Dog Days for Defenders of Plastic Bags

Joe Rodota
Former Cabinet Secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff to California Governor Pete Wilson. He is co-founder of One California, a committee opposed to the Six Californias ballot measure.

Columnist Katy Grimes recently criticized SB 270, California’s new law banning single-use plastic bags and replacing them with reusable bags and recyclable paper bags, and praised efforts by a handful of out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers to suspend implementation of this law through the state’s referendum process.

“Staring at a gigantic German Shepherd poop on my bedroom rug last weekend,” she writes, “I reached for one of those single-use grocery bags outlawed by California, for the cleanup. Thankfully, I have a small stash of single use plastic bags, but not for long.”

Let me start with the obvious question: Why is her dog relieving himself on the bedroom floor?

Portia, our family’s yellow lab, was able to signal clearly when she needed to leave the house to do her business – even when, in the last few years of her life, she operated on three legs. (The fourth leg was lost to cancer.)   Portia would stand by the living room door and we would respond by opening it.

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Top 10 Measures Likely to Appear on November 2016 California Ballot

Jon Fleischman
Publisher of the FlashReport

The General Election ballot in 2016 is likely to have more statewide ballot measures on it than California voters have seen in a long time. The main reason for this is that the number of signatures needed in order to qualify a statutory measure or even a constitutional amendment have plummeted with the pathetically low turnout in last month’s election (the signature requirement is 5% of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election).

To be specific, it previously took 504,760 valid signatures to place a statutory initiative on the ballot. It will now take less than 370,000. For a constitutional amendment, the number has dropped from 807,615 to less than 590,000. A couple of years ago, a law was signed that requires that all measures placed on the ballot by signature petitions must appear on the November–not the June–ballot.

Below are the top ten measures most likely to appear on the November, 2016 ballot:

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A Compromise in Battle Over LA Election Calendar Changes

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)

As detailed recently in the LA Times there’s an emerging argument in Los Angeles over election reform.

Because of Tinseltown’s it-would-be-embarrassingly-low-voter-turnout-if-we-were-capable-of-embarassment turnout, reformers want to move city elections from odd-numbered years, like 2015, to line up with presidential elections, as in 2016. Since people still show up for presidential elections, L.A. won’t suffer from the same low turnout.

But an objection has been raised, and that objection is about taxes. Local ballot measures are on the same ballots as candidate elections. So wouldn’t moving elections to 2016 – with a more liberally minded electorate – make it easier to pass taxes? It’s not a moot question, because L.A.’s elected leaders have been eager to put tax measures on the ballot.

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Cal Facts Quiz

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

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has opened up its vault of data and information with its Cal Facts report accompanying it this year with the introduction of an on-going blog to add to and enhance the information.

To kick off awareness of this great resource Fox and Hounds decided to put together a short quiz to challenge your knowledge of facts about the Golden State’s economy and programs. Answers are below or you can check out the answers in the full Cal Facts report.

1. California’s gross domestic product (GDP)—the value of goods and services produced here—totaled $2.2 trillion in 2013. With 34 percent of the population, the Los Angeles/Orange County region produces 36 percent of California’s economic output. With 17 percent of the population, the Bay Area produces what percentage of the state’s output?

a) 14 percent b) 17 percent c) 25 percent d) 31 percent

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Make Proposition 65 Meaningful to Consumers – Not More Confusing

John Kabateck
California Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

In May of last year, Governor Jerry Brown declared his intent to pursue reforms to the state’s Proposition 65 -The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. He expressed his deep concern about how the law has been used by lawyers to enrich rather than protect public health, stating: “Proposition 65 is a good law that’s helped many people, but it’s being abused by unscrupulous lawyers.” What’s more, the notices Prop 65 requires businesses to post to warn consumers of the risks of certain chemicals are so ubiquitous – at large, national coffee chains, gas stations, and dentist offices – consumers are no longer paying attention.

However, instead of proposing sensible reforms that return the law to its original intent – to impart meaningful, clear information to consumers – as well as prevent more abusive lawsuits, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has proposed draft revisions that would do neither.

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Did Tax Rise Help CA, Tax Cuts Hurt KS?

John Seiler
John Seiler, an editorial writer with The Orange County Register for 19 years, is a reporter and analyst for CalWatchDog.com.

Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re in California, where the winter weather is in the 70s and the high taxes are imposed by the Great and Powerful Oz.

