CA Primary Still Important for Down Ballot Contenders

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe & Doug Jeffe
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy and Doug Jeffe, Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

As they say about opera, “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”

Well, in the 2016 Presidential nomination races, it isn’t going to be officially over until California votes. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appear to have a virtual lock on their party’s nominations, but neither is able to muster a convention-delegate majority until after the June 7 California Primary.

After being virtual bystanders in the modern presidential nominating process, California voters get to put a period on both the Democratic and Republican races. While the outcome in both presidential races seems pre-ordained at this point, a month is an eternity in politics. Moreover, Presidential politics can have significant impact in California’s down ballot contests.

As always, turnout is pivotal in contested races, particularly because of California’s top two primary system, which applies to all partisan offices except the presidency. This is where enthusiasm and interest comes in.   If either party has a large turnout advantage or disadvantage, that can make a difference in determining which two down-ballot candidates will run off in a highly contested district.

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Local Cigarette Taxes & One Referendum Averted–Many Local Tax Measures Remain

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

A referendum to reverse a bill that would allow local jurisdictions to raise taxes on cigarettes was set to launch if Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill. He didn’t. It was the only cigarette related bill he vetoed of the six that landed on his desk. Brown said he vetoed the bill because there were too many tax measures on the November ballot.

While some tax measures considered for the statewide ballot by different interests–various property tax initiatives, oil severances taxes and others–have not materialized, Brown said he wanted to eliminate the possibility of piling tax measures on local ballots. Whether he took that position because he feared more tax increase measures might sink some of the proposals he is for ignores that he has a valid point. Already scheduled for the ballot are a slew of tax measures sought by local jurisdictions.

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CA Poised to Legalize Marijuana While Putting More Prohibitions on Cigarettes

David Kersten
Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

Governor Jerry Brown just signed a package of tobacco regulatory bills sent to him by the California Legislature which is being billed as a “major victory for public health.”

Among the bills signed yesterday, was an increase in the age at which one can consume tobacco products from 18 to 21 and banning the use e-cigarette vaporizers in public places.

What is the point?  In case the Legislature has not gotten the memo, the state is poised to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California on the November 2016 ballot.  So we’re legalizing marijuana but cracking down on tobacco–doesn’t that strike anyone around the Capitol as being a bit odd.

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Is America Ready for an Unconventional Leader?

Richard Rubin
He writes about political issues and is President of a Public Affairs Management Firm. He also teaches courses on the Presidential & Congressional Elections at the University of San Francisco and is Vice Chair of the California Commonwealth Club.


The verdict is in and Donald Trump wins—so far. Now we await sentencing.

Indiana’s normally inconsequential primary which Trump swept easily has driven the two remaining and barely viable contenders—Ted Cruz & John Kasich—out of the race. It also dealt a lethal blow to California’s Republicans who were hoping they could be the deciding factor.

Trump was counted out numerous times –I was among those predicting his early demise once the voters caught on!

They did catch on and liked what they saw which was different than what a majority of the pundits, political experts and sage columnists were seeing.

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Los Angeles Event: California’s Exclusive Electorate

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

Only half of California adults can be expected to vote in this year’s presidential election, and they are likely to be very different from those who do not vote—in their demographic and economic backgrounds and in their political attitudes. Join us in Los Angeles on May 13 for a discussion about what this means for California and what practical steps can be taken to expand and diversify the state’s electorate.

The event begins with a one-on-one conversation between Alex Padilla, California secretary of state, and Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, and the author of California’s Exclusive Electorate: Who Votes and Why it Matters. This will be followed by a panel discussion of state and local leaders. The panelists are Dean Logan, registrar-recorder of Los Angeles County; Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside; and Karla Zombro, field director of California Calls. The moderator is Efrain Escobedo, vice president for civic engagement and public policy at the California Community Foundation.

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Is Shakespearean Tragedy Brewing for the State Budget?

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

Double, double, toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble—The Witches of Macbeth

The state budget cauldron is boiling with forces approaching that could doom California’s bottom line.

State officials reported that income tax revenue has dropped 7% from the previous April, the biggest tax collection month. Predictions had the income tax actually increasing this April. Nearly half the income tax comes from the top 1% of income taxpayers. During good economic times, this group of high rollers usually stuffs the state treasury. In not so good times the cupboard is bare because the state relies so heavily on the taxes from their capitol gains profits.

Thrown into the cauldron is the desire of many legislative Democrats champing at the bit for more spending, cursing under the harness the governor has leashed over past budgets.

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Only San Jose Can Stop the City by The Bay from Gaining Too Much Power and Money

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)

Poor San Jose—so far from God, so close to San Francisco.

San Jose is the 10th largest city in the United States, the third most populous in the state of California—and No. 1 in disrespect. With more than 1 million people, it’s Northern California’s biggest municipality—but it’s constantly outshined by those 860,000 San Franciscans to its north.

The famous City by the Bay is our state’s spoiled little brother. Not only does San Francisco attract most of the cool kids and the international publicity, but it also throws punches at its big brother city, 50 miles south, whenever it can.

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Preparing Workers in California at the Speed of Business

Steve Westly and Jack Scott
Steve Westly is founder The Westly Group and previously served as the controller of the state of California. Jack Scott served as Chancellor of the California Community Colleges system during 2009-2012.

Several of the fastest growing jobs in California did not even exist ten years ago. In 2005, no one had the titles of Mobile Applications Developer, Social Media Manager or Data Science Analyst. Today, these jobs are growing quickly, they’re popular and they pay well.

What happened? Technology happened, and we need come to grips with the reality that new technologies and new skill requirements are demanding new ways to prepare our future workforce. By 2025, 65 percent of all job openings in California will require some form of postsecondary education, according to Dr. Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. California — of all states – should be leading the nation on delivering this, but unfortunately, we’re not keeping up.

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Will Average Californians Get Help from Sacramento?

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

So much of what comes out of the Capitol hurts average Californians. Efforts to impose new taxes, onerous regulations or laws that dictate lifestyle choices like how much soda one drinks, have citizens ducking for cover. But every now and then, bills are introduced that cut against the stereotype by providing genuine benefit to average folks who don’t have the “juice” in Sacramento as do powerful, well-funded special interests.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto has introduced Assembly Bill 2586, legislation that would make parking, which has become a nightmare in many communities, a bit easier. Titled the “Parking Bill of Rights,” the common sense measure features a package of reforms that include requiring cities to promptly make spaces available to motorists after street-sweeping activities have concluded, prohibiting cities from ticketing motorists who park at broken meters, preventing valet-parking operators from excluding motorists from metered spots, and prohibiting cities from hiring private companies to act as parking “bounty hunters.”

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Statehouse Reporters Review the Top 5 Public Policy Issues in Each State

Ann Dermody
Managing Editor, CQ Roll Call

Everyone knows public policy in the states is more active than in Congress. So far this year states have passed 19,313 bills to Capitol Hill’s 150.

That’s a lot of legislation.

But what issues are the statehouses so busy with?

We recruited more than 52 local reporters and policy observers and asked them one question: “What are the top 5 policy issues in each state?”

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