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State news briefs
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JUDGE SAYS PANHANDLING LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL: ARCATA . (AP) — A judge says a Northern California coastal city's law banning non-aggressive panhandlers within 20 feet of stores, intersections and parking lots is mostly unconstitutional.

The Humboldt County Superior Court judge released his ruling on Wednesday, saying the ban can only be enforced near unenclosed ATMs and on public transit vehicles.

The college town 280 miles north of San Francisco has long has been a magnet for vagrants who beg for money, booze or pot. The anti-panhandling law was passed two years ago.

The judge ruled that Arcata may not restrict solicitation merely because it makes people uncomfortable. The judge says public speech rights prevail.

BROWN VETOES BILL SEEKING NURSING HOME SMOKING BAN: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have banned smoking in long-term health care facilities.

The Democratic governor said Thursday in his veto statement that the bill's aim was admirable. But he said it would be better to "rely on the locals, in this case the facility and its residents and employees" to devise policies.

He suggested it would be "reasonable" to allow elderly smokers to remain inside during inclement weather.

AB217 would have eliminated exceptions to California's prohibition on indoor workplace smoking and banned some outdoor smoking at nursing homes.

Democratic Assemblyman Wilmer Carter of Rialto said she wrote the bill to protect workers from secondhand smoke and eliminate the fire risk associated with smoking near oxygen tanks and other flammable materials found in nursing homes.

MEDICAL BUILDING DISAPPEARS OFF PROPERTY TAX ROLLS: LOS ANGELES (AP) — The widening Los Angeles County assessor's office investigation shows a Redondo Beach medical building disappeared from tax rolls for three years.

The  assessor's office didn't send a tax bill in 2005, 2006 and 2007 to Prospect South Bay Medical Center. The $11 million, 47,000-square-foot building is home to dozens of doctors' offices,

The county discovered the problem in 2008 and sent a bill for $330,000 in unpaid taxes to the building's owner, Prospect South Bay Ltd.

The property was assigned to former appraiser Scott Schenter, who was charged in May with 60 counts of fraud for lowering property values by more than $170 million to secure campaign contributions from wealthy donors for Assessor John Noguez.

SANTA BARBARA HARBOR POSTS SHARK WARNINGS : SANTA BARBARA  (AP) — Warning signs have been posted after a 14-foot great white shark was spotted in the Santa Barbara Harbor.

The County office of Emergency Management says a surfer saw the shark Wednesday evening in about six feet of water at the harbor's sand spit area.

The city has posted warning signs that will remain until at least Saturday evening. The signs warn beachgoers to swim at their own risk and avoid marine wildlife.

2  DEAD, 1 WOUNDED IN   GROCERY LOT SHOOTING: SOLEDAD . (AP) — Authorities say two people are dead and one man is in critical condition after a shooting in the parking lot of a Northern California grocery store.

Soledad Police say the victims had just finished shopping and were seated inside their car when a lone gunman approached and fired multiple shots at them late Wednesday.

Fifty-five-year-old Maria Del Refugio Monroy was pronounced dead at the scene and 58-year-old Silverio Perez Selendon died after he was taken to a local hospital.

A third victim, a 19-year-old man, is hospitalized in critical condition after undergoing an emergency surgery.

BROWN SIGNS BILL GOVERNING FEE HIKES AT UC, CSU: SACRAMENTO . (AP) — California's public universities will have to provide more advance notice when raising tuition under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill signed into law Thursday lays out new rules for tuition increases at the University of California and California State University systems.

AB970 by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, requires UC and CSU to consult with student associations at least 30 days before notifying the public of a proposed tuition increase.

Under the new law, the universities cannot approve a tuition increase until at least 45 days after holding a public meeting to discuss the proposal. And when a tuition hike is approved, the systems will be required to wait at least 90 days before the increase goes into effect, so students have a chance to prepare.

LAW SIGNED TO MAKE CALIF. LEADER IN DIGITAL TEXTS: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a pair of bills that aim to make California a leader in making electronic versions of college textbooks available to students.

SB 1052 requires the state to establish a nine-member faculty council charged with picking 50 lower-division classes for which digital textbooks should be developed and then overseeing their development.

One scenario envisioned by the bill is having professors and textbook publishers submit competitive bids for producing the books.

A companion measure, SB1053, creates a California Digital Open Source Library to house the materials, which students would be able to access for free or a small fee.