2018 Brings Yet Another Minimum Wage Hike

Chris Micheli

Attorney and Lobbyist at the Sacramento government relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

Just like earlier this year, because of the enactment of SB 3 (Leno) in 2016, California’s minimum wage is going up again. On January 1, 2018, the state’s minimum wage will be increased for all sizes of businesses as “small employers” will see their first wage hike in recent years.

Under prior state law, the minimum wage for all industries increased to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016. Pursuant to SB 3, the minimum wage for all industries will be increased to $15 per hour by January 1, 2022 for businesses employing 26 or more employees and by January 1, 2023 for businesses employing 25 or fewer employees (referred to as “small employers”).

The law does provide that the scheduled increases may be temporarily suspended by the Governor based upon him or her making certain determinations. Additionally, the law requires the Director of Finance, after the last scheduled minimum wage increase, to annually adjust the minimum wage under a specified formula. In the meantime, the wage will go up incrementally each year.

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California needs a great villain

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)

It’s hard to find a villain who can bring Californians together.

That’s why Charlie Manson’s death produced so many media remembrances. Manson represented the time, a half-century ago, when Californians shared more experiences—even fear of the Manson Family.

Today, we’re too polarized to agree on who is the bad guy. Academically, we prefer to blame wrongdoing on systems, not individuals. Culturally, we’re so diverse that we don’t share the same references—never mind the same enemies.

Which is too bad. Villains can be galvanizing, energizing societies to protect the innocent, defend democracy, or address wrongdoing. Villains also allow us to recognize the evil within ourselves. “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us,” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. “When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

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Realtors’ initiative could boost home sales, limit property taxes

Steven Greenhut

Greenhut writes for American Spectator, Reason and the Orange County Register.

Property-tax-limiting Proposition 13 has long been viewed as the “third rail” of California politics given its continued popularity among the home-owning electorate. Public-sector unions occasionally talk about sponsoring an initiative to eliminate its tax limits for commercial properties, but the latest Prop. 13-related proposal would actually expand its scope.

The influential California Association of Realtors is launching a signature drive for a November 2018 ballot measure that would greatly expand the ability of Californians who are at least 55 years old and disabled people to maintain their low-tax assessments even if they move to other counties or purchase more expensive new homes.

Prop. 13 requires counties to tax properties at 1 percent of their value (plus bonds and other special assessments), which is established at the time of sale. The owners maintain that assessment even if values increase, as they typically do in California. The proposition limits tax hikes to no more than 2 percent a year. Prop. 13 passed overwhelmingly because many people – especially seniors – were being taxed out of their homes as assessments soared during a real-estate boom.

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An Oddity in the PPIC Poll: Republicans for De León

Joel Fox

Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released its latest poll on California political races and ballot issues with few surprises—with one exception. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León leads U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein among Republican voters who have made up their mind.

De León’s margin over Feinstein is 25% to 18% with 55% of Republican voters undecided. But given De León as a champion of the left—author of the sanctuary state bill, forcing single payer legislation through the senate—plus taking a firm stance against the policies of Republican president Donald Trump this result seems outside the political box.

Feinstein, on the other hand, while a solid Democrat viewed as a liberal nationally and as a moderate here in California, once gave Donald Trump a “chance” to be a good president.

What brought about these poll results?

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Gas Tax Boost Is Smaller Than the Backlash

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 gas tax is a perfect distillation of what’s wrong with Gov. Brown’s small ball politics.

He pursued a policy that’s too small, and too safe.

On a policy matter, it doesn’t produce much. It produces revenues that aren’t enough to do more than make a small dent in the state’s infrastructure needs.

But politically it has downside risks bigger than the small policy benefit. Republicans have stoked a backlash against it that has broken through into the popular conversation. Car dealers are having “gas tax” sales. It also forces Democrats to defend against a recall, and to keep addressing the issue deep into 2018.

This could have national consequences. If the gas tax draws enough Republicans to the polls to keep most of California’s Congressional Republicans in office, it could deny the Democrats control of the House of Representatives. And that would mean that the party would struggle to stop Trump’s agenda—and could give up on hopes of removing him from office. Since Trump seems devoted to policies of punishing Californians, the downside risks are huge.

