Facing Fire Danger; Moving Toward Solutions

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

With newspapers from California to Texas to the nation’s capital running stories over the weekend that Californians are thinking of leaving the state, there could be a plus if they actually do go – reducing the population to reduce fire danger.

Many reasons have been put forward on why California is suffering from devastating fires, and that includes excess population. Not only has increased growth pushed needed housing development into fire danger zones, but the heat built up to add to the state’s combustible condition is not only weather related. Climatologist Bill Patzert, formerly of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times, “We’ve created this essentially 20-million-person megalopolis (in Southern California) which creates its own heat, especially in summertime.” He said average temperatures are eight to nine degrees higher than in the early 20th century.   

It might seem strange to consider population reduction as a good thing, especially since California often hails it growth, size and influence. When California passed New York to become the most populous state in the nation, Governor Pat Brown called for a statewide celebration.

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Newsom vows to fast track toward Germany’s failed climate goals

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

Governor Newsom announced on Friday September 11th  that he is about to take one giant step toward following Germany’s failed climate goals which should be a wake-up all for governments everywhere.  Like Germany, California’s renewables are becoming an increasing share in intermittent electricity generation, but at a HIGH COST.  Power prices in Germany are among the highest in Europe. 

California’s high cost of electricity is already fifty percent higher than the national average for residents, and double the national averages for commercial, and are projected to go even higher. The inability to replace the closure of continuously uninterruptable electricity from nuclear and natural gas power plants with intermittent electricity from renewables of industrial wind and solar is causing the state to import more and more of its electricity.

California is proud of being the only state in America that imports more electricity than any other state, now at 32 percent. With the state having no plans to replace the capacity of the recent three natural gas power plants that were shuttered in 2018 and the upcoming five power plant closures (four natural gas and one nuclear) with in-state intermittent electricity from wind and solar, California will need to increase its imports of high-priced electricity from the Northwest and Southwest to fill the void,  and let residents and businesses pay the premium. 

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Prop. 15 Empowers Big Business, Destroys Small Business

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is a co-founder and senior fellow at the California Policy Center

California’s state and local governments, and the public sector unions that exercise nearly absolute control over the politicians who supposedly oversee them, have always had an insatiable desire for higher taxes. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has added even more urgency to their insatiable quest for more money from taxpayers, but through the years their basic game plan and goals have been remarkably consistent.

For example, the so-called “Split Roll” property tax increase which has finally made it onto the November 2020 state ballot in the form of Prop. 15, is something that has been proposed for years by California’s government unions and their supporters. This new tax is designed to undermine the historic 1978 Prop. 13, which limits property reassessments to when there is a change in ownership, and from that baseline keeps increases to maximum of two percent per year. Prop. 13 also freezes the property tax rate at one percent, although countless local “fees” have elevated the actual amount owners have to pay.

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Balancing California’s Budget Should Start With Rescinding Tax Breaks That Have Not Created Promised Jobs

Robert B. Engel
Robert B. Engel is the chief spokesperson for the Free & Fair Markets Initiative.

As California continues to confront an economic challenge without modern precedent, lawmakers have the near-impossible task of balancing the budget. They should start by revisiting lucrative tax breaks tied to job creation that have potentially failed to live up to their promise. Deals that have, in fact, fallen short should be immediately rescinded, providing much-needed revenue for the state and putting California back on the path to economic recovery.  

With both a significant decline in revenues and a rapid rise in unemployment, California budget shortfalls are expected to reach $9.7 billion by year’s end as states nationwide grapple with lasting damage that experts estimate could top $555 billion. With the clock ticking on how the state will balance its budgets in the years to come, lawmakers must urgently explore realistic and prudent possibilities for ensuring financial solvency by any means.

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Remembering those who lost their lives on September 11th.

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors
 

The Fox and Hounds Daily Editors ask you to join them in remembering all those who lost their lives on September 11th.

September 11th honors the memory of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Each year, in the United States the day is dedicated to remembering those who died as well as those who risked their own lives to save others.

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More Local Tax Initiatives on the Horizon

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

Many government officials have detested the initiative process, but maybe a non-action by the California Supreme Court will change that attitude. The Court decided not to take up a case challenging a tax increase for a specific purpose that garnered a majority vote but not the two-thirds that was thought to be required for earmarked taxes. A lower court declared the two-thirds requirement only applies to local governments raising taxes. If the tax increase comes via direct democracy, then the restriction doesn’t apply.

By the Supreme Court refusing to take up a challenge to the lower court ruling, for now the door has been opened for initiative generated earmarked special taxes to be passed with a majority vote. In this instance, the City of San Francisco raised gross receipts taxes on certain businesses to fund homeless services.

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Would The End of Trump Mean the End of Newsom?

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 defeat of Donald Trump would be a victory for the country, for democracy, and for the many victims of his presidency.

But it could be a disaster for Gavin Newsom. 

President Trump has long offered a perverse sort of protection for Newsom, and other prominent Democrats in our state. Californians, especially Democratic Californians, might be furious with what they were getting from California’s leading Democrats. They might be wondering why huge Democratic supermajorities weren’t translating into more and better education, health care and other vital services. They might wonder why the state’s rules couldn’t move more quickly to build housing, especially with money set aside for housing homeless people.

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Environmentalists Destroyed California’s Forests

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is a co-founder and senior fellow at the California Policy Center

Millions of acres of California forest have been blackened by wildfires this summer, leading to the usual angry denunciations from the usual quarters about climate change. But in 1999, the Associated Press reported that forestry experts had long agreed that “clearing undergrowth would save trees,” and that “years of aggressive firefighting have allowed brush to flourish that would have been cleared away by wildfires.” But very little was done. And now fires of unprecedented size are raging across the Western United States.

“Sen. Feinstein blames Sierra Club for blocking wildfire bill,” reads the provocative headline on a 2002 story in California’s Napa Valley Register. Feinstein had brokered a congressional consensus on legislation to thin “overstocked” forests close to homes and communities, but could not overcome the environmental lobby’s disagreement over expediting the permit process to thin forests everywhere else.

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Counting the Vote in CA and More Trump Books

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

What’s the impact of all the Trump books?  We examine whether anyone other than politics addicts care when so many Americans are busy worrying about the pandemic.  We also look at how Joe Biden is handling his media face off against Donald Trump,  Most important, there’s growing concern over counting the vote. In California, extensive preparations didn’t  prevent long lines in the primary election, especially in populous Los Angeles County.  Can election officials do better in November?

Inside Golden State Politics podcast is here.

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An Unexpected Last Minute Legislative Boost for Small Business

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

Talk to business leaders who dealt with the legislature over the past few months and they often expressed frustration that the legislature, while understandably focusing on employee concerns, were giving businesses short shrift. But at the last minute, a gut-and-amend bill did move ahead to give small businesses a boost to help them rebound from the disastrous business collapse. 

SB 1447, authored by Senator Steve Bradford, created a $100 million tax credit for small businesses to rehire and hire workers through November 30 at a $1,000 credit per worker. 

There are qualifying parameters for small businesses to claim the credit including documenting a loss of 50% of its revenue over the last year. The maximum a small business can claim is $100,000 and it can use the credits over the next five years. Gov. Newsom signed the bill. 

California’s small businesses were devasted by the business lockdown. Unemployment in the state shot up to over 16%. SB 1447 is intended as an incentive to bring workers back on the jobs at a time that is uncertain how robustly the economy will come back. In a sense, the incentive is based on a supply side concept of a tax cut in the form of a tax credit to expand small businesses by adding employees to improve services and generate increased business. 

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