AB 51 defines “lane-splitting” as two-wheeled vehicles traveling between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads and highways.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the gulf coast of Texas in late August, it led to widespread flooding in Houston and other cities and towns. In some places more than 15 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period, quickly inundating roads, highways and entire neighborhoods. Damage from the storm is expected to be in the billions of dollars.

Then, even as commentators and onlookers invoked the word “historic” for Harvey in one breath, the very next breath was given to the historic proportions of Hurricane Irma, relegating coverage of Harvey to a backseat as one of the largest hurricanes ever recorded took aim at Florida.

As these areas work to recover, we face a compelling question: Given that weather extremes are expected to become even more severe and frequent, how can and should efforts to replace lost and damaged infrastructure aim to make it better able to withstand disastrous events to come?

Monday, September 11, 2017

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California lawmakers unanimously approved sweeping legislation today that could mean hundreds of thousands more at-risk children would be tested for lead poisoning each year. The legislation would bring major improvements to a long-struggling program that researchers estimate fails to identify almost two-thirds of lead-poisoned children in the state.

AB 1316, by Assembly Members Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, and Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, requires the Department of Public Health to revise regulations for when doctors test children’s blood for lead exposure. In writing the new rules, the department must for the first time consider various factors – such as proximity to lead smelters or freeways, or drinking from lead-contaminated plumbing – that could expose the child to the potent neurotoxin.