How California avocados have a global influence

Holy guacamole, it’s peak avocado season in California. Americans are eating more avocados than ever, especially the Hass variety, which was created in California.

California’s own

There are more than 1,000 varieties of avocados listed in the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources database. Here are some of the most common varieties grown commercially in California:

Hass

  • Pebbly skin that turns from green to purplish when ripe
  • Oval shape
  • Small seed, 5-12 ounces

Hass is the king of California’s commercial avocado crop, as it makes up 95% of the avocados grown in the state and 80% of those grown worldwide. It was developed in La Habra Heights by Rudolph Hass. Patented in the 1930s, the Hass variety overtook Fuerte avocados as the leading commercial crop in the 1970s. The original tree stood for 76 years before root rot ruined it in 2002. Hass has one of the longest harvest seasons, usually beginning in February. Hass fruit has excellent flavor and shipping qualities. A single tree can produce up to 200 pounds annually (about 500 pieces), but most average around 60 pounds and 150 pieces.

Fruit maturation times are highly dependent on climate and environment, so a Hass avocado is not ready to eat at the same time of year in the Central Valley as it is in a cool coastal climate.

Bacon

  • Green skin, oval shape
  • Medium/large seed, 6-12 ounces

A bacon-flavored avocado sounds tasty, but this avocado was named for the person that bred it, James Bacon. It originated in Buena Park and was introduced in 1951. Its flesh has an unusually pale yellow/green color and has a high oil content. It matures from November-January in Orange County and December-March in Ventura County. The trees have a good frost tolerance.

Fuerte

  • Smooth skin, pear shape
  • Medium seed, 5-14 ounces

Trees introduced as budwood in 1911 from Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico. It is a hybrid Mexican variety that is ready to pick in November and is good through March. Fuerte has been a longtime California commercial variety valued for its winter season. Its skin thickness is medium thin and the seed size is medium large.

Reed

  • Slight pebbling, round shape
  • Medium seed, 8-18 ounces

Originated in Carlsbad by James Reed. Introduced in 1960 from a chance seedling planted in 1948.

Zutano

  • Shiny skin, pear shape
  • Medium seed, 6-14 ounces

Originated in Fallbrook by W.L. Ruitt. Introduced in 1941 from a selection made in 1926.

GEM

  • Black skin, pear shap
  • Medium seed, 7-11 ounces

Patented in 2003, GEMs might be seen in California stores for the first time this season.

Fruitful facts

Avocados turn brown the longer they are exposed to oxygen. Covering with a plastic wrap can block oxygen. Adding lemon or lime juice, or chilling the avocado, can delay the browning as well.

Heavyweight

According to Guinness World Records, the heaviest avocado was grown in Hawaii in 2018 and weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces.

Does size matter?

According to the Scoop Blog by Dzung Duong on Californiaavocado.com, the size of an avocado does not indicate the fruit quality or stage of ripeness. An avocado’s seed actually grows with the fruit, so the seed-to-fruit ratio will always be close to the same. Pinkerton avocados are known to yield the most fruit per tree.

Cooking it up

Avocado oil is used as a high heat cooking oil with a smoking point of about 520 degrees.Its oil is also used in cosmetics or as a skin cream.

To learn more about planting, caring and the history of avocados go to the UC Riverside avocado site: ucavo.ucr.edu

U.S. availability of avocados

The U.S. imports about seven times as many avocados as it grows domestically.

Sources: USDA Economic Research Service, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Californiaavocado.com Photos by staff, The Associated Press and David Stottlemyer for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

 

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State gets few takers for mobile home tax amnesty plan

Jennifer Orszag never thought it’d be a problem not having her mobile home in her own name — until she learned it might cause her rent to triple.

She inherited the 20-by-52-foot double-wide 20 years ago when her grandmother died. She lived happily for the next two decades at the Sea Aria Mobile Home Estates in Huntington Beach, but never re-registered it.

“I just took over paying space rent, and that was it,” she said.Then, a county housing official told the low-income divorced mom she could lose her $900-a-month in Section 8 rent subsidies if the home wasn’t in her name.

But she was worried how much it would cost her. State registration fees for her home hadn’t been paid since 1998, the year before her grandmother’s death.

As luck would have it, there’s a state amnesty program for people like Orszag. She was able to re-register her home in her own name and waive 17 years of unpaid fees and penalties. It cost her $172, and $1,336 in back-payments vanished like the mist before the morning sun.

