A Lesson in Real World Politics

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

I guess I have to thank Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his office for providing a great example to support a lesson I teach my public policy classes—you must understand and deal with the politics surrounding any attempted policy change. In the case of the new title affixed to the recently filed split roll tax increase initiative, politics was in the mix to help the special interests and public unions advocating for the measure to get a step ahead.

The title placed on the new split roll initiative to raise property taxes on commercial property begins with the statement that “increased funding will go to schools, community colleges and local government services.” In a nearly identical split roll measure that already qualified for the ballot, and presumably would be replaced if the new one by the same advocates qualifies for the November 2020 ballot, the Attorney General’s title started with the fact that taxes would be raised. In other words, with the change, funding dominates the title instead of taxes. A big difference.

Take a look:

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What Brown Vetoed, but Newsom Signed (or Vetoed as well)

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

Now that the 2019 Legislative Session has concluded, many Capitol observers have inquired whether bills that had been vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown over the past few years saw success under Governor Gavin Newsom. Or whether bills that Brown had vetoed were also vetoed by our new governor.

With the help of all the Assembly and Senate policy committee consultants, as well as the Assembly and Senate Republican Caucus consultants, our collective research found 66 bills (45 ABs and 21 SBs) that Governor Newsom signed after Governor Brown had vetoed earlier versions, while 22 bills (15 ABs and 7 SBs) were vetoed by both governors.

The following chart sets forth the bills that we have found, with the double-vetoes in italics (if there are any bills missing, please let me know so that the chart can be updated):

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Fresno’s Ag Leadership Is a Reminder of Poverty

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)

Fresno County recently touted its agricultural leadership. New numbers show that in 2018, Fresno County led the nation in agricultural production, narrowly defeating Kern County (Tulare County wasn’t far behind).

But it’s a distinction that may not be worth celebrating.

Why? Because agriculture is closely associated with poverty. The tallies in the national survey of agricultural production show the problem.

Agriculture takes up a lot of space, and it’s vital to people and the planet. It’s a big business in California, which grows 2/3 of America’s fruits and nuts, and more than 1/3 of its vegetables.

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With Smart Policies, Elimination of Hepatitis C Within Reach for California

Jason Sterne, Lauren Canary, and Brian Kennedy
Jason Sterne is the Chief Operating Officer of the Hepatitis Education Project, Lauren Canary is the Director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, and Brian Kennedy is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Patient Access.

Advances in treatment and competition among manufacturers that has resulted in lower costs have brought a once-unthinkable goal into focus in California – effectively eliminating the hepatitis c virus (HCV) in the Golden State. However, a current Medi-Cal policy is impacting patient access to HCV cures and could be driving up the costs to the state.

An estimated 629,000 Californians are living with HCV today, the deadliest infectious disease in the United States. Unlike other major diseases that are in decline, new infections rates of HCV are actually increasing. In the last several years alone, hepatitis C diagnoses have more than doubled among young adults in California. The health effects associated with HCV are serious and can be deadly for individuals who go untreated. Fortunately, California acted swiftly to address this health crisis, including to reduce restrictions that used to prevent Medi-Cal patients from receiving treatment.

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People Don’t Want a Sales Tax on Services

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

As the 2020 election nears, Californians are bracing for an onslaught of local and state tax increase proposals on everything from property to soda. Proponents are already selling these taxes as though they are the missing piece in the California Dream, while conveniently ignoring the people who are going to pay more: taxpayers, consumers and small businesses. 

As part of this mix, Senator Bob Hertzberg is again advocating for adding sales tax to services, a fatally flawed fiscal policy that creates several harmful economic consequences for California. The fairy tale he is selling is that taxing services will reduce California’s notorious budget volatility and that the $11 billion a year in new taxes will somehow help the average California family.

The facts say otherwise, says a new group formed to educate policymakers and Californians about the extent of harmful impacts that result from a sales tax on business services. According to the California Tax & Budget Research Project (CTBRP), a new sales tax on services will not fix California’s budget volatility, no matter how the tax is structured.  

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Would California Politics Be Better Off If Real Punches Were Thrown?

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)

American politics are pugilistic in the metaphorical sense. Actually throwing a punch and hitting someone is still rare.

Taiwan is a different story. Throwing punches in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan is a longstanding tradition. It’s also part of the political culture at the local level.

As I arrived in the country to serve as co-president of the 2019 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, an international conference on initiative and referendum and similar tools, the news in the papers was about a fistfight in the city council in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

It started when opposition party members attempted to hand a mock resignation letter to Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, the KMT party’s nominee for Taiwan president in January’s coming elections. The suggestion was that he was to buy campaigning to serve as mayor. Soon fists flew.

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California’s Man-Made Power Outages

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

Californians are mired in a conundrum of conflicting goals to accommodate its growing population, its growing number of registered vehicles, the need for more housing to accommodate its growth, and the unrestricted growth of its forests where much of the housing is encroaching.

The public has strongly supported Obama-era regulations, which were a major rewrite of the country’s forest rules and guidelines. Those rewrites introduced excessive layers of bureaucracy that blocked proper forest management and increased environmentalist litigation and costs—a result of far too many radical environmentalists, bureaucrats, Leftist politicians and judicial activists.

Rather than allow utilities to have right of way control for their grid into the forests, the public has also allowed so-called environmentalists who have a very narrow view of nature, who don’t understand that without proper land management, which means an appreciable amount of logging, they are hurting wildlife and the long-term health of the forest as well as endangering human lives. 

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Fact check: Do Californians really cool on ballot measures as the election approaches?

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

In 2020, California voters will be asked to weigh in on some of the most contentious and consequential issues facing the state — criminal justice reform, rent control, school construction funding and inequality. For those hoping to make sense of the deluge of political polls and they’re likely to see over the next year, consider this a handy user guide.

A new CalMatters analysis of survey data from the Public Policy Institute of California found, if history is a guide, that voters and other poll watchers can expect a few things.

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Is it Time for a Homelessness Czar?

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

The recent PPIC poll lists homelessness as the number one concern among Californians. No surprise, frustration dealing with the problem is growing not only for those who suffer homelessness but also for residents and business owners who are unhappy about the growing problem in their neighborhoods.

Government has responded with money both on the state and local levels but the process is moving at a slow bureaucratic pace and when something is done to help alleviate the problem it turns out to be extremely costly.

The latest audit by Ron Galperin, the Los Angeles City controller, revealed affordable housing built on taxpayer dollars is costing about $600,000 a unit. You can buy a home in parts of Los Angeles County for that kind of money.

Galperin also complained about the slowness of the building projects. Taxpayers approved new funds through a bond for the homeless three years ago yet not one unit of homeless housing has been completed.

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Does Homelessness Require a Special Court?

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)

Once in a while, a ballot initiative suggests a new idea. Former Assemblymember Mike Gatto, an L.A. Democrat, has come up with one.

He has filed an initiative that seeks a middle way to dealing with homeless—by creating a special court.

Gatto’s argument is that our current homelessness policy is at once too tough and not tough enough. He feels that not enough assistance is given to homeless people. At the same time, the state and localities aren’t being tough enough in preventing the public health and nuisances—like defecation on the street—that are the product of homelessness.

The court, as Gatto proposes, is to address both problems. The idea is that homeless people could be taken to court for things like defecation or public drug use. But in this special court, the response to such offenses would be to force the homeless into plans that would involve getting them attention (to figure out the reason for their behavior) and then help for what ails them—be it economic, psychological, or chemical. If people complete the plan, their record would be expunged.

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