The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Court of Appeal
victory yesterday says the legislature cannot dictate the ballot label, title
and official summary. The legislature did just that for the High Speed Rail
bonds that narrowly passed in 2008.

HJTA president, Jon Coupal, said in a release, "the Court’s ruling is a stinging rebuke of the
California Legislature for manipulating voters by substituting the proponent’s
advocacy for what is supposed to be a neutral summary by an impartial third

While the decision is a victory
for California voters, the ruling begs the question about the partisan office
of Attorney General being an impartial third party. The AG is assigned the task
of writing the impartial ballot label, title and summary. Over the years,
attorney generals from both parties have been accused of political maneuvering
in drawing up ballot information.

Perhaps it is time to turn the
task of writing impartial ballot titles and summaries over to a non-partisan outfit
like the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The court’s decision can be
found here



Jerry Brown must have liked the headlines generated from the
PPIC poll that people support his special election idea, but an old pro like
Brown can delve into the actual poll numbers and see that his proposal is in
for a dogfight.

While headlines emphasized support for Brown’s special
election, not many reported that the PPIC poll showed large support for a
spending limit (71%) and a rainy day fund (73%).

Remember that the Rainy Day fund measure that Governor
Schwarzenegger insisted be part of the most recent budget package was
designated for the June 2012 ballot. Could big support for a spending
limitation convince the governor and legislature to move the measure up to the
2011 special election as part of a deal to get the votes for a tax extension?



When President Obama said in his State of the Union address,
"In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge,
consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves
the goal of a more competitive America" — did anyone else think of the term: Blow up the Boxes?

This was right after the president declared that there are
12 different agencies that deal with exports and five agencies that deal with
housing policy and those slippery salmon: "The Interior Department is in charge
of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles
them when they’re in saltwater.  I hear it gets even more complicated once
they’re smoked," said the president to much laughter.

I may not be impartial, but I like the idea of blowing up
the boxes in Washington and in California, as well. Still hanging on to that

I also liked the idea of congress members from different
parties sitting together for the president’s speech. Frankly, I found the
cheerleading that went on from one side or the other over the years
embarrassing for a supposedly dignified body.



Regulation reform hit the big time with the president
talking about the need to free business from unnecessary regulation, the Little
Hoover Commission taking up the issue of regulation, and no less than three
columns on the issue in Fox and Hounds Daily over the last few days.

But perhaps the biggest stone on the scale was Senate Pro
Tem Darrell Steinberg’s acknowledgement that we can’t let regulatory problems
chain the horses of entrepreneurship. There is a change in the wind and
Steinberg is in great position to lead that change.



China is introducing property tax in two cities on a trial
basis, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The goal of the tax is to help push down property prices. According to the
Journal, "China introduced a series of measures last year to rein in property
price rises, including limiting home purchases, raising down-payment
requirements and twice raising interest rates. Analysts say a real-estate tax
could help stabilize the market."

The experiment with property taxes includes a progressive
tax in Chongqing and a flat tax in Shanghai.

Initially, the tax revenue will be used for public housing,
but once officials get a taste of that tax revenue will the rates and goals for
the property tax change? I’m willing to bet on it – and maybe a Prop 13 for
China is not far behind.