Who’s in, who’s out of AB 5?

Judy Lin
CALmatters reporter

Doctors, real estate agents and hairdressers can keep their independent contractor status. But not truckers, commercial janitors, nail salon workers, physical therapists and — significantly — gig economy workers, who will gain the rights and benefits of employees in California under sweeping workplace legislation passed Wednesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has committed to signing the bill, which cleared the Assembly 56-15 in a challenge both to the longstanding trend toward outsourcing labor and to the business model of companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, who have threatened a $90 million fight at the ballot box.

Once signed, AB 5 would upend longstanding employment practices that have seeped into the Democratic presidential debate about how workers should be treated, particularly in today’s gig economy.

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The Enemies of American Infrastructure

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is the vice president of research policy for the California Policy Center.

Between 2008 and 2019, China opened up 33 high speed rail routes, connecting 39 major cities along four north-south and four east-west main lines. The 18,000 mile network runs trains at an average speed of around 200 miles per hour. By 2030, the Chinese expect to double the mileage of their high speed rail network by expanding to eight north-south and eight east-west main lines. In less than 20 years, the Chinese have completely transformed their rail transportation network.

This is typical for the Chinese. China is also building three new airports – offshore. Dalian, along the north coast opposite the Korean peninsula, Xiang’an, on the central coast facing Taiwan, and Sanya, off the coast of Hainan Island in the strategic South China Sea. All three airports are to be built to the highest international levels, with 12,000 foot runways able to accommodate the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger airliner. All three are built on “reclaimed land,” i.e., the Chinese intend to bulldoze a few mountains into the ocean and flatten them into runways. And all three, from start to finish, will be built in under ten years.

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AB 5 and the Ghost of Failed Bills Past

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

If AB 5 to reclassify workers in the new economy becomes law it will set up future trouble for the state much like the bills in the 1990s to deregulate energy and the granting of wider pension benefits for public employees.

The bills are quite different and their paths to becoming law are also different. Both the energy and pension bills passed with little opposition and less scrutiny. In contrast, there has been plenty of concerns raised about AB 5, but while the launch of these bills is dissimilar, the likely crash landing of the new measure will  feel like what happened with those 1990s laws–a troublesome mess.

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Is Steyer Running for President—Or California Office?

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)

Tom Steyer is supposedly a candidate for president. But he is spending much of his time at home in California. 

Yes, he’s made trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, but he resembles a statewide candidate in California. It’s not just his schedule of events, most recently a climate change event in Oakland. His team is heavily Californian. And his policy prescriptions mirror the priorities of California.

In this context, it’s fair to wonder what his real goal is. He has never held elected office, so starting out as president seems both improbable and, as the current occupant of the White House shows, dangerous. Steyer’s late entry into the presidential race suggests he wasn’t sure about being president. And he stays in the race even though his support was too small to make the September debate. Steyer isn’t going to be president. So what is he really running for?

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Climate Change May be Inevitable. Doing Little as Possible is Ludicrous

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

What does the rapid thawing of nine million square miles of Arctic ice, the immense devastation left behind by Hurricane Dorian, and the tiny light bulb have to do with one another?

Perhaps more than you might suspect.

And what connection do these things have to California’s perennially shorthanded battle to eliminate carbon emissions and nation-leading efforts to implement stringent clean air rules?

Actually quite a bit.

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New Study Sponsored by Good Government Watchdog Investigates Explosion of Payments Made at “Behest” of California Elected Officials

David Kersten
David Kersten is president of the Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy (www.kersteninstitute.org). Kersten is also an adjunct professor of public finance and economics at the University of San Francisco.

Most people, including many Capitol insiders, may not even know what a “behest payment” is. 

But this is definitely a case where what you don’t know can hurt you because there has been nothing show of an explosion in so-called “behest payment” by elected officials in California, making this one of the most popular new avenues of government influence peddling at all levels of government in both California and the United States.

A Sacramento-based watchdog group called the Center for Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability (CETA) has released a new report on this issue titled “California Shakedown: An Investigation of Behested Payments to Elected Officials in California.”  

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Rent cap bill won’t fix California’s housing crisis

Jared Martin
President of the California Association of REALTORS.

When California lawmakers vote on a rent cap bill in the coming days, they must consider the consequences it will have on our state’s housing crisis for years to come.

Our state’s housing affordability and availability crisis deserves a comprehensive approach that prioritizes building more homes for rent and ownership. Unfortunately, Assembly Bill 1482 does neither.

The version of the legislation by David Chiu, San Francisco Democrat, headed to the Senate Floor will not incentivize production of rental housing or help more people find an affordable place to live. 

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Two-Thirds Vote Needed for Some Local Taxes? Who Knows?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Does it take a two-thirds vote or a majority vote of the people to raise local taxes placed on the ballot via the initiative process? 

Answer: No one knows—yet. Like many policy debates, it will take a state Appeals Court or the California Supreme Court to decide.

Uncertainty already existed over the vote requirement for taxes placed on the ballot by initiative after a previous Supreme Court decision. A couple of recent lower court rulings have really muddled the issue. 

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What Does the Real Estate Slowdown Mean for Split Roll?

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)

The ballot initiatives to split the roll—to treat commercial property tax assessments differently than residential property assessments—have been developed in the context of sky-high real estate prices.

But Californians may vote on the latest version of the initiative in a very different context.

The real estate market is looking pretty soft in different parts of the state. A recession may be on the way, which could actually bring prices down after many years of rapid growth. How could this change the politics of split roll?

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Finally, an energy book in layman’s language: Energy Made Easy

Ronald Stein and Todd Royal
Ronald Stein is Founder of PTS Advance in Irvine. Todd Royal is an independent public policy consultant in Los Angeles focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy.

Energy is multifaceted, and the just published Energy Made Easy – Helping Citizens Become Energy-Literateby Ronald Stein and Todd Royal available on Amazon allows the reader to grasp enough knowledge quickly so they can participate in discussions with family, friends, co-workers, or while watching news reports. The main purpose of the book is to Help Citizens Become Energy-Literate. 

As an added benefit to the reader, each chapter is a stand-alone read on twelve energy subjects. The readers may not be interested in the entire spectrum of energy, but can selectively pick, and choose hot energy topics, trending on current news or social media coverage. 

It’s dangerous and delusional to believe anything can be explained in sound bites, much less energy. This book will make you look at energy and ELECTRICITY in a new, fresh way, and perspective. We believe this is desperately needed with the upcoming U.S. Presidential election, and global events taking place in China, Russia, Iran, Africa, India, and South America.

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