Business Briefs – December 11, 2018

Hints of Democratic Agenda As Google CEO Testifies

WASHINGTON (AP) — Google CEO Sundar Pichai — and other tech executives who may be watching — got hints Tuesday of what issues they can expect to face as Democrats take control of the House in three weeks. While Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee grilled Pichai on what they perceive as bias against conservatives, top committee Democrat Jerrold Nadler said lawmakers should instead examine issues such as the spread of misinformation online and Russians’ efforts to influence U.S. elections online.

China and U.S. Discuss Plans for Trade Talks

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government says its economic czar and U.S. trade envoys discussed plans for the next round of talks on their tariff dispute. The announcement suggests negotiations are going ahead despite tensions over the arrest of a Chinese technology executive. The Ministry of Commerce said Vice Premier Liu He talked by phone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about ‘the promotion of the next economic and trade consultations’ but gave no details.

Official: California Must Mull Home Ban in Fire-Prone Areas

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s top firefighter says the state’s increasingly deadly and destructive wildfires have become so unpredictable that government officials should consider banning home construction in fire-prone areas. In an interview with The Associated Press during his last week on the job, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott said California already has stringent building codes but more are needed because wildfires are increasingly deadly and destructive.

Farm Bill Compromise Unveiled, Clearing Way for Vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers have reached an agreement on the farm bill. The $867-billion package will fund key farm safety net programs without making significant changes to the massive food stamp program that serves nearly 40 million low-income Americans. The agreement was signed on Monday by members of the House and Senate conference committee following months of negotiations to reconcile conflicting versions of the bill.

Trump Administration Proposes Major Rollback of Water Rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has proposed withdrawing federal protections for countless waterways and wetlands across the country Tuesday. One of President Donald Trump’s campaign pledges was to weaken landmark Obama-era water rules long opposed by some developers, farmers and oil, gas, and mining executives. Environmental groups say the Trump administration proposal would have a sweeping impact on how the country safeguards the nation’s waterways.