California Needs New Laws to Boost Earthquake Safety, Assemblyman Says

(TNS) -- A Los Angeles lawmaker says California needs new statewide laws that boost earthquake safety, and wants to toughen rules on how strong new buildings should be and require cities to identify buildings at risk of collapse.

Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood) said the bills are important for keeping California functioning after a major earthquake.

Sonoma County, Calif., Learns Bitter Lessons from Deadly Fire, Adopts Reforms

Sonoma County, which lost 25 lives in last October’s wildfires, has changed the ways in which it alerts residents after scathing criticism for not using cellphone alerts during the devasting fires last fall.

The then emergency manager and others decided against sending out mass alerts because they believed they could not adequately target who received the messages and didn’t want to “over-alert.” They felt that doing so could lead people who were safe to evacuate into a more dangerous area or cause severe traffic.

Good News on Opioid Usage for a Change – it’s Down in California Workers’ Comp

Efforts to curb the use of opioids in California’s workers’ compensation system appear to be paying off.

New research from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute on prescription drugs used to treat injured workers shows that opioids now account for less than a quarter of all workers’ comp prescriptions in the state, down from nearly a third a decade ago.

California Spent $1.8B Fighting 2017 Wildfires

California state agencies spent nearly $1.8 billion fighting fierce wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last year, legislative budget experts reported Thursday.

The federal government will reimburse most of the costs, but the state will still need to come up with about $371 million on top of the state’s existing wildfire budget, the Legislative Analyst’s Office told the Senate Budget committee. That shouldn’t be a problem because state revenue has far exceeded expectations so far this fiscal year and the general fund is flush with cash.

California Fire Officials Request $100 Million to Fix Mutual-Aid System

(TNS) - California fire officials asked lawmakers Tuesday for $100 million to improve the state’s strained mutual-aid system, which is designed to quickly rally first responders in an emergency, such as the deadly fires that ravaged the North Bay last year.

At a legislative hearing in Sacramento, fire chiefs and emergency officials said wildfires across the state last year exposed shortcomings in the 60-year-old system.

Report: Number of Qualified Medical Evaluators in California Workers’ Comp Fell

The number of qualified medical evaluators resolve disputes over California workers’ compensation claim issues fell 20 percent between January 2012 and September 2017, according to a new California Workers’ Compensation Institute study.

However, the CWCI study shows that the impact on QME accessibility was partially offset by an increase in the median number of office locations per QME, which doubled over the same period.

Californians can go home but told to keep watch on wildfire

BISHOP, Calif. (AP) —
A wind-driven wildfire in rural central California threatened hundreds of buildings Monday, including a historic railroad station, but officials said they made some gains after the flames exploded in size.

The blaze scorched 3½ square miles of chaparral bush and shrub oak in the small town of Bishop on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada that is popular for hiking, fishing, climbing and hunting.

Officials ended most evacuations that were ordered near the town but warned that strong winds were expected in the area and urged residents to remain vigilant.


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