“I realized, hey, this is a lot more reasonable than I thought,” Orszag said. “It’s cheaper than my car registration.”

Orszag is one of almost 2,000 Californians who now have title to their mobile homes, thanks to a little known state law that waives back taxes and fees for an estimated 158,000 undocumented trailers in the state, about 66,000 of them in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

While mobile homes are supposed to be registered annually the way we register our cars and trucks, a third of the state’s 500,000 mobile homes haven’t been re-registered after a change in ownership — often because owners don’t know about the registration requirement or believed a bill of sale was sufficient to prove ownership.

“A lot of customers pay cash for a mobile home, (and) they get of bill of sale and think it’s registered,” said Natasha Stanford, lead analyst for the state’s mobile home tax waiver program. “They don’t even realize it has to be registered with the state. It could have passed through five different owners (without being re-registered).”

RUNNING OUT OF TIME

Unregistered mobile homes cost the state at a minimum of $5 million a year.

But owners face potential costs, too.

They can’t legally sell their units or leave it to a loved one. They can’t get financing. They can’t get permits for upgrades like a new roof, deck or awning. And they can’t get fire or flood insurance.

Meanwhile, about $30 to $100 in back taxes and fees continue to accrue each year they go unpaid.

Under the state’s “Register Your Mobile Home California” program, however, owners now can register their homes and wipe out all unpaid taxes, fees and penalties accumulated prior to 2016.

The unpaid taxes and fees forgiven thus far have ranged from a few hundred dollars to as much as $31,000, state figures show. The biggest amount forgiven in Southern California was $22,000 for a Los Angeles County mobile home.

The average for most owners is $500 to $600.

While that might seem like a modest amount, it’s a big deal to some owners, many of them poor or elderly — or both.

Even so, the program has had few takers.

As of April 22, 1,956 mobile home owners received tax and fee waivers since the program began in January 2017. A little over 400 others have applied for the waiver and are awaiting results.

And time is running out. On Dec. 31, the waiver itself will vanish.

The three-year program expires at the end of the year.

TAX AMNESTY

There are two types of mobile home taxes. Owners of homes built before July 1980 pay annual registration fees to the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

Owners of homes built after July 1980 — about 15% of the total — pay property taxes to the county based on its assessed value.

All mobile homes, regardless of age, must be registered with the state housing department.

The California Legislature passed the tax amnesty law in 2016 to get as many mobile homes as possible back on the tax rolls.

The program is open to owners of previously registered mobile homes who have never had title transferred into their own name.

The state forgives all past due taxes and fees accrued before Jan. 1, 2016 — or before the date the home was acquired, if later.

Subsequent taxes and fees, plus a processing charge, must be paid.

“The program was created to clear that slate and (help owners) obtain that title and registration,” Stanford said.

To date, the state has waived nearly $1.6 million.

“Now we’re able to clean up our records and … going forward, they’re going to pay those fees,” she said.

A STEAL

Beverly Nemanich’s mobile home was a steal.

The previous owner couldn’t live alone anymore, so her family sold the 1970 Golden West double-wide to Nemanich in 1997 for $4,000.

“It was the best deal I ever got,” the retired restaurant hostess, bar owner and sheet metal contractor said. “She left everything behind. All her china.”

The seller’s brother gave Nemanich a bill of sale, and she thought that was all she needed to prove she owned the two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit at the El Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park in Harbor City.

Nemanich, 71, installed new wiring, new siding, fire-retardant insulation, new plumbing, hardwood floors and converted it from all-electric to gas.

“I kept it up. I didn’t let nothing go,” Nemanich said. “It’s in excellent shape.”Recently, however, Nemanich decided to move back to Florida to be closer to her daughter. A buyer offered her $65,000 cash.But when the buyer realized Nemanich didn’t have the title in her own name, the deal fell through.“You can’t sell that. You don’t even own it,” the buyer’s agent said. “You owe a lot of money (in registration fees) on it.”

It’s not as if Nemanich hadn’t tried to get the home re-registered before the sale fell through. Nemanich said she had tried for six years, but kept getting put on hold or got disconnected.

“I called, and I called,” Nemanich said. “I would be on hold 30 minutes.”When she finally would get through to an attendant, Nemanich was told she owed about $1,500 in unpaid registration fees and penalties.She gave up.But after she lost the sale, Nemanich decided, “I had to do this.”Then, she learned about the registration amnesty program and finally got the title transferred into her name in April 2018. In two days, the title came in the mail.It was an ordeal that cost her $982, but $1,000 in back fees got waived, she said.“It’s all clean now,” Nemanich said. “I guess I’m lucky I got it through because there’s a lot of people in this park, they’re in the same situation I was in.”

