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California news briefs
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CALIF. LAWMAKERS QUESTION REGULATING FRACKING: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — California lawmakers are expressing doubts a Brown administration proposal to regulate hydraulic fracturing is tough enough and can be enforced by state oil regulators.

State senators convened a joint legislative hearing on Tuesday to review California's first attempt to govern the drilling process known as fracking.

The proposed rules require energy companies to disclose the chemicals they inject deep into the ground to break apart rock and release oil.

But the Los Angeles Times says some lawmakers say the regulations should go further, including advance notice to nearby landowners and water monitoring around fracking operations.

FEDERAL JUDGE CHIDES BROWN ADMINISTRATION OVER 'SMEAR' : SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A federal judge says he is "dismayed" that Gov. Jerry Brown's administration is questioning the objectivity of a court-appointed special master who oversees the treatment of mentally ill prison inmates.

The Democratic governor has been criticizing what he calls "the prison lobby" that profits from lawsuits filed against the state over substandard conditions in state prisons.

The administration said in a court filing last month that special master Matthew Lopes may be requiring the state to meet more stringent requirements as a way to ensure that "this revenue stream will continue."

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento ordered the state Wednesday to consider withdrawing what he called "a smear."

The Associated Press found that special masters and their experts have been paid more than $48 million since 1997.

MAN HELD IN THREAT AGAINST STATE SENATOR: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A state senator confirms that he was the target of a threat that led to the arrest of a Santa Clara man and the confiscation of explosive materials and a loaded handgun.

Everett Basham, 45, was being held without bail Wednesday in Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of threatening a public official and possessing a concealed firearm. It was not clear if he had retained an attorney.

Investigators found a loaded handgun in Basham's vehicle and explosive materials at his home, said Officer Sean Kennedy, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol's Protective Services Division.

Adam Keigwin, a spokesman for Democratic Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco, says Yee received the threat and passed it on to the CHP. He says Yee isn't commenting because of the ongoing investigation.

DEAL REACHED ON MATERNITY HOTEL: CHINO HILLS  (AP) — A Southern California property owner under fire for a maternity hotel operation has agreed to comply with Chino Hills city codes.

The single-family home has makeshift maternity wards — 17 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms — for mothers from other countries to stay while giving birth so their children will be U.S. citizens.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (reports on Wednesday that Hai Yong Wu agreed to bring the property back into compliance with city codes within 210 days.

City Attorney Mark Hensley says the property cannot be occupied until the corrections are made. Construction work cannot be performed without a city permit and the owner cannot operate it as a hotel.

The city went to court to shut down the facility operated by Wu and Los Angeles Hermes Inc.

LA UNIFIED AVOIDS ISSUING 200 LAYOFF NOTICES: LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Unified School District is not planning to lay off any employees for the first time in four years.

The school board on Tuesday decided to withdraw a plan to issue layoff notices to about 200 school nurses, psychologists, counselors and librarians.

Spokesman Daryl Strickland says the board decided to pay for the jobs out of a central district fund, instead of funding them through individual school site budgets.

Under state law, school districts must notify employees by March 15 that their jobs could be cut at year end. Usually, only a fraction of noticed employees are laid off.

Teachers union President Warren Fletcher says he's gratified about the board's decision. Members of United Teachers Los Angeles had demonstrated on Tuesday outside district headquarters against the cuts.