GOP “Party of Yes” as Compromise Water Bond Heads for the Ballot

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

Lots of pats-on-the-back for legislators and the governor as they reached an agreement to put a $7.5 billion water bond on November’s ballot. One thing that should be noted, when Republican votes were needed to achieve a two-thirds support necessary to pass the bond, they did not respond as painted by many, particularly in the media, as the “Party of No.”

Republicans offered an appealing alternative to the $11 billion bond already qualified for the ballot. The GOP version was $8.7 billion and contained the $3 billion Republicans desired for building dams for water storage. They didn’t get that in the end – but they did get a 35% boost to the water storage portion of the bond from $2 billion to $2.7 billion.

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Big Victory Against Excessive Privacy Litigation

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

I’ve often said that the next tsunami of litigation will be in the area of privacy. There is always talk about a privacy initiative and there are normally numerous bills in the state legislature dealing with the issue. So I was happily surprised when I read that a state appellate court ordered the dismissal of a privacy lawsuit that could have cost Sutter Health more than $4 billion dollars.

The privacy suit stemmed from a break-in on October 15,2011. During the break-in, a computer was stolen that had  the records of more than 4 million patients stored on the hard drive in a password protected but unencrypted format.

Once they found out the information was stolen, individual patients began filing lawsuits alleging a violation of California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. Those individual suits became coordinated and a master complaint or class action was proposed. The complaint sought $1,000 compensation for each patient, according to the statute, and the potential award could have totaled more than $4 billion.

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Checking Out of the Hotel California…Teachers Association

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

A new document shows that CTA is resigned to the fact that membership in its union will ultimately become voluntary.

Courtesy of Mike Antonucci we get to peek behind the curtain at an internal California Teachers Association document which has been “declassified.” “Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share …” is a 23-page pdf in which the largest state teachers union in the country envisions the future.

The communiqué  starts off with basic demographic data, then launches into a history of “fair share” – the union’s right to collect dues from every public school teacher in the state whether or not they join the union. In other words, “fair share” is really “forced share.”

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Water Bond Beats Towing Icebergs

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

By the end of the day we should know how California’s governor and legislators decided to deal with the state’s suffocating drought. The choices range from keeping the expensive $11 billion water bond already qualified for the ballot; substituting the $7 billion bond fashioned by the governor and Democratic legislators; adding or subtracting to that bond proposal depending if proponents want to secure Republican votes for more water storage or reduce funds for ecosystem restoration in the Delta which suspicious environmentalists think is a prelude for readying the Delta for the governor’s twin tunnel plan of water transfer from north to south; or doing nothing—removing the big bond but leaving nothing in its place.

Here’s betting something will be done. Not responding to the severe drought will give the lawmakers and the governing process a black eye. Adding a little more to the storage piece while assuring environmentalists that the tunnel debate will occur at another time and place likely would be the compromise to get a new, slimmed down bond on the ballot.

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Dunn & Done: A New School Construction Bond Preserves The American Dream For Californians

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

The American Dream is unique for each one of us, but without a doubt, it includes a safe school for our children and a home of our own. Yet both these fundamental components for thriving California families and economic prosperity are once again at risk.

On September 1, California “runs out” of funds to update old schools and construct new schools. Previous school bond funds—approved by the state’s voters—have been depleted due to an enormous list of needs for safe, clean, modern facilities for our children in the nation’s most populous state.

Some California leaders have crafted a new measure to put before voters—AB 2235—a proposed $4.5 billion school bond that would reauthorize previous expired school construction laws, requiring state funds be matched with local funds—so everyone has “skin” in the game to make our schools the best they can be. This law has a good past track record of success keeping school facilities up to standard, building new schools to meet capacity and updating with new technological advances. Excellent schools contribute in significant ways to excellent education and, ultimately, well-employed children prepared to serve and compete in a global economy.

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Potholes or Pensions: A Fundamental Question

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Two weeks ago the headlines in Los Angeles included a Department of Water & Power water line failure in West L.A. and a ruling by the Employee Relations Board to overturn the creation of a new pension tier for future city employees. The juxtaposition of these two stories points out the tug of war taking place in the City of Los Angeles today. With our limited tax dollars, do we prioritize salaries and pensions or maintenance and services?

Although some may wish to ignore this fact, the financial resources in government coffers are finite. Every dollar spent on pensions for retirees is a dollar that is not spent on streets, water and sewer line maintenance, sidewalks, parks, tree trimming, police services, fire services and the other public service that matter to each of us daily.

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To Be Well-Informed, Ignore Political Ads

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Ah, August.  For so many, that means vacation when normally hard working Californians will be visiting theme parks, going camping or maybe just relaxing in the back yard.  But this is also an election year and the next three quiet weeks are the calm before the storm of political ads that will be unleashed after Labor Day.

There will be campaigns for statewide offices, Legislative seats, state ballot propositions as well as hundreds of local offices.  Mail boxes will be stuffed with “information” on candidates and issues. Television and radio will be dominated with pleas for this “good” candidate and with frightening warnings that their opponent is a malefactor who kicks puppies, or that the passage or rejection of a particular ballot measure will result in orphans going hungry. 

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Manipulating the Ballot

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

The California Supreme Court’s decision to hold off ruling on an advisory measure that called for overturning the United States Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision on campaign finance stalled a bad habit the legislative majority has engaged in to manipulate the ballot for political purposes.

Although the legislature already passed a resolution supporting a constitutional convention to overturn Citizen’s United, the majority Democrats took the additional step to place an advisory measure on the November ballot, it was argued, for the voters to express their opinion on overturning Citizen’s United. Many commentators saw another objective:Increase Democratic voter turnout in an election in which many expect a small number of voters to participate.

The court’s action will keep the measure off the November ballot.

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Study Documents Higher Costs of Doing Business in California

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

California businesses on average have 19 percent higher operating costs per job than businesses in the rest of the country, according to a study released by the California Foundation for Commerce and Education. Business operating costs in California are on average 16% higher than for firms in large industrial states, and are 10% higher than the average of Western states.

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SB 270 is Irresponsible and Misleading Public Policy

Cathy Browne
General Manager of Crown Poly in Huntington Park, California

While SB 270 (Padilla) supporters continue to champion this terrible bill, the fact of the matter is that it is nothing more than a billion dollar handout to the California Grocers Association (CGA) and its members. If implemented, SB 270, which proposes to ban California-made plastic retail bags and hit consumers with big fees on other bags, would hurt the environment, kill California manufacturing jobs and cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

First, in terms of its credibility as an “environmental bill,” SB 270 fails miserably on all fronts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that plastic bags make up less than one half of one percent of the nation’s municipal solid waste stream. And numerous litter studies have shown that plastic bags tend to comprise less than 1% of all litter collected. Additionally, although SB 270 supporters would like you to think this, the 100% recyclable plastic bags we produce are anything but “single use.” In fact, nine out of ten Americans use them again and again as garbage liners, for pet waste, storage and packing.

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