The Coming Battle Over Affirmative Action

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

California will have another battle over “affirmative action” this fall when the legislature puts a measure on the ballot to repeal Proposition 209, the 1996 ban on affirmative action.  While proponents claim this is an effort to redress low numbers of “underrepresented minorities” in California higher education, the impact will be to reduce the number of Asian Americans in our colleges and universities.

In 1996, when Proposition 209 passed, the University of California student body was 3.7 percent black, 13 percent Latino, 36 percent Asian and 38 percent white.  At the time an article in the Los Angeles Times noted that, “Experts predict that the University of California’s recent rollback of affirmative action admissions will increase the number of students of Asian descent on campus, because most Asian Americans do not benefit from current admissions policies, which give preference to underrepresented minorities.  Asian Americans also meet the university’s admission requirements at a higher rate than any other group.”

Read comments Read more

The Cost of California’s New Housing Bills

T Keith Gurnee
Former councilmember of San Luis Obispo and a member of the Board of Directors of Livable California, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the self-determination and the livability of California’s cities and counties.

On June 9, 2020 California’s Senate Appropriations Committee reviewed a flurry of problematical housing bills and placed them “in suspense” until their next hearing on Thursday, June 18, 2020. Between now and then, there will be discussions “behind the scenes” as to which of those bills should be amended or passed onto the Senate floor. The biggest question for the Senate Appropriations Committee is “what would it cost the state if these bills are passed?”

The costs to California’s 482 cities and 58 counties would be incalculable. The costs of redoing local general plans and zoning ordinances, of correcting their infrastructure and resource deficiencies to accommodate more housing, of fighting developer-initiated litigation as a result of these laws, and of providing more public services to serve growing populations are sure to be off the charts. 

But the fiscal carnage about to be wrought upon local government by these bills is of little concern to our state legislature. It is the costs to the state that are of greatest concern to the Senate Appropriations Committee. In light of the huge budget deficits now facing California, that’s as it should be. But what might those costs be?

Read comments Read more

California Department of Conservation has opportunity to plan for environmental oversight without damaging the economy

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

The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) prioritizes protecting public health, safety, and the environment in its oversight of the oil, natural gas, and geothermal industries, while working to help California achieve its climate change and clean energy goals. To do that, CalGEM uses science and sound engineering practices to regulate the drilling, operation, and permanent closure of energy resource wells. ​

The rulemaking efforts toward protecting public health and safety and environmental quality needs to include a focus on energy and reliability, as the world has become reliant on more than 6,000 products made from the derivatives of petroleum, and reliant upon the numerous transportation infrastructures driven (no pun intended) by the fuels manufactured from crude oil, all of which did not exist before the 1900’s. The intermittent electricity from wind and solar are incapable of providing the derivatives and fuels that are the basis of the worlds’ economies.

Read comments Read more

SB 939 (Wiener) Will Do Far More Harm Than Good

Rex Hime
President and CEO of the California Business Properties Association

SB 939 (Wiener) is the poster child for a feel-good perception of a solution that would result in far greater economic harm than we are already experiencing.  Veiled under the guise of helping restaurants and small businesses in response to the COVID pandemic, the truth is its passage would lead to a domino effect with monumental economic consequences including more business closures, more jobs lost, widespread property foreclosures and even less revenue for local and state coffers. The bill should be rejected by the Senate Appropriations Committee when it comes up for a vote June 18.

SB 939 would allow businesses large and small to withhold rent indefinitely regardless of how profitable they are and creates a new, special protected class of businesses that can to walk away from lease obligations altogether, transferring the debt to the property owner. While the bill has been characterized as applying only to restaurants and select small businesses, it in fact applies to virtually all California commercial leases.

Yes, small businesses are suffering due to the coronavirus, but SB 939 fails to recognize that property owners throughout the state are still expected to pay their mortgages, utilities, property taxes and other expenses and they’re doing it now with vastly reduced rental income. 

Read comments Read more

Mail in Ballots vs. Voting by Mail

Jim Kennedy
Contributor to the Chad Benson Show on California and National politics

As the COVID pandemic draws on, arrangements are being made for a National “Vote by Mail” campaign for the General election in November. The House is trying to pass a stimulus bill which has $3.6 billion allocated for a “National Vote by Mail” project  President Trump has spoken out, and has been censured by Twitter for calling out the fraud potential of vote by mail. He has also confused mail in absentee ballots and vote by mail elections. 

What is the difference between the two? Most states allow voters to request an Absentee ballot which they can cast in advance of election day by either mailing it in, no postage necessary, or they can drop it in a ballot box or drop off location on election day. 

The Vote by Mail is different. Ballots are sent to all registered voters in a state or county. No one needs to request a ballot and no checks are done to verify the voter rolls are accurate before sending the ballots. All ballots are returned via USPS, there is no place to cast a vote on election day in person. 

Read comments Read more

In Support Of More Prison Reforms In California

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Nearly five decades ago, elected officials in California started enacting sentencing laws that rapidly filled the state’s prisons. Only in the last decade did that process start to reverse. Effecting political change is not for people with short attention spans.

