Will The Supreme Court Remake California Politics?

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Like a bolt out of the blue the US Supreme Court has suddenly thrust front and center the most important question in a democracy: who should exercise political power.  Should it be all the people, or should it just be those citizens qualified to vote?  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case out of Texas that challenges the 50-year methodology of using all the people in drawing legislative districts.  The ruling could drop on California politics like a brick on a tea cup.

Beginning in 1962, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren handed down a series of rulings that said legislative and congressional districts must be drawn on the basis of equal populations – one person, one vote.  This did away with the old rural-based State Senates, including California’s where three small counties had one senator and Los Angeles had one senator.  “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres,” said Warren in explaining why malapportioned districts were unconstitutional.

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Crippling the Initiative Process by Jacking Up Filing Fees

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

No one should be fooled — the Assembly bill passed to raise the filing fee for an initiative proposal to $8000 is an attempt to squash the initiative process. The argument that the fee has not been raised in over seventy years rings hollow when any on-line inflation calculator will tell you that inflation over that time has risen no more than one-fourth the amount that the bill, AB 1100, co-authored by Democratic assembly members Richard Bloom and Evan Low demands.

Legislators generally do not like the initiative process. They don’t like the “masses” playing in their backyard of lawmaking. An opportunity to cripple the process was presented when an Orange County lawyer filed a despicable measure that on its face authorized the killing of gays. As I noted previously on this page, “Shame, chastise and rebuke authors like Matt McLaughlin who submitted the Sodomite Suppression Act, as he so much deserves for his heinous proposal. And, don’t give bizarre initiatives the attention they crave. Most will disappear without a trace. But the legislature should not use the righteous outrage people feel over the filing of one particular initiative proposal to undercut the people’s initiative power.”

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GOP Builds Infrastructure To Train Candidates, Keep Legislative Seats

Ling Ling Chang
California State Assembly Member, 55th District

If you’ve read or watched political news reports over the last several months, you might think Republicans are nearing extinction in California, and it’s unlikely conservative leaders will ever regain leadership in the Golden State. Public opinion research and registration data shows the GOP has a mountain to climb to regain confidence from voters, no doubt; however, the prospect of a Republican comeback is much brighter. GOP leaders are working hard to recruit, train and elect the next generation of Republican leaders to state legislative office. And that’s important for the future of the GOP, and the future of our state. A thriving democracy relies upon robust debate and exchange, not one-party rule, which can often dominate the legislature.

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The Corinthian Colleges Debacle—And the Continued Shortcomings In Our Higher Ed System

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

In late April, Corinthian Colleges, administrator of the Everest College, WyoTech and Heald College campuses, abruptly closed its California sites, leaving more than 10,000 students out in the cold.

corintheancolleges3As described by Chris Kirkham, most of the students engaged in Corinthian’s vocational classes find themselves with no clear path to training completion. The federal government will lose at least millions of dollars of government-insured education grants.

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How the 2016 Senate Race Will Divide California

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Are you a Kamala or a Loretta?

Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez—the two leading candidates for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year—confront Californians with a choice. But it’s not a choice about competing policies or political visions. Californians don’t have political arguments about what we believe anymore. Harris and Sanchez are both Democrats, and we’re a one-party state (Republicans are dying faster than our fisheries), where most people agree on all the big issues. Our disputes these days are over just how many resources to devote to the causes we favor.

No, this is a choice about identity, personality, manners, and culture.

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Q&A with Allan Hoffenblum on the California Target Book

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

(Editor’s Note: For twenty years, The California Target Book has been the authoritative go-to guide for all interested in California elective politics. The Target Book contains detailed analysis of candidates, their supporters and background for each Assembly, State Senate and Congressional race in the state. To learn more about the workings of the California Target Book, Fox & Hounds Daily asked questions of the Target Book’s co-founder, Allan Hoffenblum.)

Q: The California Target Book is filled with minute details about candidates’ backgrounds, vote totals in the candidate races, how voters in every legislative district voted in presidential and gubernatorial races, and money raised and spent among other facts. How in the world do you gather all this data?

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It’s Time to Improve California’s Budget Process

David R. Doerr
Chief Tax Consultant for the California Taxpayers Association

Within the next 25 days, the Legislature must pass the 2015-16 state budget. During the past two decades, the process by which the budget was developed and brought to a vote became less and less open and transparent. At one time, the budget had to be approved on the floor of each house before being sent to conference committee, and was open for any member to amend. Only the differences between the Senate and Assembly versions were the subject of the conference committee.

Since the passage of Proposition 25, the 2010ballot measure that allows the budget and trailer bills to be passed by a majority vote of the Legislature, the budget process has become even worse, and there has been an increase in the number of “budget trailer bills” with major policy issues that should be in stand-alone bills.

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Firms With Less than 20 Employees Created All The Net New Jobs In The U.S. From 1989 to 2012

Board Member, Small Business California and The Entrepreneur in Residence in the Clinton administration

The very small businesses, with fewer than 20 employees, have created all of the net new jobs in the United States over the period from 1989 to 2012 based on the data provided by the Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration and the Bureau of Census. Total job creation over these 23 years was 24,182,049 net new jobs and companies with less than 20 employees created 25,909,322 jobs. Figure 1 shows the total net new jobs created by all companies reported by BuCensus/Advocacy according to company size at the start of the Fiscal Year. Figures 2 through 4 show the individual charts of net new job creation (loss) for the company sizes of: less than 20 employees; 20 to 500 employees; and more than 500 employees.

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Around the World, Limiting Direct Democracy

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

California is not alone.

Every year in California it seems, there are legislative attempts to put new regulations on direct democracy. I’m not talking about the big redesign the California initiative process needs, so that it fits better with the rest of government. I’m talking about the little bills on higher filing fees and restrictions on signature gathering pay or requiring petition circulators to wear badges that have become perennials. These bills would merely raise the cost of direct democracy, thus making it even more exclusively the province of the rich. Few have gotten through here; indeed, the most recent legislation to pass on initiatives, the overhyped SB 1253, made a series of small improvements to the process.

In California, defenders of direct democracy have suggested there is a war against initiative and referendum here. But that criticism is too small. If there is such a war, it’s global.

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The Medi-Cal Mess

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

California’s health program for the poor and disabled, Medi-Cal, has presented state lawmakers with quite a perplexing paradox. More and more people fall under the protection of Medi-Cal and need a doctor but fewer and fewer doctors are accepting the low fees associated with the program. While a simple solution may appear to be increasing the size of the Medi-Cal budget, Medi-Cal is already stretching the state budget and squeezing other programs. Thus, dealing with the Medi-Cal mess has become a real problem for state lawmakers and the governor.

As former Gov. Schwarzenegger economic advisor David Crane pointed out in a Sacramento Bee op-ed, “Medi-Cal’s share of spending has grown 35 percent since Brown took office and now consumes one-sixth of the budget.”

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