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Raul Labrador has own immigration plan, walks away from House Gang of Eight talks
The U.S. Senate continues to slap down border enforcement amendments to the immigration bill. On Wednesday, lawmakers voted to table an amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) that would have required a Congressional vote on border security before legal status could be granted to undocumented immigrants.
Over on the House side, a bipartisan group of negotiators continue to work on their own version of a comprehensive bill. Even a breakaway member who recently walked out on those negotiations is planning his own legislation.
Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) was a member of the House Gang of Eight hashing out an immigration bill. Labrador prefers the term "Group of Eight" saying his mother told him "not to join gangs."
Labrador was born in Puerto Rico, but settled in his wife's home state of Idaho. He dropped out of the official House immigration effort, saying he's writing his own bills to complement various enforcement measures being pushed through the House Judiciary Committee.
Court hears testimony on state of mental health care in California prisons
Psychiatrists and other witnesses are testifying Wednesday that state hospital units charged with treating mentally ill prisoners are dangerously understaffed.
The evidentiary hearing is part of a long-running case on prison mental healthcare before U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton.
In opening statements, Michael Bien, an attorney for inmates, told the judge that the Salinas Valley Psychiatric Program and a similar program at a facility in Vacaville lacked enough psychiatrists to provide timely and adequate treatment to the sickest inmates. Bien asserted the lack of staff may have contributed to the recent deaths of two inmates at the Salinas facility. "Peoples' lives are at stake," he told Judge Karlton.
In November, 2012 an inmate hung himself in his cell after waiting for weeks to be admitted to the program. Another inmate, who suffered from a psychological condition that creates an unquenchable thirst, died in March of this year from drinking too much water. Dr. Pablo Stewart, an expert on psychiatric care, testified that a death from such a condition was "100 percent preventable." Staff should have monitored the patient and restricted his access to water told Karlton.
Maven's Morning Coffee: LA bans plastic bags, Metro cracks down on fare evaders, Burbank gets a new city manager
Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.
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Today is Wednesday, June 19, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:
The city of Los Angeles will ban plastic bags at stores beginning in 2014, reports KPCC and the Los Angeles Times.
There are no more free rides on the Metro's Purple or Red Lines thanks to newly installed gates, according to the Daily News. The transit agency expects to recoup $7 million from fare evaders.
The Montebello City Council is relying on about $1 million in reserves to balance its $45.7 million budget, according to the Whittier Daily News. "It's what we call a basic operational needs budget," says the city administrator.
John Boehner: man in the middle of immigration debate (Updated)
A House Judiciary Committee meeting was interrupted Tuesday by demonstrators as members took up a bill that would allow local jurisdictions to enforce their own immigration laws. The bill illustrates the challenges ahead for a bipartisan comprehensive measure — and the political challenges facing House Speaker John Boehner.
The House is moving forward on two fronts: a bipartisan bill that has yet to be unveiled, and a series of tough enforcement measures working their way through the Judiciary Committee. Boehner is walking a fine line down the middle.
L.A. Democrat Xavier Becerra, a member of the so-called "Gang of Seven" working on the comprehensive House bill, says he "really" believes Boehner "wants to get this done." But he cautions patience, saying "the worst thing" would be to push through a bill with backing from only one party.
House plays chicken with farm bill
The House of Representatives is debating a farm bill this week. One portion of that $940 billion measure could scramble California's egg industry. The fight is both about state's rights and hens' quality of life.
California's Proposition 2, passed in 2008, requires hens to have enough room in their cages to stand up and spread their wings. But an amendment to the House farm bill by Iowa Republican Steve King would put a crimp in that law.
California would still be able to regulate egg farming here, but not forbid the sale of eggs from states that do not have rules on more humane cages. King calls it trade protectionism.
The battle isn't the traditional party line fight between Democrats and Republicans. Last year, a similar fight over last year's farm bill in the Senate had Democrat Dianne Feinstein defending California's law. This year, it's Fresno Republican Congressman Jeff Denham. Both cite an agreement between the Humane Society and the United Egg Producers — which represents 90 percent of America's egg producers — to phase in larger cages over 15 years.