Today’s News: Tax hike on L.A. ballot; Gay marriage delay; Underwater blasts

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Tax march. A divided L.A. City Council has voted to place a half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot. L.A. voters will decide on the tax increase on March 5th – the same day they pick a new mayor. A majority of the council voted for the sale-tax hike, but it was opposed by council members Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti, both of whom are running for mayor. City Controller Wendy Greuel – also a mayoral candidate – says she opposes the plan as well. The measure would raise the sales tax in the city of L.A. to 9-and-a-half cents, one of the highest rates in the state. L.A. Times

Fee free. Cal State students are savoring a rare victory on fee hikes. With students gathering to protest, university trustees agreed to shelve a proposal for new increases. The higher costs would have fallen on students who repeat classes, take more than a full course load or already have enough credits to graduate. The idea was to free up space for new students. Meanwhile, regents at the University of California say they’re dropping plans to raise fees for students in some professional programs. San Jose Mercury News

Carbon clash. Part of California’s landmark greenhouse gas law is facing a court challenge just as the program is scheduled to begin. The California Chamber of Commerce says the state’s Air Resources Board does not have legal authority to sell carbon credits to raise money for the state. The Cap and Trade program is scheduled to hold its first auction today. Under the law, businesses are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If their levels are too high, they can buy allowances from other companies. Reuters

Legal limbo. Backers and critics of gay marriage in California will have to wait a little longer to find out if the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case. The justices have postponed discussion on the matter until November 30th, with a decision expected in early December. The legal challenge to Prop. 8 was brought by two same-sex couples. A federal court in California has ruled that the voter-approved law is unconstitutional. L.A. Times

Underwater blasts. The California Coastal Commission could decide today whether to give PG&E the go-ahead to use loud air cannons to map off-shore earthquake faults near the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. Environmentalists say the blasts off the coast of San Luis Obispo County could harm marine mammals. PG&E argues that the sonar system is the best to way to evaluate seismic risks at Diablo Canyon. San Francisco Chronicle