Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. State Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley unveiled new legislation that would short-circuit a ballot-drive effort by Amazon.com, the Chron reports. The bill would replace a law enacted earlier this year that forces Amazon.com to collect sales taxes from its customers. And Amazon.com would be prohibited from trying to overturn the new bill at the ballot box because Hancock’s legislation requires a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature. Such legislation cannot be overturned by voters.
2. A bill that would ban the sale of shark fins in California passed a key hurdle in the state Senate despite fierce opposition from Chinese-American groups who say it tramples on their cultural traditions, the LA Times reports. The lucrative shark fin trade is resulting in the slaughter of tens of millions of sharks worldwide each year, but some Chinese-American groups want to keep the sale of shark fins legal because they use shark fins in shark fin soup, a traditional delicacy.
3. Senator Hancock’s proposal to put a death-penalty repeal measure on the state ballot died in committee because of a lack of support in the legislature, the SacBee reports. Death penalty opponents, as a result, are planning to launch an initiative drive for the measure. Hancock introduced the proposed ballot measure in the legislature after recent studies showed that California has wasted huge amounts of money on the death penalty over the years and that it’s much cheaper to sentence murderers to life in prison without parole.
4. BART director James Fang accepted an illegal $7,000 campaign contribution from a private contractor that does business with the agency, California Watch reports. Fang then voted to award the campaign donor another contract. Fang said, however, that he will return the check and that he did not vote to award the contract because of the campaign donation. The contractor, Kal Krishnan Consulting Services, argued that rules prohibiting contractors from making large donations to politicians who vote on the contractor’s contracts infringe on free speech rights.
5. And billionaire investor Warren Buffet may have just saved BofA from disaster. AP reports that Buffet pumped $5 billion into the ailing giant bank, a move designed to calm investors.