Supreme Court Affirms Power of Initiative in Redistricting Case

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

The people can serve as legislators. In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court declared that an initiative by the voters to create a commission in Arizona to draw congressional districts was constitutional. California established a similar commission in 2008 when voters passed Proposition 11 and added congressional redistricting to the commission’s duties with Prop 20 in 2010.

The case affirms that voters have legislative authority through the initiative process, a powerful boost for initiative lawmaking. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the only Californian on the court, who himself was involved in a California initiative when he practiced law in California, joined the majority.

The case arose when Arizona legislators challenged the right of voters to set the parameters for congressional elections. The U.S. Constitution specifically cites that legislatures are to set the rules of election. 

Read comments Read more

Are We Finally Off the Hook for Prop 8?

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)

Celebrate that marriage equality is a 50-state reality. (OK, 49 – it wouldn’t be a major advance in American civil rights if Mississippi weren’t engaged in defiance).

Run a victory lap if you like (take the baton from Gavin Newsom, since he must be getting tired with all his victory laps).

Get hitched while you’re at it. (Think of the economic spike this year from all those rich celebrities who can finally get married after saying for years they couldn’t until every one could).

But if you’re an average Californian who wasn’t deeply involved in the legal and political fights on the subject, you probably shouldn’t pat yourself on the back over the legalization of same-sex marriage. We didn’t have anything to do with it.

Read comments Read more

The Golden State Jobs Outlook is, Well … Golden 

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

CALIFORNIA ECONOMY-Every year, I, along with Pepperdine’s Michael Shires, have what has become the often-dispiriting job – for a 40-year California resident – of evaluating the nation’s metropolitan regions in terms of both short-term and midterm job growth. Yet, this year, the results for our state’s metros are somewhat improved, as California’s post-recession job-growth rate now equals, and could surpass, the still-somewhat insipid national average.

After years of subpar growth, California is reaping the advantages of a fortuitous economic alignment of ultralow interest rates, high stock values and growing investments in high-end residential real estate. Vast sums are pouring into the state for new tech ventures, speculative hotel and residential developments. Low borrowing rates allow the state to keep pace with its massive debts, while buoyant stocks help the massive government pension plans, which invest in the market. 

Read comments Read more

CA Gains in Film and TV Production as Other States Lower Incentives

James Poulos
Staff Columnist, Orange County Register

Hollywood could soon reclaim its once-shaky status as America’s production headquarters. After a near panic touched off by a nationwide spending spree on state incentives for film and television production, programs around the country have begun scaling back or shutting down altogether, leaving California in a persistent but much diminished race for the spoils.

The Golden State’s new $330 million incentive program has helped renew confidence that California policymakers won’t give up on staying competitive. But Hollywood owed its regained stature to the apparent exhaustion of its far-flung rivals. “California’s gains appear to be a direct result of a wave of disenchantment with tax incentives that has bubbled over in Maryland, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Michigan, where credits are being rolled back or eliminated,” The Wrap reported.

Read comments Read more

Serrano vs. Priest School Financing Case Pops Up in SB 277 Debate

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

It was a bit jarring to hear the numerous references to the California Supreme Court’s Serrano vs. Priest decisions of the 1970s taking a prominent roll in the passionate Assembly debate over SB 277, the measure to disallow personal belief and religious exemptions for mandated vaccinations of school children. Serrano vs. Priest had nothing to do with medical issues or parental choice but was a series of major decisions that changed the course of school financing in California.

Well, maybe it did have something to do with parental choice in a round about sort of way. What prompted the case was a choice parents made on where to live and how much school districts spent on students.

Read comments Read more

The Pope vs. AB 32

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)

One of the surprises of Pope Francis’ new encyclical on climate change was that he criticized so-called “cap and trade “ systems of pollution credits.

California has such a system, and the funds produced by the selling of the pollution credits are the subject of considerable fights.

But the Pope doesn’t like such credits. In the encyclical, he sees them as a response to climate change by a global capitalist system he deplores. He prefers spiritual and moral renewal – and a turn away from consumption – as a response to that.

Read comments Read more

Support Fair Rules for Franchised Small Businesses

Scott Hauge
President, Small Business California

What are the biggest obstacles facing small businesses? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t always government. In fact, for many small businesses in California, the main source of bureaucracy, red tape, interference, fine-print traps, and threats to financial stability is a big corporation, not the government.

Tens of thousands of California entrepreneurs have invested in franchised businesses like McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, and Subway because the franchisor corporations promise that ownership in a brand outlet offers technical assistance and the relative safety of a known brand; instead, too many find that they are entering a fundamentally unequal and imbalanced corporate relationship that puts their life work and life savings at risk. As a result, small businesses that are franchisees – which represent 80,000 businesses and one million jobs in California, are having a harder and harder time keeping their businesses afloat.

Read comments Read more

Big Win for the President

Junior Romero
CA Associate Representative with Sierra Club National

The Senate voted 60-38 in favor of sending Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track) to President Obama Wednesday, with Senator Feinstein voting for, and Senator Boxer against. This legislation allows for up-or-down votes on trade treaties submitted to Congress for the next six years, without the ability to add amendments. A week ago, Fast Track’s chances looked dim, failing a procedural vote in the House by strong Democratic opposition of a combined track package; Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging her colleagues to “slow down the fast track”. A separate Fast Track bill was later passed by the House, this time without Trade Adjustment Assistance, funding for programs designed to retrain American workers who lose their jobs due to trade.

Read comments Read more

Right & Left Squeeze Tax Reform Idea

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

Like a vice pressuring from both sides, interests on the political right and left are trying to crush the idea of reforming the California tax code by taxing services. That makes the prospects for success daunting. Sen. Bob Hertzberg, who is leading the effort, should at least be given credit for recognizing that California is doomed to ride the revenue roller coaster under the current tax system. Spending that happily anticipates never ending good budget years accelerates that wild roller coaster ride – something the legislative majority is wont to do.

The Los Angeles Times appears to be cheering for tax reform in the manner in which Hertzberg’s SB 8 is considering – that is fashioning a tax code that more closely reflects the current California economy and its reliance on services.

Read comments Read more

Californians Have No Idea How Important Public Universities Are

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)

Californians, I regret to inform you that your diploma is being held up. You won’t be able to graduate.

You flunked higher education.

Another state budget, accompanied by an eight-month-long controversy over the University of California, demonstrated once again that we Californians don’t have a clue about what our public universities mean to the state. Because if we did, we wouldn’t make them beg us for the money needed to educate more of our children.

Instead, Californians—from our leaders in Sacramento to average voters—think that the UC and California State University systems are too costly and administratively bloated. That tuition is being raised to cover academic nonsense. And that taxpayers already give too much money to higher education. These claims are either nonsense—or the fault of Californians themselves, not the universities.

Read comments Read more

Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.