Vape away L.A: New E-Cigarette rules start tomorrow

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If you’re an e-cigarette user in L.A., today’s the day to vape with abandon. Starting tomorrow, the smokeless cigarettes will be under the same restrictions in the city as traditional cigarettes with tobacco. That means no vaping in bars, restaurants, workplaces, parks, beaches and outdoor dining areas. The City Council approved the new rules about a month ago in response to a big rise in use of the battery-powered, vapor-emitting cigarettes. Proponents of the devices say the e-cigarette ban punishes adults who are trying to quit smoking. But many health experts say the potential risks of vaping – and second-hand vapors – are not known. They say e-cigarettes are being marketed to children and they recommend the type of restrictions that L.A. has adopted.

garcettiCan giving people running for office in the city of L.A. more public money to finance their campaigns make for cleaner and more substantive campaigns? That’s the idea behind a proposal from the city’s Ethics Commission. The city currently provides candidates $2 for every $1 raised in primary elections, and $4 for every $1 raised in general elections, if they agree to spending limits and public debates The Ethics Commission says boosting the total to $6 for both primaries and run-offs would help to check the influence of big money donors in local races.

The leader of the state Senate wants to investigate the effectiveness of GPS systems used to track paroled felons. Darrell Steinberg’s request follows the arrests of two sex offenders on suspicion of raping and killing four women in Orange County. Police say the suspects were both wearing GPS monitors when they killed the women. Steinberg says the devices appear to be helpful in solving crimes – but he said the state needs to revisit the question of whether they help prevent crimes. The L.A. Times reports that California monitors more than 6,000 high risk sex offenders and gang members on state parole with GPS systems, at a cost of $63 million a year.

preschoolMost California voters believe universal pre-kindergarten is worth the investment. That’s the takeaway from a new poll that asked voters to weigh in on a Democratic plan making its way through the state Legislature. The Field Poll says 57 percent of voters favor of spending $1.4 billion a year to fund universal pre-K. That’s the projected cost of a plan being pushed by state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg. It would establish a half day of local instruction for every 4-year-old in the state, in essence creating a new grade level. Not surprisingly, the poll finds that families with young children are most supportive of the Democratic proposal.

sixcaliforniasBackers of a plan to split California into six states are running out of time to qualify their initiative for the November ballot. About 800-thousand signatures are required to qualify the measure – and today’s the deadline for turning those signatures into county registrars across the state to guarantee a spot on the fall ballot. The measure could still qualify if it misses today’s deadline, but the process becomes more difficult.Tim Draper – the venture capitalist who’s funding the initiative – says he hasn’t decided whether to make a push for this year or wait until 2016. Under Draper’s plan, Los Angeles would be part of West California, which would extend north to San Louis Obispo.