California marijuana policies at play on Election Day, even in Republican strongholds

Marijuana will once again be a hot topic on Election Day, with the future of local, state and federal cannabis policies in the hands of voters Nov. 6.

But this time, voters in states that typically lean Republican will be the ones weighing legalization measures at the ballot box.

A number of red communities in California, from the Inland Empire town of Hemet to rural El Dorado County, also will join dozens of blue communities in voting during the midterm elections on whether to allow commercial marijuana businesses.

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Republican candidates — and incumbent Democrats who haven’t traditionally supported marijuana reform — are talking about their support for regulated cannabis, too.

It’s all in response to a simple trend: support for marijuana legalization has never been higher.

“In some of these tight races, marijuana is more popular than the people who are running,” said Michael Collins, interim director for the Office of National Affairs at Drug Policy Action, the political arm of the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance.

Marijuana reform could see a boost if predictions prove true of higher-than-normal voter turnout among young people in particular, who support legal cannabis at by far the highest rate of any voting bloc.

Either way, the surge in interest from candidates and communities that have otherwise been conservative on drug policy seems to be yet another sign of just how mainstream cannabis has become — and, some experts say, the inevitability of federal legalization.

“The momentum is very much on our side,” Collins said. “It’s not about should we legalize marijuana, it’s about when and how.”

Federal legalization at play

There are federal bills on the table to legalize hemp, to open …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Musk delivers: $35K Tesla Model 3 is ready to roll

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk apparently sees and hopes to seize a market for a new version of one of his vehicle’s better-selling models.

In tweets Thursday afternoon, Musk talked up a mid-range, lower-cost version of the company’s Model 3 sedan, as well as an easy way to plunk down $35,000 for the purchase.

Just released lower cost, mid-range Tesla Model 3 & super simple new order page

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 18, 2018

Tesla rear wheel drive cars do actually work well on snow & ice. We did our traction testing on an ice lake! Dual motor AWD is great, but not required for cold weather. Just don’t use sport/summer tires.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 18, 2018

“Just released lower cost, mid-range Tesla Model 3 & super simple new order page,” Musk said. “Costs $35k after federal & state tax rebates in California, but true cost of ownership is closer to $31k after gas savings.”

Taking note that winter is coming, Musk spiked his salesmanship with a sliver of sound advice. “Tesla rear wheel drive cars do actually work well on snow & ice. We did our traction testing on an ice lake!,” Dual motor AWD is great, but not required for cold weather. Just don’t use sport/summer tires.”

Musk answered a follower’s question about the new release’s battery capacity, adding in a follow-up that the model’s long-range rear-wheel version would be ready next week.

It’s a long range battery with fewer cells. Non-cell portion of the pack is disproportionately high, but we can get it done now instead of ~February

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 18, 2018

Model 3 long range, rear wheel drive is still available for ordering off menu for another week or so

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 18, 2018

Impatient Tesla …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


H-1B spouses’ work-ban rule coming next month, feds say

Time appears nearly up for an estimated 100,000 foreign citizens working in the U.S. under a special authorization for spouses of foreign workers on the controversial H-1B visa. The federal government, which has been promising since late 2017 to ban these H-4 visa holders from working, has just put out a notice that the new rule will be issued sometime next month.

A public-comment period is expected to follow, before the rule would take effect.

Stripping H-4 holders of the right to work — granted in 2015 under former president Barack Obama — is a priority for the administration of President Donald Trump.

“Some U.S. workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold,” the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration said in the notice about the planned November issuance of the work-ban rule.

Homeland Security has said the planned work ban is part of the implementation of Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order.

University of Tennessee researchers have reported that 93 percent of H-4 holders are women from India, many with advanced degrees.

Critics of the H-4 and H-1B charge that the visas lead to lost jobs and job opportunities for Americans.

Several Bay Area residents on the H-4 have told this news organization that if they can’t work, they will likely leave the U.S. with their families.

Public comment periods for new federal rules typically last 30 to 60 days, but can extend to 180 days or more. Government agencies can finalize rules without public comment under certain circumstances. But Citizenship and Immigration director L. Francis Cissna said in a Sept. 6 letter to the Internet Association — which represents major …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


PG&E seeks higher monthly bills for electricity transmission

PG&E customers can expect higher monthly bills if federal regulators approve the embattled utility’s latest effort to extract more money from its ratepayers, the company said Thursday.

San Francisco-based PG&E’s filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this month quickly drew harsh criticism on Thursday.

“If our request is approved by FERC, it would amount to approximately a $1.50 a month increase for the average residential customer’s bill,” James Noonan, a PG&E spokesman, said Thursday.

Still, coming on the heels of PG&E’s victories in September with the state Legislature and outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown, the prospect of a $1.50 jump in monthly bills for customers drew opposition from state Sen. Jerry Hill, whose district includes parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

Over several months this year, PG&E raised the specter that it would tumble into bankruptcy unless the company coaxed state lawmakers and the governor to back measures that would ease the company’s past, present and future financial exposure linked to destructive wildfires.

Gov. Brown in recent weeks signed a state legislative measure, SB 901, that’s designed to address California’s past, present and future wildfire woes, but the plan has been blasted as a bailout for PG&E, which faces a forbidding mountain of liabilities linked to infernos that scorched the North Bay Wine Country and other nearby regions in October 2017.

The new law also paves a smoother path for PG&E to saddle its customers with some wildfire-related expenses and liabilities, in the form of higher monthly utility bills.

At the heart of the criticism: language in the new law appears to primarily benefit PG&E, whose equipment was deemed to be the cause of several lethal firestorms that roared through Northern California a year ago.

“PG&E was able this year to fool the Legislature, PG&E fooled the governor and now they are trying to fool the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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