‘IT’S MINE’

Orszag and her mother moved into her grandmother’s mobile home when she was in junior high.

After her grandmother died, her mother moved out, leaving the 1979 Calypso to Orszag.

“It was in my grandmother’s name until last year,” said Orszag, a copy machine repair technician and office manager for a small dealership in Fountain Valley. “ … It never changed. Nobody did any paperwork to make it happen.”

Then in May last year, during an annual review, a housing authority official realized she owned the mobile home, but didn’t have it in her own name.

“They said, ‘If you don’t get the house in your name, you’re going to lose your Section 8.’ They thought I was paying rent to my grandmother, and she’s dead,” she recalled.She had seen a flier for the Register Your Mobilehome California program at the park management office, but was skeptical about the cost of the program at first.But it was a no brainer after she realized she could get most of her unpaid fees waived.

Orszag had to provide death certificates for her grandmother and mother (who died 13 years ago), her own birth certificate and fill out a form.“It was relatively easy. I just followed the steps online. I sent the check, and all the information that they required, and I got (the title) in 30 days.”With a title in hand, she was able to fix the roof and repaint her home a pretty shade of pink.

Just being a homeowner, to own something tangible, made Orszag feel good.

“It’s mine. It’s in my name,” Orszag said. “I’m the sole owner of this broken-down house. I own the roof over my head.”

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Gov. Newsom denies parole for ex-Mexican Mafia hitman Rene ‘Boxer’ Enriquez

SACRAMENTO — For the fourth time since 2014, the California governor’s office has stepped in to prevent a former Mexican Mafia leader who has renounced his past from seeing the light of day.

In a three-page letter issued April 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom denied parole for Rene “Boxer” Enriquez, 56, overturning a decision by the state’s parole board in December. Enriquez has been granted parole four times since 2014, but each time the governor’s office has blocked his release.


Rene “Boxer” Enriquez, 56, was denied parole by the governor’s office forthe fourth time.

Newsom’s letter notes Enriquez’s cooperation with law enforcement and involvement in rehabilitation programs but says he still considers Enriquez “dangerous.”

“I encourage him to continue down this path of self-development and insight,” Newsom wrote. “However, given his current risk to public safety, I am not prepared to approve his release.”

The family of a woman Enriquez was convicted of killing had asked that he remain in prison and questioned the sincerity of his break from organized crime.

Enriquez’s next chance for freedom will be on June 2020, when he’s to go back before the parole board. At his December hearing, Enriquez told the board “I do not deserve parole” in light of the irrevocable harm he has caused, but also said he has changed his ways.

“I’ve committed crimes that people are still feeling today. I can never undo that, but I can vow to live my life in a correct manner,” Enriquez said. “I made a commitment to never violate another law, to never harm another soul. I understand the hesitancy. … I ask for your mercy.”

In recent years, Enriquez has said he and his siblings were molested as children, including by his older brother, and cited the anger from that as a reason for joining gangs as a child. He was  initiated into a neighborhood gang through a beating at the age of 12.

Enriquez, now considered an expert witness on gangs who has helped teach a class at UC Irvine via Skype, also said he had testified in a federal grand jury hearing for a racketeering case as recently as two weeks before the parole hearing but did not go into detail.

Enriquez, of Los Angeles, was an active gang member for nearly 30 years and joined the exclusive, infamous Mexican Mafia gang in the mid 1980s. In 2003, while serving time in Pelican Bay State Prison for two murders, Enriquez dropped out of the gang and shockingly agreed to testify in federal cases against other Mexican Mafia members.

He is now considered a target for assassination by the Mexican Mafia, a relatively small gang based in Los Angeles that is said to wield influence over tens of thousands of gang members across the country.

In 2015, then-Gov. Jerry Brown cited that as his reason for denying Enriquez parole, saying if he were released it would endanger his family and whatever community he ended up being placed in through a federal witness protection program.

Enriquez also gave detailed statements to federal and state authorities, describing the Mexican Mafia — also known as La Eme — as a sophisticated network of violent criminals who planned hits and laundered money in plain sight. In 2009, with Enriquez’s help and cooperation, Los Angeles-based reporter Chris Blatchford wrote a book called “The Black Hand,” which detailed Enriquez’s life and Mexican Mafia business.

