No, Pete Wilson wasn’t right, and other takeaways from Carl DeMaio’s absurd ad

Former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio is invoking former California Gov. Pete Wilson in his bid for California state Assembly.

Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG

DeMaio’s campaign has released an ad highlighting the former governor’s stand against illegal immigration. Wilson championed Proposition 187 in 1994 which sought to prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving public services, including healthcare and education.

“Gov. Pete Wilson was right,” declares DeMaio on Twitter. “CA Democrats and liberal media blame Gov. Wilson and his strong position against illegal immigration for Republicans losing seats since 1994. I disagree – it’s time we make SECURING THE BORDER & ending illegal immigration a core message in CA politics!”

There are a few things to unpack here.

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For one, it has to be said that, yes, Pete Wilson’s fixation on undocumented immigrants blew up in the GOP’s face. As broken down by the Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh, while Hispanics in California split fairly evenly between voting GOP and Democratic in gubernatorial races in 1986 and 1990, ever since 1994, that has changed. Hispanics overwhelmingly opposed Proposition 187 and even decades later have associated the GOP with Pete Wilson, in a negative way, for the record.

This was anticipated by then-former Rep. Jack Kemp, who went on to be the Republican vice presidential candidate under Bob Dole in 1996, who warned at the time, “Where the battleground will be fought is if they want to carry this nationally and turn the party away from its historic belief in opportunity and jobs and growth, and turn the party inward to a protectionist and isolationist and more xenophobic party.”

If only he knew how prophetic his warnings were.

The idea that what the California Republican Party really needs is a return of Pete Wilson-esque rhetoric about people who come here to work and find a better life is nonsensical on its face. Republicans are in the superminority in the California Assembly and California Senate and a Republican won a statewide office since Arnold Schwarzenegger. If Republicans listen to DeMaio, their party’s irrelevance in California will only continue to deepen.

It’s also just practically hard to take DeMaio seriously. DeMaio claims he “will secure the border” as a Republican state Assemblyman in the superminority party. Sure.

His ad also claims he will fight sanctuary cities and work to enact a voter ID law.  Invoking voter ID in the context of an immigration ad is an obvious dog-whistle to those who really want to believe undocumented immigrant-voters are swaying elections. And while complaining about sanctuary cities is popular among those who don’t understand federalism or the separation of powers, here DeMaio is just complaining about policies which leave immigration matters to federal authorities so that local police can focus on enforcing state and local laws.

DeMaio’s whole “Pete Wilson was right” schtick may or may not boost his prospects at being among the superminority in the Assembly, but it will just make it that much easier for Democrats to point to the still-present xenophobic strain of the modern Republican Party.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Finally Waking Up? Mayor London Breed joins GOP-led effort to overhaul Prop. 47

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is joining a Republican-led campaign to roll back parts of a law that aimed to reduce jail populations but that critics say has emboldened thieves. 

Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle

Breed on Thursday threw her support behind the proposal to increase jail time for dealing large quantities of fentanyl, make it easier to charge drug dealers with murder, and increase jail time for repeat thefts and organized retail theft. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan also announced his support for the measure Thursday morning.

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They’re among a wave of Democrats this year who are backing efforts to overhaul or reform Proposition 47, a 2014 law approved by voters that reduced punishments for drug possession and theft of property worth less than $950.

Breed said she initially supported Prop. 47. But she said she’s seeing some of the unintended consequences of the measure as she tries to crack down on illegal drugs and thefts in San Francisco. 

“Our goal is not to keep people locked up,” she said. “But when there are no real consequences for crimes that are committed in this city, that’s a real problem.”

Breed, who is campaigning for reelection, is under pressure to combat what many residents view as a scourge of crime in San Francisco, even though data shows some of the characterizations of lawlessness in the city are exaggerated.

Supporters of the proposal she’s backing are collecting signatures to place it on the ballot in November. They must collect more than half a million signatures by April 23. The campaign’s top donors are Walmart, Target, Macy’s and a powerful California prison guards union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

California Republicans have long been the harshest critics of the law and have repeatedly tried to overturn it. They argue it has emboldened people to steal without fear of consequences. The initiative’s chief proponent and campaign chair are both Republicans. Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin (Placer County), who introduced an unsuccessful measure as a state lawmaker to roll back Prop. 47, hosted an event last week encouraging supporters to sign the petition to put the measure on the ballot. Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Assembly Member Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, have also announced their support. State Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, has contributed $15,000 to the effort, according to campaign finance filings.

Supporters of Prop. 47, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, argued that reducing jail time for lower-level offenses would be good for communities and save the state money that could be used for education and other government programs aimed at keeping people from committing crimes in the first place.

Newsom reaffirmed his support for the measure last month when asked about efforts to revamp the law. He pointed out that the $950 threshold for felony theft in the law is actually one of the lowest in the country. Texas, for example, has a minimum felony theft threshold of $2,500.

