The Big Gamble at the State Capitol Casino

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

Sometimes following action on a bill in the California legislature feels like you are watching a high stakes poker game. This week such a hand was played in which the gambling house (think the ruling majority) risked $269 million hoping to cash in a much larger prize in a few months. But if the gamble fails then the gamers under the dome are busted with nothing for beleaguered budgets.

Senator Pat Bates dealt the hand as she put up SB 1319, a bill to alter the change in ownership provisions which a long-ago legislature passed to implement a section of Proposition 13, the property tax reform law overwhelming passed by voters in 1978.

Bates’ bill would establish new rules to determine when commercial property changes hands. The bill provided that when 90 percent of ownership interest changed hands within a three-year period, a change in ownership of the property is established and the property is reassessed at full market value, increasing property tax revenue for a local county.

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Newsom: Police And Firefighters Will Be Laid Off But We’ll Spend Millions To Enforce AB5

Kerry Jackson
Kerry Jackson is a senior fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is leveraging the state’s $54.3 billion budget deficit. Give us what we want, he demands, or public safety programs will be cut.

At the same time, he wants $20 million to enforce Assembly Bill 5, maybe the most damaging piece of legislation that ever became law in California.

Appearing on CNN, Newsom said that if California doesn’t receive federal aid, “our heroes and first responders, our police officers and firefighters” will be the first to be “laid off by cities and counties.” 

“The true heroes of this pandemic, our health care workers and nurses, those county health systems have been ravaged, their budgets have been devastated and depleted,” he said. 

“They’re the first ones to be laid off.”

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Paying Union Wages Kills Housing Affordability

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

Here’s a shocker for you:  the building trades opposed a housing production bill this session.  In fact, they opposed two production bills.  Mind you, the association representing unionized subcontractors and their employees did this in the middle of a combined job drought and housing crisis – defying reality.  

AB 2580 (Eggman) and AB 3155 (Rivas) are the two bills.  AB 2580 would deliver new housing by repurposing hotels.  AB 3155 would grant certain zoning rules for “lite” housing construction.  Like them or not (and I don’t, for practical and policy reasons), both bills would go some distance to increasing California’s supply of housing while creating hundreds of construction jobs along the way.

The State Construction Building Trades Council (“the Council”) doesn’t like them – either of them.  The Council, which represents virtually all union construction workers, is opposed to the measures because they don’t pay well enough. 

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The Protests: Our takes

Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe
Bill Boyarsky is a former reporter, editor and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, is a retired Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California

Bill and Sherry debate the pace and reality of change demanded by protesters in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police.  They also discuss one of the most significant developments in American politics, the emergence of a strong new generation of African American women mayors. And they look at the controversy over the Los Angeles Police Department budget.

Listen to Inside Golden State Politics here.



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For Californians, It’s All about Covid-19 and the Economy

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

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll clearly shows that Californians are focused on the health threat of Covid-19 and its obvious destructive effects on jobs and the economy.

Likely voters ranked the Covid-19 issue as the most important issue facing the state at 35%; jobs and the economy was second at 25% and nothing else hit double figures. Health care concerns scored 5%, the state budget was considered the most important issue by 3% while schools were at 1%.

The one-two punch of coronavirus and the economy was across the board with Democrats, Republicans and Independents all ranking the issue first and second, respectively. Interestingly, in the populous Los Angeles region, likely voters picked jobs and the economy first at 33% ahead of Covid-19 at 29%, even though Los Angeles is the state hotspot for coronavirus. Fifty-eight percent of Californians were either very concerned or somewhat concerned that they would end up in a hospital because of Covid-19.

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Is Employer Liability Relief Possible in this Pandemic?

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

At both the federal and state levels, elected officials are considering proposals to relieve businesses of possible legal liability in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it applies to their workplaces. California is unique because state law allows private litigants to enforce state labor laws and collect legal fees and expenses.

Enacted in 2003, California’s Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), also known as the “Sue Your Boss” law, is well known in the state’s business community for permitting excessive litigation over often technical violations of the law. In fact, the use of PAGA has become so prevalent as a litigation leverage tool that it is being used in a manner that is reminiscent of the abusive lawsuits filed under B&P Code Section 17200 and the ADA.

