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High school graduation rates | Dry lightning poses fire risk | California inmate wages


The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Thursday, June 23.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is holding its fifth hearing. NSPR will be airing this special coverage starting at noon. You can also watch the hearing on our website.

High school graduation rates lag behind state in Glenn, Trinity counties

A report looking at college and career readiness in the North State shows that two counties in the region are falling behind the state in terms of high school graduation numbers.

According to the report — which was created by the education network North State Together — the statewide graduation rate last year was 82%. In Glenn County the graduation rate was 79%. In Trinity County it was 69%.

Eight other counties were also tracked in the report, including Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou and Tehama. All had graduation rates above the state average.

— Alec Stutson, NSPR 

Dry lightning poses fire risk in far northern parts of the Sierra Nevada today

The National Weather Service is reporting possible dry lightning in the Sierra this week. Dawn Johnson, a senior meteorologist with the agency’s Reno office, said the greatest risk for strikes in the North State will be today.

“As we go up into Lassen County, far northern Washoe County, and as we approach the Oregon border, we're not going to be seeing as much moisture with the storms, which does increase the chances for seeing dry strikes,” she said.

Johnson said dry lightning is concerning because strikes can smolder in vegetation and spark a fire if the wind picks up. She said people who live in the Wildland Urban Interface should have an evacuation plan in case a fire does start near their homes.

She added that hikers in the area should be wary of the forecast and be prepared to leave mountainous areas if they see signs of approaching thunderstorms.

— Adia White, NSPR

State lawmakers approve higher wages for inmates 

State lawmakers have approved legislation increasing wages for California inmates who work in food service, construction, clerical and other jobs that help maintain and operate state prisons.

Democratic Sen. Steven Bradford is the bill's author. He said prisoners currently earn just 8 cents per hour.

Ucedrah Osby spoke in favor of the bill. She was incarcerated for almost 10 years and said she worked many different jobs making less than $10 per month — an amount that could only pay for her soap, toothpaste and a single stamp.

"As a Black woman, being self-reliant is important to me but with slave wages I had to call home for financial support because I couldn't provide for my very own basic needs as an adult,” she said.

Bradford's bill would phase in fair pay at state prison facilities over five years. The measure has passed the Assembly's Public Safety Committee and heads next to the Appropriations Committee.

— CapRadio Staff 

Lawmakers look to speed up environmental reviews for climate projects

State lawmakers have passed a bill that would fast-track some climate-friendly projects in California.

Supporters say it will speed up the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process to help California meet climate goals. But critics are worried the measure could weaken California's environmental safeguards.

“The bill would allow project proponents to conduct a very narrow environmental review without acknowledging or putting into context other consequential projects that are occurring at the same time in the same community,” said Melissa Romero, who is with California Environmental Voters.

The bill's author, Democratic Sen. Anthony Portantino, said he'll amend the measure to address the concerns of environmental groups. The bill has passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and moves next to the Labor and Employment Committee.

— CapRadio Staff

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

In other news

  • Why the Pit River Bridge on I-5 may be replaced: “California highway officials are making plans to either repair or replace the Pit River Bridge over Lake Shasta, considered one of the most important bridges on the West Coast.” — Redding Record Searchlight
  • Red Bluff alleyway named Historic Chinatown District: “The Red Bluff downtown alleyway located between Main Street and Rio Street from Hickory Street to the north to Pine Street on the south end has been named the 'Historic Chinatown District.'" — Red Bluff Daily News

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Sarah is an award-winning reporter, producer and editor. She’s worked at North State Public Radio for six years and was previously the station’s News Director before leaving to study at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
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.
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.