Plus: Bill would ban fracking by 2027, San Franciscans are on the move and California does verify signatures on mail-in ballots
I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun, and it is absolutely beautiful today here in Palm Springs. I hope the same is true wherever you’re reading this.
In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.
Deal reached on state stimulus checks, aid to small businesses
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he and state legislative leaders have agreed to provide a $600 state stimulus payment for low-income Californians to help them weather hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The payment — which is on top of the $600-per-person stimulus checks already approved by Congress — is part of a $9.6 billion economic recovery package that also includes $2.1 billion in grants for small businesses.
The Associated Press reports that the state proposal will be expedited for legislative approval next week. Also included is more than $400 million in new federal funds for stipends of $525 per enrolled child for all state-subsidized providers of child-care and preschool.
“As we continue to fight the pandemic and recover, I’m grateful for the Legislature’s partnership to provide urgent relief and support for California families and small businesses where it’s needed most,” Newsom said in announcing the package with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood).
Bill would ban fracking, other risky oil production techniques by 2027
Two California state senators have introduced legislation that would halt all new fracking, steaming and other risky oil and gas production techniques next year — and end them completely by 2027.
The bill, SB 467, “End Fracking & Harmful Drilling Act,” was authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara) and will include a renewed bid to require a 2,500-foot setback between oil operations and neighborhoods, mandating a separation between hazardous facilities and schools or residences.
The bill was crafted in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request to the Legislature in September to ban new fracking in five years, but goes further than what he asked for.
“We have no time to waste,” Wiener said. “Extracting massive amounts of oil — particularly with destructive techniques — is totally inconsistent with California’s commitment to a sustainable climate future. It’s time to transition.”
While oil production has been declining in the Golden State since the mid-1980s, the state is still the seventh-largest oil and gas producer in the U.S.
Mission to Mars: Explore the Perseverance rover in augmented reality!
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is expected to land on Mars Thursday. Many Southern Californians played a role in the mission, which launched last July from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The story of the mission will be brought to life in immersive augmented reality via The Desert Sun mobile app beginning at 3 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday.
Perseverance’s journey to Mars will culminate with a series of automated operations that will slow its approach from 12,100 mph to just 1.7 mph. The car-size rover will then gently land on the planet’s dusty surface and will almost immediately begin transmitting signals and images. Beginning Thursday morning, you can see the full interactive story within the Augmented Reality section of The Desert Sun app. Here’s how:
- Download the latest version of the Desert Sun app on your device.
- Open the app, and look for the Mars interactive story in the News section.
“Perseverance: Explore as one” was built in partnership with the Smithsonian Channel. Learn more about their interactive game app Mars AR. 3D assets were created and provided by Immersion.
Fact check: California does, in fact, verify signatures on mail-in ballots
An effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom is spurring false claims about mail-in ballots in the Golden State.
Actor Kevin Sorbo claimed in a Tweet on Feb. 15 that California required signature verifications on recall petitions but not for mail-in ballots. The post was retweeted more than 26,000 times and repeated on Rudy Giuliani’s Instagram account.
But that claim is false, according to California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber’s office, citing state law.
When a petition is submitted, California requires that those signatures be checked against signatures on file in voter registration records. That same law, found in the California Code of Regulations, also speaks to requirements for mail-in ballots: “In addition, the elections official must compare the signature on a voted vote-by-mail envelope and a voted provisional ballot envelope to the voter’s signature(s) in the voter’s registration record prior to counting a ballot.”
More than 15.4 million California voters cast mail-in ballots in the 2020 general election. And of the 86,401 California ballots rejected in the 2020 general election, 49,816 were nixed because of nonmatching signatures and 14,666 were rejected because they did not have a signature, according to data from the California Secretary of State.
Furthermore, election officials are not permitted to consider voters’ party preference, race or ethnicity when comparing signatures. More fact-checking sources are available here.
And while we’re on the subject of ballots, did you hear California lawmakers have OK’ed mailed ballots for all voters in 2021 elections as well as for the effort to recall Gov. Newsom, if it comes to pass? It’s true: The state Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that would require all active registered voters to get a ballot in the mail, even if they didn’t ask for one. According to lawmakers, the aim is to slow the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging people to vote by mail rather than showing up in person.
San Franciscans are on the move
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that people are leaving the City by the Bay in droves, but where are they going?
According to an analysis of change-of-address data from the United States Postal Service, most of the people have relocated to other Bay Area counties: Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Sonoma. Rounding out the top 10 were Los Angeles, San Diego, Napa and Riverside counties.
Among out-of-state moves, only two counties made the top 20: Travis County in Texas (home to Austin) and Denver County in Colorado (home to Denver).
The report says while the influx of new residents coming to San Francisco remained constant between 2019 and 2020, the number of households leaving skyrocketed by more than 77% from 45,263 departures in 2019 to 80,371 in 2020.
Easily digestible, bite-sized news
For those in a hurry or with short attention spans….
- Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t look at a menu: While it may be too soon to start making elaborate travel plans, it’s never too early to dream. Travelawaits.com has identified six quaint Northern California towns to consider visiting. Among the six is one of my favorite locales, the charming seaside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. To see the other five, click here.
- Have you gotten your Real ID yet from the DMV? I did. And as much as I dislike my picture, I was lucky compared to a woman in Sacramento who was photographed wearing her face mask (abc7.com).
- Captain enters plea in Conception boat fire: The captain of a scuba diving boat that burned and sank off the Ventura County coast, killing 34 people, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges.
- California teachers create podcast to help teenagers during the pandemic: “Teacher Saves World!” explores the cross-section of parenting and teaching teenagers. Educators Laurie and Matt Jones, who have been married for more than 20 years, advocate for teens — who they believe are one of the most overlooked groups during the coronavirus pandemic. Check it out at teachersavesworld.com — they even have merch.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: abc7.com, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, travelawaits.com, We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with the latest headlines.
As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at [email protected]