Politics Behind 16-Year-Old Voter and Mandatory Vote Proposals

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

In San Francisco, Supervisor John Avalos proposes that 16 year olds should vote. In Cleveland last week, President Barack Obama suggested mandatory voting was a transformative idea worth considering. One can’t help but sense political agendas at work.

Despite Supervisor Avalos’ argument that 16-year-olds are old enough to drive and pay taxes, the real question is do they have enough experience and understanding of the world and government to vote? A question for the president, should we mandate that people vote who pay no attention to public affairs and have no desire to vote?

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders unsettled Avalos when she asked him if 16-year-olds are mature enough to be allowed buy cigarettes and alcohol. If they have the reasoning and ability to make good decisions, then why not? Avalos objected. The key sentence in Saunders’ column:“To say that someone should have the right to vote, Avalos assured me, “It’s very different from saying someone is adult.”” (Italics by Saunders.)

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The Price of California’s Preoccupation with Renewables: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Rob Lapsley
President, California Business Roundtable

In his annual State of the State address, Governor Brown outlined ambitious goals for taking California’s climate change policies to the next level. Historically, our state has held the position of groundbreaking leadership when it comes to aggressive environmental programs, so it comes as no surprise that Governor Brown wants to expand on this trend by enacting even more aggressive policies aimed at 2030 and 2050 climate change goals.

In particular, the Governor called for California to increase its reliance on renewable power to 50 percent. Not only is this an extremely ambitious goal, but experience shows that overreliance on renewable power leads to increased costs and reduced grid reliability (while offering uncertain or minimal environmental benefits).

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California Should Make Regular People More of a Priority

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

California in 1970 was the American Dream writ large. Its economy was diversified, from aerospace and tech to agriculture, construction and manufacturing, and allowed for millions to achieve a level of prosperity and well-being rarely seen in the world.

Forty-five years later, California still is a land of dreams, but, increasingly, for a smaller group in the society. Silicon Valley, notes a recent Forbes article, is particularly productive in making billionaires’ lists and minting megafortunes faster than anywhere in the country. California’s billionaires, for the most part, epitomize American mythology – largely self-made, young and more than a little arrogant. Many older Californians, those who have held onto their houses, are mining gold of their own, as an ever-more environmentally stringent and density-mad planning regime turns even modest homes into million-dollar-plus properties.

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AG Harris’ Opinion Puts Children in Harm’s Way of Sex Offenders

Jim Nielsen
State Senator, Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba

California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris has advised parole officers at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that sex offender residency restrictions, approved by the voters, would be found unconstitutional in every county. As a result, parole officers will no longer be enforcing residency restrictions prohibiting sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or parks.

This is outrageous. This unilateral decision by one politician not only goes against voters’ wishes, it puts children in harm’s way.

The decision stems from a San Diego case where four registered sex offenders petitioned the court. In the densely populated county, convicted sex offenders had a hard time finding housing. On March 2, the California Supreme Court agreed that the mandatory blanket residency restriction of Proposition 83, known as Jessica’s Law, is overly broad.

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Eureka Faces Pension Headwinds – Just Like Every Other California City

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

The city of Eureka on the far north coast of our state is part of a fabled land, far removed from the rest of drought stricken California. The winds that the ridiculously resilient ridge of high pressure push north find welcoming mountains and canyons in and around Eureka, drenching them with rain, nourishing endless groves of the tallest trees on earth, the magnificent coast redwoods. Gushing rivers run through thick green forests scented with maritime air. Downtown, the mansions of the 19th century lumber barons defy time, marvelous, intricate, stunning. And on postcard perfect shorelines, the rugged Pacific surf surges against the rocks. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place.

But when it comes to government unions making sure their compensation crowds out any hope of fiscal sanity, Eureka is as ordinary, and as challenged, as every other city in California.

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Don’t Damage the Initiative Process Out of Anger

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

From the contemptible (“Sodomite Suppression Act”) to the retaliatory to make a point (“Intolerant Jackass Act”) to the corny (“The President of California Act”), California’s initiative process seemed to have gone off the deep end recently prompting some legislators to propose initiative reform measures. Let’s not react in haste.

Most initiatives don’t qualify for the ballot, many don’t even bother getting one petition signature. Many times the filings are all about gaining attention for the proponent. But a swift reaction to highly publicized measures that are going nowhere can result in damage to the important role the initiative process has to play in this state.

There are times that the legislature doesn’t act when it should. With the initiative process, the people can take action. The initiative process came about because special interests (read: the railroads) at the beginning of the twentieth century controlled the legislature. Reforms to the legislative process itself would not come from the legislature, which would lose power because of certain reforms. A recent example is creating a redistricting commission to take the re-drawing of legislative districts out of the hands of the self-interested elected officials.

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Stop the Federal Water Wasters

Harold Johnson
Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation

If you came across somebody gasping with thirst, you wouldn’t give him one of those prank drinking cups that would trickle water down his shirt.

By the same token, in drought-parched California, we can’t afford to have federal environmental bureaucrats drilling holes in our dams.

Yet that’s what they’ve been doing, figuratively, by imposing Endangered Species Act regulations that have sent vast quantities of water straight out to sea.

Over the past six years, the federal game plan for protecting smelt and salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has involved robbing our cities, towns, and farms of water.  Regulators have intentionally captured less water in Northern California dams, and they’ve powered down the pumps that transport water to the Central Valley and Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties.

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Getting the People’s Business Done — In Memory of Bill Campbell

Jerry Haleva
Founder of Sergeant Major Associates, a governmental consulting firm and Former Senior Aide to Sen. Bill Campbell

California lost one of its great statesmen last Sunday, when veteran lawmaker, Senator Bill Campbell, passed away at the age of 79. Famous for his legendary humor as well as his legislative accomplishments, Bill served in the California Assembly and Senate for nearly four decades. Prior to his retirement in 1998, he served as President of the California Manufacturer’s and Technology Association. As respected as he was well liked, Bill’s ability to achieve bipartisan solutions resulted in many landmark public policy achievements. As the founder of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Emergency Services, he authored nationally recognized improvements to the State’s Disaster Response and Preparedness programs. His leadership in that arena led to the naming of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services building in his honor by Governor Pete Wilson in 1992. 

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Let’s Toast China’s President, California’s Savior

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)

Dear President Xi Jinping,

This is a thank you note from California.

Thank you, first off, for sustaining our neighborhoods through these last difficult years. Thank you for keeping wealthy Chinese so nervous about your purges of political opponents—I’m sorry, I mean your anti-corruption campaigns—that they are buying up real estate all over California. More than half of all U.S. home purchases by Chinese buyers are in the Golden State, and two-thirds of your country’s millionaires have emigrated or plan to do so, according to a Chinese magazine  In the San Gabriel Valley, where I live, Chinese arrivals have provided the housing market with much of its ballast and our communities with a disproportionate share of their new energy. (I’m told it’s possible that you yourself own real estate here, under some other name.)

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Housing: How the California Dream Became a Nightmare

Wendell Cox
Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris

Important attention has been drawn to the shameful condition of middle income housing affordability in California. The state that had earlier earned its own “California Dream” label now limits the dream of homeownership principally to people either fortunate enough to have purchased their homes years ago and to the more affluent. Many middle income residents may have to face the choice of renting permanently or moving away.

However, finally, an important organ of the state has now called attention to the housing affordability problem. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has published “California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences,” which provides a compelling overview of how California’s housing costs have risen to be by far the most unaffordable in the nation. It also sets out the serious consequences.

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