California’s Reading Challenge 

Greg Lucas
State Librarian

This summer, Californians of all ages and ancestries are reading.

Some are reading for work. Some are reading for fun. Either way, reading is good for us in all kinds of ways.

California’s 1,100 libraries are challenging themselves to sign up 1 million readers for summer reading programs between now and August 31.

The California State Library invites you to be one of those 1 million readers – and win some cool prizes if you read the most books over the next 10 weeks. 

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Orlando and Donald Trump

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

As Donald Trump raises his right hand to assume the presidency next January 20, one word will explain how it all happened: Orlando.  What occurred early in the morning of June 12 in this usually quiet central Florida city – the greatest mass killing in American history – is going to reverberate through our presidential politics over the next five months and very possibly elect Trump president.

What makes Orlando so politically dangerous for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats is that it does not fit their usual explanation for mass shootings.  Unlike Sandy Hook, it is not some deranged killer with easy access to guns; in this case it is a security guard who had a permit to carry a gun and who should have been on the FBI watch lists but apparently wasn’t.

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Who will run the Coastal Commission?

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Why bother having public-facing commissions if they can’t deal with the public?

A century-old hallmark of the Progressive Era, quasi-independent boards and commissions wield broad executive powers implementing and enforcing laws, permitting business operations and land development, and punishing wrongdoers within their jurisdictions. Some of the most powerful in California are the Public Utilities Commission, Air Resources Board and Coastal Commission.

The Progressives believed these public bodies to be a check on the political branches. They achieved this by delegating some legislative power to commissions and other “experts” they thought less susceptible to corruption and more accountable to the public than traditional political institutions.

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Coming Together After Orlando

Reed Galen
Republican political consultant

We live our lives day by day, but we are defined by those moments which we carry with us forever. Whether a wedding, the birth of a child or an historic event, we remember the fluid details and panorama of experiences that we lose in an average Tuesday as soon as its over.

I can remember exactly where I was win the Challenger exploded on liftoff, when the first Gulf War started and a moment by moment mental reel of 9/11. Some of these moments are directly related to us. Others are outside events of which we have no part but leave their indelible mark on our personal timeline and those of everyone around us.

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Proposition 65 at 30—Time for a Different Approach

David Fischer
American Chemistry Council Senior Director

This year is the 30th anniversary of California’s chemical warning law, Proposition 65. To mark the occasion, I published an article in the Journal of Business & Technology Law outlining the law’s biggest flaws—the lack of adequate information provided to consumers through Proposition 65 warnings and the abuse of the law by bounty hunters. My article offers alternative approaches to Proposition 65.

Since its overwhelming passage in 1986, it’s become nearly impossible in California to avoid seeing Proposition 65 warnings. Hotels, restaurants, ballparks, parking garages, office buildings, amusement parks, and pools, along with thousands of consumer products, warn Californians (and many outside California) of possible exposure to carcinogens or reproductive toxins.

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Raising Property Taxes for Parks Raises Questions about Spending

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

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors would like voters to approve higher property taxes to pay for parks.

It’s the latest tax hike proposal to loom over the county of Los Angeles, joining a government wish-list that includes a half-cent increase in the sales tax for transit and an extra half-percent income tax on millionaires to pay for homeless services.

The proposed tax for parks is a parcel tax that would cost property owners 3 to 5 cents per developed square foot, which works out to $45 to 75 per year for a 1,500-square-foot house. The money is needed, the county supervisors say, because of the expiration of two temporary taxes passed in 1992 and 1996.

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Scoring the Primary Results

Darry Sragow
Publisher of the California Target Book and USC professor

Political insiders, like stock market traders, love to ascribe great meaning to events even when often times none exists.

Leading up to election day, it was being reported that California would experience an incredible increase in voter turnout, one of historic proportion, as young voters and voters of color surged to the polls in support of Bernie Sanders or as a response to the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency.

Given the way votes are cast and counted in this state, it will be a while longer before we can draw definitive conclusions about Tuesday’s results.  That said, based on where the vote count stands now it appears that:

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Labor’s Love Lost

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

Election campaigns contain a bit of Shakespearean drama as they deal with many aspects of human nature, but the fractured headline of this piece refers not to Shakespeare’s play but the question labor faces because of an unusual outcome in a Los Angeles County supervisorial race.

In the Fifth Supervisorial District overseen by Republican Michael Antonovich for 36 years, most political experts thought that Antonovich’s successor would be a Republican. Labor agreed and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and public employee unions stacked dollars behind their preferred Republican candidate, Kathryn Barger, Antonovich’s Chief of Staff. So much mail was sent out on behalf of Barger by the unions that she could direct her campaign cash to buying expensive Los Angeles television.

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Thoughts on the Primary Results – the Local Edition

Carson Bruno
Research Fellow, The Hoover Institution

Yesterday, I touched on some initial thoughts on the June 7 California Primary.  Caveats aside that there are still more VBM and provisional ballots yet to be counted, I’d like to examine some local election results.  Local elections often don’t get the coverage they deserve, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

Ballot Measures – Lots of Yes’s

Statewide ballot measures (thanks to well-funded Yes and No campaigns) get a lot of attention, but you’ll be lucky if you receive a mailer for the local measures. This is unfortunate.  As with statewide measures, unless legislative bodies are given the authority within the measure’s language (very rare) they can only be amended or repealed via another ballot measure.  This requires another expensive ballot measure campaign to fix poorly written measures or repeal just plain bad public policy.

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Assessing the Top Two Primary

Eric McGhee
Research Fellow, Public Policy Institute of California

With the voting this week, California has now entered its third election cycle with a “top two” primary. This system marks a radical departure from the “semi-closed” approach in place from 2002 through 2010. Under that system, those voters registered with a party could vote only for candidates of that party. By contrast, the top two gives all voters the same ballot so they can vote for whomever they choose, regardless of party, and the two candidates with the most votes (again regardless of party) advance to the fall.

Among other goals, supporters of the top two hoped that the relatively open nature of the system would encourage more candidates to run and would lead to closer outcomes. There was also a general hope that it would give a leg up to candidates who were not favored by the Democratic and Republican Party establishments. How has the system performed and what do the results indicate?

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