Members of the parole board said his remorse was “sincere and genuine,” and read a list of numerous self-help programs Enriquez has undergone as reasons for granting him parole. His post-release plans were kept confidential.

Enriquez is serving a 20 years-to-life sentence for two murders, and has admitted to participating in a gang rape as a young adult and sexually assaulting a fellow inmate years later. He has also been involved in jail stabbings.

He became eligible for parole in 2004, but also got in trouble that year for a drug-related offense, his most recent rule violation. After several canceled hearings, he was denied parole in 2011, then granted it in 2014, 2016, 2017 and last December. In the past his bids for parole have been supported by some law enforcement officials in Orange County because of his work assisting in Mexican Mafia investigations; though other law enforcement officials in Southern California have opposed parole for him.

Enriquez was convicted of murdering Cynthia Gavaldon and David Gallegos in separate attacks; both allegedly were related to Mexican Mafia business. Enriquez says he ordered Galvadon’s death in 1989 because she was involved in drug sales but underselling them and pocketing the difference, which members of her family deny.

Enriquez said at his December parole hearing that Gallegos was a Mexican Mafia member who had fallen into disfavor with the gang for running from a gunfight. Enriquez and a fellow gang member lured Gallegos to a “drug house,” where they “incapacitated him” with an overdose of heroin and cocaine, then took him to a nearby alley and shot him multiple times. Enriquez said another Mexican Mafia member ordered the hit.

Family members of Gavaldon spoke in opposition to his release, her cousin calling Enriquez a “murder and rapist” with an “abundant, lustful appetite for Satan’s ways.” Her uncle said Gavaldon had been killed over $10 and that Enriquez was “lying” about her being involved in drugs.

“We think he speaks with a split tongue,” Gavaldon’s cousin told the parole board. “His genuineness of remorse and repentance is not there.”

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Success and failure of protected species in California

The 2019 theme for Earth Day is ‘protect our species’ so today we look at some that are threatened or near extinction in California.

The California flag features a grizzly bear that roamed the state, stood 8 feet and weighed more than a ton. The bear was considered a threat to livestock and people and has been extinct since the 1920s. The California grizzly was designated the official state animal in 1953, 30 years after it was killed off. Gray wolves were the other large mammal to join the path of extinction in the 1920s but now are moving back in from other states to Northern California.

Giant of the skies

California condors were listed as endangered in 1967 and were nearly extinct by 1987, when all of the wild birds (22-27) were captured to save the population. The birds were kept in breeding facilities at the Los Angeles Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

The captive breeding of the birds was a gamble that paid off. Condor recovery is slow because their reproductive rate is one egg laid every year or two. By 1992, several of the birds were released back into the wild in Ventura County and by 1994, captive condors had laid more than 100 eggs.

Biologists have released California condors from captivity every year since 1996.

condor stats

Getting the lead out

Condors’ food includes animals that were shot, and lead poisoning from spent ammunition was found to be partially responsible for the population’s decline.

California bans lead ammunition in the outlined area shown on the map, but as of July 1, the prohibition will be statewide.

The ban only applies to hunters; target shooting and personal protection are not impacted. Many shooting ranges will recycle lead ammo shot by customers.

California lead ammo ban

condor comeback stats

The list of fully protected animals

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife issues citations to those suspected of breaking laws protecting wildlife. Violations involving endangered species can bring fines up to $50,000 and up to a year in jail, while crimes against threatened species can result in a $25,000 fine and six months behind bars.

Some species listed are extremely rare in California, such as the wolverine, whose numbers were thought to be as low as eight 10 years ago in the Tahoe National Forest and which have not been seen much since.

Check this nest

The Institute for Wildlife Services has a high-definition cam giving a live online view of a massive bald eagle nest at Big Bear Lake. Two chicks have hatched and the mother and father are taking turns watching them.

protected animalsBack from the brink

Two other California species that have bounced back from near extinction are the sea otter and the Channel Islands dwarf fox. Sea otters were hunted down to about 2,000 by 1911. Their worldwide population is about 100,000 today.

The foxes’ numbers were down to about 100 in 1999. The foxes were mostly hunted by golden eagles, which resulted in some birds being relocated. Some foxes were bred in captivity and now there are more than 2,000 on the islands.