“Everyone is rushing to reform Prop. 47 to raise the threshold,” he told reporters at a news conference last month. “That’s not the fundamental issue.”

Instead of reforming Prop. 47, Newsom said the state needs to do more to crack down on organized retail theft, which he said has become a major problem.

Newsom is also taking a more tough-on-crime approach to governing, recently sending more state police officers to crack down on theft and violence in Oakland and drug dealing in San Francisco. Last month, he called for lawmakers to send him legislation to increase punishments for people who steal, including by making it easier for police to arrest suspects even if they did not witness them stealing and imposing harsher penalties for car thieves and people who resell stolen goods. He’s also calling for changes to the law that would make it easier for prosecutors to show a person met the $950 threshold for stolen goods.

Though most Democrats have backed Prop. 47, there has been some support for overhauling the proposition among the party’s moderates for years. But the endorsement of the ballot measure by Mahan and Breed indicates distaste for the law is growing among Democrats. They join San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, a fellow Democrat who said the law needs to be changed during his State of the City address earlier this month.

“That law may have made sense at the time,” he said. “However, since it was implemented, we’ve seen criminals exploit these reforms.”

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

California bill would ban all plastic shopping bags at grocery stores

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California would ban all plastic shopping bags in 2026 under a new bill announced Thursday in the state Legislature.

California already bans thin plastic shopping bags at grocery stores and other shops, but shoppers at checkout can purchase bags made with a thicker plastic that purportedly makes them reusable and recyclable.

Democratic state Sen. Catherine Blakespear said people are not reusing or recycling those bags. She points to a state study that found the amount of plastic shopping bags trashed per person grew from 8 pounds per year in 2004 to 11 pounds per year in 2021.

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“It shows that the plastic bag ban that we passed in this state in 2014 did not reduce the overall use of plastic. It actually resulted in a substantial increase in plastic,” Blakespear, a Democrat from Encinitas, said Thursday. “We are literally choking our planet with plastic waste.”

Twelve states, including California, already have some type of statewide plastic bag ban in place, according to the environmental advocacy group Environment America Research & Policy Center. Hundreds of cities across 28 states also have their own plastic bag bans in place.

Click here to read the full article in the AP News

Lawmakers get cold feet on adding a fixed charge based on income to California utility bills

Statehouse Democrats backtrack after getting an earful from constituents; defenders say the new charge is needed to help lower-income ratepayers and boost electrification

Rob Nikolewski/The San Diego Union-Tribune

Legislation establishing perhaps the most sweeping change in how Californians pay their utility bills may get swept right out of existence before it even gets implemented.

Passed at the end of the 2022 legislative session in Sacramento, Assembly Bill 205 was a massive omnibus, or “trailer,” bill that ran 21,633 words. Though almost completely overlooked at the time, AB 205 included provisions to adopt a fixed monthly charge onto utility bills — with the amount based on household income.

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The precise amounts won’t be determined until July 1 by the California Public Utilities Commission, but state assembly members and senators have gotten an earful from constituents worried or angry about paying an added fee.

Supporters say the awkwardly named “income-graduated fixed charge” would lead to lower monthly bills for low- and moderate-income ratepayers, if implemented correctly.

Even though AB 205 passed on the strength of votes from Democrats who hold a super-majority in both chambers of the State Capitol, a sizable chunk are now back pedaling.

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, has introduced legislation to completely repeal the language in AB 205 that deals with fixed charges. She was joined by 14 other Democrats during the announcement, including Assemblymember Chris Ward of San Diego and Sen. Catherine Blakespear of Encinitas.

“AB 205 should have had a very robust conversation among all legislators and to have it as part of a huge trailer bill is, in my opinion, not appropriate,” Irwin said at the Jan. 30 news conference.

Republicans who originally opposed AB 205 and have since tried to eliminate the fixed charge by amendments to other pieces of legislation are saying, “I told you so.”

“Let this unfortunately harsh reality serve as yet another example of how the majority party’s poor policies are driving people out of this state,” Sen. Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, said in a statement.

When asked whether Gov. Gavin Newsom supported or opposed Irwin’s bill, the governor’s press office said in an email to the Union-Tribune, “We typically don’t comment on pending legislation,” and pointed to multiple proposals submitted to the utilities commission, known as the CPUC for short.

“The governor is aware that the Public Utilities Commission is working diligently … and he looks forward to seeing a Commission proposal that is consistent with AB 205 when it is released,” the governor’s office said the day Irwin filed her legislation, called Assembly Bill 1999.

