Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Democratic state Assembly Speaker John Perez said yesterday that it’s “a likelihood” that Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies will be enacted, the CoCo Times reports. The newspaper also reported that Democratic opposition in the Legislature to the governor’s redevelopment proposal had all but evaporated. Big city mayors, including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, have been pushing for an alternative to Brown’s plan, but apparently have been unsuccessful. Eliminating redevelopment will severely harm Oakland city finances, and will likely doom smart-growth plans and Oakland’s proposal for a new A’s ballpark in Jack London Square.
2. Brown, meanwhile, has been in talks with several Senate Republicans and may strike a deal that would put his tax-extension proposal on the June ballot, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some Senate Republicans want public-employee pension reforms along with other concessions in exchange for allowing the tax measure to go before voters. Speaker Perez also said Democrats are open to a deal. But it’s unclear whether Assembly Republicans will also go along. Brown has set a March 10 deadline.
3. Amazon.com is threatening again to sever ties with all California businesses that ship products through the giant online retailer if state lawmakers approve a plan to tax the company, Bloomberg News reports. One of the Amazon.com tax bills moving forward is from Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, who contends that small, independent businesses are at a disadvantage because they collect sales taxes when Amazon does not. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed an Amazon.com tax bill last year after the retailer made the same threat as it’s making now. The company has severed ties with businesses in other states that have enacted similar tax laws.
4. Health insurer Anthem is proposing rate hikes of up to 40 percent, the Chron reports. Last year, Anthem set off a firestorm and helped propel enactment of Obamacare when it proposed another round of huge rate hikes. Anthem and other health insurers say they need to raise rates because of spiraling medical care costs, but the insurers have a history of overstating those costs.
5. The proposal by Oakland’s city attorney and its police department for a gang injunction against alleged members of the Nortenos gang in the city’s Fruitvale district moved ahead slowly with more testimony yesterday, the Chron reports. The court case is scheduled to continue next week.
6. A state appellate court upheld the so-called one-strike-pot-test rule yesterday, the Chron reports. The rule means that employers are allowed to deny jobs to applicants who previously tested positive for drugs — even if the test was years ago and the applicant has been clean and sober ever since.
7. And Steve Jobs briefly came off medical leave yesterday to introduce Apple’s iPad2, the Chron reports. The sleek new tablet computer is thinner and lighter than last year’s version.