Mammals

  • Morro Bay kangaroo rat
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Northern elephant seal
  • Guadalupe fur seal
  • Ring-tailed cat
  • Pacific right whale
  • Salt-marsh harvest mouse
  • Southern sea otter
  • Wolverine

Fish

  • Colorado River squawfish
  • Thicktail chub
  • Mohave chub
  • Lost River sucker
  • Modoc sucker
  • Shortnose sucker
  • Humpback sucker
  • Owens River pupfish
  • Unarmored three-spine stickleback
  • Rough sculpin

Amphibians

  • Santa Cruz long-toed salamander
  • Limestone salamander
  • Black toad
  • Reptiles
  • Blunt-nosed leopard lizard
  • San Francisco garter snake

Birds

  • American peregrine falcon
  • Brown pelican
  • California black rail
  • California clapper rail
  • California condor
  • California least tern
  • Golden eagle
  • Greater sandhill crane
  • Light-footed clapper rail
  • Southern bald eagle
  • Trumpeter swan
  • White-tailed kite
  • Yuma clapper rail

Sources: California Fish and Wildlife, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, NatureServe, National GeographicPhotos: SCNG, NOAA

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Here’s what pot smokers think about driving while high

Many cannabis-culture celebrations will take place on 4/20 (April 20), so here’s a look at some pot smokers’ opinions on driving and tips to self-assess if you are too high.

Statistics show that alcohol and opiates are involved in more automobile accidents and fatalities than cannabis. But cannabis can still impair drivers, and it’s against the law to drive while high.

If a California police officer suspects any driver is impaired by any intoxicant, that driver may get locked up and that’s the ultimate downer.

A 2017 AAA report surveyed American drivers age 16 or older and found 65.8% felt it was unacceptable to drive after using marijuana.

Detection of marijuana in drivers involved in crashes has become more common. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 12.6% of weekend nighttime drivers in 2013-2014 tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, and that’s before recreational use was legalized in California.

NHTSA study on weedWith 4/20 on a weekend the percentage of buzzed drivers might be substantially higher.A survey of cannabis users that came out this month sheds some light on attitudes about driving and weed.

Rolling on the road

Researchers are still exploring how marijuana affects drivers, and users don’t have many methods of knowing how long it takes for them to become safe to drive.

The Zebra, an insurance comparison site, released a survey of 811 drivers who smoke pot from the 10 states where recreational use is legal. Here are some of the questions and responses.

marijuana and drive

How do you decide whether or not you’re OK to drive after consuming marijuana?

pot smokers decide to drive

Length of high?

Inhaling weed: expect about one to two hours.

Edible: about three to four hours, maybe longer.

Impairment from weed

A little more than half the people in the Zebra survey felt they had no driving impairment after using cannabis.

Here are the top responses to the question: Which of the following do you recall experiencing when driving after consuming marijuana?

High wait to drive

Field tests

Some police agencies have roadside tests than can detect marijuana and other drugs in saliva and take about eight minutes for a result. But failing field tests on the side of the road can be enough to get a ride to the clink.Police have many ways to test for impaired driving, but see if you can pass these three tests.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

The NHTSA estimates that these tests are 77% reliable.

In the horizontal gaze test, an officer moves an object, from side to side. It’s done to try to detect an involuntary jerking of the eye associated with high levels of intoxication. A person’s eye will reportedly jerk naturally after being strained beyond a 45 degree angle, but if the eye begins to jerk before, it can indicate a driver is under the influence.

Walk and turn test

The NHTSA estimates this test is accurate 68% of the time.

The walk and turn test splits attention between physical and mental tasks. The officer provides instructions such as, “When I say go, walk nine steps, heel to toe on the line, then turn around and walk back.”

The officer will look for:

  • Loss of balance
  • Wrong number of steps
  • Inability to stay on the line
  • Breaks in walking
  • Beginning before instructed

One leg stand test

The NHTSA estimates this test is accurate 65% of the time.

During the “one leg stand,” an officer will instruct the suspect to raise a foot, hold still, count and look down.

An officer may arrest the suspect if any of the following behaviors are observed:

  • Swaying
  • Hopping
  • Putting foot down

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, The Zebra, AAA, Weedmaps.com

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Here are the bills to watch in 2019 on health care affordability and access

By Sammy Caiola, The USC Center for Health Journalism Collaborative

Increasing Coverage

SB 29/AB 4

Introduced by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) / Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles)

These bills would extend Medi-Cal eligibility to all income-eligible adults regardless of their immigration status. The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated last year that doing so would cost almost $3 billion. It would be a significant addition to the $20.7 billion in general fund money the state is expected to spend on Medi-Cal in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Gov. Gavin Newsom has instead advocated for expanding eligibility only to undocumented people age 19 through 25 for an estimated $250 million. Undocumented children up to age 18 are already eligible.