How a fixed charge would work

The impetus behind establishing a fixed charge based on income is two-fold:

  • to help lower-income customers who are straining to keep up with utility bills have shot up between 72 percent and 127 percent in the past 10 years among California’s investor-owned utilities, including San Diego Gas & Electric, and
  • to encourage customers to transition to a power system more reliant on electrification and slash the use of energy generated by fossil fuels.

Under AB 205, average prices per kilowatt-hour for electricity would be reduced for all customers — and, the thinking goes, would encourage households to install appliances like electric heat pumps, add battery storage systems and charge electric vehicles.

But AB 205 also creates a fixed monthly charge that escalates by income bracket and would be tacked on to residential bills each month.

The key is determining how much rates will be reduced and — crucially — how high the fixed charge will be and how much customers in each income tier will pay.

The language in AB 205 assigns the CPUC to implement specifics, which includes establishing a fixed charge program with at least three income brackets.

An administrative law judge at the commission is expected to release a proposed decision in a matter of weeks that will provide much-anticipated details. The proposed decision will then go before a vote of the CPUC’s five commissioners.

AB 205 requires the CPUC to authorize a fixed charge by July 1 — although its eventual impact on customer bills in SDG&E’s service territory is not expected to take effect until the second half of 2025.

Last year, the administrative law judge called on utilities, consumer advocates and environmental groups to submit respective proposals.

The judge and the voting commissioners don’t have to pick one proposal or another; the CPUC has a free hand to accept, reject, combine or alter any recommendations — or even come up with its own plan from scratch.

It’s also important to note that whatever the CPUC authorizes by July 1 will be the first iteration of a fixed charge. The dollar amounts are expected to change in succeeding years and the income brackets will likely expand from three to four.

All that said, here are some of the most recent proposals:

The three major investor-owned utilities that are regulated by the CPUC (SDG&E, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric) submitted a joint proposal last fall.

SDG&E officials suggested reducing the average per kilowatt-hour rate by 35 percent for its residential customers. Three income brackets break down like this:

  • Households enrolled in the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program who earn less than $28,000 a year would pay a fixed charge of $24 per month
  • Households with annual income between $28,000 to $69,000 would pay $34 per month, including all other CARE customers, plus those enrolled in the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) program)
  • All other households would pay $73 per month

The Public Advocates Office, the independent arm of the CPUC created to look out for utility customers, has a proposal that reduces the average per kilowatt-hour rate by 11 percent in the SDG&E service territory. Its income tiers call for:

  • CARE customers with incomes below the federal poverty level in SDG&E’s service territory paying a fixed charge of $4 per month
  • All other CARE customers and those in FERA paying $7 per month
  • All other customers paying $32.15 a month

The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a consumer group based in San Francisco, teamed with the National Resources Defense Council, a well-known environmental group. Their proposal would reduce average residential SDG&E rates by 21 percent. Their income brackets would see:

  • CARE customers paying $5 per month in fixed charges
  • FERA customers also paying $5, and
  • charging about $30 a month for all other residential customers

Rather than three brackets, the Sierra Club submitted a proposal with five tiers, with monthly charges as low as zero dollars for CARE and FERA customers and as high as $136.14 for upper-income customers. The Sierra Club proposal reduces the average per kilowatt-hour rate for SDG&E customers by 15 percent.

As per CPUC instructions, the proposals must be revenue-neutral, meaning an income-graduated fixed charge is not designed to increase the revenue collected nor the profits earned by investor-owned utilities such as SDG&E.

Rather, it reshuffles energy costs with the intention to benefit financially vulnerable customers while also helping California meet its decarbonization goals.

“My constituents are pissed off”

Creating a fixed charge has plenty of detractors on multiple fronts.

Many of the criticisms highlight long-time complaints that the CPUC has too cozy a relationship with the utilities and too often sides with them on policy decisions.

The Coalition for Environmental Equity and Economics praised Irwin’s repeal bill, saying the fixed charge plan “does not intend to lower energy bills but to bolster (investor-owned utility) profits with the highest guaranteed monthly fees in the United States.”

Some say encouraging greater electricity use while tacking on a monthly fee will curb incentives for customers to reduce their energy consumption. “This means that even if a household conserves by using solar or hanging out the clothes to dry in the sun, they cannot avoid a large fixed charge in the hundreds of dollars per year,” the Environmental Working Group said.

Others predict AB 205 will be challenged in court on the grounds that higher-income customers will pay a more expensive fixed charge than lower-income households even though they receive the same service.

But the biggest complaint centers on the prospect that utility bills for many customers will get even higher than they already are.

“My constituents are pissed off,” Assemblymember Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, said at Irwin’s news conference. “I know because they told me over and over again at every community coffee that I had in the fall and in the winter. Their rates keep going up.”

Irwin’s AB 1999 repeal would cap the fixed monthly fee at $10 for residential customers and $5 for those enrolled in the CARE financial assistance program. Any increases to the cap would be adjusted to the Consumer Price Index.

