Legal Reform = Job Creation

We all agree that the number one priority in this state and nation should be job creation. However, it seems like some people are more focused on spending money than saving money, at the expense of job creation.

A new study published by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform called Creating Conditions for Economic Growth: The Role of the Legal Environment sheds some light on how the high cost of tort systems in the United States is raising the cost of doing business and hurting job creation. This study is based on a data set of state liability costs never before made available to public policy researchers, which provides an excellent basis for a reliable state-by-state comparison of costs.

I have often cited the Pacific Research Institute’s U.S. Tort Liability Study, which stated that just one tort reform in California would create 141,000 jobs. This study, looking at updated data, concludes the same thing: improvements in states with the costliest legal environments could increase employment between 1% and 2.8%. In California, that could mean more than a quarter million jobs.

Will this latest study simply be placed on a bookshelf with all the other studies and rankings or will someone (in the Legislature or Governor’s office) clue in and get it? We need to make legal reform part of California’s jobs package and thoroughly examine our regulations so we can get California back on track.

It is pretty clear that if we want people to invest or expand businesses in our state, we need to make the business climate more inviting. Right now, it is fair to say (and many CEOs agree) California’s business climate is among the worst in the nation. Legal and regulatory reform will create a positive business climate where investors will come and build.

Are you listening California? Legal reform = Jobs. Don’t just take my word for it – there are plenty of materials you can read to back it up.

(Tom Scott is the Executive Director for California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.  This article was first featured in Fox & Hounds.)

Republicans call for greater focus on public pensions

From the Sac Bee:

Four Republican state senators, including Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton, are holding a presser under the dome to highlight what they see as the urgency of reforming California’s public pension systems.

Joining Dutton are Sens. Tom BerryhillTom Harman and Mimi Walters. Their news conference starts at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol’s Room 305.

Gov. Jerry Brown‘s own reform plan got a mixed review from the Legislative Analyst’s Office on Tuesday, as The Bee’s Jon Ortiz reported. The LAO questioned whether Brown’s proposal to split pension costs equally between employers and current employees could be legally mandated.

(Read Full Article)

Why natural gas beats wind power and other “green” experimental energy technologies

From Hot Air:

Lost in the debate over fracking and drilling to extract natural gas in the US and abroad rather than pursuing supposedly clean renewables is this: natural gas is actually greenerNew Geography’s Matt Ridley starts off by asking which view homeowners would prefer — a modest gas well or a towering, noisy commercial windmill — and then explains that choosing wind means you get both (via NewsAlert):

Wind turbines slice thousands of birds of prey in half every year, including white-tailed eagles in Norway, golden eagles in California, wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania. There’s a video on YouTube of one winging a griffon vulture in Crete. According to a study in Pennsylvania, a wind farm with eight turbines would kill about a 200 bats a year. The pressure wave from the passing blade just implodes the little creatures’ lungs. You and I can go to jail for harming bats or eagles; wind companies are immune.

Still can’t make up your mind? The wind farm requires eight tonnes of an element called neodymium, which is produced only in Inner Mongolia, by boiling ores in acid leaving lakes of radioactive tailings so toxic no creature goes near them.

Not convinced? The gas well requires no subsidy – in fact it pays a hefty tax to the government – whereas the wind turbines each cost you a substantial add-on to your electricity bill, part of which goes to the rich landowner whose land they stand on. Wind power costs three times as much as gas-fired power. Make that nine times if the wind farm is offshore. And that’s assuming the cost of decommissioning the wind farm is left to your children – few will last 25 years.

Decided yet? I forgot to mention something. If you choose the gas well, that’s it, you can have it. If you choose the wind farm, you are going to need the gas well too. That’s because when the wind does not blow you will need a back-up power station running on something more reliable. But the bloke who builds gas turbines is not happy to build one that only operates when the wind drops, so he’s now demanding a subsidy, too.

(Read Full Article)

San Jose faces December decision on pensions

From the SJ Mercury:

The city of San Jose and its employee unions seem headed for a December showdown after months of talks produced no agreement on a pension reform measure that Mayor Chuck Reed wants to put before voters to deflate ballooning retirement costs.

With the Oct. 31 deadline for negotiations on ballot language passed, city and union leaders remain far apart. And it seems unlikely that mediation sessions will deliver an accord by early next month, when the City Council must decide whether to put a measure before voters in a March special election.

