The volume of crude oil being shipped to California by rail surged last year, growing more than tenfold and raising concerns about public safety and transparency as these flammable cargoes roll through urban areas like downtown Sacramento.
Legislators have responded with bills that would require more communication by rail carriers to state emergency officials about crude oil shipments and impose a fee to train first responders to deal with major spills and fires on railway lines. Several safety provisions were also added to the budget, creating a fee for every barrel of crude that arrives in California by rail, to be used for oil spill prevention and emergency cleanup.
Lawmakers will explore the matter further during a hearing at 10 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol. The session, jointly held by the Senate and Assembly natural resources committees and the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, will explore whether the state is prepared for a "boom" in crude oil rail transport, as well as the risks to local communities.
VIDEO: Lawmakers are hurriedly pushing through hundreds of bills before summer recess, Dan Walters says.
PIT STOP: Ahead of this weekend's Toyota/Save Mart 350 race at the Sonoma Raceway, NASCAR haulers will parade over the Tower Bridge and around the Capitol at noon. The massive race car-carrying trucks are 56 feet long, and a law was passed two years ago to allow them to drive on state roads. The Legislature is considering another bill this year that would extend that exemption. State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, will launch the festivities at 8 a.m. at the 49er Travel Plaza on El Centro Road, presenting a resolution to NASCAR and Sonoma Raceway officials declaring today NASCAR Day in Sacramento.
HOSPITAL SAFETY: Nurses and other healthcare workers represented by SEIU gather at the State Resources Building on 9th Street at 9:30 a.m., urging California to adopt regulations protecting all healthcare workers from workplace violence. At 10 a.m., the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will consider their petitions to create comprehensive regulations for preventing workplace violence in healthcare settings. Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is scheduled to attend the demonstration, which has been prompted by two recent stabbings at Los Angeles hospitals, among other incidents.
INMATE HEALTH: With the expansion of Medi-Cal coverage under the Affordable Care Act, California's county jails could begin enrolling their "high-need, hard-to-reach populations" in health insurance, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Researcher Mia Bird will discuss the "role of jail systems as health care providers" and the potential benefits of enrolling inmates in insurance plans, noon at the CSAC Conference Center on 11th street.
EQUAL TREATMENT: Mental health advocate Rose King and former Assemblywoman Helen Thomson lead a rally calling for an end to what they consider discrimination against mental illness treatment in Medi-Cal coverage and misuse of Proposition 63 funds for mental health services, 10:45 a.m. on the west steps of the Capitol.
MATERNITY CARE: Researchers and practitioners in the maternity health care field meet for a two-day symposium on "improving outcomes for mothers and babies in Medi-Cal," beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center. The event is sponsored by the California Department of Health Care Services, the UC Davis Health System and the California HealthCare Foundation.
ON THE ROAD: The Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color hosts a hearing on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, with a focus on health, workforce training and higher education, 4 p.m. at the Milton Marks Auditorium in San Francisco.
PHOTO: A crude oil train operated by BNSF snakes its way through James, California, just outside the Feather River Canyon in the foothills of Sacramento Valley, on June 5, 2014. Special to The Bee/Jake Miille