Irwin’s bill is expected to have its first hearing in early March before the Assembly Utility and Energy Committee.

Supporters: “Get this policy right”

Defenders of AB 205 say the Legislature shouldn’t roll back the implementation of a fixed charge before the CPUC comes out with a plan.

“We urge lawmakers to focus on helping get this policy right, rather than killing equitable rate reform before it has a chance to succeed,” said Merrian Boregson, California director of Climate & Energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Public Advocates Office said a repeal may result in unintended consequences.

“Almost 1 in 5 customers are behind on paying their utility bills, making it critical that the CPUC be allowed to amend the current rate structure to ensure all customers pay their fair share of costs to safely maintain and operate the power grid,” said Public Advocates Office director Matt Baker. “Lower-income and working-class customers must not be unfairly burdened with these costs.”

Matthew Freedman, staff attorney for The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a consumer advocacy group based in San Francisco, said, “If the Legislature repeals current law, bills for low-income Californians, especially those living in hotter regions of the state, will skyrocket, in particular during the hottest months.”

Another sticking point — how will the income data for each household be compiled and verified? Working out those details is still under discussion.

The utilities don’t want the extra responsibility. “We are very adamant that utilities don’t have this information, nor do we want it,” Adam Pierce, SDG&E’s vice president of energy procurement and rates told the Union-Tribune recently.

One potential solution calls for a third-party working with state agencies, such as the Franchise Tax Board, that already handle financial data and protect customer confidentiality.

“Income verification is an issue with every means-tested program that we have — from Social Security on down,” Baker of the Public Advocates Office said late last year. “So it’s not something that is insurmountable at all.”

Click here to read the full article in the SD Union Tribune

Assembly Republican Leader Gallagher Files Legal Brief Supportive of Taxpayer Protection Initiative

Gov. Newsom/Dems asked the California Supreme Court to have Taxpayer Protection Act removed from the ballot

Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe

The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, would give voters final approval on future taxes and fees imposed by state and local governments. The measure has already qualified for the November 2024 ballot.

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However, Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative Democrats want the California Supreme Court to pull the initiative from the ballot before voters can vote on it.

Unsurprisingly, polls found a majority of Californian voters actually liked the measure, with many saying that the Taxpayer Protection Act would do as the name of the act said and would give them more say in what taxes are moved forward, the Globe reported.

“The Taxpayer Protection Act was written to restore a series of voter-approved ballot measures that gave taxpayers, not politicians, more say over when and how new tax revenue is raised,” explained HJTA President Jon Coupal. “Over the past decade, the California courts have created massive loopholes and confusion in long-established tax law and policy. The Taxpayer Protection Act closes those loopholes and provides new safeguards to increase accountability and transparency over how politicians spend our tax dollars.”

According to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association the measure would amend the state constitution do the following if passed:

  • Require all new taxes passed by the Legislature to be approved by voters
  • Restore two-thirds voter approval for all new local special tax increases
  • Clearly define what is a tax or fee
  • Require truthful descriptions of new tax proposals
  • Hold politicians accountable by requiring them to clearly identify how revenue will be spent before any tax or fee is enacted
  •  New taxes and fees imposed starting in 2022 unless approved by voters will be canceled within a year of the act going into effect

The initiative is supported by the California Business Roundtable, the California Business Properties Association, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and has been endorsed by the California Chamber of Commerce.

However, former Governor Jerry Brown, Gov. Gavin Newsom and many other legislative Democrats oppose the Taxpayer Protection Act, claiming the Act “threatens voter rights” and “goes against local services.” The League of California Cities even tried to paint the measure as nothing more as a way for corporations and businesses to get out of paying some taxes, the Globe reported.

They’ve taken their opposition to the California Supreme Court to have it removed from the ballot. Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic state legislators sent a petition to the California Supreme Court, urging them to remove the measure from the November 2024 ballot because of it infringing on the rights of lawmakers to institute taxes and it being an unlawful California constitution revision.

In response, Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court, opposing Newsom’s and Democratic Legislative leaders’ lawsuit to remove the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act preemptively from the November 2024 ballot. Gallagher was joined on the amicus brief by former Democratic Legislators Don Perata and Joe Coto, along with the California Farm Bureau Federation, his office reported Friday.

“In a stunning attempt to undermine California voters’ authority, the governor and Legislative leaders are taking the near unprecedented action of using the courts to stop Californians from deciding a ballot measure,” said Gallagher. “The governor often claims to be a champion of democracy, yet he is afraid of letting voters decide whether they deserve commonsense protections on how California spends their money. This amicus brief is a way to give a voice to the millions of Californians who want a greater say in how they are taxed.”