Union leaders have shown little interest in negotiating over ballot language that Reed and other council members have proposed. The union officials dismiss the proposals as an illegal violation of their “vested rights” to pensions. Union leaders argue that the proposals would be overturned in court, resulting in no savings and more layoffs.

(Read Full Article)

Bullet train ridership projections down in latest plan

From the SD Tribune:

The new business plan for building California’s $98 billion high-speed rail project estimates that between 23 million and 34 million passengers will use the system by the time bullet trains traverse the state two decades from now.

If those numbers fail to pan out, taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars a year in operating expenses.

Getting the number right is crucial to avoid public subsidies in the future, but predicting ridership is complicated and in some ways a guessing game. It relies on unknowns such as future gas prices and airline taxes, population growth, traffic patterns and even technology that has yet to be invented.

(Read Full Article)

Initiative could protect funds for San Diego, other counties

From the SD Tribune:

An alliance of law enforcement and government officials last week began what’s expected to be tough fight to protect funding for public safety and other services shifted to counties under Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment plan.

The group filed a ballot measure that, if approved by voters next year, would bar the state from redirecting the money and prohibit lawmakers from shifting more responsibility to local governments unless they provide funding.

San Diego and other counties for months have been grumbling about assuming responsibility for felons convicted of what the state considers nonserious, nonviolent and nonsexual crimes in an effort to save the state money and alleviate prison overcrowding. The state legislation took effect Oct. 1.

(Read Full Article)

Liberal groups threaten Dem leaders that want to work with GOP on Social Security

From the Blaze:

The hope many had that those in American politics would move forward more cohesively following the climatic debt ceiling debate over the summer, appears to be at a standstill and perhaps faltering. Congressional leaders on the deficit “super committee” charged to find at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction through 2021 by November 23  are yet to make a joint recommendation as their deadline quickly approaches. The Hill now reports that liberal groups are applying pressure and threatening former Democratic presidential candidate and deficit super committee member Sen. John Kerry, as well as any other Democrats who they suspect are working with Republicans to find a middle ground on entitlement reform as a part of deficit reductions.

“The Massachusetts AFL-CIO and other labor entities in the state have passed resolutions calling on Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) to publicly oppose cuts to safety-net programs,” writes The Hill. Concerns from liberal activists grew after a proposal emerged from Democrats on the super committee, which has already been rejected by the GOP, that proposed cuts to Social Security cost-of-living increases (COLA) as part of a $3 trillion deficit reduction deal that included $1.3 trillion in tax increases.

(Read Full Article)

‘Atlas Shrugged’: A Warning for the Obama Administration

Senate to vote on payment for hiring veterans

From the SJ Mercury:

Senate Democrats have scheduled votes on two bipartisan proposals to boost job growth. Unlike previous attempts to pass President Barack Obama’s jobs agenda, next week’s votes seem likely to succeed.

One bill would give up to $5,600 to businesses that hire a veteran who has been unemployed for six months or more. Companies would get $9,600 for hiring an injured vet who has been out of work that long. Businesses would receive a $2,400 tax credit for hiring a veteran who has been out of work for a month.

The measure also would give one year’s worth of GI benefits to unemployed veterans for education or training at community colleges or technical schools.

(Read Full Article)

State Senate dines at taxpayers’ expense

From the LA Times:

For state senators, there is such a thing as a free lunch. And dinner. And breakfast.

On an August day last year when California deferred a $2.5-billion payment to public schools because it didn’t have its finances in order, the Senate took a break from bickering over legislation to lunch on the taxpayers’ dime.

The public picked up the $935 tab for an assortment of meats, cheeses and breads from a local Italian deli. Four days earlier, the state bought 90 meals for 36 senators — who also receive a tax-free $143 per diem for Sacramento expenses — and staffers. They lunched on teriyaki chicken breast, rice pilaf, salad and fresh-baked cookies for $1,659, according to a Times review of Senate receipts.

Assembly members usually pay for their own meals. But while the state was withholding money from hundreds of small businesses, child-care centers and the disabled because of a budget standoff that dragged on for 115 days, senators charged taxpayers for more than $23,000 worth of food.

(Read Full Article)