Legislature’s Rejection of Veterans Court Bill a Tragic Disappointment

Duncan MacVicar
Veterans' Advocate

As a Vietnam veteran, I have experienced, first hand, the horrors of battle and the trauma it inflicts on brothers and sisters in uniform. But in the work I do to establish new veterans treatment courts around the state, I am seeing the lives of hundreds of service men and women returning from battle with PTSD and other disorders transformed from despair and depression to hope and redemption.

Veterans’ treatment courts have been central to these lives turning a corner for the better. Started in 2008, these courts, which allow veterans that have committed low-level offenses a chance to pursue an 18-month program of treatment and rehabilitation and have their cases expunged, are working! With success rates ranging from 85 to 98 percent, these courts are giving to veterans who had taken a turn for the worst – crime, addiction and down the path to suicide – a second (or third) chance for a better life. All while adding an extra measure of public safety through close supervision and effective rehabilitation.

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Energy Jobs Lost, The Sky is Falling in Kern County

Jean Fuller
Senate Republican Leader

(Editor’s Note: Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller issued the following press release on SB 32.)

Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) opposed Senate Bill 32 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) and made the case to protect jobs in California. SB 32 would require the California Air Resources Board to ensure that statewide greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The  California Chamber of Commerce labeled SB 32 as a ‘job killer’ bill.

Here are excerpts of Senator Fuller’s remarks:

“The impacts in my county are immense. It has driven hundreds of energy jobs out of my county while creating very few jobs even though we have been very successful in competing for those new jobs.

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How the Voters Feel About Climate Change Legislation

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

When the greenhouse gases extension bill seemed to be stalled in the legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Secretary, Nancy McFadden, said that the administration would get its way on the climate change: Either the bill would pass the legislature or the governor would take his agenda to the ballot. He filed papers for a ballot measure committee as a first step.

Now the bill has jumped a difficult hurdle by passing the Assembly. However, new polling by the California Business Roundtable indicates that the voters might not be so supportive of new regulations if they heard a complete explanation of the law’s effects.

Maybe the climate change debate should go to voters.

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How Do You Keep Them Down on the Farm with Excessively High Wages?

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

One of the ironies of our time is that progressive laws often hurt those they’re supposed to help. Restrictions on housing construction, such as almost anything the California Coastal Commission does or SB 375 from 2008, raise prices, making it difficult, even impossible for poor people to find housing. I wrote several columns on that earlier this year at The Orange County Register.

So poor people get to “enjoy” our beautiful coast by sleeping in bushes, or moving to Iowa.

In similar fashion is Assembly Bill 1066, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. It just passed the state Senate and is headed to the Assembly, which defeated a similar bill earlier this year. The threshold for farm workers getting overtime pay would be cut from the current 60 hours a week to 40 hours; and daily, from 10 to 8 hours. That would match the current state law for non-farm workers.

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Can’t Fix Climate Change by Punishing Manufacturers

Dorothy Rothrock
President, California Manufacturers & Technology Association

At least AB 32, our climate change bill passed in 2006, recognized that California alone can’t fix climate change and that higher costs only in California will hurt jobs, the economy and even the environment. So AB 32 included important features to keep regulations affordable and meet a 2020 goal. Now there is a push to throw those protections out the window and give unelected regulators free-reign to impose whatever costs may be required to meet a stringent new goal for 2030.

AB 32, still in effect until 2020, requires regulations to be cost-effective, technologically feasible, and limit emission “leakage” to other regions. Leakage happens when manufacturers and other energy users avoid paying high-costs by relocating or expanding to other states or countries. That’s a big environmental problem because out-of-state electricity is often based on burning coal and global emissions will increase if manufacturing grows there. Our clean electricity system allows California manufacturers to support both jobs and the environment.

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California Supreme Court Strikes Down Vergara Appeal

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

Here’s an axiom of California politics. When it’s the teachers union against everyone – that’s right, everyone else – the teachers union wins. Yesterday’s decision by the California Supreme Court to not hear the Vergara case is just the latest example.

Prior to losing on appeal, which brought the case to the attention of the State Supreme Court, the original Vergara ruling upheld the argument of the plaintiff, which was that union supported work rules have a disproportionate negative effect on poor and minority students. As reported in the Los Angeles Times in June 2014:

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Big Medi-Cal Expansion Not a Success Story

Susan Shelley
Columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News and Southern California News Group

The Affordable Care Act is collapsing, and President Obama blames Republicans.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the president accused Republicans of undermining the health care law’s implementation. “It has come at a cost for the country,” Obama wrote, “most notably for the estimated 4 million Americans left uninsured because they live in GOP-led states that have yet to expand Medicaid.”

But expanding Medicaid also has come at a cost.

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Status Quo Stands as Supreme Court Stays Out of Education Fights

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

The state’s teachers’ unions had a good day at the hands of the California Supreme Court yesterday but then so did the state’s taxpayers.

The state Supreme Court upheld an Appellate Court decision in the Vergara case, which concerns constitutional protections of students involving teacher tenure, retention and dismissal. Student plaintiffs claimed that they, along with many students in lower economic communities, suffered from dealing with hard-to-fire, unqualified teachers who were retained under the union supported seniority system.

The court chose not to hear the case thus upholding an Appellate Court decision that overturned a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who had ruled in favor of the students, claiming after weeks of trial, that the harm done to minority students “shocks the conscience.”

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Newsom’s Gun Control Initiative Could Bring More Democrats & Republicans Out in November

Richard Rubin
He writes about political issues and is President of a Public Affairs Management Firm. He also teaches courses on the Presidential & Congressional Elections at the University of San Francisco and is Vice Chair of the California Commonwealth Club.

Polls show that Californians have consistently supported tougher gun control measures in a state which has already adopted the strictest regulations in the nation and in 1989 was the first to ban assault weapons.

This will not deter staunch Second Amendment advocates and the National Rifle Association which is gearing up to mount an intensive campaign to defeat Proposition 63, known as the Safety for All Initiative, which will be on the November ballot.

The principal author is Ross resident, Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom.  Having his name attached is comparable to waving a red flag at a bull for voters sufficiently vexed over other social reforms the former San Francisco mayor has advanced such as full gay rights which are now the law of the land.

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Court Pension Decision Weakens ‘California Rule’

Publisher, CalPensions.com

The one thing some pension reformers say is needed to cut the cost of unaffordable public pensions: give current workers a less costly retirement benefit for work done in the future, while protecting pension amounts already earned.

It’s allowed in the remaining private-sector pensions. But California is one of about a dozen states that have what has become known as the “California rule,” which is based on a series of state court decisions, a key one in 1955.

The pension offered at hire becomes a “vested right,” protected by contract law, that cannot be cut, unless offset by a new benefit of comparable value. The pension can be increased, however, even retroactively for past work as happened for state workers under landmark legislation, SB 400 in 1999.

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