Gallagher’s amicus brief “counters many of the arguments made in the governor’s lawsuit, including the claim that creating a voter approval requirement on state taxes is not allowed under California’s democracy system,” Gallagher’s office reported. “The amicus brief rightfully points out that the Taxpayer Protection Act builds on the foundation created by Proposition 13 and other popular voter-approved taxpayer rights ballot measures that courts have upheld. It also counters the argument that the Taxpayer Protection Act will cause a fiscal emergency for state and local governments, identifying that government agencies have complied with similar voter initiatives in the past.”

“As an additional insult to voters, there was never a vote by the Legislature authorizing the lawsuit or using public funds to pay for it,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher’s brief explains the reasons:

First, the Taxpayer Protection Act can best be understood as evolutionary, not  revolutionary. Whatever speculative parade of horribles Petitioner predicts consequent to its passage, the TPA is the product of a nearly half-century  struggle to articulate the boundaries of voter desire for tax limitation with  sufficient clarity. Never has this Court found an initiative singularly focused on  limiting the power of taxation to be a ‘revision’ to the Constitution. (See Amador  Valley Jt. Un. High Sch. v. State Bd. Of Equalization (1978) 22 Cal.3d 208, 227. [“To  conclude, however, that the mere imposition of tax limitations, per se,  accomplishes a constitutional revision would in effect bar the people from ever  achieving any local tax relief through the initiative process.”].)(Emphasis in  original.) Proscribing tax limitation by initiative would strike at a driving purpose  of the people’s reserve power of initiative. (See Rossi v. Brown (1995) 9 Cal.4th  688, 699 [“taxation was not only a permitted subject for the initiative, but was an intended object of that power.”].)

Second, Petitioner’s request for this Court’s extraordinary intervention  to preclude the exercise of voters’ “most precious of rights” (Associated Home  Builders etc., Inc. v. City of Livermore (1976) 18 Cal.3d 582, 591; Amador Valley, supra at p. 219), is wholly unnecessary as Petitioners’ allegations are entirely within the Court’s power to consider after the November elections should the TPA be  approved by voters. Petitioners’ catalog of calamities warranting this  “emergency” writ, while keeping with tradition for opposing any tax limitations, fails to account for State or local government’s evident abundance.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Californians eager to junk soft-on-crime law pushed by Kamala Harris

An overwhelming percentage of Californians, sick of surging robberies and “smash-and-grab” thefts at stores from Target to Nordstrom, are rallying to shelve a law once pushed by Vice President Kamala Harris that is blamed for the rise in crime.

In a new survey shared with Secrets, 70% of California voters back an initiative to amend Proposition 47, which passed when Harris was state attorney general and recategorized low-level theft and crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

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Instead, the Homeless, Drug Addiction, Retail Theft Reduction Act would increase penalties on criminals and also boost support for addicts and the homeless.

Crime “is as bad as I’ve seen it during my career,” former Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said.

“I can tell you, as a prosecutor, we weren’t seeing this kind of rampant theft prior to passage of Prop 47, and when people figure out there’s no consequences, of course, it escalates,” added Totten, chairman of the campaign to get the initiative on the November ballot. He is also CEO of the California District Attorneys Association.

The goal of Proposition 47 was to cut the prison population and increase treatments for convicts. Harris was involved in giving the proposition a nice-sounding title, “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.”

In changing the penalties for small crimes, there has been a surge in petty crime, especially store thefts, and drug use, which has led to higher homelessness, Totten said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) saw that firsthand recently. He said at a press conference this week that he watched as a shoplifter walked out of a Target with unpaid items. He asked a store clerk why somebody wasn’t called to stop the shoplifter.

The clerk, who apparently didn’t recognize Newsom, blamed the “governor” for reclassifying thefts under $950 as misdemeanors.

He denied that but said, “Why am I spending $380, and everyone can walk the hell right out?”

Lots of Californians are asking themselves the same thing.

In the Axis Research survey shared with Secrets, even those who voted for Proposition 47 want changes. “When asked if there should be changes to Prop 47 to allow for stronger penalties for those engaged in the trafficking of hard drugs or for repeat offenders of retail theft, voters support changes at a margin of 8-to-1. This includes 83% of those who voted ‘yes’ on Prop 47 who now support changes to the law,” the survey analysis said.

Totten said his group has already collected over 300,000 signatures of the 550,000 needed to get the initiative on the ballot. He said they are coming in at 40,000 a week.

Click here to read the full article in the Washington Examiner

Former Gov. Brown Joins Newsom and Dems In Opposition to Voter Approval on Tax Increases

Democrats are throwing everything they have to stop the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act

Photo: ca.gov


Former Governor Jerry Brown joined current Governor Gavin Newsom in opposition to the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act ballot measure in November that, if approved by voters, would give voters final approval on future taxes and fees imposed by state and local governments.

