What Would Voters Do on Climate Change Bill?

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

Looking at the results of the California Business Roundtable/California Manufacturing & Technology Association poll on the SB 350 climate change bill, you can almost see how campaign arguments would be formulated if the hotly debated bill were on a ballot for voters to decide.

The poll conducted by M4 Mobile Research clearly showed that the public at large supports the goals of reducing greenhouse gases. While 82% of those polled consider climate change a serious or moderate threat to the state, when the components of the bill are tested the support remains strong.

Until the cost issue is raised.

Cutting petroleum use by half in cars and trucks by 2030, requiring 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources and doubling energy efficiency in buildings over the next 15 years enjoyed overwhelming support, all three items tested in the 70th percentile. Overall, SB 350 was favored 66% to 27%.

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When Stocks Drop, California Suffers

Bill Watkins
Executive Director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University

I recently made a couple of tweets/Facebook posts pointing out that market declines threaten California’s budget surplus. I referenced articles in the WSJ and Bloomberg, and I thought the observation was non-controversial—almost banal.

So I was surprised at the feedback. One person asked why. Another said it doesn’t mean anything until holders of declining assets cash out. Yet another pointed out that the wealthy were back to where they were eight months ago. Finally, one said we wouldn’t know of the impact until after the end of the next budget year.

Let’s answer the question “Why?” first: A decline in asset prices would have a detrimental impact on California’s budget because California’s tax system is extraordinarily progressive, with the result that a few really wealthy people pay a huge proportion of California’s taxes. California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office has estimated that the top one percent of California’s population paid half of the state’s income taxes in 2012. Income taxes are California’s major revenue source, comprising about 65 percent of the state’s income.

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Embrace Online Public Schools

Louise Arias
Board member of California Parents for Public Virtual Education. She is a former principal of the Elk Grove Unified School District.

Like many families throughout California, ours is taking the important step of beginning another school year. Although we live in Sacramento County, my sons will be attending an excellent public school in Sutter County. Or, more precisely, the school will be coming to them.

My sons attend California Virtual Academies (CAVA), an online charter school offered as a public education option and certified by the state of California. CAVA is among a growing list of diploma-granting public virtual education schools in our state.

Thanks to Governor Jerry Brown, California has recently made some giant strides in public education. Now I, speaking on behalf of many parent leaders, believe state lawmakers must join the governor’s enthusiasm and embrace the benefits of public virtual schools and the positive contributions they make to our children’s education.

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California Auditor Issues Report On “Improper Activities” Revealed By Whistleblowers

Ed Coghlan
Contributing Editor & Special Correspondent, California Forward

“For democracies to work, elected leaders need to be responsive and representative, and voters must be able to hold elected officials accountable for results. Democratic integrity requires an electoral process that empowers voters and gives candidates and incumbents the incentives to listen and lead. It requires transparency throughout the government so voters have an accurate understanding of public decisions and the results of public programs.”

Those words are from the California Forward website and help instruct our interest and work in public accountability.

It explains why we found a report on the California Whistleblower Protection Act from the California State Auditor released on Thursday so interesting. The law empowers the auditor to investigate complaints that state agencies and employees have engaged in improper governmental activity. (Here’s a link to the summary of the report)

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NLRB’s Latest Attack on American Jobs

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

Small businesses are at the heart of the American economy. The spirit and vision of an aspiring entrepreneur or small businessperson is what this country was built on. Every day, people take great risk in starting something of their own. The endeavor can turn out to be a success or it can fail. At either turn, it is the individual left basking in the glory or picking up the pieces. That is what makes America different; what makes our country great. And through different business models which encourage flexibility and entrepreneurship, we have seen neighbors in our communities willing to dream to become the success stories of today and possibly the growing small and large businesses of tomorrow.  They often hold the name of a global brand but operate within the heart of the community, taking on financial risk and personnel decision-making, creating and offering much-needed jobs. In these respects, it is just as if they were starting their own sandwich shop, something I was fortunate to do in the past. So when I see a franchise, I celebrate the jobs they create. This same model goes for companies that provide a service to a larger one. The success of time-tested brands offers opportunity for others to achieve that dream.

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A Californian on the National Ticket?

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

Only one Californian—actually a former Californian—is even given an outside chance of appearing on one of the major party presidential tickets. That would be Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard who while a resident of this state lost a senate race to Barbara Boxer. Fiorina has since moved to the East Coast.

So it appears that no Californian will find a place on a major party ticket in 2016—or maybe one could, but it would be even a longer shot.

We are still eleven months away from the Republican nominating convention in Cleveland and already pundits are having a field day with the ever-changing nature of the presidential campaign.

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Passports, Religions and Wolves

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)

With apologies to the late, great Los Angeles sports journalist Allan Malamud, here are some late-summer notes on the California scorecard.


The LA Times recently declared that a combination of state laws granting benefits and responsibilities to unauthorized immigrants – in-state tuition, drivers’ licenses, rules to limit deportations, state-funded health care for children, stripping the word “alien” out of the labor code – constituted the establishment of a new kind of “California citizenship.”

Of course, at the same this idea was being advanced, an initiative to make California an actual separate nation was being criticized an example of an abuse of the initiative process. Ours is definitely a country of contradictions.

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AB 465: Trial Lawyers’ Attempt to Enrich Themselves

Maryann Maloney
Southern California Regional Director of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

The final weeks of the legislative session have arrived, and that means it is silly season in the State Capitol. At this time of year, trial lawyers use every trick they have to expand litigation and make sure our state’s lawsuit system continues to mainly serve the interests of lawyers rather than ordinary people.

One of their top priorities is getting Gov. Brown to sign AB 465 (Hernandez), which seeks to eliminate pre-dispute employment arbitration agreements. Put simply, this is a terrible idea. AB 465 would only drive up litigation costs by increasing individual claims and class action lawsuits against California employers.  Who stands to profit from all this additional litigation? That’s right, trial lawyers.

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Olympics to LA?—Could there be a Referendum?

Bruno Kaufmann
Editor of People2Power, a Global Democracy Media Initiative hosted by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

Can the Olympics and democracy co-exist?

It’s a question being asked again this summer after Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beyond the fact that the International Olympic Committee put the biggest event in winter sports in a smog-ridden megalopolis without any real snow, people are concerned about China’s demonstrated record of human rights violations during the last games it hosted, the 2008 Summer Olympics.

But the International Olympic Committee didn’t actually have a democratic option. The only challenger to Beijing was Almaty, capital of another Asian dictatorship: Kazhakstan. All the other potential democratic bidders—Munich, Germany; St. Moritz, Switzerland; Krakow, Poland, and Oslo, Norway—had previously pulled out, as a consequence of subjecting their candidacy to the democratic process. Each had held a popular vote on holding the Games, and it turned out the idea wasn’t very popular at all.

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Stop Sign Cameras In Mountain Parks May Take A Hike

Susan Shelley
Susan Shelley is an author, former television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for the California Assembly.

Stop Sign IMG_4920The Santa Monica Mountains are home to nearly 400 species of birds, more than 50 threatened or endangered plants and animals, and seven threatened or endangered photo-enforced stop signs.

State Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) wants to save the ticket-mailing stop signs from extinction, but Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) has introduced a bill to kill them off. In January, SB 218 will return to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for a second time, after Pavley, chair of the committee, blocked it in May.

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