Writing in Al Jazerra, David Cay Johnston said Kansas’ tax cuts hurt it, while California was helped by its $7 billion in tax increases, which voters approved with Proposition 30 in 2012. He is an investigative reporter, Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of business, tax and property law of the ancient world at the Syracuse University College of Law.

His headline: “Real world contradicts right-wing tax theories.” Subheadline: “California raised taxes, Kansas cut them. California did better.”

He wrote:

“Ever since economist Arthur Laffer drew his namesake curve on a napkin for two officials in President Richard Nixon’s administration four decades ago, we have been told that cutting tax rates spurs jobs and higher pay, while hiking taxes does the opposite.

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Jerry Brown As The Nation’s Leading Democrat

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

The big story of 2015 may be the emergence of Gov. Jerry Brown as the new national leader of the Democratic Party.  That’s not due to anything Brown has done, but rather the thrashing the Democrats suffered in 2014 that has left them a leaderless party with both a weakened President and an uncertain President-in-Waiting.

After November, California is practically the only bright spot left of the Democrats.  Go beyond this state’s borders and the Democratic wreckage is nothing short of astounding.  Just look at Nevada, a state carried twice by President Obama.  This year Republicans swept every statewide office, ousted one of the state’s two Democratic congressmen, and won overwhelming majorities in both houses of the Nevada legislature.

Republicans now control 69 of the 99 state legislatures; Democratic legislative control is at its lowest point since the end of Reconstruction – and that was 1876.  Republicans now have more members of Congress than at any time since Herbert Hoover was President.  

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If You Want to Make Sense of Obamacare, Go to San Diego

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)

Will San Diego have America’s finest Obamacare?

Yes, it’s way too early for any verdicts about the Affordable Care Act and its implementation, even in California, which has embraced this messy mash-up of a law more rapidly and firmly than almost any other state. It may be that we’ll never be able to evaluate Obamacare coherently—it’s simply too complex and contradictory, a wave slowly remaking one-fifth of the economy via regulatory jargon and codes that test the limits of human understanding.

But if Obamacare is ever to fulfill its core promises—of bringing health coverage to those without, of driving health innovation, and of improving community health—I’d bet those promises will get fulfilled in San Diego first.

While some parts of Southern California—sections of the Inland Empire and Los Angeles—have lagged in health coverage enrollment, San Diego nearly tripled projections.

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Bipartisan Bills to Reduce ADA Lawsuit Abuse Introduced in California Legislature

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Will 2015 be the year we see substantial reforms to stop lawsuit abuse associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? We are off to a good start with the introduction of AB 54 by Republican Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen and AB 52 by Democrat Assemblyman Adam Gray.

Both bills already have bipartisan co-authors, and both bills would establish incentives for fixing alleged violations without lawsuits. AB 54 would give businesses 60 days to update facilities once a violation is spotted before a lawsuit could proceed, and AB 52 would significantly reduce damages awarded in a lawsuit if alleged violations are corrected within 180 days.

While we have seen variations of these bills in the past, I am hopeful that the California Legislature and Governor Brown can see that well-intentioned laws are being blatantly abused by self-serving trial lawyers. We all want to promote disability access in California. The bottom line is that the ADA is a very complicated law and it is absurd to assume that all of California’s 3.5 million small businesses can understand its provisions.

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Google Announcement Signals Surge in High Tech Jobs

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

When Google announced a week ago that it was making a $120 million purchase of 12 acres of land in Playa Vista, the tech world took notice. The land is zoned for nearly one million square feet of commercial space and sits adjacent to the historic hangar in which Howard Hughes built his famous “Spruce Goose” airplane. This new development, plus the renovated space in the hangar, could create 6,000 new technology jobs in Los Angeles.

Google’s big announcement is symbolic of the tremendous momentum that L.A.’s tech scene is experiencing.  A recent article on TechCrunch.Com was titled, “There’s Something Going On in L.A.”  The article noted that Southern California has the largest number of new tech company start-ups in the United States and is No. 3 in tech ecosystems, behind Silicon Valley and New York.

One of the foundations of this recent surge in tech and entrepreneurial activity is the concentration of high quality universities in Los Angeles County. These universities attract the brightest students, faculty and researchers to L.A. and Southern California. The TechCrunch authors noted that L.A. universities graduate more engineers than any metro area in the United States.  

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