Brown expected to sign license measure

California’s move to allow more than a million immigrants to receive driver’s licenses marks a significant advance in the long campaign to decriminalize the day-to-day lives of those in this country illegally.

The plan was the most prominent of several pieces of legislation approved this week aimed at strengthening the rights of immigrants in California. But it also brought new protests from critics who say the state is protecting undocumented workers at the expense of federal immigration laws.

The bill, sent to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) late Thursday, comes after some of California’s top law enforcement officials, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, expressed strong support for the idea. They argued that immigrants should not fear cooperating with police or feel harassed simply because of their immigration status.

The bill, AB 60, would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a driver’s license to people who cannot prove that they are authorized under federal law to be in the country as long as they meet all other qualifications for having a license. Brown is expected to sign the bill, having said in a statement it would “enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally.”

— Los Angeles Times

Contaminated oyster beds shut down

A mystery of sorts threatens to stunt Massachusetts’ small but growing oyster industry after illnesses linked to bacterial contamination forced the state to shut down beds for the first time.

The culprit is the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacterium, which has occurred in state waters since the 1960s. Theories abound about the recent increase in illnesses linked to Massachusetts.

Average monthly daytime water temperatures in the region rarely approach the 81 degrees believed to be the threshold that triggers dangerous Vibrio growth. Rising average water temperatures locally, while not reaching that threshold, could be causing environmental changes that cause strains of Vibrio to thrive, said Suzanne Condon, associate commissioner of the Department of Health.

In addition, virulent Vibrio strains that aren’t as
temperature-sensitive may have been carried from overseas in ships’ ballast water in the past decade, said the state’s chief shellfish biologist, Michael Hickey.

— Associated Press

Scores hurt in Ohio bus accident: A Greyhound bus drove off an interstate highway in southwest Ohio early Saturday, struck a tree and a fence and flipped on its side before sliding to a stop in a cornfield, injuring at least 35 people. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, though several people were trapped and had to be extricated by firefighters and paramedics, the State Highway Patrol said.

Suzuki recalls SX4, Grand Vitara vehicles: Suzuki is recalling 193,936 cars and SUVs because of a defective air-bag sensor in the front passenger seat. Grand Vitara SUVs from the 2006 through 2011 model years and SX4 small cars from the 2007 through 2011 model years are involved.

Woody Guthrie’s Okla. home to be rebuilt: When Woody Guthrie’s dilapidated boyhood home was ordered torn down in the late 1970s, the demolition reflected the strained relationship between conservative Oklahoma and the native son famous for his folk singing and progressive politics. Now, developers working with the blessing of Guthrie’s relatives have announced plans to rebuild his 1860s-era boyhood home in Okemah, a time-worn town of 3,300 people desperately seeking tourism dollars.

— From news services