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CEQA Juggernaut Rolls Through The High Desert

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

When it comes to organized labor, California is a friendly state. We long ago eschewed right-to-work status. Labor unions enjoy a web of laws that ease organizing workers, like  farmworkers, refinery employees, teachers, and state and local government workers. Other laws give union contracts special status unavailable to nonunion employees, such as the ability to work longer days without triggering overtime and avoid the new sick leave mandate. Employers who obtain workers from a union hiring hall are not subject to the new joint liability mandate applicable to other labor contractors.

But who would have thought one of the most powerful union organizing tools may be the state’s premier environmental statute, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?

CEQA is best known as the vanguard of disclosure, transparency and mitigation of environmental impacts. More recently, CEQA has been fingered as an easy ticket to litigation by project opponents, NIMBY activists, or even business competitors. Labor unions have leveraged the law to obtain sweetheart contracts for construction projects.

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Prop 45 Debate by Insurance Commissioner Candidates is Good Idea

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

Debates between political candidates are being debated in California this election cycle. Despite an effort to get numerous debates, Neel Kashkari got his one debate with Governor Jerry Brown at a time of Brown’s choosing well before the election. Republican Lt. Governor candidate Ron Nehring got some attention from the media by making incumbent Gavin Newsom’s refusal to debate an issue in his campaign. Now, state Senator Ted Gaines, the Republican candidate for Insurance Commissioner, wants to debate incumbent, Democrat Dave Jones. But Gaines’ challenge is for the debate to be centered on one issue, Proposition 45 on the November ballot.

Not a bad idea.

As the Los Angeles Times headlined a story last week: Prop 45 is a Tough Issue for Voters. The issue is complex. A debate by the candidates for the office that has the most to do with Prop 45 would be beneficial as voters try to figure out whether to support or reject that measure and to understand the thinking of the candidates vying for the office.

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The Supermajorities – Senate

Scott Lay
Higher education Lobbyist and Publisher of The Nooner

The most frequent question I get is about whether Democrats will hold supermajorities in the Assembly and State Senate. For the Assembly, that means 54 Democrats and for the State Senate it means 27. Going into this cycle’s elections, Dems start with 27 seats in the Senate and 55 in the Assembly.

I’ve provided detailed memos on each race to Nooner subscribers, so this will be more of a summary, and I am focusing on the State Senate.

Honestly, the “supermajority” status is really a point of political pride, rather than practical help for Democrats. There are actually few votes that use a party-line supermajority. After the approval by voters of Proposition 25, which lowered the approval threshhold for the state budget and associated “trailer” bills from two-thirds to a simple majority, the supermajority was much less important.

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Car-Loving California Deals with Climate Change

Richard Rubin
Writes about political issues and is President of a public affairs management firm

The dirty little secret is out: We are degrading our planet at an accelerating pace and the reasons are not primarily celestial as a dwindling group of skeptics would have us believe.

Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions go together, so says a mounting body of evidence coming from the vast majority of eminent scientists worldwide, and those pollutants are man-made.

The issue is apparently important enough to have merited an urgent call for action by President Obama in his recent talk before the United Nations—a first before that body by a head of state.

California, however, is several steps ahead of Washington thanks to visionary actions by its own leaders—one a Republican, the other a Democrat, who avoided the partisan bickering that has killed any meaningful environmental reforms in Congress.

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How to Solve Skelton’s Riddle

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)

In a recent column, George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times takes a sideways shot at Gov. Jerry Brown.

The columnist’s charge? That the governor, by campaigning for two ballot measures (the Prop 1 water bond and the constitutional budget-and-debt formula known as Prop 2), was distracting people from the fact that he hasn’t come up with any second-term agenda to speak with.

“About the only thing Propositions 1 and 2 have in common is they’re being used as props of a different kind by Gov. Jerry Brown. They’re handy stage props for the governor’s reelection campaign.” Then Skelton adds: “But promoting them doesn’t give Brown a valid excuse for not telling voters what they can expect from a fourth term.”

