AB 1250 – A Bad Bill That Can’t Be Fixed

Matt Cate
Executive Director, California State Association of Counties

There’s an old adage in politics that you don’t amend a bad bill. If ever that was the case, it’s true with AB1250. The bill would institute a de facto ban on counties’ abilities to contract with nonprofits, community businesses and others to provide essential services to the public locally, including many services provided on behalf of the state. Despite numerous rounds of amendments to AB 1250, including recent amendments last week, the bill continues to be unworkable and opposed by hundreds of respected organizations throughout the state.

Amendments can’t fix AB 1250 because, at its core, this bill is a terrible idea. Restricting the ability of counties to contract with local nonprofits and community businesses that can frequently deliver services in a more efficient and effective way would greatly impede the delivery of core county and state services. Such restrictions would jeopardize the delivery of public health, public safety, mental health and social services for children, elderly and the disabled.

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AB 1701 Will Drive up Housing Costs

Jeff Pemstein
Chair, California Building Industry Association

Protecting workers from dishonest construction contractors while not worsening California’s housing crisis are not mutually exclusive goals. Unfortunately, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond and the sponsors of AB 1701 would have you incorrectly believe they are.

As written, AB 1701 makes innocent contractors liable for dishonest sub-contractors actions for which they have no oversight or control.   If a sub-contractor stiffs its workers, this bill would require homebuilders to pay twice for labor. Meanwhile, the bill does nothing to punish or hold the bad actor accountable for failing to pay their employees. Despite numerous requests to negotiate reasonable amendments, the sponsors and author refused to consider alternatives.

Instead the union sponsors claim builders are indifferent to workers being paid. This is simply false.

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The Cost of Extortion

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

Whatever some say to justify sky-high fees, design requirements and affordable-housing mandates it’s certain they all do one thing: raise housing costs.  It is said that the fees are necessary to mitigate the impact(s) of new housing on the community.  Yes, but so high?  Moreover, new design requirements locals say are written to conform the development to building and neighborhood standards.  Maybe, but so excessively that they stifle new development?   And, since there is no money for affordable housing why not mandate it and get the builder pay for its production?

These requirements emanate from one source – local government – which reliably insists on some or all of the above be met in order to get the new housing approved.  It rarely matters if there is no nexus between the fees and the alleged “impact” or the design requirements keep changing or that new housing never creates a demand for affordable housing – that need is always there though local governments have done little about it.

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Protecting consumer health and safety in the 21st century economy

Kish Rajan
Chief evangelist of CALinnovates, is a non-partisan coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and non-profits focused on the new economy and economic prosperity.

As the Legislature hurries to complete its final month of work for the year, the Capitol is humming with activity as legislators present and vote on hundreds of bills, advancing them to the governor’s desk. In the case of each bill, the Legislature and the Governor’s responsibility is the same: To carefully consider its policy merits and its long-term impacts on regular Californians, our economy and our state’s future.

This is particularly true when it comes to issues relating to new, innovative business models that had yet to even be conceived when our state’s existing legal and regulatory structures were put in place. As our economy has evolved, the Legislature has had to carefully consider the best ways to update our laws in a way that supports innovation, continues to protect Californians and maintains a coherent regulatory process.

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More Reasons to Let Prisoners Vote

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)

A ballot initiative has been filed to give California’s prisoners the right to vote.

The arguments for it are about the prisoners. Such as: They shouldn’t be banished from our democracy because they’re incarcerated. And voting will keep them in touch with society and make it easier to integrate them into community life when they get out.

I’m fine with those arguments and the idea. But there are other reasons to permit such voting, reasons that have to do with the benefits to the state as a whole.

At the heart of those reasons is this: the state’s prisons are the most Californian of institutions. Think about it. Most of the companies and institutions with which we interact are regional; they serve the region where we live and work, and so those people know us. The only two big institutions where Californians from all the state’s regions come together and interact are the state university systems, and the state prisons.

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DACA Pressure on CA GOP Representatives

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

“Pressure makes diamonds,” American General George S. Patton said. Pressure brought to bear on the DACA law may finally bring some immigration reform. California’s congressional members will be key to any solution.

With President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in six months and kick the concern to Congress the forced deadline might finally resolve the issue.

While there was a threat of a constitutional challenge that could remove DACA by judicial fiat, the six-month deadline will force Congress to make a decision. Not acting on the issue is also making a decision that members of Congress will live with.

Additional action on DACA was expected. After all, DACA stood for Deferred Action.

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Leave California’s Monuments Alone

Seth Stodder
Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Law professor at the University of Southern California

Before he left office in January, President Barack Obama designated numerous national monuments across the country. Under the authority originally granted to President Theodore Roosevelt by the Antiquities Act more than a century ago, sitting presidents may unilaterally designate federal lands as monuments – preserving them from activities such as development or mining. After President Donald Trump took office, he directed Interior Secretary to review all monument designations – all the way back to 1996.

Here in California, 22 areas have been designated national monuments since the Act was originally passed in 1906. Those part of Secretary Zinke’s now-concluded review include:

  • Berryessa Snow Mountain
  • Carrizo Plain
  • Giant Sequoia
  • Mojave Trails
  • Sand to Snow
  • San Gabriel Mountains
  • Cascade Siskiyou
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End-of-Session Housing Push Won’t Make Dent in State’s Housing Problem

Kerry Jackson
Kerry Jackson is a Fellow at the California Center for Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

Lawmakers haven’t yet voted on legislation they say addresses the state’s housing crisis, but it’s just as well. The proposals they were trying to pass off as solutions aren’t solutions at all.

One bill that’s key to the rest of the legislative package would add to real estate costs, while other bills would stack up more public debt, and increase the cost of homes in California.

Democrats need a two-thirds approval in each chamber to pass the bills because they would raise taxes and that requires a supermajority. Without the vote of every Democrat, the bills won’t pass if the Republicans unanimously oppose them, as many expect them to.

The centerpiece legislation is a $4 billion housing bond, Senate Bill 3. Three-fourths of the funds “would be used to finance various existing housing programs, as well as infill infrastructure financing and affordable housing matching grant programs,” while $1 billion would be directed to “a specified program for farm, home, and mobile home purchase assistance for veterans.”

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Harvey: Will They Really “Do It Right?”

Ralph E. Shaffer
Professor Emeritus of History at Cal Poly Pomona

During his first, brief Texas trip to give assurance that the federal government was ready to offer whatever assistance was needed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and its floods, President Donald Trump expressed confidence that the crisis would be met. He predicted that five or ten years from now people will say that what was done after Harvey was the right way to do it.

But will the feds really do it the right way, with the resources that a truly great disaster will demand?  The damage done in Houston and elsewhere surely requires immediate federal aid. But Harvey and its floods, as catastrophic as they were, do not compare with the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, nor with Hurricane Katrina a century later, in terms of human suffering or property loss.

In 1906, the army stepped in promptly, establishing massive refugee camps and sending train loads of food and other desperately needed assistance to San Francisco. The army was for San Franciscans the early Twentieth century equivalent of today’s FEMA.

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California Legislation Threatens to Increase Prescription Drug Prices

Edmund J. Pezalla, MD, MPH
Scholar-in-Residence at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy in Washington

In the current debate over health care, employers, unions and government programs all agree on the need to provide prescription drug coverage at lower costs while increasing the quality and clinical value of pharmacy benefits.

However, the California Legislature is considering Assembly Bill (AB) 315 that could lead to higher drug prices for the state’s employers, unions, public programs and consumers. This bill would increase costs and reduce pharmacy benefit managers’ (PBMs) ability to offer unique services to employers.

To read more, please visit here.

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