AB 526

Introduced by Asm. Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach)

This bill would make it easier for eligible children and pregnant women in the federal Women, Infants, and Children program to enroll in Medi-Cal.

SB 260

Introduced by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger)

This bill would require health plans to send notices to people who lose their coverage for any reason, and to inform them about Medi-Cal and Covered California. Plans must also provide a list of people who lost coverage to Covered California so the exchange can contact those who lost coverage directly. Hurtado says the bill will reduce coverage gaps when people’s income or other life circumstances change.

AB 1309

Asm. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda)

This bill would extend the application period for Covered California by two weeks. Starting in 2018, most federally administered exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act shifted to a shortened enrollment period ending Dec. 15. In California, consumers have until Jan.15. This bill extends the deadline to Jan. 31.

AB 1063

Introduced by Asm. Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach)

Federal waivers allow states to find new ways to improve health care in exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. Last year, the Trump administration began allowing state exchanges to apply for waivers without explicit state legislative authority. Under the looser rules, health advocates are worried states will try to offer coverage that undermines the Affordable Care Act. Health Access and the Western Center on Law and Poverty are sponsoring the bill, which would prohibit Covered California from applying for a waiver without approval from the Legislature and the governor.

Making Insurance Cheaper

AB 174/SB 65

Introduced by Asm. Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) / Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento)

These bills both would require Covered California to provide more financial help to low-income residents buying health insurance. Assembly Bill 174 would establish a tax credit beginning in 2020 for individuals who currently earn between 400 and 600 percent of the federal poverty level, or more than $48,000 a year for an individual and more than $100,000 a year for a family of four. These families are not currently eligible for Affordable Care Act tax credits. The Senate bill would require Covered California to implement premium contribution limits, while also reducing copayments and deductibles for people with incomes between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

SB 175/AB 414

Introduced by Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) / Asm. Bonta (D-Oakland)

Both of these bills would establish an individual insurance mandate, including a state-level penalty for people who don’t carry health insurance. It would replace the federal fine that disappeared beginning this year. Covered California would determine the penalty and who would be exempt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to use revenue from the fine to fund subsidies in Covered California. He anticipates it will generate $500 million a year.

AB 715

Introduced by Asm. Wood (D-Santa Rosa)

Currently, seniors who earn more than about $15,000 a year and are enrolled in the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled program must pay a monthly out-of-pocket fee for medical services, even though most adults who earn up to roughly $17,000 a year have free Medi-Cal. This bill would reduce the number of seniors who have to pay the fee by raising the maximum income level for the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled program to $17,000.

AB 683

Introduced by Asm. Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles)

Seniors in the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled program are currently restricted to $2,000 in a bank account, or $3,000 for couples, because of something called the “assets test.” These types of restrictions were eliminated for most other Medi-Cal enrollees under the Affordable Care Act. Senior advocates say the rule requires seniors to deplete their assets in order to be eligible for health coverage, and that it disproportionately affects seniors of color. The bill would raise the limit to $10,000 for an individual, exclude certain items from the assets test, and eliminate the test for Medicare Savings Programs.

AB 1088

Introduced by Asm. Wood (D-Santa Rosa)

This bill affects seniors who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medi-Cal. These seniors sometimes lose their Medi-Cal coverage when the state begins paying their Medicare Part B premiums, because those payments bump them above the Medi-Cal income eligibility threshold. Wood’s bill would make it so the Medicare payment is not counted as income.

Combating Health Disparities

AB 318

Introduced by Asm. Kansen Chu (D-San Jose)

This bill aims to improve translations in the Medi-Cal program. It would require the Department of Health Care Services and Medi-Cal managed care plans to review translated materials for Medi-Cal beneficiaries for accuracy, cultural appropriateness and readability.

SB 464

Introduced by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles)

The state’s health department is currently required to maintain a maternal and child health program, and the Office of Health Equity must track ethnic and racial health statistics on infant and maternal mortality, among other issues. This bill would require hospitals, birth centers and clinics that provide perinatal care to implement an implicit bias program for all providers, in an effort to reduce racial disparities. The providers would have to complete training at the outset, and a refresher course every two years. The bill would also change the way deaths of pregnant women are recorded on certificates.