To make matters worse, PAGA has not served its purpose of supplementing funding for the Labor Commissioner in the way it was promised by the law’s proponents. Essentially, PAGA authorizes an aggrieved employee to bring a civil action to recover specified civil penalties that would otherwise be assessed and collected by the Labor & Workforce Development Agency. These representative actions are brought on behalf of the employee and other current or former employees for the violation of almost any provision of California’s extensive Labor Code.

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Newsom’s Tyranny of Numbers

Raul Riesgo
Public relations expert featured on Spanish language news outlets Telemundo and Mundo Fox News discussing both political and Latino community issues. He has also been a news reporter for two Los Angeles area newspapers.

As the California State Legislature enters the final two weeks of getting their 2020-21 budget to Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature, there is still some confusion as to the size of the financial hole Californians are current under. Is it $18 billion or $54.4 billion? And why the large disparity in numbers?

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s State Deficit Numbers (May 7, 2020):

Gov. Newsom stated this past week that his administration was projecting a $54.3 billion deficit that will reverberate through the next few fiscal years.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the state anticipated a $6 billion surplus and projected a $21 billion “rainy day” fund.

California Legislative Analyst’s Office State Deficit Numbers (May 8, 2020):

The LAO projects a deficit of $20 to $31 billion—the actual amount will depend on how quickly the state can reopen and the economy can begin to recover. 

Why the Huge Difference in Numbers?

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Is now the time to bring back affirmative action in California?

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

Depending on your viewpoint, now is either exactly the right time or precisely the wrong time to take up a proposed change to the state constitution that seems certain to reignite a heated debate about race and justice in California.

At issue: a measure pending in the Legislature that seeks to reinstate affirmative action policies jettisoned by California voters two decades ago.

For supporters, events of the past week— city streets across the country filled with peaceful protesters and then scattered window smashing, thefts from store shelves and a few incidents of violence — show just how necessary it is to aggressively advance racial equity by fiat. 

Recent headlines “are forcing us to recognize that we are not beyond race as a country or as a state,” said Audrey Dow, vice president of The Campaign for College Opportunity, a Los Angeles nonprofit that advocates for more expansive access to higher education in California. “We have not achieved the nirvana of being color blind. Race matters.”

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A Dangerous Second Mulholland Moment to Create Freshwater for LA

Richard Cathcart
Head of Research & Development, GEOGRAPHOS, Burbank, specializes in descriptive, sometimes prescriptive, geographical write-ups related to mega-projects worldwide.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has a water-supply plan for fresh water that would endanger city growth and city residents while risking man-made seismic activity in the San Fernando Valley.

Some Angelenos may recall videos of Mayor Garcetti enthusiastically dumping a few of the 96 million bobbing black “shade balls” deployed August 2015 at a Sylmar-sited Los Angeles freshwater reservoir. Allegedly, the “shade balls” were placed to reduce freshwater evaporation and prevent harmful algal blooms in the reservoir because scientists had previously determined the monolayer of floating plastic balls incorporated more manufactured freshwater than the reservoir freshwater saved during two years evaporation reduction! 

That theatrical Great California drought “quick fix” moment was followed by the mayor’s endorsement of a new freshwater plan supported by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Garcetti called the “Second Mulholland Moment.” 

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Beware the Temporary Tax Fix

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

During these difficult times, with politicians scrambling for answers to the economic woes brought on by the pandemic, expect to hear about temporary solutions to address problems often in the form of a tax increase. If history teaches anything, temporary government solutions often become permanent.

We already have one temporary tax proposed, AB 398, “The COVID-19 Local Government and School Recovery and Relief Act,” to deal with the budget shortfalls. Assemblyman Kansen Chu has proposed a $275 per employee tax on businesses with more than 500 employees. The tax is supposed to run for five years. 

There is plenty wrong with this proposal especially with businesses struggling to survive an economic collapse. If nothing else, it is sure to cost jobs when businesses attempt to get under the 500-employee standard. But, does anyone think if this tax is implemented it would go away in five years? 

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