Sales Tax Holiday Legislation Good News for Small Business

John Kabateck
California Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

Every once in a while, a piece of legislation comes along that restores my hope in the elected bodies in Sacramento. Legislation that proves that they are indeed listening and care about our state’s number one job creators. Proof that they not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Assembly Bill 1280 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein is one of those bills. This NFIB/CA-sponsored bill would establish a sales tax holiday for small businesses on the first Saturday following Thanksgiving, also known as Small Business Saturday, when consumers are encouraged to shop at their local mom and pop stores. To qualify, a business would have had to collect less than $200,000 in sales taxes the previous year.

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Beyond Vergara

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

Last year, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled that California’s archaic seniority, tenure, and dismissal statutes were unconstitutional, adding that the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs “shocks the conscience.” The state and two teachers unions, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, are appealing Treu’s decision in Vergara v. California. Should the judgment survive the appeals process, legislators would need to pass new laws to fill the void. But Republican lawmakers aren’t waiting for a decision, which won’t come down for months—or possibly years.

On March 4, the 28-member Assembly Republican Caucus introduced a half-dozen bills to overhaul the way California’s teachers are hired, assessed, and dismissed. Assembly Bill 1047 by minority leader and Modesto Republican Kristin Olsen, for example, would update the Stull Act, California’s four-decade-old teacher evaluation law that school districts have largely ignored. Olsen’s bill would require that teachers have annual evaluations, replacing an antiquated pass-fail system with four new categories: highly effective, effective, minimally effective, and ineffective.

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Taking It Out on the Little Guy​

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared that opposition to efforts to reduce carbon emissions “borders on the immoral.” Hesitate though we might to debate Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, on the nature of divine law, we have to question the “morality” of forcing working California motorists to bear the brunt of the cost of regulations required by Brown’s convictions.

In light of both economic concerns and a more rational understanding of climate change science, other nations and states are rethinking their aggressive policies. But here in California, the reigning political leadership is forcing the middle class and working poor to shoulder almost the entire burden of mankind’s response to climate change.

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Politics in Play if the Supreme Court Throws Out Redistricting Commission

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

An effort by a newly announced coalition supporting California’s redistricting commission may run into some harsh political realities in its quest to keep current congressional lines in place if the United States Supreme Court throws out redistricting commissions in the Arizona State Legislature vs. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission case.

Californians supported two initiatives that took the power of drawing legislative district lines away from elected officials and turned that power over to an independent commission. Proposition 11 in 2008 created the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw state government district lines; Proposition 20 in 2010 added to the Commission’s responsibility drawing congressional districts. The latter measure is the one threatened by the Arizona case. 

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Government Union Wrath Aimed at Democrat

Gloria Romero
Director of Education Reform for the California Policy Center. Former Democratic Majority Leader of the California State Senate.

It didn’t take long for “the brotherhood” of status quo politics to pile on. Within hours of former Assembly member Joan Buchanan having lost her election bid for Northern California’s 7th Senate District seat in last week’s special election to fill the vacancy, she endorsed labor-embraced and fellow Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord. Together, they joined the panoply of monied special interests led by public sector unions that are largely funding the Democratic Party, to defeat a third Democrat – independent Steve Glazer.

Glazer describes himself as “fiscally conservative, socially progressive.” He is the mayor of Orinda and former political aide to Gov. Jerry Brown. Glazer brandishes “blue” credentials in California, having worked for decades to support Democratic candidates and causes.

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Governors Have Bad Case Of California Envy

Gary Chazen
Gary Chazen is founder and curator at and longtime Northern California journalist.

From Florida to Texas, governors and presidential wannabes are clamoring for a piece of California’s action. Given how hot California’s economy has been in the past year, you can’t blame them, but it would help their cases if the numbers backed them up.

Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced he is planning an April trip to California as part of his effort to lure businesses from other states. Scott is urging shipping companies to shift their business to Florida after labor disputes in California ports.

And, of course, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is no stranger in attempting to pick California’s low-hanging fruit to boost his state’s economic fortunes. He ran ads in the Golden State in 2013, something California Gov. Jerry Brown famously brushed off as “barely a fart.” Apparently, the lesson sank in. Instead of going after businesses, Perry is going after conservative donors from California, among other states.

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New Battles Over Redistricting

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.

In 2008 California adopted a new redistricting system for state offices extended in 2010 to Congressional seats.

It was accomplished through the arduous efforts of a 14-member non-partisan Citizens Redistricting Commission approved by the voters which took the powerful “gerrymandering” authority out of the hands of the state legislature.

This hard fought revision of a framework that served mainly the transparent aims of the state’s lop-sided Democratic Party majorities for decades is now in jeopardy of unraveling as a result of a decision by Arizona’s GOP-dominated legislature challenging the constitutional basis of its own Redistricting Commission. The issue is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Politics Behind 16-Year-Old Voter and Mandatory Vote Proposals

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

In San Francisco, Supervisor John Avalos proposes that 16 year olds should vote. In Cleveland last week, President Barack Obama suggested mandatory voting was a transformative idea worth considering. One can’t help but sense political agendas at work.

Despite Supervisor Avalos’ argument that 16-year-olds are old enough to drive and pay taxes, the real question is do they have enough experience and understanding of the world and government to vote? A question for the president, should we mandate that people vote who pay no attention to public affairs and have no desire to vote?

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders unsettled Avalos when she asked him if 16-year-olds are mature enough to be allowed buy cigarettes and alcohol. If they have the reasoning and ability to make good decisions, then why not? Avalos objected. The key sentence in Saunders’ column:“To say that someone should have the right to vote, Avalos assured me, “It’s very different from saying someone is adult.”” (Italics by Saunders.)

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The Price of California’s Preoccupation with Renewables: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Rob Lapsley
President, California Business Roundtable

In his annual State of the State address, Governor Brown outlined ambitious goals for taking California’s climate change policies to the next level. Historically, our state has held the position of groundbreaking leadership when it comes to aggressive environmental programs, so it comes as no surprise that Governor Brown wants to expand on this trend by enacting even more aggressive policies aimed at 2030 and 2050 climate change goals.

In particular, the Governor called for California to increase its reliance on renewable power to 50 percent. Not only is this an extremely ambitious goal, but experience shows that overreliance on renewable power leads to increased costs and reduced grid reliability (while offering uncertain or minimal environmental benefits).

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California Should Make Regular People More of a Priority

Joel Kotkin
Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

California in 1970 was the American Dream writ large. Its economy was diversified, from aerospace and tech to agriculture, construction and manufacturing, and allowed for millions to achieve a level of prosperity and well-being rarely seen in the world.

Forty-five years later, California still is a land of dreams, but, increasingly, for a smaller group in the society. Silicon Valley, notes a recent Forbes article, is particularly productive in making billionaires’ lists and minting megafortunes faster than anywhere in the country. California’s billionaires, for the most part, epitomize American mythology – largely self-made, young and more than a little arrogant. Many older Californians, those who have held onto their houses, are mining gold of their own, as an ever-more environmentally stringent and density-mad planning regime turns even modest homes into million-dollar-plus properties.

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