FlashReport Weblog on California Politics
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Legislators in Sacramento typically fall in line behind party leadership, but freshman Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, appears to have a pronounced independent streak.
I had a chance to talk with Garcia about her experiences as a political reformer, and her recent call for a fellow Democrat, state Sen. Ron Calderon of Montebello, to resign amidFBI allegations of corruption.
Garcia has a solid record fighting political decay. She took on the corruption in Bell, volunteering her time with the city’s recall campaign, which ended with every Bell council member being voted out of office.
Garcia said her co-volunteers then wanted her to run for office.
Running as a government reformer, Garcia beat Democrat Tom Calderon, a former Assemblymanand Sen. Ron Calderon’s brother, in the June 2012 primary. She then went on to win the… Read More
The California Legislature ended the 2013 legislative session Thursday by passing hundreds of new bills. Most of the controversial bills were passed along party lines. However a bill from Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, granting a Sacramento arena development an exemption from the state’s strict environmental laws, had plenty of help from state Republicans.
Reform or worsen?
Steinberg insists he’s only trying to reform the California Environmental Quality Act. SB 743, is a gut-and-amend bill by Steinberg is titled, “Environmental quality: transit oriented infill projects, judicial review streamlining for environmental leadership development projects, and entertainment and sports center in the City of Sacramento.”
That’s the long way of saying this is not really a CEQA reform bill. It’s a face-saving way out for Steinberg who has been awkwardly intertwined for more than 13 years with the haphazard development of a new sports arena in downtown Sacramento.
On its way to the Gov
This isn’t a one-off bill. Exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act were granted… Read More
SACRAMENTO — After sitting through several recent marathon sessions in the Assembly, it was shocking to witness the powerful California environmental lobby lose its attempt to ban oil and gas hydraulic fracturing.
For this, Californians can be thankful.
That got me thinking. What if California’s powerful environmental lobby had been as powerful during the 1849 Gold Rush as it is today? Back then, they would have harassed gold pioneer James Marshall so much he would have quit. California never would have become the Golden State.
Hydrolic fracking for oil and gas has the potential to become the next Gold Rush — this time of black gold, Texas tea. But will the environmentalists stop it? Not yet — but maybe in the future.
A University of Southern California study, “Powering California: The Monterey Shale & California’s Economic Future,” looked at the development of the vast energy resource beneath the San Joaquin Valley known as the Monterey Shale. It found that hydraulic fracturing could create 512,000 to 2.8 million new jobs, personal income growth of $40.6 billion to $222.3… Read More
It’s the first day of May. If you haven’t noticed, the California Democratic Supermajority is killing all reform efforts. And the targets are not just Republican bills.
Just yesterday, the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality killed a bill which would have stopped the California Air Resources Board from assessing a very expensive administrative fee on California colleges for implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
SB 497, by Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, said the committee’s failure to approve the bill will likely result in fewer students being able to attend California’s higher education institutions, and higher tuition costs for those who do.
The Senate Education Committee killed SB 441, by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, which would merely have suggested school districts around the state to assess the performance of teachers and school administrators.
This week SB 453, by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, was also killed. SB 453 would have allowed school districts to make staffing decisions based on performance evaluations and factors other than a teacher’s simple date of… Read More
Holy understatement Batman! California is more than $127 billion in the red!
The California State Auditor recently released a report detailing California’s “net worth” as a state.
California is $127.2 billion upside down.
Holy helplessness Batman!
The Assembly Republicans California Budget Fact Check project explains: “As is a common annual practice in the business world, the Auditor totaled up all of the state’s unrestricted assets and income, and then compared them against the state’s liabilities to determine net worth. Factoring all of these things together, California had a negative net worth of $127.2 billion in 2011-12.”
Holy dilemma Batman!
The Budget Fact Check… Read More
Ding dong! Could CARB be dead?
The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit yesterday against the California Air Resources Board challenging California’s cap and trade regulation.
The cap and trade program was created by CARB ostensibly as part of AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
“The regulation creates a quarterly auction program requiring many California employers to bid significant amounts of money for the privilege of continuing to emit carbon dioxide — or be faced with closing their doors in California, laying off their employees, and moving their businesses to other states,” the PLF explained in a press statement.
The PLF said the lawsuit challenges the auction process “as an unconstitutional state tax because it was not enacted by two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, as required for new taxes by the California Constitution (Proposition 13 and Proposition 26).”
“The California Constitution is crystal clear that new state taxes require at least two-thirds approval… Read More
In 2012, the state Legislature passed 80 budget “spot” bills — empty bills with no details. Such measures just sit on a shelf and await last-minute bill language, then are put forward for late-night passage on the last day of the budget session.
These are often the most controversial bills of each session. When lawmakers use them to avoid the legislative process, which requires committee hearings for all bills, it is clear that their goal is to avoid transparency and public involvement.
This has long been the norm. It has arguably been encouraged since the 2010 adoption of Propositions 25 and 26 into the state Constitution, allowing the Legislature to pass a budget on a simple majority vote and requiring a supermajority vote to pass fees and taxes by the Legislature, respectively. Lawmakers routinely take major policy changes and potential tax increases and drop them in trailer bill language.
Gorell and other Assembly Republicans target ‘waste, fraud and abuse’
To counter this practice, Assembly Republicans are pushing budget reform and transparency measures.… Read More