Would Prop. 61 Really Cut Drug Prices?

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

It passes strange that, after so many scandals, the Veterans Administration is a being held up as a model for prescription drug prices. But that’s just what Proposition 61 does. The Ballot Summary reads: “Prohibits state agencies from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at any price over the lowest price paid for the same drug by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, except as may be required by federal law.”

I’m a U.S. Army veteran and sometimes use the VA. Right now it’s my only medical insurance. Although the care can be quite good, and I like the doctors and other medics I’ve worked with, the real problem is that it’s a big government bureaucracy that needs to be pushed, sometimes pushed hard, to get things done.

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I’ll Debate Kamala

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 top-two system was supposed to produce new political competition.

Its first big test in a statewide race – the U.S. Senate runoff between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez – has raised questions about that argument. There’s been little competition. Sanchez, in particular, has been scarce, most recently making news for declining to talk to organizers of debates.

What to do? Well, it’s long past time to throw out top two. But since that’s considered a revolutionary idea (at least for now, if not for much longer), there really ought to be a debate with our U.S. Senator-elect, Harris. If only to give her some legitimacy and some practice before she heads off to Washington.

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California Business Community Should Be Careful to Not Enable High Cost Government In California

David Kersten
Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

The business community is in a very tough position in California.  The California Legislature is completely controlled by the Democratic Party and its pro-labor base.

The California Republican Party and Republicans candidates are their most natural allies but Republicans are only viable in a relatively small minority of legislative races.

The result is that the California business community must build alliances with the pro-labor Democrats and foster good relationships with the Democratic leadership and their power base—the state’s public employee unions.

The rise of the so-called “moderate Democrat” is perhaps the best manifestation, which is essentially a Democrat that tends to vote pro-business on some select issues, and pro-labor on many other issues, particularly those that relate to public employee compensation.   

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Sacramento Mayor-Elect Darrell Steinberg Shares His Priorities & Agenda

David Abel
Publisher of the Planning Report

Darrell Steinberg, Mayor-elect of Sacramento, is the biggest cheerleader for his city. Steinberg served on the City Council, in state Assembly, and was the California Senate Pro Tem from 2008 to 2014, making him arguably the most qualified mayor in Sacramento history. Steinberg avoided a runoff in November by winning more than 50% of the vote and will take office in December. In a The Planning Report (TPR) exclusive interview with Mayor-elect Steinberg, he provides insight into his city and regional goals, plans for spurring economic growth, and prioritization of public transportation and sustainable communities.

Darrell, you recently won the Sacramento mayoral primary, avoiding a runoff by winning 59 percent of the vote in the June election. Share with our readers your policy priorities, and how you plan on implementing them in January.

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Cap and Trade is Easy; it’s the Tax that’s Hard

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Governor Brown cited the major deficiency of new climate change legislation at a press conference yesterday, citing cap and trade as the major piece of unfinished business.

He’s right. When the Governor signs the new climate change legislation rapidly nearing his desk, rather than clarifying public policy, California will be entering uncharted territory.

The hard-fought legislation does not simply extend the current regulatory regime for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It replaces that regime with the only tools available to the Air Resources Board: command and control.

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Backstop: The Taxpayers

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

Pity the poor California taxpayers. They are seen as the backstop for various government schemes that are supposed to be self-funding.

The Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial yesterday, critical of California’s plan to establish state managed retirement accounts for private employees, argued that while the law says the state shall not be liable for any retirement cost, “nothing prohibits the legislature from bailing out the plans in the future.”

The editorial went on to ask: “Have you ever heard of a public fund that didn’t have an implicit taxpayer guarantee?”

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The Next Big Shift in California’s Climate Change Movement

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)

She calls him Eduardo. He calls her Mrs. Pavley.

And together they epitomize big changes within the world-renowned California movement to fight climate change.

She is Fran Pavley, 67, a state senator from the San Fernando Valley who is in the final months of a distinguished legislative career that established her as the mother of California climate change policy. He is Eduardo Garcia, 39, a first-time assemblyman from a working-class Coachella Valley family, who is known for a relentless focus on the needs of his constituents, not environmental causes.

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Legislature’s Rejection of Veterans Court Bill a Tragic Disappointment

Duncan MacVicar
Veterans' Advocate

As a Vietnam veteran, I have experienced, first hand, the horrors of battle and the trauma it inflicts on brothers and sisters in uniform. But in the work I do to establish new veterans treatment courts around the state, I am seeing the lives of hundreds of service men and women returning from battle with PTSD and other disorders transformed from despair and depression to hope and redemption.

Veterans’ treatment courts have been central to these lives turning a corner for the better. Started in 2008, these courts, which allow veterans that have committed low-level offenses a chance to pursue an 18-month program of treatment and rehabilitation and have their cases expunged, are working! With success rates ranging from 85 to 98 percent, these courts are giving to veterans who had taken a turn for the worst – crime, addiction and down the path to suicide – a second (or third) chance for a better life. All while adding an extra measure of public safety through close supervision and effective rehabilitation.

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Energy Jobs Lost, The Sky is Falling in Kern County

Jean Fuller
Senate Republican Leader

(Editor’s Note: Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller issued the following press release on SB 32.)

Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) opposed Senate Bill 32 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) and made the case to protect jobs in California. SB 32 would require the California Air Resources Board to ensure that statewide greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The  California Chamber of Commerce labeled SB 32 as a ‘job killer’ bill.

Here are excerpts of Senator Fuller’s remarks:

“The impacts in my county are immense. It has driven hundreds of energy jobs out of my county while creating very few jobs even though we have been very successful in competing for those new jobs.

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How the Voters Feel About Climate Change Legislation

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

When the greenhouse gases extension bill seemed to be stalled in the legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Secretary, Nancy McFadden, said that the administration would get its way on the climate change: Either the bill would pass the legislature or the governor would take his agenda to the ballot. He filed papers for a ballot measure committee as a first step.

Now the bill has jumped a difficult hurdle by passing the Assembly. However, new polling by the California Business Roundtable indicates that the voters might not be so supportive of new regulations if they heard a complete explanation of the law’s effects.

Maybe the climate change debate should go to voters.

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