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credit_card.JPGA week after an Assembly hearing in which lawmakers pushed for better protections against the kind of massive data breaches that compromised millions of consumers' personal information over the holiday season, the state Senate takes up the issue with its own informational hearing.

Today's joint hearing of the Senate judiciary and banking and financial institutions committees will explore the technologies used by credit card companies and retailers that allowed for the security breaches, as well as ways to prevent similar mass data theft in the future. It begins at 1:30 p.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol.

Legislators have already introduced several bills this session intended to protect personal information in online transactions. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee, has one that would prohibit the collection of personal information when purchasing downloadable content, unless it is used to combat fraud or identity theft. The bill passed out of the Senate last month.

VIDEO: The Legislature has become a soap opera, Dan Walters says, full of twisty tales of scandal and corruption.

AIDING STUDENTS: Concerned that eligible high schoolers are missing out on millions in college aid dollars, Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will announce a new bill today aimed at helping more students complete their financial aid applications. The legislation addresses obstacles in the student aid process raised in a new report from The Education Trust-West, which will also be released during the press conference, 11 a.m. in Room 317 of the Capitol.

UP IN THE AIR: The California Department of Water Resources has partnered with NASA to develop applications of satellite imagery for drought preparedness and management. During a two-day conference, starting at 9:30 a.m. today at the Sacramento Convention Center, the agencies will discuss those potential uses, which include monitoring regional groundwater levels, assessing snowpack conditions and estimating the acreage of fallowed agricultural land.

ONE MAN ARMY: As the Legislature grapples over what to do with state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who was indicted on corruption charges last week, one California citizen tries to bring the focus back to another recent political scandal. Don Bird of Red Bluff will be protesting on the L Street side of the Capitol from 10 a.m.- 1:30 p.m., calling for the Senate to expel Sen. Rod Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, who was convicted earlier this month of eight felonies related to living outside his district.

PRO-LIFE DINNER: Abortion rights have strong support in California, but the California ProLife Council is pushing for legislation this year that would ban women from terminating pregnancies on the basis of gender. Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, who plans to carry the bill later this year, will speak about that and other "right to life" issues during the ProLife Legislative Dinner, 7 p.m. at The Grand on J Street.

PHOTO: Sara Dobbyn buys shoes using Visa credit card from Shoefly, a store in midtown Sacramento, on January 8, 2004. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.



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