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San Diego Minimum Wage Referendum in for Tough Fight

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

The San Diego Small Business Coalition said they have enough signatures to freeze the new San Diego minimum wage law and force a vote on the issue in 2016. The business coalition better put away whatever savings they gain from the wage freeze because history shows they will have a tough fight ahead of them.

No question small businesses have to adjust costs and hiring practices when the law requires a boost in the business’s wage costs. But voters have generally supported a minimum wage increase when it comes before them.

San Diego businesses opposed to the minimum wage law intend to turn the tide.

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Governor Signs Draconian Groundwater Laws

Jim Nielsen
State Senator, Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba

Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of groundwater legislation – Assembly Bill 1739, Senate Bill 1168 and Senate Bill 1319 – that were put together in the back rooms of the Capitol. These bills were continually amended and tweaked up until the final moments of passage in the late hours of the legislative session.

It is unfortunate that the Governor felt compelled to sign this groundwater management scheme that was hastily cobbled together without regard to historical legal precedent and private property water rights.

Californians who rely on groundwater will now have to deal with not only new and unaccountable government agencies that will police water usage; they will be at the mercy of these faceless bureaucrats who will impose unknown fees and fines.

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Groundwater Bills: Crises as Catalyst for Policy Change

Jeffrey Mount and Ellen Hanak
Mount and Hanak are Senior Fellows at the Public Policy Institute of California

Yesterday Governor Brown signed three bills that require portions of the state to start managing groundwater sustainably. These bills are historic. Until today, California was the only western state that did not regulate groundwater, typically the source of more than one-third of the state’s supply, and much more during dry years.

Why, after a century of failing to address much-needed reform, has the state finally acted on this problem? It’s the drought.

The problem of groundwater overuse is nothing new in California. Calls for reform began as far back as the early 1900s, when severe excess pumping in many groundwater basins began to cause problems. Chronic overdraft—taking more out of the ground than nature puts back in—has left many basins severely depleted.

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Lowe’s Lawsuit: The Definition of Insanity

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Recently, a Superior Court Judge named Paul M. Haakenson (Republican, appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger) in Marin County laid out the terms of a settlement order and final judgment against Lowe’s on how it must label building products in California. The settlement came as a result of a case involving claims by the Marin County district attorney, Edward S. Berberian.

D.A. Berberian brought the civil consumer protection action against the retailer because he felt that “Lowes was unlawfully advertising structural dimensional building products for sale.” This case involved the labeling of 2×4’s. Yes. I said 2×4’s.

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Proposition 47 Does Not Put Public Safety First

Board of Directors

Californians are facing one of our most serious public safety threats in recent memory. The threat is Prop 47 — a ballot initiative that would flood the streets with thousands of dangerous felons and soften penalties to make misdemeanors out of serious crimes that are now felonies.

We face a huge uphill battle to defeat it. According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle column, the pro-Prop 47 forces have raised more than $3 million, compared to just $8,000 by the opposition. Recent polls show that about 6 in 10 people support it. But do they really know what Prop 47 is going to do if it passes?

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More Transparency Needed in the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act

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)

The good government coalition backing SB 1253 argues that the bill represents significant ballot initiative reform – it does not, as I’ve explained here and here previously – by emphasizing the provisions to improve transparency in the measure, which is called the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act.

But even in transparency, this legislation falls short.

Yes, there are a number of minor changes in the name of transparency. The time for collecting signatures is increased, but only by a month, from 150 to 180 days. And there’s a new process to trigger legislative review when a quarter of signatures have been collected. There also are provisions to get the state to provide easily accessible and understandable information about measures and their funding in different formats.

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A Very Important Election

Peter E. Weber
Retired business executive now dedicated to civic activities. He serves on the board of six California non-profits.

Despite the virtual certainty that Governor Brown will win his bid for reelection, voter’s voices at the ballot box in November will count more than they have in a very long time. First, because passage of Proposition 1, the Water Bond, is critical to the future of California’s economy and because passage of Proposition 2, the Rainy Day Fund, is critical to the future stability of California’s finances.  And second because of three races for constitutional offices with great importance to how our state is governed.

For the first time in recent history, candidates who are unshackled by allegiances to power brokers and special interests have a real shot at winning all three of these important races: Marshall Tuck for Superintendent of Public Instruction; Ashley Swearengin for State Controller; and Pete Peterson for Secretary of State. Tuck is a Democrat, the other two Republicans, but all three of them have consistently put State above party. None of them are career politicians. They are all young but highly experienced problem solvers. They all exude competence, integrity, intelligence, energy and dedication to making California golden once again. They’re all passionate about measuring and delivering results.

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Budget Busting Police Contract

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

The City and the Police Protective League, the union that represents the 10,000 sworn members of our Police Department, are at an impasse over salary negotiations. The PPL is asking for a 3 step, 8% raise over the next two years while the City is essentially offering no raises for the next two years.

But the City is not able to afford this $100 million annual increase in salaries and pension contributions as the PPL’s proposal would increase next year’s budget from $165 million to $200 million.  The projected three year cumulative deficit would balloon to $600 million, up from the current estimate of $425 million.

As a result of the PPL declaring an impasse, the controversy is now in the lap of the Employee Relations Board.  This Board, consisting of five political appointees, is charged with the responsibility of resolving disputes between the City, its unions, and its employees. 

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Something Good from the California Legislature

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The phone call was from a frightened older woman in the Central Valley. “I can’t afford to pay my property taxes and I may lose my home by the end of the year if nothing is done in Sacramento.” While this call was eerily reminiscent of the years just prior to Prop 13’s enactment in 1978, it wasn’t. The call was made this summer.

Back in 1978, many seniors on fixed incomes were experiencing the heartbreak of foreclosure, despite having paid off their mortgages, because they couldn’t afford the property taxes. While Prop 13 has provided amazing property tax relief for all California homeowners, there remains a segment of society for who not even Prop 13’s protections provide sufficient security.

For that reason, a valuable program known as Property Tax Postponement was created.

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Wright Is Wrong But So Is The Application Of The Law

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

Sen. Roderick Wright should resign from office now that he has been convicted and sentenced for fraudulently claiming that he lived in his district – then he should appeal his conviction.

I can’t say that he has legal grounds for an appeal on the facts of the case but common sense, often lost when laws are prosecuted, puts a huge asterisk next to Wright’s conviction.

Wright should resign because his constituents are ill-served by his suspension. There is no full time senator representing the people’s interests.

However, law is supposed to be meted out evenly. “Equal Protection Under the Law” is etched in stone above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court. (UPDATE as pointed out to us the phrase was entered in error, the correct phrase is “Equal Justice Under the Law.”

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