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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

Legislators use muscle on grocers over plastic bag recycling

Katy Grimes: The plastic bag activists are at it again, and they are nothing, if not persistent. With the eleventh bill regulating plastic bags in less than 10 years, grocery stores don’t have a chance in California.

Passed today by the Assembly, SB 1219, the latest plastic bag regulation bill, by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, will require grocery stores to implement, manage, and report on the “At-Store Recycling Program” to the Cal Recycle state agency.

Besides imposing more rules and regulations on privately-owned grocery stores, SB 1219 which appears to be aimed at large grocers like WalMart, Target and other large supermarket chains, will require that stores “place recycling bins in a readily accessible location for consumers, assure the collected bags are recycled, and provide reusable bags. Additionally, stores track the collection, transport, and recycling of plastic carryout bags and regulated manufacturers provide educational materials to assist in recycling (see requirements).”

This could be the work of a… Read More

Katy Grimes

CA GOP calls for immediate healthcare reform

BURBANK — The California Republican Party convention is taking place this weekend in Burbank, CA. While there have been guffaws and snickers about the relevance of the Caalifornia Republicans, the party made significant gains in the June primary, but this was largely ignored by most of the California media.

The convention agenda is not packed as full as previous meetings given that many politicians are campaigning for November races, but there is still plenty of red meat being offered.

Repeal Obamacare

A forum on “The Future of Health Care” was an excellent panel presentation to a packed room. Health care insiders presented facts about the impacts of Obamacare, and John Eastman discussed Obamacare following the recent Supreme Court decision.

Eastman, an attorney, Professor and Dean at Chapman Law School, and former candidate for State Attorney General, asked audience members, “What happened on June 28, who did it, and why?”

“There was this little case up at the Supreme Court,” Eastman said. “28 states sued the federal government. Eastman said that liberals predicted case wouldn’t even get to Supreme Court.… Read More

Katy Grimes

Air Resources Board dodges accountability – again

The California Air Resources Board seems to be on everyone’s list of what not to do in state government. Charged with implementing AB 32, the California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, CARB is under increasing scrutiny for operating as a rogue agency, appearing to be accountable to no one.

All attempts to reel in the agency have failed, including another attempt to audit its operations and finances–thanks to Democratic legislators who clearly are getting marching orders from Assembly and Senate leaders.

A Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing on Wednesday brought CARB close to accountability with the threat of the six-month state audit. But the committee chairman, Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, surprised everyone when he nixed the plan after having made the pretense that he was on board.

CARB and AB 32

In 2006, the Legislature promised that AB 32 would help clean the environment while still protecting the economy. Supportive legislators promised that utility and gasoline costs would not increase with the implementation of the climate change law.

The opposite has happened, and businesses are now… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

First Fire Tax Bills Mail August 13

It’s not fair; it’s not constitutional, but thanks to Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature, fire tax bills are coming all the same.

The State of California will begin mailing the first of more than 825,000 “Fire Prevention Fee” bills on Monday, August 13.

The tax, approved as a fee by a simple majority vote of the Legislature last year, charges residential property owners in rural areas $150 for each habitable structure located on their land. Property owners who pay for local fire protection will receive a $35 reduction.

To help inform California taxpayers, I’ve established a website, calfirefee.com, providing information about the new fire tax. Californians can visit this site to find out if they might soon receive a fire tax bill. You can also find details regarding the process, timeline and grounds for filing an appeal.

The bills will go out in alphabetical order by county between August and early December. The state has released the following partial mailing schedule:

ALAMEDA August 13th through… Read More

Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner

I Can’t Keep Up

I’m really trying. But I just can’t keep up with dumb ideas from the other party.

On the campaign trail, I’ve told the story of a meeting last year with some plaintiffs’ lawyers who specialize in employment law. I mentioned the idiotic and counterproductive Labor Code requirement that bars ten hour work days, even if the employee wants them. In a flight of what I thought was hyperbole, I added that Democrats act as if, without that law, “there would be 12 year old urchins in basements sewing garments again.”

“Oh, no, Mr. Wagner,” one of the lawyers earnestly replied, “that’s exactly what would happen.”

What I took as an obvious exaggeration, she took as a very good argument for a very bad law.

A couple of weeks ago, Democrats on the Assembly Education Committee complained about the narrow scope of a bill by State Senator Bob Huff. They objected to it because it didn’t completely fix a big problem (ironically, a big problem of Democrats’ own making with faulty legislation they passed a few years ago – but I digress). Instead, the bill dealt only with a small piece of the larger problem, and supposedly was objectionable for… Read More

Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner

California’s Phantom Budget

On Friday, the Legislature passed the state budget and, while I don’t want to sound like a crank, I have to ask: Really? This is how we do things in Sacramento? This is how we govern the nation’s most populous state? This is how we pass the budget – the single most important piece of legislation we’ll consider all year?

I serve on the Budget Committee and thought we had scraped the bottom of the procedural barrel last year. The committee hearing on that final budget lasted only about 45 minutes before the committee chairman cut off questioning to take a vote so that Democratic members of the committee could “catch airplanes.”

But we hadn’t hit bottom. This year, incredibly, the process was worse.

For example, the Budget Committee never even held a hearing and vote on the budget we passed on Friday, so I guess last year’s 45 minutes wasn’t bad. Instead, we had an “informational” presentation of a budget “framework.” In some news reports, Sacramento’s ruling Democrats called it a “concept” for the budget. In any event, there was no vote, even on the “concept” for this year’s budget. Moreover, the language of the budget… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

“Fix It” Episode VIII: Too Big To Fail & California

Too Big to Fail: There is a lot of talk these days about the $3 billion loss at JP Morgan Chase. There is a lot of hand-wringing, concern, and investigation into what happened. We are asked about it on Capitol Hill, we have an opinion, and we all care about it. And, that is the problem. We shouldn’t have to care.

The only reason we are all in a tizzy over this is because JP Morgan is too big to fail. If Apple announced it lost $3 billion tomorrow, the shareholders, Wall Street and some trial lawyers would care, but it wouldn’t be any of Washington’s concern. That’s the way it should work with private companies. They take risks to make money. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Dodd-Frank did not fix this problem for the banks. Arguably, a provision in Dodd-Frank was part of the cause of the JP Morgan loss. Dodd-Frank requires disclosure of trading that was previously private. Hedge funds saw JP Morgan taking big positions (which just a few years ago would not have been made public) and decided to play the other side of the trade. The hedge funds won and JP Morgan lost. However, in this case, we all lost. That’s why… Read More

Richard Rider

PG&E, SoCal Edison and SDG&E offer among the highest electricity rates in nation

While I’m not adding this electricity cost analysis to my dreary “Breaking Bad: CA vs. the Other States” fact sheet (this analysis is a hard item to condense into one sentence), it’s a situation my California readers need to understand. Our state’s residential electricity rates often are outrageous compared to the rest of the nation. And under AB32, these rates are predicted to go up as much as 30% or more — while the other states didn’t chose to commit such “cap and trade” economic suicide.

BTW, our state’s industrial electricity rates are even higher compared to other states — 59.8% higher than the national average as of December, 2011.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html . But this article will dwell on the cost of electricity for our homes.

For comparison purposes, I’m ranking homes with an average monthly usage of 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) — a common utility industry benchmark. I suspect that this usage level may be above average for a California home (we… Read More

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