10:27am

Tue January 31, 2012
Morning News Roundup

Connecting the Dots: Top news stories for Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Occupy Oakland is heating up again after a controversial flag burning at last Saturday's demonstration. While some protestors encouraged the burning, others within the Occupy camp tried to stomp out the flames. Over the course of the day, Oakland police arrested 409 protesters, 354 of whom were actually taken to jail. In the wake of the demonstrations, Oakland mayor Jean Quan has said she plans to contact leaders of the national Occupy movement and urge them to denounce the use of violence; this may be easier said than done as Occupy continues to be a leaderless movement…

Demonstrations continue today – but instead of Occupiers, it’s Kaiser Permanente workers who are raising a ruckus. Members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers have been negotiating for a new contract since 2010; this is their second strike in four months. Members of the California Nurses Association and the Stationary Engineers Local 39 will also be holding a sympathy strike…

In other union news, the California Teachers Association has officially declared its support for Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed tax plan. The endorsement is a crucial one, as the union represents 325,000 teachers. It also means competing tax plans, like the “millionaires tax,” are less likely to make it onto the November ballot, and thus less likely to cause confusion among voters…

Voters would have had the chance to revise California’s “three-strike” prison law, but the bill proposing that plan failed to pass the Assembly yesterday, falling just five votes short. Assemblyman Mike Davis, who authored the bill, will move to reconsider today…

An Oakland judge has agreed to consider a class-action lawsuit against California Public Employees’ Retirement System for their refusal to sell long-term care insurance plans to same-sex couples. CalPERS says offering those benefits would jeopardize the program’s tax-exempt benefit status because the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act does not recognize same-sex couples…

The California Assembly passed a bill that would ban smoking anywhere on hospital campuses. Currently, state law prohibits smoking in hospital buildings and near entrances, and many hospitals already voluntarily ban smoking campus-wide. Nevertheless, the bill drew criticism from Republicans.

Connecting the Dots brings the day's news together.