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Assembly Bill 1897 Threatens Innovation in California

Andrea Deveau
Executive Director, TechNet

The deadline is approaching for Governor Jerry Brown to either veto or sign an important piece of legislation that is poised to have a damaging impact on how technology companies do business in California. Assembly Bill 1897 attempts to shift responsibilities in subcontractor relationships by unfairly holding the majority of California employers liable for wage and hour violations by other employers that are out of their control.

Ultimately, AB 1897 will hurt California’s innovators, including many who are leading the way in job creation, product deployment, sustainable economic development, and global competitiveness. The technology industry employs well over one million Californians and thrives in an economic environment that fosters innovation and productivity. AB 1897 threatens that landscape.

First, AB 1897 will not stop a labor violation from occurring; it just allows a bad actor employer to shift liability to an innocent employer that did not commit the violation, know of the violation, or have the ability to prevent the violation. It’s a basic principle that employers who commit labor abuses should be held accountable.

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Always More Work To Be Done In The Name Of Transparency

John Chiang
California State Controller

When State Controller John Chiang announced his new open data website last week, CA Fwd, which promotes technology enhanced government, offered him an opportunity to write an open data blog and why it matters for government and the people it serves. 

As California State Controller, my job hinges on having access to the State’s cash and budget numbers. Those are the numbers that also help me to tell the stories about what direction our State, communities, schools and businesses are heading.

Like California Forward, I have long believed making reliable, timely data public is an essential part of government transparency. We also share the belief that in order to enhance civic participation, we should be harnessing technology to allow the public to slice-and-dice financial information and create visuals that foster informed communication.

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Garcetti, L. A. City Council: Best Advertisement for the Move to Texas

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

On Wednesday, the Herb Wesson led City Council approved the Citywide Hotel Minimum Wage Ordinance without considering the impact on the hotel industry, the Convention Center, and the City’s well deserved “business unfriendly” reputation that has alienated employers and investors who create jobs.

78vAs a result, on July 1, nonunion hotels with 300 or more rooms will be required to increase its hourly wage rate for all employees, including “tipped” employees, to at least $15.37, one of the highest rates in the country.  On July 1, 2016, this mandated increase will apply to all nonunion hotels with 150 or more rooms.  This minimum wage will also be subject to cost of living adjustments. 

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Controller 2014: Betty Yee Changes Position On High-Speed Rail

John Hrabe
Writer and Communications Strategist

Board of Equalization member Betty Yee has changed her mind about the state’s controversial high-speed rail plan.

During the June primary campaign, the Democratic candidate for state controller opposed Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build a faster rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles by the year 2029.

June 2014 primary questionnaire for the influential Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club asked Yee, “Do you support California’s high speed rail plans?”

Despite potential backlash from San Francisco’s largest Democratic club, Yee answered, “No.”

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Rewarding Voters An Old American Tradition

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

The proposal from the Los Angeles Ethics Commission last month that voters in the city’s municipal elections be entered into a lottery for a cash prize has been heaped with criticism.

Washington Post columnist George Will, for one, called the proposal “a perfectly awful idea…so loopy it could only be conceived by governments.” His reasoning for the low Los Angeles voter turnout in the contest for mayor – about 23% in the last election – a non-partisan contest in a one-party city.

Still, there are promotions on Election Day in different communities to encourage voting. Show the proof that you bothered to vote and some local shop owner offers a free donut to go along with that cup of coffee.

In early America, offering free refreshment, especially of the hard liquor variety, was considered part of the voting process.

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California’s Prop 47 Prison Experiment: Roll Of The Dice Meets Ticking Time Bomb

Bill Whalen
Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, where he analyzes California and national politics. He’s also blogs daily on the 2014 election at

Time was when anything but the toughest stance against crime was a ticket to political trouble in California.

That included the death penalty, which was Dianne Feinstein’s ticket to stardom back in 1990 when her defense of the practice before a convention hall of angry liberal Democrats – a calculated move, some would say – cemented the centrist reputation she’d hoped for. And it applied to a cornucopia of the strictest of laws enacted during the 1990s – “three strikes” for repeat offenders, “one strike” for rapists, truth-in-sentencing laws.

But that was then and this is . . . well, a different California where a November ballot measure will test the public’s attachment to that hard line on public safety.

What happens if, while easing prison overcrowding, California gets it wrong and the early release of inmates brings with it an uptick in violent crimes?

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Records Show Unions Massively Fund CA Dem Party

John Hrabe
Writer and Communications Strategist

At a time when two Democratic lawmakers stand accused of bribery and public corruption, California’s most powerful labor unions have kicked back more than a million dollars to the California Democratic Party.

According to state campaign finance records posted Monday evening, the Democratic State Central Committee of CA accepted a total of $1.59 million in campaign contributions on Sept. 19 — with the overwhelming majority of those funds coming from the state’s powerful labor unions, representing teachers, firefighters, engineers and nurses.

The biggest check won’t come as a surprise to any California political observer: $750,000 from the California Teachers Association. The teachers union, considered by many to be “the most powerful interest group in the Capitol,” has stepped up its political giving in the wake of Vergara v. California, a landmark court ruling that could ultimately throw out California’s teacher tenure system.

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California Pre-K Is Doomed: The State’s Lack of Ambition Will Kill Universal Preschool Before It Starts

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)

Hard to believe that only a decade ago—back in the fall of 2014—the future of pre-kindergarten looked so promising in California.

State leaders were congratulating themselves on passing a budget and new legislation that promised more than 40,000 new full-day pre-K spots for low-income 4-year-olds. California was celebrated as a leader of a nationwide movement that would guarantee pre-school for every child someday.

Of course, a decade later, as I sit here composing this column on my brain’s iChip in 2024, we know that the day of universal pre-K never arrived.

For all their big ambitious promises in 2014, California’s leaders were so cautious in how they launched their new investment that they sabotaged a great opportunity for real social progress. When you’re trying to build something for the future, it can be reckless to be too careful in your construction, lest your creation is too small and weak to withstand the winds of time.

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Kashkari’s Challenges

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

Neel Kashkari is attempting a difficult task – and I’m not talking about his attempt to unseat a sitting governor and California political legend in Jerry Brown. Kashkari is attempting to steer the Republican ship toward center waters –where Brown rows his famous canoe – because he believes that is how the Republican Party becomes competitive in the state.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate dropped by my graduate public policy class at Pepperdine University Monday to chat with the students.

Kashkari said he set out to change the party’s image portrayed in the press as the Party of No. He didn’t see a bench to take on the challenge so he jumped in.

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Bill Improves Health Outcomes and Patient-Centric Access to Care

Assemblywoman Susan A Bonilla
California State Assembly, 14th District

When it comes to our health and collective well-being, the old expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” is surprisingly applicable. Whether it is simply getting in shape or working to lessen the symptoms of chronic illness, achieving positive health outcomes is a long-term goal that requires diligent effort. It goes without saying that time and persistence factor largely into the recovery process.

Healthcare providers are keenly aware of this reality, and it is for this reason that patients are asked to make and keep consistent appointments, work toward defined fitness and dieting goals, and take medication as instructed. This last point is particularly crucial as medication adherence—taking medications as prescribed by a doctor—has been shown to improve one’s overall health and wellness.

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