PRISON GUARD UNION DEAL INCLUDES 4 PERCENT RAISE: SACRAMENTO (AP) — Leaders of the union representing most state prison guards have given tentative approval to a two-year contract containing a 4 percent pay raise.
The raise would start in 2015 under the agreement approved Saturday by directors of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. The union's 30,000 members have yet to vote.
Union spokesman JeVaughn Baker said Monday that guards also will begin paying half their retirement costs.
The contract gives the state flexibility to move guards to prisons where they are needed most as it juggles the inmate population to meet federal court orders.
It also requires that guards be paid overtime after a 41-hour workweek, which likely means higher costs for the state. Guards currently receive overtime pay after working 164 hours in a 28-day period, which gives the corrections department more flexibility.
LEGISLATURE ALLOWS REFILLING OF BEER 'GROWLERS': SACRAMENTO (AP) — Beer lovers would be able to refill their own containers at breweries under legislation approved by the state Senate.
Lawmakers unanimously approved AB647 by Democratic Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro of Arcata on Monday.
Sen. Steve Knight, a Republican from Palmdale who carried the bill in the Senate, said it clarifies labeling requirements "so that consumers can use their growlers to purchase craft beer from any microbrewery," regardless of where they bought it.
Growlers are glass canisters that typically hold a half-gallon of beer.
Current law only allows breweries to sell growlers that have a label from that brewery. Chesbro's bill would let consumers return the growlers to other breweries or bring their own.
Brewers would still have to paste a label on the canister identifying the beer.
AB647 returns to the Assembly for a final vote on amendments
BILL LETS INDEPENDENT EXPERTS EXAMINE BAY BRIDGE: SACRAMENTO (AP) — Independent experts could examine the new span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge without fear that they would be sued under a bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The Senate gave unanimous approval Monday to SB110.
Seven experts were selected to review the bridge's construction by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office after questions arose about the independence of other specialists chosen by the California Department of Transportation. Caltrans is building the bridge, which has been plagued by defects.
Democratic Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord says a state-employee designation for the analysts protects them from lawsuits. He says their inspection is vital so the state can learn from mistakes that drove up the costs and led to delays and safety concerns about the $6.4 billion span.
BILL RESPONDS TO SCANDAL IN CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS: SACRAMENTO (AP) — Lawmakers have sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill designed to deter a repeat of the financial scandal that rocked the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
The bill by Democratic Sen. Richard Roth of Riverside requires that state department heads swear under penalty of perjury that they are sending accurate budget information to the state Department of Finance. Violations could bring prison terms of up to four years.
SB801 is in response to the discovery last summer of $54 million hidden in two parks department special funds.
Part of the problem was that parks officials did not provide proper financial data to state budget officials. The parks director and others lost their jobs.
CALTRANS SAYS SF BRIDGE RODS PASSED SOME TESTS
SACRAMENTO (AP) — Caltrans engineers say they're cautiously optimistic that they won't have to replace hundreds of steel rods and bolts after dozens failed on the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The San Francisco Chronicle says tests began this month on 700 steel rods and bolts on the eastern span that are considered at risk of cracking.
Samples are being dunked in saltwater and stretched to simulate bridge loads. Brian Maroney, Caltrans chief engineer for the span, says the rods have held up, and that could indicate they're strong enough to do the job.
But he's not drawing any conclusions until the tests are completed.
The tests were ordered after 32 seismic safety bolts broke in March, threatening to delay the Sept. 3 opening of the $6.4 billion span.
Senators agreed to Assembl
y amendments on a 37-0 vote Monday, sending the bill to the governor.
Assembly approves bill on 'biosimilar' medicines
LAURA OLSON, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California pharmacists would be allowed to dispense substitute medications that are biologically similar to brand-name treatments under a bill that cleared the state Assembly on Monday.
Biological medicines, which are created from living cells rather than by mixing chemicals, have been used to treat cancer and immune-system disorders.
Those treatments are becoming a fast-growing segment of the pharmaceutical market, with manufacturers also creating medications that are similar to some biological medicines. Unlike traditional generic medications, the so-called biosimilars resemble but are not identical to the biological medication they are replicating.
Federal officials are still in the early stages of developing regulations spelling out when biosimilars can be used. Meanwhile, state legislatures around the country have been debating the issue, with at least five states enacting laws specifying when pharmacists can substitute a biosimilar medication for a brand-name treatment, according to a staff analysis of the California bill.
Under the legislation by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, pharmacists could substitute a potentially cheaper biosimilar medication if it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The pharmacy must notify the doctor who issued the prescription and say which medication was dispensed.
Hill's SB598 passed the Assembly Monday on a 58-4 vote and returns to the Senate for a final vote.