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The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, also known as “the Taxpayer Protection Act,” was developed as a ballot measure in 2021 by a group of California homeowners, taxpayers, and businesses. According to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), the measure would amend the state constitution do the following if passed:

  • Require all new taxes passed by the Legislature to be approved by voters
  • Restore two-thirds voter approval for all new local special tax increases
  • Clearly define what is a tax or fee
  • Require truthful descriptions of new tax proposals
  • Hold politicians accountable by requiring them to clearly identify how revenue will be spent before any tax or fee is enacted
  •  New taxes and fees imposed starting in 2022 unless approved by voters will be canceled within a year of the act going into effect

Throughout late 2021, signature gathering commenced, with the goal of getting at least 1.4 million signatures to have enough be valid for the just under 1 million needed to go on the ballot. Many California officials, initially unconcerned and doubtful that such a measure would get enough signatures were shocked when the Secretary of State’s office announced in early 2022 that 1,075,585 valid signatures had been gathered, more than enough to qualify for the 2024 ballot.

State and local officials and lawmakers quickly went on the offensive, labeling the Act as “threatening voter rights” and “going against local services.” Some, including the League of California Cities, even tried to paint the measure as nothing more as a way for corporations and businesses to get out of paying some taxes.

“This deceptive initiative would undermine the rights of local voters and their elected officials to make decisions on critical local services that residents rely upon,” said California State Association of Counties Executive Director Graham Knaus. “It creates major new tax loopholes at the expense of residents and will weaken our local services and communities.”

However, polls found that a majority of Californian voters actually liked the measure, with many saying that the Taxpayer Protection Act would do as the name of the act said and would give them more say in what taxes are moved forward.

“The Taxpayer Protection Act was written to restore a series of voter-approved ballot measures that gave taxpayers, not politicians, more say over when and how new tax revenue is raised,” explained HJTA President Jon Coupal. “Over the past decade, the California courts have created massive loopholes and confusion in long-established tax law and policy. The Taxpayer Protection Act closes those loopholes and provides new safeguards to increase accountability and transparency over how politicians spend our tax dollars.”

A California Supreme Court petition

Faced with the Act actually passing, opponents switched to a new tactic in 2023: Going to the state Supreme Court and having it removed from the ballot. Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic state legislators sent a petition to the California Supreme Court, urging them to remove the measure from the November 2024 ballot because of it infringing on the rights of lawmakers to institute taxes and it being an unlawful California constitution revision.

The initiative’s changes would infringe on lawmakers’ constitutional powers to impose state taxes. It would also illegally shift power from the governor to lawmakers by requiring charges now considered fees to be approved as taxes by the Legislature,” said the petition. “Such far-reaching changes to the foundational powers of the government would amount to an unlawful constitutional revision. Pre-election review is therefore necessary because the measure cannot lawfully be enacted through the initiative process.”

In December, the Court agreed to hear the case, with a final decision if the measure will go on the 2024 ballot likely to come in the next several months.

“As we said when the case was filed, this radical effort led by wealthy business interests impermissibly seeks to completely restructure our system of government in a way that will hobble the state’s ability to respond to future crises,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office added in a statement. “We are pleased the Court decided to hear this important case.”

Despite the matter now being in the State Supreme Court, popularity of the measure amongst voters only grew. Large groups, such as the Los Angeles Taxpayers Association came out in support of the measure, putting lawmakers in Sacramento even more on edge.

“Over and over again, California taxpayers have made it abundantly clear they want control over their government and how much they are taxed,” said Coupal in December. “I think all of these attacks are reflective of one thing and one thing only, is that if the Taxpayer Protection Act is on the ballot, it will pass. It’s extraordinarily popular.”

This led to this week when opponents of the measure decided to add more big names this week. Governor Jerry Brown, who led the state from 1975 to 1983 and again from 2011 to 2019, joined Newsom and Democratic state legislators, with he and his team petitioning against the measure. While most of the reasons given were the same, Brown also added in climate change worries into the reasons against the measure from appearing on the ballot.

The proposed ballot measure would deprive the Legislature of its power to tax by requiring a majority of voters to approve any tax increase,” said Brown’s lawyer David Goodwin to the court. “And by requiring every tax increase to identify the programs on which the money would be spent, the initiative would make it much harder to raise funds for general state needs or emergencies.”

Brown specifically warned that the passage of the measure would decimate the Cap and Trade program set up during his 2010’s term as Governor.

“The ballot measure would largely eliminate the ability of state agencies to regulate environmental pollution by imposing charges or cap-and-trade requirements on polluters and would remove the power of the Legislature to enforce state climate change policy,” Brown said. “Cap-and-trade funds have been used to restore wetlands and watersheds, fund light rail and the state’s bullet train and promote zero-emission motor vehicles.”

