- State lawmakers propose tough gun laws (SF Chronicle)
California would significantly restrict gun use and ownership, including major new bans on ammunition magazines, under dozens of new proposed regulations that would cement the state's status of having the strictest gun-control laws in the United States. The magnitude of restrictions introduced by Democrats is greater than gun-rights advocates say they have ever seen at one time and puts the debate in California in the forefront, even as Congress considers a number of gun laws. The drive for tougher regulations in California also highlights the relative weakness of the gun lobby and gun manufacturers in the state.
- Rep. Mike Thompson's gun violence panel backs assault-weapons ban, other steps (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, on Thursday released a set of 15 policy recommendations on preventing gun violence, including a federal ban on assault weapons and background checks for most gun buyers, as well as proposals regarding mental health, school safety and media portrayals of violence. Thompson, whose district includes Santa Rosa and southeast Sonoma County, said in a telephone interview that the proposals will be a "blueprint" for legislation by House Democrats and there is "an excellent chance" that many of them will become law.
- San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed suggests tax measure in 2014 (SJ Mercury News)
Mayor Chuck Reed thanked San Jose voters in his annual state-of-the-city speech Thursday night for supporting his controversial pension overhaul last year but said that alone won't satisfy the city's financial needs and residents may see a new tax on the ballot next year. Voters have approved four city tax measures since Reed took office, and he has long indicated the city would seek another after implementing his pension changes. But suggesting a tax in 2014 was a notable shift after Reed blocked a city tax measure from the November 2012 ballot on grounds that polling was uncertain, there was no organized campaign for it and his pension overhaul remains under legal challenge from city employee unions.
- 18,000 youth sign up for free Muni pass (SF Chronicle)
Several thousand students, and counting, have signed up for the free Muni for low-income youth program, which will start on March 1. The 16-month test program will give free Muni passes (on Clipper cards) to San Francisco students younger than 18. So far, more than 18,000 have applied, said Ed Reiskin, transportation director
- Phone, tablet rip-offs on transit surge (SF Chronicle)
Riders beware - thefts on public transportation have surged recently and officials want people to unglue their eyes from their electronic screens or risk becoming a victim. On Muni, larceny has jumped 83 percent, with 161 reports of items stolen from passengers from October through December compared with 88 reports during the same time in 2011. Robberies increased by nearly 39 percent, as 82 were reported in the last quarter of 2012.
- Caltrans experts, despite testing problems, say structures are safe (Sacramento Bee)
An analysis from a team of California Department of Transportation experts, released Thursday after more than a year of preparation, confirmed data problems involving radiation-based tests of reinforced concrete foundations for nine bridges or other freeway structures, including the Benicia-Martinez Bridge. Caltrans executives examined additional records for the structures and deemed all safe, despite falsifications or testing errors by agency employees that the agency deemed "consequential." Numerous other irregular tests were considered unimportant.
- Bay Bridge celebration's $5.6 million price tag: Is it worth it? (Contra Costa Times)
State officials say it's important to give the public a chance to walk across the dazzling new eastern span of the Bay Bridge when it opens Labor Day weekend, even if it costs taxpayers $5.6 million. Other recent grand celebrations of public projects don't even come close. Taxpayers shelled out nothing for the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th anniversary extravaganza in 2012, an over-the-top Memorial Day weekend gala that culminated in a parade of ships and a dazzling light and fireworks show. The price tag has not been disclosed but a private foundation raised all the money.
- Electric car charging stations picking up momentum in Marin (Marin Independent Journal)
The latest electric vehicle charging station in Marin was unveiled Thursday in Sausalito and more are on the way as the county begins to embrace the technology while the number of alternative fuel vehicles locally continues to grow. The new station at Mollie Stone's market will give an opportunity for electric car driver Tom Relyea to power up his Nissan Leaf while he is at lunch.
- San Jose airport experiments with therapy dogs to ease passengers' anxiety (SJ Mercury News)
...The program began after 9/11, when an airport pastor brought in her own dog to help soothe stressed and frightened passengers. The effort has since grown to include 11 volunteers who walk their therapy dogs -- including a German shepherd, miniature schnauzer and Bordeaux mastiff -- up and down the terminals a few hours a week. The program runs on donations, which pay for the uniforms of the furry counselors: red vests covered in patches embroidered with slogans like "Pet me I'm friendly."