FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

50 Shades of Brown: Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrat Party Rule

As Gov. Jerry Brown prepares to sign another climate change agreementwith “government leaders from around the world,” as his office announced, remember the recent agreement Brown got into with the scandalized Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber. “In October 2013,California Gov. Jerry Brown, together with the Governors of Oregon and Washington and the British Columbia Premier,signedthePacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, “to align climate change policies and promote clean energy,’” I wrote in February.

The Pacific Coast Collaborative links with theWest Coast Infrastructure Exchange(WCX), a compact betweenCalifornia, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, formed in 2013 to promote “the type of new thinking necessary to solve the West Coast’s infrastructure crisis.” And the WCX is linked to… Read More

Katy Grimes

New Technology Facilitates Transparency, Openness in CA State Govt.

‘Transparency’ is probably the most overused word in political speech, while at the same time, the most underutilized in practice.In a free society, transparency in government means openness, accountability, and honesty. It is the obligation of government to share information with citizens, yet is increasingly difficult to access – even in California, home to Silicon Valley.

Without transparency, citizens are unable to hold public officials accountable. And that’s the problem –government is responsible for making itself available to be accountable. It’s unnatural. While the true statesman values principle above popularity, today’s era of politics in California doesn’t breed an abundance of statesmen.

However, one of the good guys – a real statesman – former State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, has tackled the problem of transparency in politics. The Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy, under the leadership of Blakeslee, officially launched the Digital Democracy Project, to provide a searchable database of all legislative hearings. “This package… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gov. Brown Jumps-the-Shark on Climate Change Policy

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an Executive Order Wednesday for a new target for greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Brown said it was critical to address what he called “an ever-growing threat” posed by global warming to California’s economy and well-being. Brown’s order goes even further than Pres. Obama’s radical proposals, but aligns with the European Union and United Nations proposals. Jerry Brown hasjumped-the-sharkon climate change (Origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show).

Senate Republican Minority Leader Bob Huff correctly replied to Brown’s latest edict:

“The state already has the nation’s most stringent goals. Before moving the goal post, we should be careful about the impact of increased energy costs. These higher costs will hurt the low income and working poor the hardest and will create an even greater divide between the haves and have nots. At what point does being on the leading edge of climate change and… Read More

Katy Grimes

California Still Ranked At Bottom of Economic Competitiveness Report

The 2015 report on economic competitiveness between states is out, and it still doesn’t look good for California. The Rich States, Poor States report by the American Legislative Exchange Council annually ranks states on economic competitiveness. For the 8th year in a row, Utah wins. And for the 8th year in a row, California ranks poorly on the economic freedom and competitiveness scale.

‘Rich States’ embrace free market reforms and cut taxes.

‘Poor States’ raise taxes on income, have high property taxes, are not right-to-work states, and kill job growth with these policies.

The highest-tax states of New York, Vermont, Minnesota, Connecticut, Michigan and California rank at the bottom of the 2015Rich States, Poor StatesRead More

Katy Grimes

California Gas Tax ‘Unfair and Foolish’

The California Democratic Party claims to be for the poor and middle class, but killed a bill Monday which would have cut California’s highest-in-the-nation gas tax.Californians pay 68 cents tax on every gallon of gasoline – the highest gas tax in the nation.

Not content to be the first state in the country to tax the air we breathe, California is the first in the nation to impose a cap and trade tax on transportation fuels.

In response, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, and more than 20 other Republican lawmakers, introduced AB 23, theAffordable Gas for California Families Act,legislation to exempt transportation fuels and natural gas from the California Air Resource Board’scap-and-trade program.

“We were enjoying the lowest gas prices in years,”… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacramento Mayor KJ: $8M Art Piece For Publicly Subsidized Arena a ‘Good Investment’

UPDATED: March 13, 2015 to include a photo of the $8 million piece of art from a Sacramento city staff report – a public record.

While this may appear to be a local news story from the wayward Sacramento City Council, it is an example of callous, tone-deaf local government, and symptomatic of state government.

As the Sacramento City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday evening to approve a public contract with a New York artist for an $8 million piece of art, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson called it “a good investment for our community.”

High-end art is one of the most manipulated markets in the world. But that didn’t stop the Sacramento Mayor: “This guy is world renowned, he is one of the most amazing artists ever,” Mayor Johnson said of artist Jeff Koons, explaining that this art purchase will really put Sacramento on the map as “a world-class city.”

In one of the most ludicrous statements I’ve ever heard from an elected official, this is what politics has become. The deal was done before the deal was done,… Read More

Katy Grimes

Money or Construction Delay at Tesla Battery Factory?

I’ve been hearing for weeks that Tesla has halted construction of its giant batter factory in Nevada, and send construction workers home. I even had colleagues in Nevada check on this for me.

But nobody has been talking. Until now.

On Friday, I saw a Tweet posted by a Clark County Nevada Commissioner who said, “Tesla Said to Cut About 30% of China Workers ; Sales department to cut half of its employees.” Another said, “How about that Tesla deal. Dramatically cut the size of the proposed building. Hired about 60 union iron workers and fired them the next day.

And finally, after weeks of rumors, the Reno-GazetteRead More

BOE Member George Runner

Runner Sponsors Legislation to Refund Illegal Taxes

This year, I am sponsoring legislation to extend common sense protections to taxpayers. Assembly Bill 867, authored by Assemblyman Donald Wagner, would require the state to provide a full refund to all individuals who paid a tax later declared unconstitutional or illegal.

AB 867 is identical to AB 2510 (Wagner) and SB 1327 (Knight), legislation I sponsored in 2014. Legislative committees blocked both bills from advancing last year.

It is criminal that the State of California can keep money it illegally collects from its citizens. Anyone who in good faith pays what ends up being an illegal tax should get their money back. It’s as simple as that.

Currently, taxpayers are only eligible to receive refunds if they have exhausted all their administrative appeals remedies, even if the tax they paid is later declared illegal or… Read More

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