“Under the initiative, Oakland would be forced to stop collecting money on behalf of the libraries unless Oakland holds another election in which the voters re-approve the library tax. In the meantime, library funding would be interrupted, libraries would close, and one of the most important civic services provided to the children of Oakland would be disrupted if not eliminated.”

Brown out against the measure

However, even with Brown now on board, many experts are unsure if it will be enough to convince the Supreme Court to pull the measure from the ballot only nine months out from the election.

“Democrats are throwing everything they have to stop this, because they know that if it passes, people will likely not want money going towards what they are trying to push,” Dana, a Capitol staffer told the Globe on Friday. “This measure has been in the background for a long time, but slowly becoming more and more into focus. Look at how much Newsom and everyone have been slowly ratcheting up their pushes against it. You don’t petition the California Supreme Court unless you are worried. And if they are bringing in high profile people like Brown, then yeah, they know that this is likely going to be voted on in November.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Here’s what to know about the California special election to succeed Kevin McCarthy

Candidates hoping to serve the last seven-ish months of retired Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s term filed their paperwork last week for the March 19 special election in California’s 20th Congressional District.

HECTOR AMEZCUA hamezcua@sacbee.com

The deadline for seeking to be on the ballot was Jan. 25, but California’s secretary of state is required to send a certified list of candidates to county elections officials today so they can start printing ballots.

The special election primary election comes two weeks after the regularly-scheduled primary, where some of the same candidates are running for a two-year term to start in January 2025. Here’s what voters should know:

WHY IS THERE A SPECIAL ELECTION? There’s a special election in California’s 20th, a solidly-red district encompassing parts of Kern, Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties, because former Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, retired from Congress on Dec. 31, 2023. But the two-year House term does not end until January 2025. McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, left after being ousted as House speaker in October.

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The seat will remain empty until the special election fills the seat. U.S. House vacancies must be filled through elections unlike in the Senate, where the governor can appoint an official before an election fills the seat. HOW DOES A SPECIAL ELECTION WORK? Since the election is for this abbreviated term, the winner will be sworn into the House of Representatives almost immediately. If a candidate gets a majority of the votes on March 19, they win outright and become the next representative swiftly.

If not, the top two vote-getters regardless of party advance to a May 21 run-off, where voters will choose candidates again. Whoever wins then will be sworn in almost immediately. The winner of the special election will serve until Jan. 3, 2025, when this congressional term ends and the next one begins. That’s when the winner of the regularly-scheduled election — the primary is March 5 and the general Nov. 5 — will be sworn in for a two-year term. And yes: That winner is historically is the same candidate if they run in both elections.

WHEN WILL I GET MY BALLOT FOR THE SPECIAL ELECTION? Voters in California’s 20th will get two primary ballots this year. The special election primary is March 19.

There will be a separate ballot than for the March 5 primary. All California active registered voters get ballots in the mail. People can still vote in person on March 5 and March 19. March 5 primary: Ballots will start being sent out by Feb. 5. Drop-off locations will open Feb. 6. March 19 primary: Ballots will start being sent out by Feb. 19. Drop-off locations will open Feb. 20.

WHO IS RUNNING IN THE SPECIAL ELECTION? Write-in candidates for the special election can still file paperwork through March 5. However there is a preliminary list of candidates before the secretary of state sends a certified one sometime today. California’s 20th is the state’s most Republican district. Below are people from their notice to candidates.

The presumed frontrunner is Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, who served as McCarthy’s district director for nearly a decade before being elected to the Legislature. Fong is running in both the special and regularly-scheduled elections, but his campaign for the two-year term faces a legal challenge by California’s secretary of state. Other Republicans considered well-known by analysts who are running for both the special and regularly-scheduled elections are Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and Fresno casino owner Kyle Kirkland.

Democrat Marisa Wood, a Bakersfield school teacher who lost to McCarthy in the 2022 election, and Ben Dewell, a no-party-preference scientist, are running in both too. Candidates listed for only the special election are Republican Anna Zoe Cohen, a high school employee, Democrat Harmesh Kumar, a clinical psychologist and businessman and no-party-preference candidates James V. Cardoza, a real estate photographer and David J. Fluhart, a cannabis grower.

Republicans only listed for the March 5 primary are “America First” businessman David Giglio, California City Mayor Kelly Kulikoff and former fighter pilot Matt Stoll. Kern County tech entrepreneur Stan Ellis will be on only the March 5 ballot but has endorsed Fong. Democrat Andy Morales, a security guard, and no-party-preference candidate T.J. Esposito, a businessman, are also seeking the full term.