Transparency

AB 537

Introduced by Asm. Wood (D-Santa Rosa)

This bill would require California’s Department of Health Care Services to create a rating system for Medi-Cal managed care plans. Advocates say the state should be holding plans accountable for improving quality and reducing health disparities.

AB 929

Introduced by Asm. Luz Rivas (D-Arleta)

This bill would require the Covered California board to make information on health plans’ cost reduction efforts, quality improvements and disparity reductions public. The board would have to post the data on its website annually in a way that “demonstrates the compliance and performance of a health plan, but protects the personal information of an enrollee.”

AB 731

Introduced by Asm. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose)

Under current law, health plans offering individual or small group coverage must file information about total earned premiums and incurred claims with the California Department of Insurance or the Department of Managed Health Care at least 120 days before implementing a premium rate change. This bill would require plans offering large group coverage to do the same and would impose additional disclosure requirements.

SB 343

Introduced by Sen. Pan (D-Sacramento)

This bill would remove an exclusion in state law that allows certain health systems, including Kaiser Permanente, to keep some insurance costs and hospital financial information private. Under the bill, Kaiser would be held to the same data disclosure requirements as its competitors.

AB 1611

Introduced by Asm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco)

This bill would limit what hospitals can charge a patient, or the patient’s plan, for emergency care in cases where the hospital does not have a contract with the patient’s health plan. It’s an effort to stop what advocates call “surprise billing,” or hospitals landing patients with large and unexpected costs after providing care.

Drug Access

AB 1246

Introduced by Asm. Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara)

This bill would require most large group health plans to cover medically necessary prescription drugs.

AB 824

Introduced by Asm. Wood (D-Santa Rosa)

Wood says brand name drug manufacturers sometimes enter into contracts with generic drug manufacturers, whereby the generic company delays marketing their version of a drug in exchange for payment. Wood’s bill would outlaw the practice.

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Live coverage of the 2019 LA Marathon

Live updates from the 2019 L.A. Marathon.

RELATED: LA Marathon freeway and street closures

Starting times: Wheelchair participants at 6:30 a.m.; handcyclers at 6:42 a.m., elite women runners at 6:45 a.m.; and elite men and the full field at 6:55 a.m.

The #LAMarathon route runs directly outside my apartment. Every year for 15 years, I’ve slept through it. But THIS TIME, yeah, I will continue to do that.The #LAMarathon Street closures have taken effect around the city. Here’s what you need to know to get around the road closures. loom.ly/mQ1AX9Q

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Will California get rid of daylight saving? Only time will tell

Daylight saving time began at 2 a.m. today, so let’s take a minute to talk about time.

Assembly Bill 7

After a failed attempt to end daylight saving time in California in 2016, Proposition 7 passed with 59.75 percent in favor of ending daylight saving time in 2018.

It’s going to take time before daylight saving ends in the state. AB 7 needs a two-thirds vote by the Legislature and must be signed by the governor, then will need to be approved by the federal government.

The state government is expected to vote on AB 7 this month.

Benjamin Franklin

1784

While on diplomatic duty in Paris, Benjamin Franklin became the first to suggest shifting clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall to save money on candles.

1916

On April 30, Germany became the first nation to enact daylight saving time to conserve electricity. The Germans were fighting World War I. The British followed their lead and introduced “summer time” a few weeks later.

70

The approximate number of countries that observe daylight saving time. They have about one-quarter of the world’s population. Most countries near the equator have no need to change time for more daylight hours.

2007

Daylight saving time is extended from the first Sunday in April in the U.S. to its current length, beginning the second Sunday in March and ending the first Sunday in November.

Daylight saving world

Hours in the day

By springing forward the clock, we’ll lose an hour. This chart shows the average amount of time per day Americans of various ages spend in selected activities. The data refer to all days of the week and were calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2016.

 

how we spend our time chart

 

The long and short of it

With the clocks turning forward, you will lose 3,600 seconds of the day. Not much when you consider there are 86,400 seconds in a day.

The first clocks to have a second hand appeared in the 1750s.

Take an eon

In formal usage, eons are the longest portions of geologic time after what’s called an era. Less formally, an eon equates to 1 billion years.

Once in a blue moon

A blue moon happens on average about every 2.7 years. A seasonal blue moon is the third of four full moons in one season. The next seasonal blue moon is May 18.

The second of two full moons in the same month is also called a blue moon.

