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Butte College training program | Hundreds of bills move forward in legislature | Monarch butterflies get a boost

The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Friday, May 20.

Butte College training program aims to ease labor shortage

In the aftermath of the Camp Fire, Butte College established a program to help train new workers in utility line clearance and vegetation management to help prevent devastating wildfires. Demand for workers in the industry continues to outpace supply and the college is still trying to ease that shortage.

The college’s Utility Line Clearance Arborist Training program is working closely with private contractors to meet the region’s needs. Its five-week program covers entry-level skills like first aid, tree climbing, and heavy equipment operation. Annie Rafferty is the Director of Contract Education, Training, and Development at the college.

“There are utility line-clearance arborist positions that require a certification that an individual can earn here at the college,” she said.

Rafferty said her goal is to train 950 students for jobs with local arborists.

The next session is from June 6 through July 15. Registration is currently open, and classes are tuition-free.

— Ken Devol, NSPR

Bill for court-mandated behavioral treatment moves forward in the legislature

Hundreds of bills in the California Legislature cleared a major hurdle Thursday, but lawmakers held back others, including one that would have banned offshore oil drilling.

Bills that would cost more than $150,000 have to be approved by legislative Appropriations Committees. These committees often release hundreds of bills at once, but others are held back with little or no explanation.

One bill not advancing this year is a measure by Orange County Senator Dave Min that would have banned oil drilling along the coast. It was inspired by last fall’s oil spill off Huntington Beach.

Legislation that did pass includes the bill creating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal for court-mandated behavioral treatment, known as CARE Court. A bill that would allow private citizens to sue ghost gun makers and sellers — modeled after a new abortion law in Texas — also passed and will be debated by the full Senate in the coming weeks.

— CapRadio Staff

New state program helps support monarch butterflies

Scientists say a $1 million state-funded project to boost the Western monarch butterfly population in California by restoring their habitat appears to be working. Hillary Sardiñas, pollinator coordinator with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said they're seeing caterpillars on recently planted milkweeds and other flowering native species.

"It is a really good sign and shows that where we planted are important locations that the monarchs are finding and using," she said.

The latest monarch count — announced earlier this year — was 250-thousand butterflies, a 100-fold increase from the previous count 12-months earlier. Most of the monarchs were concentrated along the Central Coast between Monterey and Los Angeles counties.

— CapRadio Staff

State lawmakers in a stalemate over gas price relief

In California, the average gallon of gas has surpassed six dollars. State lawmakers want to use part of a $97 billion budget surplus to send out rebate checks, but they’re in a stalemate over the details.

Democratic leaders want to send out tax rebate checks to help families struggling with high gas prices and inflation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to tie the rebates to car ownership, meaning anyone with an active DMV registration would get $400, or $800 for two vehicles. He’s also proposing free public transit for three months.

But top lawmakers point out his plan could mean a family that can’t afford a car wouldn’t get any cash. Instead, they want to target tax relief to lower- and middle-income families and distribute it through the state’s Tax Board. Gov. Newsom said that would take months. Read the full story.

— CapRadio Staff

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • Redding’s rapid and secretive sale of public land violated state laws and city policy, court finds: “A small parcel of land that provided important access to the Redding Rancheria’s proposed new casino site off I-5 was declared surplus and sold within eleven days by the City of Redding in mid-2020. New court documents indicate city staff engaged in behind the scenes conversations with a local land holder before negotiating a property sale in closed session in a process that violated both state laws and city policy.” — Shasta Scout
  • Positive Covid cases jump in Plumas over the past week: “Plumas County Public Health announced today, May 19, that there have been 35 new cases reported over the past seven days; a jump from the six cases reported on May 12. This follows the state and national trends reporting increases in COVID cases.” — Plumas News

In case you missed it

Headlines is published every weekday morning at 8:30 a.m. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and NPR One. Theme song Borough is courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions

Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Alec Stutson grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Radio Journalism, 20th/21st Century Literature, and a minor in Film Studies. He is a huge podcast junkie, as well as a movie nerd and musician.
Adia White is a broadcast journalist and producer with nearly 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on WNYC, This American Life, Capital Public Radio and other local and national programs. She started at North State Public Radio as a freelance reporter in 2017 before leaving for a stint at Northern California Public Media in Santa Rosa.