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State news briefs
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BILL TO CLOSE CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLE MOVES FORWARD: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — The Assembly has approved a bill that would help middle class Californians cope with soaring college costs by closing a corporate tax loophole and using the expected windfall to reduce tuition.

AB1500 would eliminate a $1 billion tax break for out-of-state corporations. The Legislature approved it in 2009 as a way to get Republican lawmakers to vote for the state budget.

The bill is the second component of Assembly Speaker John Perez's "Middle Class Scholarship Act." The Assembly previously approved the other part, which would reduce tuition by more than half for families earning between $80,000 and $150,000 annually.

AB1500 bill passed 54-25 Monday. Assemblyman Brian Nestande was the lone Republican supporter, while Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, an independent, also voted yes. The bill now moves to the Senate.

SAC COUNTY MAN SUSPECTED OF BREAK-INS, ASSAULT: CARMICHAEL  (AP) — A Sacramento County man is being held on $1.3 million bail on suspicion of sneaking into homes and sexually assaulting a child.

Sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos says 18-year-old Matthew Steven Jones has been found in three different homes in the Carmichael area since Aug. 4. He was allegedly found in children's rooms twice.

Jones was arrested on Sunday and is being held on suspicion of burglary, kidnapping, lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14, attempted lewd acts on a child under 14 and oral copulation by force. Authorities say he lives in the area where the crimes occurred.

He is expected to be appear in court on Tuesday.

MUSLIM WOMAN TO SUE DISNEY OVER DISCRIMINATION: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Disneyland employee who says she was forbidden to wear a Muslim head scarf at work plans to sue the Walt Disney Co. for discrimination.

The federal suit is expected to be filed Monday in Los Angeles on behalf of Imane Boudlal.

Boudlal was a restaurant hostess at the Anaheim theme park but hasn't worked there for about two years.

Boudlal says she was forbidden to wear the head scarf because it wasn't part of her approved work costume. Disney says she refused to wear a specially designed hat instead or to accept jobs away from customers.

CALIFORNIANS URGED TO CONSERVE POWER AGAIN: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Operators of California's electricity grid have declared a Flex Alert for Tuesday to encourage conservation as inland regions continue to swelter in high heat.

The California Independent System Operator said Monday that the forecast peak demand is 47,500 megawatts and conservation will be critical.

A Flex Alert was also called on Friday and Cal-ISO says consumers reduced demand by nearly 1,000 megawatts, equal to the output of two large power plants.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive-heat warnings for the central and southern San Joaquin Valley and from Santa Barbara County through southeastern California.

A wide area of mountains and adjacent deserts in the inland region east of Los Angeles is under a flash-flood watch because of very moist and unstable conditions that will produce afternoon thunderstorms.

PROGRESS MADE ON WILDFIRE THREATENING TOWN: CLEARLAKE OAKS (AP) — Crews made progress overnight against a Northern California wildfire that has grown to more than 4 1/2 square miles and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes.

The blaze in Lake County was 25 percent contained early Monday and threatens 480 homes in Spring Valley. The fire destroyed three buildings after erupting Sunday but it's unclear whether those were homes.

A second Lake County wildfire has burned more than three square miles and forced evacuations.

Meanwhile, two fires sparked by lightning from Sunday thunderstorms are burning out of control in Southern California wilderness areas but no homes are nearby.

A 220-acre blaze is near Vallecito in San Diego County and a 300-acre fire is burning in Joshua Tree National Park east of Palm Springs.

More thunderstorms are possible Monday afternoon

SEARCH FOR WOMAN WHO WENT MISSING AFTER SNORKELING: RANCHO PALOS VERDES (AP) — Divers are searching for a woman who went snorkeling off Southern California and never returned.

The Torrance Daily Breeze ( says the woman went missing Saturday near the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators say her husband found her car parked near a public access area next to the resort and found her bag on the beach.

Sheriff and lifeguard divers searched the area for four hours on Sunday.

The name of the woman, who is about 50 years old, hasn't been released.

JUDGE IN LA DENIES BOND FOR HOLLYWOOD PRIVATE EYE: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge in Los Angeles has denied bond for private investigator Anthony Pellicano who is serving a 15-year prison term for bugging celebrities' phones to get information for his clients.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer rejected the defense motion Monday that could have freed the 68-year-old Pellicano pending an appeal. Pellicano, who is in a Texas prison, wasn't at the hearing.

Defense attorney Steven Gruel said his client is indigent and suffers from a severe eye ailment. Federal prosecutors said Pellicano is a flight risk and a danger to society.

Pellicano was convicted at two trials on racketeering, conspiracy and wiretapping counts for digging up dirt for well-heeled clients to use in lawsuits, divorces and business disputes. His clients included comedian Chris Rock, while his targets included Sylvester Stallone.

FAA INVESTIGATING KERN COUNTY ULTRALIGHT FATALITY: SHAFTER . (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration is trying to determine what caused an ultralight airplane to crash in Central California, killing its pilot.

Authorities say the crash occurred at dusk on Sunday in a rural, Kern County farming community south of Shafter. Fire crews were able to quickly reach 44-year-old pilot Todd Magsam of Bakersfield, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Magsam was identified on Monday.

Ultralight planes are slow-flying aircraft resembling hang gliders. FAA regulations say they only can be flown in daylight hours over unincorporated areas.

CHANGES IN STORE FOR NBC'S 'THE VOICE' THIS SEASON: MALIBU . (AP) — NBC's "The Voice" is adding a bit of thievery to its format.

Executive producer Mark Burnett said Sunday that the singing contest will let coaches "steal" contestants from each other during the show's "battle rounds."

The show also will introduce a new "knockout round" to slice the number of contestants on each coach's team, Burnett told a Malibu, Calif., news conference. He was joined by coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, and host Carson Daly.

They were promoting the series' third season, beginning Sept. 10 as "The Voice" adds a fall run to its original midseason slot.

Because the coaches have busy music careers, Burnett said, substitutes may be needed in future. But the original four have "chairs for life," he said.