Momentum for reform continues and Govern For California has been pleased to support organizations like Smart Justice leading that charge. Last year we backed SB 136, a bill to reduce sentencing enhancements. This year we support a reform to reduce parole periods. For years we have called for prison closures and were pleased to see Governor Newsom propose one such closure in his January budget. We hope the legislature agrees, though we would count only actual closures, not a schedule for announcing potential closures, as achievement of that goal. We have also called for the reform of expensive insurance (OPEB) subsidies for retired state employees that, just in the case of state prison guards, would save ~$300 million per year and eliminate ~$10 billion of debt while still providing large subsidies to retired prison guards.

Long time GFCers often recall to my embarrassment that when GFC launched nine years ago I thought it would take just 5-10 new legislators to transform the legislature into a representative of the general interest. I was wrong, and as we have written many times in the years since then — and as prison reformers have shown — it also takes persistence over a long period of time and recognition by legislators that supporters of the general interest can be just as dogged as special interests.

Read comments Read more

Not the time to gut Proposition 13 and raise taxes

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Under California law, proposed initiatives must be presented to the California Legislature in an “informational hearing” open to the public. Legislators do not vote on the proposals because these are initiatives that have already qualified for the ballot. The hearings are mostly for the benefit of policy leaders and the public.

Because the infamous “split roll” initiative has now qualified, the Legislature held a hearing in the California Legislature on Thursday. I was pleased to be one of the individuals invited to testify and explain our opposition to the measure, which would remove Proposition 13’s protection from most commercial and industrial properties, sharply raising taxes.

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is California’s largest taxpayer advocacy organization with over 200,000 members. We are strongly opposed to this initiative. First, taxpayers are also consumers, and we know that taxes on businesses have an insidious way of trickling down to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services. California’s cost of living is already way above the national average, and we don’t need to add to that burden for residents who are already struggling to pay the bills.

Read comments Read more

Return to the “Thrilling” Days of Budget Delays

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

Remember more than a decade ago when the state budget was finalized often in August or September, well past the end of the June deadline? Well, as the announcer on the old radio and television show, The Lone Ranger, proclaimed, “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.” While the legislature passed a form of a budget yesterday, the final spending plan probably won’t be settled until August or September this year. 

The two-thirds vote requirement was the reason budget negotiations dragged on in the past. That obstacle was brushed aside by voters who passed Proposition 25 in 2010 requiring a simple majority vote to pass the budget. The problem this year is the coronavirus. 

Because of the pandemic and the economic lockdown that followed to battle the virus spread, tax filings were delayed, and the legislature and the governor do not know what revenue they can spend until after the new tax filing date of July 15. All the officials know is that whatever the total is it won’t be enough to meet all the demands and desires of the budget writers. 

Read comments Read more

Assembly gives market-based insurance reforms a try

Steven Greenhut and Ray Lehmann
Greenhut is the Sacramento-based Western region director for the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank. Lehmann is R Street’s director of Finance, Insurance and Trade Policy.

California’s Legislature is hardly a bastion of free-market thinking and the state’s insurance markets are the most tightly regulated ones in the nation. So it was as encouraging as it was surprising to see the Assembly last Monday approve, on an overwhelming 56-3 vote, a bill that would give insurance companies more latitude to set prices based on market conditions.

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara depicted Assembly Bill 2167, by Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, as something that will harm consumers and undermine Proposition 103 – the 1988 ballot measure that gave the commissioner the power to pre-approve any rate adjustments proposed by insurers. Lara depicted the new bill as “an insurance industry wish list.”

The legislation is no such thing. It will not deprive the Department of Insurance of any powers to reject insurance companies’ proposed rate increases, but could help assure that Californians living in fire-prone areas will have access to the fire insurance they desperately need.

Read comments Read more

The California Romance Novels That Cross the Rural-Urban Border

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)

Mel Monroe, a 32-year-old nurse practitioner in L.A., is suddenly widowed, and decides to take a job as the only nurse and midwife in Virgin River, an unincorporated village of 600 in the mountain forests of Northern California. 

Will she stay? It’s no idyll. While she connects with the hunky Marine veteran who owns the town bar, Mel finds that she can’t escape the drugs, violence, economic struggles, and health care problems of Los Angeles. Rural California has all those same problems too. 

You won’t find Virgin River on any map. The town is the fictional setting for Robyn Carr’s series of 20 romance novels that have sold more than 13 million copies since 2007. While Carr’s geography is vague, Virgin River appears to be in Trinity County (pop. 13,000), one of only four California counties still considered fully rural.  

I’m no fan of the romance genre, but during the COVID-19 lockdown, I started streaming the new Netflix series Virgin River, which is based on Carr’s books. Despite the predictable plots, I kept watching— Virgin River’s portrait of rural California is unconventional and timely, particularly as the uprising against police violence spreads to rural communities. 

Read comments Read more

Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.