Head Scratchers in the State Political Scene

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

Suspicious or odd reasoning is behind some political moves that came out of three news items over the last week.

The first deals with the cap-and-trade bill and its influence on consumer gas prices. The second involves a minimum wage study in the City of Los Angeles. The third, a demand from a consumer group for a state senator to reveal his legal clients.

Cap-and-Trade and Gas Prices

In the first reported instance, a majority of state senators wrote to Attorney General Kamala Harris asking that her office watch that gas prices are not increased under the cap-and-trade law in an attempt to undermine the law.

According to the report, the letter spoke of unjustified increases in gas prices. However, the cap-and-trade law causing a boost in gas prices would be justified and would reflect a market reality. Perhaps, the senators believe under the guise of cap-and-trade inspired increases, oil companies will try to boost gasoline cost even higher. If boosting the cost of gasoline is the oil companies’ game, they have been doing a miserable job of it lately since costs have been plummeting.

Wouldn’t you think that the senators want the prices to increase so less gasoline would be used? Isn’t that the goal of the cap-and-trade supporters? Confusing.

Minimum Wage Study

In Los Angeles, the city ordered a study on minimum wage effects from the same organization that had done a previous study for the mayor on his minimum wage increase plan and basically praised his proposal. UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment said that Mayor Eric Garcetti’s minimum wage proposal would have little effect on overall employment. When some in the council asked for another review of minimum wage effects the same UC Berkeley Institute was selected for the job.

Any chance the institute’s professors will criticize their own work?

It may matter little because on this issue the council has a history of ignoring what it doesn’t want to hear. When a hotel workers’ minimum wage plan was on the table the council requested a study from Beacon Economics. When the Beacon report advised negative consequences could result with that proposal the council just brushed it aside.

Who’s Representing Whom

Finally, it was reported yesterday that Consumer Watchdog asked Senator Bob Hertzberg to reveal clients he represents in his law firm to see if there is a conflict of interest involving those clients as Hertzberg attempts to reform the state tax system.

Fair enough. But what makes this request odd is that over the years Consumer Watchdog often has been asked who funds its organization and no list of supporters has been produced.

Particular to this situation, Hertzberg is looking at a service tax that would hit consumer attorneys. Consumer attorneys are said to be major backers of the Consumer Watchdog group. Is this effort an attempt to undercut the Hertzberg plan to keep service taxes away from attorney services?

Follow Joel Fox on Twitter @1JoelFox1

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