Just one zeptosecond

In 2016, researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany measured minute changes within an atom on the zeptosecond scale. It is the the smallest measurement of time ever recorded. How small? The number would be sitting 21 places behind the decimal point, or a trillionth of a billionth of a second.

time iconsIn a jiffy

A jiffy is a measurement in electronics, computing, astrophysics, and quantum physics. In physics, it is roughly the time it takes light to travel 1 centimeter in a vacuum, approximately 33.3564 picoseconds (a picosecond is one-trillionth of a second).

Fast as lightning

The bolt of lightning that moves upward travels at about 320 million feet per second, which is about one third the speed of light. Thunder is much slower and travels about 1,100 feet per second.

At the drop of a hat

Gravity accelerates at 9.8 meters per second, per second. A light object, such as a hat falling from about 6 feet, would travel approximately 7.67 meters per second and land in about .78 seconds.

In a heartbeat

The average heart rate is 72 beats per minute, when one heartbeat occurs every .83 seconds.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smithsonian, U.S. Naval Observatory, California Energy Commission

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How Dr. Seuss and Read Across America day intersect

Success of Seuss

Saturday, March 2, 2019 would have been the 115th birthday of Theodor Geisel also known as Dr. Seuss. By 2015, Dr. Seuss’ books had been translated into 17 languages and had sold 650 million copies in 95 countries.

dr. seuss tribute

Above illustration by Kurt Snibbe, Staff

Theodor Geisel was a student at Dartmouth in 1925. He was caught by the dean with gin during Prohibition. In order to continue working at the school’s humor magazine, he adopted a pen name that used his mother’s maiden name, “Seuss.”

Dr. Seuss went on to become an editorial cartoonist during World War II, a film maker, legendary children’s book author and illustrator.

The National Education Association’s Read Across America honors Dr. Seuss’ birthday each year. Since Dr. Seuss’ birthday is on a Saturday this year, the NEA is having Read Across America on Friday, March 1, 2019.

The Read Across America site has information on how to inspire kids to pick up a book and become lifelong readers.

Here is a chronology of Seuss books

list of seuss books

Seuss Museum

If you’re in the mood to travel to Springfield Massachusetts and a Dr. Suess fan, there’s a museum and sculpture park worth seeing. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum is devoted to Springfield native Theodor Geisel.

If you’d like to buy some Dr. Seuss artwork The Art of Dr. Seuss gallery in Chicago might be the place to start looking. The gallery is dedicated to selling paintings and prints by the artist.

Sources: Seussinspringfield.org, UCSD Library, Random House, Box Office Mojo, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post and NEA

Charles Apple helped compile this report

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A look at our local raptors for backyard bird count weekend

BACKYARD RAPTORS

The 22nd annual Great Backyard Bird Count is underway and continues through Monday. To celebrate, we take a look at a few of the more prestigious raptors of California that have come dangerously close to extinction that you might find in your own backyard.

BALD EAGLE

Bald eagle

The bald eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for Native Americans. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the bald eagle was close to extinction in the lower 48 states with fewer than 30 nesting pairs in California, largely due to the use of pesticides. It has made a remarkable comeback with surveys showing that the state’s winter population exceeds 1,000.

eagle map

GOLDEN EAGLE

golden eagle face

Golden eagles are found throughout North America, but are more common in western North America. Little is known about the eagle abundance, but it is thought that numbers may be declining in some, if not all, parts of their range. Golden eagle abundance in California is unknown.

golden eagle map

PEREGRINE FALCON

falcon face

The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world, capable of reaching 150 to 200 mph in their dives when chasing prey. They were virtually eradicated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning in the middle 20th century but have made an incredible recovery and are regularly seen in large cities and coastal areas.

WHITE-TAILED KITE

white tailed kite

The white-tailed kite earns its name for the way it resembles a kite in flight. With its body turned toward the wind and wings gently flapping, it hovers above the ground like a kite. The white-tailed kite was rendered almost extinct in California in the 1930s and 1940s due to shooting and egg-collecting, but they are now common again. Although their distribution is patchy, they can be found in the Central Valley and southern coastal areas.

kite map

BARN OWL

Barn owl face

While great stretches of the United States, from New York to Iowa, have seen a decline in barn owls since the 1950s, California maintains surprisingly robust populations due to the abundance of open space of natural grasslands and agricultural fields, where rodent populations increase significantly.

barn owl face

FLOCK TO THE WEB

Great Backyard Bird Count participants are asked to count birds for a minimum of 15 minutes on one or more days this weekend and report sightings online at birdcount.org.

You can see what birds are regularly in your area with eBird species maps.

 

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