LEGISLATURE SENDS BROWN BILL ON CALIF. PRISON DEAL: SACRAMENTO (AP) — The Legislature approved a compromise plan Wednesday to deal with California's prison crowding crisis by passing a bill asking federal judges to extend a deadline for releasing thousands of inmates.
The legislation includes Gov. Jerry Brown's original plan to lease cells in private prisons and county jails if the court sticks to its year-end deadline for reducing the prison population by about 9,600 inmates.
If the judges grant the extension, part of the $315 million that would be spent to rent cells in private prisons and county jails will go instead to pay for rehabilitation programs.
However, attorneys for inmates who sued over the crowding issue said the proposal is too vague and includes no guarantees of success.
The Senate approved SB105 on a 35-2 vote, hours after the Assembly passed the bill, 75-0. The bill now heads to Brown for his signature.
It passed the Assembly and Senate a day before the end of the legislative session.
Brown and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg previously said they had been seeing "smoke-signals" that judges were willing to consider the state's proposal.
But Steinberg used his floor speech Wednesday to continue criticizing the governor's plan to lease cells as too expensive and temporary. Brown's plan might still be adopted if the courts refuse the state's request for a delay in the deadline, but Steinberg said that "would be a very unfortunate occurrence" because leasing beds "would do nothing to end overcrowding for all time."
BODY FOUND INSIDE PERIMETER OF CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE: REDDING (AP) — Authorities have found a body inside the perimeter of a wildfire that destroyed 30 homes and forced the evacuation of 300 others in Northern California.
The burnt body of Brian Stanley Henry, 56, was found inside a motor home that was destroyed by the fire, Shasta County coroner's Lt. Mark Lillibridge said Wednesday.
Sheriff's deputies discovered Henry's body late Tuesday while checking his home in the community of Igo.
The Clover Fire broke out Monday afternoon in the community of Happy Valley, about 150 miles north of Sacramento, and winds sent it spreading at 500 acres an hour. Residents were given just minutes to grab their belongings and leave, as the fire jumped roads and engulfed homes.
The fire burned nearly 11 square miles. Cooler weather has helped firefighters contain 40 percent of the blaze.
SCHOOL PRINCIPAL ALLEGEDLY FOUND WITH DRUGS, GUN: SAN DIEGO (AP) — Police say a San Diego elementary school principal has been arrested after they found drugs and a stolen pistol in her car.
Authorities say Rachel Escobedo — principal of Lee Elementary School — was placed on leave Tuesday after her weekend arrest.
Police Lt. Kevin Mayer says officers were responding to reports of suspicious people in a parked car Saturday night. They found Escobedo in her Honda Accord with a 60-year-old man.
He says she let police search the car. Mayer says police found a loaded .22-caliber pistol reported stolen, a small amount of marijuana, 22 pills and baggies containing a narcotic-like substance.
MARIJUANA GROW FOUND ACROSS FRESNO COUNTY SCHOOL : FRESNO (AP) — Authorities have pulled out more than 13,000 marijuana plants found growing across the street and behind an elementary school southeast of Fresno.
Tuesday's seizure on comes a day after a tipster reported seeing armed men guarding the area.
Sheriff's spokesman Chris Curtice said up to 10,000 plants were growing among corn and bitter melon crops on a 30- to 40-acre parcel across the street from Sequoia Elementary School. Another 3,000 plants were behind the school.
Another marijuana grow was spotted across a Fresno County middle school in July 2012.
Curtice said 12 people were detained, but were later released. No one has been arrested.
AIR BOARD COLLECTS NEARLY $400,000 IN FINES: SACRAMENTO (AP) — California's clean air agency says so far this year it has settled 26 cases involving violations by firms making or selling products that exceeded standards for gases known as volatile organic compounds.
Since January the California Air Resources Board has collected fines totaling $377,950.
The fine proceeds go to the state's Air Pollution Control Fund to support research to improve California's air quality.
The largest fines collected were from OPI, which paid $58,000, and Lucas Oil Products, which paid $48,400.
Volatile organic compounds are gases released from solids and liquids that contribute to ozone formation once released into the air. The gases can be found in paints, aerosol sprays, cleansers, disinfectants, air fresheners, stored fuels and automotive products.