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Firefighter retention struggles | North State heat warning | Lawmakers probe gas prices

The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Tuesday, June 21.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is holding its fourth public hearing today. NSPR will be airing special coverage of the hearing starting at 10 a.m.

Interview: Cal Fire struggles to retain employees amid worsening conditions

Cal Fire is struggling to keep some of its firefighters as the state continues to see increasingly severe fire weather conditions. That’s according to CalMatters reporter Julie Cart, who looked into statewide data and interviewed firefighters about the topic for her recent series “Trial by Fire.”

Cart said Cal Fire’s data shows an increasing number of people left the agency in 2021.

“Last year 10% of Cal Fire’s employees quit, and that’s really significant when you consider what’s walking out the door,” she said.

Cart said long-term data would be needed to understand the trend, but she added that numerous challenges of the job don’t make it easy to recruit and retain firefighters.

Listen to an interview with Cart in today’s Headlines.

— Adia White, NSPR

High temperatures return to North State this week

According to the National Weather Service, a heat advisory for the Sacramento Valley and surrounding foothills will go into effect at 10 a.m. today and last until 10 p.m. Wednesday.

The agency expects temperatures in the valley between 99-108 degrees, and in the foothills between 95-105 degrees. The hottest day will be Wednesday.

Risk for heat-related illness will be moderate to high. Valley and foothill residents are advised to drink plenty of fluids; stay in air-conditioned buildings; and check on children, the elderly and pets.

In addition, the agency says there will be elevated fire weather concerns in the valley and foothills through this afternoon.

According to Cal Fire, these types of conditions mean residents should avoid activities like burning, driving on dry grass or using power equipment — like lawn mowers and weed eaters — that can cause sparks.

— Sarah Bohannon, NSPR

California lawmakers probe soaring gasoline prices

A group of mostly Democratic lawmakers plans to investigate why gas prices are so high in California.

The state’s 51-cent-per-gallon gas tax is higher than any other state’s. But Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon suspects price gouging might play a role, too. He says companies like Shell and Chevron have recorded record profits this year.

“These are companies that are obviously ripping off California consumers, and we need to ask tough questions about them and their business practices,” Rendon said.

Republican lawmakers have called to suspend the gas tax, which is set to increase 3 cents per gallon on July 1.

Democratic lawmakers and the governor have been negotiating over a relief package in the form of tax rebates for drivers or lower-income residents. Rendon said they are close to reaching an agreement.  

— CapRadio Staff

Bill targets hazardous streets for bicyclists, pedestrians

A bill intended to make California streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians is moving through the state Legislature. It would require cities and counties to identify dangerous streets and corridors with high rates of injuries and take action to reduce accidents.

The bill's author is Pasadena Democratic Sen. Anthony Portantino.

"I've seen cities that have implemented bike safety plans and they're a pleasure to ride through and I've been through cities that haven't and they're quite dangerous," Portantino said. "We know where these hot spots are, we just have to do something about it and that's what this bill seeks to do."

If a city or county fails to comply with the bill's requirements, anyone injured in a crash could have a “cause of action” for failure to comply, meaning they could file a lawsuit.

Opponents of the bill — including the League of California Citiessay it puts an unfair burden on local governments.

The measure has passed the Assembly Local Government Committee and moves next to the Transportation Committee.

— CapRadio Staff

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

In other news

  • City of Chico to discuss shelter crisis plan: “The Chico City Council will be looking at whether or not to approve the 2022 Chico Shelter Crisis Plan that outlines how the city plans to address issues related to space for homeless people and having enough supportive housing.” — Chico Enterprise-Record
  • California Lottery distributes $3.3M to Y-S school: “The California State Lottery has disbursed over $3 million to schools in the Yuba-Sutter area in the first quarter of the 2021/22 fiscal year. The disbursement is part of a larger initiative to provide supplementary funding to educational institutions across the state.” — The Appeal-Democrat
  • California adds jobs in May; economy shows signs of weakness: “California posted another strong jobs report on Friday as the unemployment rate fell to its lowest point since before the pandemic; but the news was overshadowed this week by the surest signs yet of a wobbly economy that could soon usher in a recession.” — The Associated Press
  • CHS to welcome new assistant principal: “It was announced on Monday that Meghan Burke was selected as assistant principal at Colusa High School and Colusa Alternative High School.” — Colusa Sun Herald

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.

A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.
Sarah has worked at North State Public Radio since 2015 and is currently the station’s Director of Operations. She’s responsible for the sound of the station and works to create the richest public radio experience possible for NSPR listeners.
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.