GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE GOES ALL ELECTRONIC FOR TOLLS: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Toll takers on the Golden Gate Bridge soon will be a thing of the past, as the span prepares to become the first in California to do away with toll collectors and go all-electronic.
Starting on the morning of March 27, drivers will no longer be able to pay tolls in cash, and will pay instead using an existing transponder system as well as a new system that scans license plates at the toll plaza.
Workers have collected tolls since the bridge opened in 1937, but all positions will be eliminated.
Bridge officials said going entirely digital will save about $16 million in salaries and benefits over eight years and help cut a projected budget shortfall.
Nine full-time toll-takers and 29 temporary, part-time hires will lose their jobs.
LAWMAKERS OK HEALTH INSURERS' RATE-SETTING REGIONS: SACRAMENTO (AP) — California lawmakers are signaling their willingness to give insurance companies more flexibility in setting the cost for health care premiums.
Amendments to a pair of consumer-protection bills by two Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Ed Hernandez of West Covina and Assemblyman Richard Pan of Sacramento, were put into print Friday.
The bills, SBx1-2 and ABx-1, would allow health insurers to divide California into 19 rate-setting regions to accommodate the state's size and diversity. Some lawmakers and consumer advocates wanted to limit insurers to as few as six regions.
The decision is important because geography will be one of the few ways insurers can adjust premiums under the federal Affordable Care Act.
JURY AWARDS $23M IN ELDER ABUSE DEATH: SACRAMENTO (AP) — A jury has awarded $23 million to the family of an 82-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease who died after staying at a Northern California assisted living facility that was found liable for her death.
A Sacramento County Superior Court jury ordered Seattle-based Emeritus Corp. to pay the punitive damages. Joan Boice's three children had filed the wrongful death and elder abuse lawsuit.
The jury found earlier in the week that Emeritus acted with malice, oppression and fraud in its treatment of Boice, who died in 2009 after three months in its Auburn facility. She had bed sores spreading over her body.
OSBOURNE CONFIRMS SEIZURE, TWEETS HOSPITAL PHOTO: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kelly Osbourne says she had a seizure and doctors are trying to figure out why.
The 28-year-old TV personality posted a photo on Twitter late Thursday of an IV in her tattooed left arm. She thanked her fans for their "beautiful well wishes."
Osbourne was hospitalized Thursday after collapsing on the set of E! network's "Fashion Police," where she serves as a panelist alongside Joan Rivers, Giuliana Rancic and George Kotsiopoulos.
Osbourne is the daughter of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and "The Talk" co-host Sharon Osbourne. She was profiled with her family on the MTV reality series "The Osbournes" and has appeared as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars."
VALLEJO TEACHER CONVICTED OF RAPING STUDENT AIDE: VALLEJO (AP) — A former Vallejo special-education teacher has been found guilty of raping and impregnating his developmentally disabled student aide.
A Solano County jury on Thursday convicted Jerry Johnson of Elk Grove of one count of rape of a person incapable of consenting due to mental and developmental disabilities.
The 57-year-old Johnson faces up to 11 years in prison at his April sentencing.
Johnson's attorney had argued the sexual relationship was consensual and legal.
Prosecutors say the 20-year-old victim has the intellect of a 7-year-old. She worked as a student aide at a Vallejo elementary school.
Johnson was arrested in June 2011 after the victim's mother discovered her daughter was pregnant. The child is now 14 months old, and DNA evidence shows Johnson is the likely father.