Shopping for the Right Voters is No Sure Thing

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Advocates for big policy changes on the death penalty and property taxation hope that choosing the right ballot will see their cause march to victory. But it is the policy issue rather than shopping the best electorate that will determine the outcome.

Shopping for the best voter turnout for particular ballot measures is part of a political consultants basic handbook on how to pass an initiative. While shopping around for the best environment for success (lawyers do the same court shopping when it comes to policy issues) success in the end is not guaranteed.

There was a clear demonstration of ballot manipulation to create favorable turnouts when the Democratic controlled legislature and Governor Jerry Brown insisted all ballot initiatives appear on a November general election ballot. The general election tends to bring out a more liberal audience than a primary ballot.

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Gavin’s Guards Giveaway

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)

It’s a rite of passage for California governors: giving prison guards even bigger salaries.

Gavin Newsom has now completed the rite, negotiating another raise for members of California’s correctional officers union, as part of his first budget.

It was the worst piece of a first budget that felt under-ambitious for a governor who had promised to push at limits. The prison guards’ contract will provide evidence for those who believe that Newsom, for all the rhetoric, is more of the same.

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Update on 2019 Privacy Legislation: What Remains?

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

Now that the house of origin deadline has passed, and we are basically at the mid-point in the California Legislative Session, we can take a look at pending legislation with particular attention to the bills that will continue along the legislative process in the second house. The focus of this article is on privacy legislation. The following are the major privacy bills of particular interest to the California business community:

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Californians need to follow Australian voters who reset their Demand for Reliable & Affordable Electricity

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

California voters should look for guidance from Australian voters, as their 2019 Federal Election was billed as a referendum on ‘Climate Change’. The Green/Labor Alliance promised an all wind and sun powered future, and a crippling carbon dioxide gas tax, dressed up as a CO2 emissions reduction target, and an elevated need for new cars to be electric.

The top-billed reason Green/Labor was supposed to fare so well at the polls, was Australians are, apparently, spending their every waking hour fretting about carbon dioxide gas and believing windmills and solar panels will save the day. Well, apparently not – Green/Labor duly lost the duly predicted ‘unlosable’ election.

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Business Tax Conformity and the Earned Income Tax Credit

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The legislature is struggling with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working families that would be funded by conforming some of the state tax code to the federal tax law signed by President Trump. The major issue is that the conformity would result in a $1.7 billion tax boost to the state to fund the program and tax increases in the time of plenty  presents problems for some legislators.

It is noted that the conformity measure brings in new tax revenue while the state sits on a large surplus. Yet, the business community, which will be affected by the tax changes, has yet to make much noise about the measure. In fact, some in the business community suggest that if the conformity bill becomes law it could take pressure off other tax plans aimed at business—perhaps wishful thinking but there it is.

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The Economic Consequences of California’s Housing Crisis

Jeff Montejano
CEO, Building Industry Association of Southern California

California’s housing crisis has received a heightened level of attention in 2019 and rightfully so.

A statewide survey conducted earlier this year by the Public Policy Institute of California made headlines regarding the overwhelmingly high level of public apprehension over skyrocketing housing costs. Not only did a record-high share of Californians say that the lack of affordable housing is a big problem in their region, but an eye-opening thirty-five percent said that high housing costs have them seriously considering leaving the state.

In Sacramento, the housing crisis has come to the forefront as well, with a myriad of housing bills introduced in the state legislature. The most notable of these bills, SB 50 by Senator Scott Wiener, generated a vigorous discussion over the issue of local control, eventually failing to pass out of committee. Other issues such as environmental regulations and rent control have fanned the flames of debate among various stakeholders.

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Update on 2019 Legal Reform Legislation: What Remains?

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

Now that the house of origin deadline has passed, and we are basically at the mid-point in the California Legislative Session, we can take a look at pending legislation with particular attention to the bills that will continue along the legislative process in the second house. The focus of this article is on legal reform legislation. The following are the major legal reform bills of particular interest to the California business community:

AB 51 (Gonzalez) – Employment arbitration agreements

This bill would prohibit a person from requiring any applicant for employment or any employee to waive any right, forum, or procedure for a violation of any provision of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act or other specific statutes governing employment as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment-related benefit.

Status: Pending in the Senate policy committee

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California’s Policymakers Need to Get Serious about Cash for Clean Air and Climate Investments

Allen Schaeffer
Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum

California is unique in its environmental and clean air policies, with many resolutions, regulations, mandates and incentive programs dedicated to cleaning the air, fighting climate change and protecting the environment. It’s also unique in the availability of a wide range of public dollars to aid the effort, especially when it comes to reducing emissions from things that move – such as cars, trucks, trains and marine vessels.

An array of incentive programs seeking to kick-start or commercialize nascent technologies and industry sectors in hopes of achieving clean air and climate goals. Several state agencies and multiple local governments have various additional incentive programs. Dozens of programs fund everything from electric passenger vehicle rebates to testing all-electric port trucks. Over the years, various sources of funding from cap-and-trade revenue, bonds and vehicle registration fees have generated almost $2 billion for these programs.

The sums available are considerable. The transparency, accounting and eligibility are not.

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The Census Citizenship Question: Tempest in a Teapot

Tony Quinn
Editor, California Target Book

Why is it that the Trump Administration is so adverse to telling the truth?  In their handling of a fairly simple decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 US Census they have lied to a federal court, stonewalled Congress, and may well sully the carefully crafted image of the US Supreme Court as above politics.

Asking about the citizenship of US residents was on every federal census from 1880 to 1950, during the great age of immigration.  It was dropped in 1950 because immigration had slowed and there were few non-citizens.

But from 1970 through today it has been asked on a census sample, currently called the American Community Survey, that goes to 30 million households during the decade.  This has never been controversial nor has there been any evidence of massive numbers of non-citizens refusing to answer the question. In fact, it is necessary in the redistricting process because the US Supreme Court has said that majority-minority districts must be drawn where there are high numbers of non-white citizen voters.  This question has been used to determine citizenship without controversy.

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California 2020: Census and Elections Are Important to Californians

Alyssa Dykman and Lynette Ubois
Alyssa Dykman is a Research Associate at the Public Policy Institute of California. Lynette Ubious is Director of Publications at the Public Policy Institute of California.

The 2020 Census is fast approaching. With political representation and billions in federal funds on the line, the importance of an accurate count cannot be overstated. Californians recognize this, according to our latest survey—but many have concerns about the confidentiality of the information they provide. Even more Californians say that the 2020 elections are important. Both are critical to the future of the state.

California has invested substantially in raising awareness and preparing local communities for what will be a monumental census effort. Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed adding another $54 million toward state census activities, on top of a previous allocation that was just north of $100 million. These funds—along with a sustained effort at building partnerships around the state—are meant to counter California’s particular vulnerabilities when it comes to ensuring an accurate census: large shares of immigrants and other hard-to-count populations.

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