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hazardous_waste.jpgThe past year has not been a great one for California's Department of Toxic Substances Control, which oversees hazardous waste management in the state. News reports exposed major deficiencies in the agency's operation, including the revelation that it could not account hundreds of thousands of hazardous material shipped for disposal over the past five years.

The Senate Environmental Quality Committee will consequently hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol Building to consider steps that can be taken to strengthen enforcement of the state's laws governing toxic waste. The department's director, Debbie Raphael, is among those expected to testify.

Following the hearing, the committee will take up several bills, including one from Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, that would speed up the permitting process for hazardous waste facilities and one from Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, that would require all facilities to obtain a permit by 2015 or shut down. A study commissioned by Raphael found that a quarter of the state's hazardous waste facilities are currently operating on expired permits.

VIDEO: With the ease of digital access, government agencies should be more forthcoming with public information, Dan Walters says.

BAG BAN: State Sen. Alex Padilla's bill to ban single-use plastic bags in California fell just short in the Senate last year, but the Los Angeles Democrat continues to push ahead with the idea. He will attend a city council meeting in West Sacramento at 7 p.m. to show support for a resolution supporting his bill.

FUNDING FUN: With the state Board of Education set to adopt regulations for its new school funding formula tomorrow, groups are already gathering in Sacramento to throw their voices into the debate. Calling for stricter controls on how additional funding for low-income and English-learning students is spent by local school districts, the Parent Leadership Action Network and Californians for Justice--two Bay Area organizations that advocate for minority and disadvantaged students--will lead a rally outside the Department of Education building on 14th Street at 8 a.m.

DELTA TUNNELS: A statewide series of twelve informational open houses about the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan kicks off today in Bakersfield. The sessions, including one in Sacramento on January 30, provide attendees with an opportunity to meet individually with members of the project team and to submit public comment on the proposed Delta tunnels.

IMMIGRATION DOC: "Rape in the Fields," a documentary from Frontline and Univision, takes a look at the sexual abuse suffered by female farm workers, many of whom are undocumented, at the hands of their field bosses and co-workers. The Sacramento Press Club hosts a screening of the film at 6:15 p.m. at the Crest Theater on K Street. The program is preceded by a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. and followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers and reporters at 7:15 p.m.

PHOTO: Matthew Thomas sorts a delivery of used fluorescent bulbs at the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District's household hazardous waste collection facility in Martinez on March 30, 2011. Kristopher Skinner/Contra Costa Times


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