Lawmakers Again Give Nod to Aid in Dying Bill

California's proposed aid in dying bill, SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, received yet another nod from lawmakers on Tuesday when it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.
| Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Navy

This story has been published in tandem with a segment for KCET's award-winning TV show "SoCal Connected." Watch it here now.

California's proposed aid in dying bill, SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, received yet another nod from lawmakers on Tuesday when it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Last month, the Senate Health Committee approved the measure, which would allow terminally ill patients to choose a life-ending prescription.

"We believe that this voluntary option is a compassionate addition to the existing continuum of care that may be offered by modern medicine at the end of life," said Lois Wolk (D-Davis), one of the bill's co-authors. "After the successful passage in the Senate Judiciary Committee today, we are one step closer to ensuring that this fundamental right is protected for those in California who are coping with end-of-life issues."

FasTrak Lanes Take a Toll on Freeway Speeds

Los Angeles' FasTrak freeway lanes have become less so -- and they might get pricier.
| Photo: Courtesy of Metropolitan Transit Authority

A segment for KCET's award-winning TV show "SoCal Connected" has been produced in tandem with this story. Tune in Wednesday, April 29 at 8 p.m.

Los Angeles' FasTrak freeway lanes have become less so -- and they might get pricier.

Toll lanes on the 110 Freeway have slowed so much that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is closing them to solo drivers for up to 30 minutes during morning rush hour. That recent tweak is part of Metro's rejiggering of a few variables to speed things up. If closing the lanes down to solo drivers, who make up one third of toll lane cars, doesn't work, the agency will consider increasing the per-mile toll limit, probably in the fall, according to Metro spokesman Rick Jager.

"They want an opportunity to tweak the system and see if they can't rectify it," Jager said.

Toll prices currently vary from $.25 to $1.40 per mile, depending on the heaviness of traffic. Commuters pay an average of $9.01 to travel the 11 miles of toll lanes on the 110 Freeway, and $7.30 to drive the 14 miles of toll lanes on the 10 Freeway, according to Metro.

Bill Seeks to Reduce Prescription Drug-Related Deaths in California

Assemblymember Jim Wood introduces new legislation that would help reduce prescription drug abuse during a press conference March 24, 2015.
| Photo Courtesy of The Office of Assemblymember Jim Wood

Prescription drug abuse is among the top leading causes of death in L.A. County. To address the epidemic here and across California, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) last month introduced new legislation limiting access to opioids -- medications, like OxyContin, morphine, and codeine, that alleviate pain.

One of the main features of AB 623 would be to allow health care providers to prescribe pain relievers that take the form of abuse-deterrent opioids. Described as ADF, for abuse-deterrent formula, this type of medicine blocks the effect drug abusers seek when the pill is manipulated by crushing, cutting, or dissolving.

The bill would also help pharmacists instruct patients on how to protect oneself from harm by properly storing and disposing the medicine and for health care providers to write prescriptions for less than 30-days.

San Diego Police Say Body Cameras Reduce Complaints, Use of Force

This story has been published in tandem with a segment for KCET's award-winning TV show "SoCal Connected." Watch it here now.

As the Los Angeles Police Department embarks on an effort to equip all officers with body cameras, data from San Diego suggests camera use has led to more peaceful confrontations with officers.

San Diego has seen decreases of 47 percent in use of force, 41 percent in complaints, and 31 percent in pepper spray use since its officers began using cameras in January 2014, according to a report by the department.

In L.A. and across the country, the police killings of Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, and others has touched off a national debate about the use of force against suspects. Body cameras' recent emergence has factored them into the debate about how police procedure might change. In a recent segment, "SoCal Connected" explored L.A.'s adoption of the technology.

Death with Dignity Proposal Passes Health Committee

A bill that would allow terminally ill patients to take a life-ending prescription is advancing through the California legislature.
| Photo: Alex/Flickr/Creative Commons

A segment for KCET's award-winning TV show "SoCal Connected" has been produced in tandem with this story. Watch it here now.

A bill that would give terminally ill patients the option to request a life-ending prescription from a doctor passed the state Senate Health Committee on Wednesday afternoon. With news that the bill had passed the committee, proponents released a video of Brittany Maynard attesting to her experience with a terminal brain cancer diagnosis and subsequent move to Oregon to utilize its end-of-life law.

The proposal to follow in the footsteps of Oregon and some other states has been the subject of controversy, a topic covered in depth in this "SoCal Connected" segment.

Clarity for Social Media Accounts of the Deceased Sought in Bill

When you or a loved one passes on, what exactly happens to their digital information?

Many social media services offer privacy settings to prevent unwanted access or identity theft, but there is no standard process for disclosing or hiding information once a user passes away.

Assemblymember Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) is seeking just that with a bill to protect a deceased person's digital assets or electronic communication. AB 691, the Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act, would apply to social media, e-mail, audio recordings, photos, and any other form of electronic communication stored on a computer.

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