Wednesday Must Read: Democrats May Try New Plan for Taxes; Brown Signs Landmark Green Energy Law


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Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The California teachers’ union is urging legislative Democrats to bypass voters and extend tax hikes that are set to expire, the Chron reports. And the CoCo Times reports that Democratic state Assembly Speaker John Perez is pushing for a similar plan that would ask voters later to confirm the tax increases. Both the union and some Democrats are concerned that voters will reject the tax measures if a special election is held later in the year because the tax hikes in question will expire July 1. However, the plan to extend the tax hikes through the legislature faces a very tough hurdle — it still requires approval from at least four Republicans, two each in the senate and assembly. And so far, Governor Brown has failed to attract any GOP votes.

2. Brown, meanwhile, signed into law a landmark green energy bill that requires state utilities to obtain 33 percent of their power from renewables by 2020, the LA Times reports. Brown contends that the law — the most progressive in the nation — will continue to create green jobs in California. At the same time, the East Bay may become home to the largest solar farm in the country. The CoCo Times reports that Pleasanton-based Pegasus Energy Partners is proposing to build a 400-megawatt solar farm in Mountain House in eastern Alameda County.

3. The budget deal that averted a federal government shutdown late last week includes devastating cuts to community health centers and to nutritional programs that serve low-income pregnant women and children, the LA Times reports. The $38 billion in budget cuts also include a 16 percent reduction for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. And the budget deal could spell the end for California’s bullet-train proposal, because it eliminates all funding this year for high-speed rail, the Mercury News reports.

4. Researchers from UC Berkeley, IBM, and Caltrans plan to announce today a smartphone app that alerts commuters to potential traffic delays, the Chron reports.

5. Supermarkets are increasingly misleading customers by labeling produce “locally grown” when it is not, AP reports. The problem is that there is no standard for the term “locally grown,” so some grocers are abusing it.

6. And San Francisco-based Gateway Bank is moving its headquarters to Oakland’s Uptown District, the CoCo Times reports. The bank also will move 75 jobs from San Leandro to 2201 Broadway in Oakland.