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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner

Abuse of Process – Sometimes Even the Press Fights Back

In conversations with local voters over the last few weeks, I’ve discussed several abusive practices the Democrats used recently to ram bad policy ideas through the legislature. These practices draw virtually uniform condemnation, regardless of whether the voters are registered as Republicans or Democrats. That’s no surprise. They threaten representative democracy, something every citizen of any party has an interest in, and are so manifestly unfair that they cannot be defended even along party lines.

What is a surprise, however, is that these abuses are so bad that even the usual Democratic cheerleaders in the mainstream press are beginning to complain.

One of these abuses practices – cooking the books to hide the amount of public money spent by the Legislature – exploded in the press when Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino complained that his own party’s leadership cut his office budget in retaliation for his vote against the state budget. The mainstream press, represented by the Los Angeles Times and a few other papers, actually filed suit against the Democrat controlled Legislature to get timely, honest accountings.

The Republicans have… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Why I Support the Amazon Deal

AB 155, as proposed to be amended, will retroactively repeal the “Amazon Tax” for a year or longer, allowing time for impacted parties to seek a federal solution to the dispute.

This is far from a perfect plan, but politics is the art of compromise. It’s a good thing when competing interests are able to come together on a contentious issue.

The deal provides at least a one year reprieve for affiliate businesses whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the dispute. It allows time for impacted parties to seek a federal solution to this issue. Congress has always been the right venue for this conversation.

However, I’m disappointed that this deal provides no certainty for thousands of affiliates who partner with out-of-state online retailers other than Amazon. The uncertainty will discourage these companies from creating new jobs and investing in our state.

Furthermore, the Legislature refused to include a pathway to immediately bring Amazon jobs to California. I’ll be working with Amazon and legislators to find a way to expedite their presence in order to bring thousands of new jobs to our state as soon as possible.

Throughout the year… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Any Amazon Deal Must Be About Jobs

Media reports indicate that Amazon.com and legislative leaders have struck a deal to delay implementation of the “Amazon Tax” for at least a year.

I’m withholding judgment until I see the actual language of the deal. But I can say this much: any deal must be about California jobs.

Will this deal protect California’s remaining affiliate businesses? Will it bring back the businesses destroyed by the failed ‘Amazon Tax?’

Will it encourage new investment and job creation in our state by Amazon and other online retailers? Or will it continue to punish those out-of-state companies that dare to provide jobs and income for… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Governor Brown Shouldn’t Count on “Amazon Tax” Revenue

According to the Los Angeles Times, Governor Jerry Brown is “leaning against” a proposed deal to bring an estimated 7,000 Amazon.com jobs to California. The Governor is concerned that a deal would somehow cost the state revenue.

If the Governor truly believes the ‘Amazon Tax’ is going to generate millions in revenue for the state this year, he’s mistaken. Board of Equalization staff have determined that the projected $200 million in revenue will not materialize this year.

As of today we’re not aware of a single online retailer that has registered with BOE to collect sales tax because of AB 28X. According to Board of Equalization staff, the number of out-of-state registrations in July 2011 was actually lower than July 2010.

Additionally, should a referendum qualify for the ballot, the law would be suspended until a vote of the people in June or November of next year. That would mean the ‘Amazon Tax’ would be a guaranteed money loser this fiscal year, since terminated affiliates will pay… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

True Conservatives Won’t Squash the “Amazon Tax” Referendum

My good friend Rex Hime recently penned a column for the Flash Report citing several instances where conservatives in other states supported “e-fairness” legislation.

That’s an interesting debate for another day. The issue before us today is not about the “Amazon Tax” itself—that bill already passed the Legislature this summer with only one Republican vote.

The issue before us is whether or not Republican lawmakers should support Assembly Bill 155—a blatant attempt by Democrats to block California voters from holding a referendum on the “Amazon Tax.” By cementing this failed policy into law with a 2/3rds vote of the Legislature, California voters would be denied the opportunity to overturn the “Amazon Tax.”

AB 155 is a slap in the face to the nearly one million California voters who have already signed petitions calling for a referendum of the “Amazon Tax.”

The Democrats know California voters aren’t on their side on this issue. A recent… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

AB 1215: A Good Bill for California

In response to Jon Fleischman’s August 23rd column entitled “AB 1215 – Mandating That a Fee Cannot Be Called a Fee – Seriously”, I would like to offer a different opinion. Although I’m a four-term Congressman, in a prior life I owned and operated a number of new car dealerships in California and am very familiar with California’s “price control” on the amount a dealer can charge to perform a host of work required by the state.

AB 1215, a bill currently before the California Legislature, would for the first time in 5 years raise the statutory cap the Legislature imposes on private dealer businesses to perform state-mandated title and registration paperwork, in addition to a plethora of other state-mandated requirements (for example, providing consumers “free” credit scores, other credit disclosures, tire chain notices, license bracket notices, etc.). Even with the increase, California would still have the second lowest cap in the country – most states have no cap at all. California imposes no such… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Ploy to Block “Amazon Tax” Vote Outrageous

On the very day Governor Brown spoke about job creation, legislators are concocting an outrageous ploy to prevent the people from voting to overturn the ‘Amazon Tax.’

Clearly these lawmakers are afraid the public is poised and ready to vote down the failed ‘Amazon Tax’ that is costing our state jobs.

Instead of continuing their attack on out-of-state online retailers, the Governor and Legislature ought to be asking these companies how we can work with them to get Californians back to work.… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Government is greediest actor in “Amazon Tax” debate

Editorial boards and newspaper columnists are quick to assign “greed” as the motive driving Amazon, eBay and others to oppose a new law aimed at making more out-of-state online retailers collect sales tax on behalf of the State of California. But the greediest actor in this drama isn’t Amazon —- it’s the government.

You see, online retailers didn’t pick this fight. State lawmakers did —- out of misguided lust for revenue they’ll never see.

Put aside the rhetoric and consider the facts. Under the U.S. Constitution, state lawmakers can’t compel out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax unless those retailers have a physical retail presence —- known as “nexus” —- in our state. Californians are supposed to pay use tax —- the equivalent of sales tax —- on out-of-state purchases, but few do.

It works the same way in reverse. California businesses making out-of-state sales in states where they have no brick-and-mortar retail presence don’t have to register with the tax bureaucracies in those states, collect and remit sales tax or be subject to audits. In five states where Amazon collects and remits sales tax, many California… Read More

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