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Stop Adding Labor Laws

Tom Manzo

President, Timely Prefinished Steel Door Frames and President and Chairman of the Board at California Business and Industrial Alliance

If you build a 1,000 square foot home, and add a room, and then another, and add a floor, and another floor, what will happen? The home will collapse because the foundation was not built for such a big house. This is what has happened to the 1,039 page Labor Law digest 2017 edition, and yes more has been added for 2018.

Our lawmakers need to stop, read and understand what we have prior to adding anymore laws. The only bills that should be allowed are ones that reduce, reform, or make that book smaller and easier to understand.

Many laws have been added to original laws, and added again, and again. It seems with the abundance of bills introduced and passed yearly lawmakers are not taking the time needed to make an educated decision. Take meal and rest breaks as an example as they have been the heart of most of the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) related lawsuits. This takes up 23 pages and is very confusing on when a lunch for a non-exempt employees supposed is to be taken, before the end of the fifth hour? Or at 4 hours and 59 minutes?

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Playgrounds for Elites

Joel Kotkin is Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. Wendell Cox is Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris

The revival of America’s core cities is one of the most celebrated narratives of our time—yet, perhaps paradoxically, urban progress has also created a growing problem of increasing inequality and middle-class flight. Once exemplars of middle-class advancement, most major American cities are now typified by a “barbell economy,” divided between well-paid professionals and lower-paid service workers. As early as the 1970s, notes the Brookings Institution, middle-income neighborhoods began to shrink more dramatically in inner cities than anywhere else—and the phenomenon has continued. Today, in virtually all U.S. metro areas, the inner cores are more unequal than their corresponding suburbs, observes geographer Daniel Herz.

Signs of this gap are visible. Homelessness has been on the rise in virtually all large cities, including Los AngelesNew York, and San Francisco, even as it declines elsewhere. Despite numerous exposés on the growth of suburban poverty, the poverty rate in core cities remains twice as high; according to the 2010 census, more than 80 percent of all urban-core population growth in the previous decade was among the poor. For all the talk about inner-city gentrification, concentrated urban poverty remains a persistent problem, with 75 percent of high-poverty neighborhoods in 1970 still classified that way four decades later.

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Revisiting Feinstein and Formerly Anti-Immigrant Pols

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)

I recently wrote in this space about Dianne Feinstein’s development – 25 years ago – of an approach to “illegal” immigration that became a template for more virulent anti-immigrant attacks from politicians from Pete Wilson to Donald Trump.

I heard from many people in response. Feinstein’s partisans said it was unfair. More than a year after her 1993 campaign that blamed undocumented immigrants for budget and other challenges (in my view, incorrectly and in an appeal to bigotry), she came out against Prop 187. And she did this, said more than one caller, against quite a bit of political advice that she should have endorsed the anti-immigrant measure.

More recently, Feinstein, her supporters note, has backed comprehensive reform and is in the middle of talks to protect those with DACA status, the “Dreamers.”

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Is it About Sexual Harassment or About Getting a “Vote?”

Joel Fox

Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Could Senator Tony Mendoza’s situation lead to California’s Roy Moore moment when politics and the need for legislative votes overshadow the moral concerns dealing with sexual harassment? Let’s hope not.

Should Mendoza follow former Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra’s example and resign the Democrats lose their supermajority in the Senate.

A number of Republicans back Moore for the U.S. Senate in Alabama despite the charges made against him because, as President Donald Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway says, the administration wants the vote for Trumps’ agenda. Will some Democrats insist that Mendoza remain in office as a way to keep the supermajority?

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New California Cannabis Rules Ensure a Safe, Budding Industry for the Long Haul

John Taylor

Founder & President, SMART Cannabis/Next Generation Farming, Inc.

What a difference a half-year makes – especially for the budding California pot industry! This past June, our elected leaders passed Senate Bill 94, laying the foundation of new rules and regulations for cannabis growing, distribution, and sales across the Golden State.

The legislation created the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) which created the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, the entity charged with implementing these rules across the state. Then, about two weeks ago, new and much-anticipated emergency rules were released, just in time for sales of retail cannabis to kick in starting New Year’s Day 2018.

The full and comprehensive emergency rules can be found here, but this is a quick snapshot of the new Green Rules that have come down the pike:

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