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Deeper In Debt Or A Better Water Policy? Voters Will Decide In November

Lawrence McQuillan and Rebecca Harris
Lawrence J. McQuillan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation at The Independent Institute (, Publisher of Aquanomics: Water Markets and the Environment (2012). Rebecca Harris is a Public Policy Analyst with the Institute.

In November, California voters will decide the fate of a proposed $7.5 billion water bond, Proposition 1. Rather than approve more debt, voters should pressure governments at all levels to end policies that encourage urban and agricultural water waste. Consider rice, though these problems apply to other crops.

California is the second-largest producer of rice in the country thanks to massive government subsidies. According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, rice is the most heavily subsidized crop in the United States, with government assistance providing half the income of U.S. rice farmers. California rice farmers took in subsidies totaling $2.6 billion from 1995 through 2012.

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The Red Bull Class Action

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

The Red Bull class action lawsuit is complete bull****. Sorry, I figured that was the easiest way to get your attention.

In case you have not heard about it, the Austria-based drink giant settled a class action lawsuit for false advertising a couple of weeks ago for $13 million. As part of the settlement, consumers who bought the drink between January 1, 2002 and October 3, 2014 are eligible to receive $10 cash or $15 worth of Red Bull products.

So at some point in 2015 you will receive your payment. The suit argued that customers were misled by claims about the benefits of drinking Red Bull, with a specific focus on statements such as “Red Bull gives you wings.” Red Bull said it settled the suit to “avoid the cost and distraction of litigation” but denied it did any wrong doing.

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Alarcon’s Real Crime: He Served Himself Better Than He Served His People

Ron Kaye
Former Editor of the Los Angeles Daily News

HE COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER-Faced with charges the he lied about living in his San Fernando Valley Council District, Richard Alarcon defended himself with the same tactics that had become the hallmark of his wasted political career: he denied, deflected, deceived and dissembled.

The judge and jury would have none of it. Alarcon was caught red-handed living outside his district while claiming his vagrant-occupied home in his district was really his place of official residence.

In trying to avoid jail time for Alarcon, his attorney, ignoring so many examples, made the blatantly false argument that there’s “not a single instance of him acting in a greedy fashion or in any manner to betray the citizens of this city.” 

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New Arthur Laffer Book Details Reagan Prosperity Recipe

John Seiler
John Seiler, an editorial writer with The Orange County Register for 19 years, is a reporter and analyst for

If you have a great recipe, keep using it. Don’t be chicken. Just ask Col. Sanders.

Why then don’t Republican candidates just follow Ronald Reagan’s successful economic recipe from the 1980s? Cut taxes; in his case, from the top income tax rate of 70 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 1988. Keep money stable to prevent inflation. Reduce spending and regulations as much as you can. Simple.

Yet not one Republican president or candidate for the office since then has followed the Reagan recipe. President George H.W. Bush sat next to Reagan as vice president for eight years, solemnly gave his “Read my lips: No new taxes!” pledge at the 1988 GOP National Convention — then still raised taxes, crashed the economy and was booted from office in favor of Bill Clinton.

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Prop 1 Roots Go Back to Water Bonds that Built California

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

You might say that Proposition 1, the water bond, carries the DNA of bonds that promoted a growing and prosperous California. Water bonds helped build the Los Angeles Aqueduct in the early 1900s to make possible the growth of one of the world’s great cities. Another bond helped build the State Water Project half-a-century later, which, among other things, helped spur the state’s agricultural abundance. With the state facing a drought of staggering proportions, Proposition 1 would continue California’s long history of providing and caring for precious water resources.

The seven-plus billion dollar bond contains money for protecting watersheds, cleaning contaminated groundwater, and water recycling among other projects. But unlike water bonds passed in the last decade, the heritage that the Prop 1 bond shares with the bonds that helped build California is the $2.7 billion set aside for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs, almost 40-percent of the total bond.

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