Magna Carta vs. Cap and Trade

Harold Johnson
Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation

Cue the candles and cake: One of the great documents of liberty hits the big Eight-0-0 this year.

Eight centuries ago, at Runnymede, England’s barons forced a resentful King John to accept landmark limits on royal power.

Magna Carta – the “Great Charter” – set precedents that undergird our freedoms to this day: protections for property rights; guarantees of trial by jury; and safeguards against taxation without representation.

June 15 is the official anniversary.  Commemorations are scheduled all year, worldwide.

Read comments Read more

The Economics of Plastic Bags: Too Late for California to Hop Off the Ban-Wagon?

Justin Adams
President and Chief Economist of Encina Advisors, LLC

In late February we learned that opponents of SB 270 (Padillia), the ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores, gathered enough signatures to qualify a referendum on the law. This means that SB 270’s scheduled July 1 start date will be put on hold. And it means that California voters will determine the law’s ultimate fate in November 2016.

November 2016 is a long way off, so we will have plenty of time before then to discuss the specifics of SB 270 and their pros and cons. In the meantime, whether you support SB 270 because it would harmonize law in state with roughly 140 existing local bag bans, or whether you oppose SB 270 because it would destroy more jobs in an already job-averse state, we should all be able to agree on one thing:

Read comments Read more

CA Jobs are Booming, But What Kind of Jobs?

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

First the good news on the job front: California is leading the nation in job creation. Job growth in the Golden State last year increased by 3.1% while job growth in the rest of the nation settled in at 2.3%. And with 67,300 new jobs created in January alone, the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.9% from 7.1%, the lowest in nearly seven years, although still higher than the national unemployment figure of 5.5%. Still, the January California job gains made up 28% of all jobs created in the entire nation.

Yet, wage growth is not keeping pace, especially in populous Los Angeles County. Low paying jobs make up a large share of the job increase in the county and elsewhere.

Read comments Read more

Brown Plan May Cut State Retiree Health Payment

Publisher, CalPensions.com

Something that rarely happens in California could result from Gov. Brown’s proposal to contain growing state worker retiree health care costs — benefits received by current government retirees might be reduced.

Part of the governor’s proposal allows state workers to choose a new low-cost health plan, increasing take-home pay. If enough choose the new option, the average cost of four health plans used to set retiree health care insurance payments would be lowered.

How many would choose the option is unknown. But the low-cost plan may have the potential to soon slow some of the rapid growth in health care costs, unlike other parts of the proposal that have delayed impact and require bargaining with labor unions.

Read comments Read more

Split Roll Debate Continues

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

While supporters of changing Proposition 13 to increase taxes on commercial property usually focus on raising the tax rate or frequently reassessing property, UCLA Law School professor Kirk Stark has a different idea – broaden the base of business property taxes by reassessing more often but at the same time lower tax rates on property and other business taxes. Stark made the proposal yesterday in Los Angeles at a panel discussion on the split roll that also featured Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Gina Rodriquez, Vice-President of the California Taxpayers Association. The event was sponsored by the Bisnow website, which covers people and projects in the commercial real estate business.

Stark suggested reassessing property on a regularly scheduled basis but lowering the 1% tax rate, eliminating property taxes on business equipment and reducing other business taxes. Stark said his goal was to harness the impulse to tweak Proposition 13 and gain sound tax policy rather than ratchet up the tax burden.

Read comments Read more

One More John Mockler Lesson for the Road

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 obituaries for John Mockler are focusing on his role in crafting California’s school funding guarantee, Prop 98, and the funding regime around it. That made sense—Prop 98 had a huge impact, and his command of the complicated measure was so great that I once suggested in print that California needed a constitutional amendment requiring Mockler to live forever. If only such a thing could be legislated.

But the focus on Mockler’s finance work, and on his public service and political work, shouldn’t distract us from recognizing the breadth of his commitment to California kids and schools. He thought about far more than funding. He was deeply grounded in the realities of kids – how they learn and how schools affect their educations and their lives.

Read comments Read more

New State Report Busts Proposition 63

Lloyd Billingsley
Policy Fellow with the Independent Institute (Independent.org) based in Oakland, CA

Promises Still to Keep: A Decade of the Mental Health Services Act, a new report by the Little Hoover Commission, notes that Proposition 63 raised a whopping $13.2 billion. But according to the report, the state is unable to document whether the $13.2 billion fulfilled any of the Act’s proclaimed intentions.

According to sponsor Senator Darrell Steinberg and other backers, the Mental Health Services Act would keep people off the street, out of the hospital, out of jail, and even help people “make the move from tax user to taxpayer.” But as Little Hoover Commission chairman Pedro Nava explained, it is “difficult, if not impossible, to analyze the measure’s effect.” This is not a new revelation.

Read comments Read more

Federal Bill To Curb Shakedown Ada Lawsuits Introduced

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

There has been a lot of focus on what will California do this year to stop the shakedown lawsuits associated with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Many bipartisan bills have been introduced at the state level (including AB 52, AB 54 and SB 67), but to solve the problem we also need the federal government to take steps to stop these shakedown artists.

Well, there’s good news on that front. Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50) have re-introduced the ACCESS (ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services) Act – . This legislation is designed to help small businesses comply with the ADA, and stop the abusive ADA lawsuits that have hurt so many businesses in California.

Read comments Read more

Don’t Tax Independent Expenditures, Eliminate Candidate Donor Limits

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

The bill authored by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) to tax independent expenditure campaign spending has a point, although the measure itself is likely to find resistance in both the halls of the legislature and in the courts. Levine’s goal is to see campaigns conducted by candidates who would be accountable for the political messages delivered during a campaign.

With independent expenditures, which legally cannot consult or inform a candidate’s campaign of its activity, messages sent out on behalf of a candidate may not represent the candidate’s view, or his or her opinion of an opponent. Yet, the candidate often has to answer for this unsolicited “help.”

Read comments Read more

Antonio Villaraigosa is Quintessential California

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 shouldn’t matter much to Californians whether Antonio Villaraigosa gets to be a U.S. senator or governor someday. We have no shortage of ambitious politicians, after all. But what should matter to us is whether Antonio Villaraigosa gets to be Antonio Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa didn’t get that opportunity over the past six weeks as he pondered, and ultimately decided against, a campaign for the U.S. Senate. Instead, in the media coverage and public discussion of the political drama, he was portrayed as one thing above all: the Latino candidate.

Read comments Read more

Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.