California

It can be a delicate matter to bring up someone's age. But in California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein's age has become a openly discussed issue in her campaign for a fifth full term. Feinstein — a Democrat — is 84, making her the oldest member of the United States Senate.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Prosecutors in San Francisco will throw out thousands of marijuana-related convictions of residents dating back to 1975.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday that his office will dismiss and seal 3,038 misdemeanor convictions dating back before the state's legalization of marijuana went into effect, with no action necessary from those who were convicted.

Prosecutors will also review up to 4,940 felony convictions and consider reducing them to misdemeanors.

Across the country, U.S. residents have awakened to a new year, new resolutions — and a whole host of new rules to keep track of. Hundreds of new state laws took effect across the country Monday, and they're sure to reshape the political and legal landscape in the coming months.

They run a vast gamut — from recreational marijuana and paid leave time, to traveling barbers and exotic pets — so you'll have to forgive us if we pick just a few to focus on. Here is a glimpse of some notable new laws, in brief.

This was supposed to be the Ekblad family's first Christmas in their new home, a four-bedroom near a park in Ventura, Calif., that they stretched their budget to buy. Allie Ekblad, 32, says she was ready for the holiday: For once, she had finished Christmas shopping early for her husband, Matt, 2-year-old Jace and 8-month-old Ava.

"The one year I'm ahead of everything," she says, sighing. "I had everyone done, including the kids, stockings, the extended family. All done."

California has the toughest air quality regulations of any state in the country. But they're not tough enough to satisfy a new state law that requires California to double the rate at which it cuts greenhouse gases.

So this month, the California Air Resources Board approved a plan it says is aimed at "decarbonizing" the state's economy.

If you've been convicted of marijuana-related crimes in California, you might be able to have your record wiped clean or the charges greatly reduced under a provision in the state's new marijuana law, Prop 64. More than 4,000 people have already petitioned the courts about their records and sentencing.

Updated at 5:30 a.m. ET

Firefighters battling the massive Thomas Fire northwest of Los Angeles were working against another round of high winds to prevent its spread to homes in Santa Barbara and Montecito.

The blaze — which has gone on for two weeks and engulfed some 269,000 acres — has become the third largest wildfire in the state's modern history.

I grew up in San Luis Obispo, a small town about 20 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean in central California. I was raised primarily by my grandmother, Anna Herrera. She was a very affectionate woman who liked to tell jokes and stories and take walks along the river behind her small house.

Wildfires in December are the new norm for California.

In the West, they are burning hotter and more intensely than ever due to climate change, and the situation is made worse by the explosion of development in fire prone areas and past firefighting decisions. Here are three reasons the fires are massive and likely won't abate anytime soon.

1. It's nearly impossible to put out a modern mega-fire

This has been tough year for America's west coast vineyards. Wildfires in October in Northern California and this month in Southern California have left acres of wine country scorched and black. While California's 2017 grapes have been safely harvested already, winemakers around the world are wary about a threat that is growing along with the frequency of wildfires: smoke taint.

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