WHAT IS THE LEGAL SKIRMISH OVER VINCE FONG’S CANDIDACY? California’s secretary of state asked an appeals court last week to drop Fong as a congressional candidate for the November election. A Sacramento County Superior Court had said in December that the Bakersfield Republican could be on the ballot for Congress and the Assembly. Before filing under an extended deadline as a candidate in California’s 20th, Fong qualified to run for re-election to the Assembly. The secretary of state said he could not remove himself from the Assembly race or be on the ballot for different seats under California elections code.

Click here to read that the full article in sanluisobisbo.com

Two Democrats battle to keep Katie Porter’s Orange County U.S. House seat blue

Armed with a whiteboard and a penchant for grilling corporate executives during congressional hearings, Katie Porter quickly emerged as an apostle for Democrats in Orange County.

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press; Joanna Weiss for Congress)

But despite spending millions on her campaign and having a national profile, she won reelection in 2022 by only a sliver. Now, with Porter running for Senate, two top Democrats — Sen. Dave Min and Joanna Weiss — have emerged to take on former GOP Assemblyman Scott Baugh in 2024.

For Democrats, both in Orange County and nationally, the stakes are high. The 47th Congressional District is among four Orange County-based districts that are expected to be among the nation’s most competitive in the 2024 election as Republicans and Democrats fight for control of the House.

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“If Democrats can’t keep this seat, they have no hope of winning the House majority, because demographically this is exactly the type of district that is coming into the Democrats coalition,” said David Wasserman, a congressional forecaster for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

In Porter’s district, which includes a large swath of the Orange County coast and Irvine, Democrats have a slight voter registration advantage, but it’s close enough to be a prime target for Republicans in 2024.

Orange County’s transformation into a more culturally and economically diverse region has turned the place Ronald Reagan once said was where “good Republicans go before they die” into a political battleground.

In 2018, Democrats, including Porter, flipped four congressional districts in what they celebrated as a “blue wave.” Republicans won back two of those seats in 2020. The 2022 midterms were a stalemate.

“Neither Dave Min nor Joanna Weiss is the phenomenon of Katie Porter, not in their persona, and not in their ability to raise money. And so it’s going to take a lot of resources on the national chess board coming from the Democrats to make the seat competitive,” said Jon Fleischman, a former state GOP executive director and a political strategist.

For months, Democrats debated over which candidate has the best chance to finish in the top two in the March primary and beat Baugh in the November election.

Min’s supporters cite his appeal with Asian Americans, an impactful group of swing voters, his support from police unions and his legislative record supporting abortion rights, gun control and environmental protections — stands expected to draw Democrats to the polls.

Weiss has grown a large base of support from anti-Trump suburban women who argue she is the stronger candidate on progressive issues such as abortion and is focused on economic and environmental issues that are pivotal to Orange County voters. The support of both groups is expected to be key to keeping a Democrat in the seat.

Min argues that most female voters over the age of 30 who rank abortion as a top issue are already aligned with Democrats, noting “that is not a swing vote at this point.”

Both candidates have spent time — and money — appealing to Democrats by touting their progressive agendas. Min has raised about $1.2 million this cycle, while Weiss has $1.2 million including $225,000 that she lent her campaign. The candidates have roughly $825,000 and $832,000 cash on hand, respectively, according to campaign finance disclosure reports submitted in September.

Min, who has secured endorsements from the California Democratic Party and Porter, this month sent a mailer to voters, including independents, citing his record of protecting abortion rights, pushing for tougher gun laws and legislation he’s written in an effort to end offshore drilling.

“Those who know CA-47 best … have overwhelmingly endorsed Dave Min because of his track record of winning tough elections and standing up for the values of Orange County, including defending reproductive rights, advocating for tougher gun laws, working to end offshore oil drilling, and fighting to protect survivors of sex abuse and domestic violence,” Dan Driscoll, Min’s campaign manager, said in a statement to The Times.

Early this month, he dropped his first advertisement in the race, a six-figure video buy that will run on digital and cable platforms titled “United” and boasting the message that “California Democrats are united behind one candidate: Dave Min.”

Weiss, who founded Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE), a fundraising and volunteer organization that aims to advance progressive candidates, has picked up endorsements from several California representatives including Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier) and Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), a close ally of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

Weiss’ campaign has pounced on Min’s 2023 DUI arrest as a critical weakness that Baugh could exploit in the general election. Min was arrested last May and charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence after a California Highway Patrol officer witnessed him running a red light while driving a state-owned car just a few miles from the Capitol.

He apologized, saying he accepted “full responsibility” and that there was “no excuse” for his actions. Just hours after news of Min’s arrest broke, the California Republican Party distributed an email calling him “DUI Dave” and saying he had “put lives at risk when he made the reckless decision to drive drunk.”

Min’s arrest was enough to sway Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, whose district includes many of the same cities in the 47th, to endorse Weiss.

“There’s no reason to drive drunk. That’s a bad judgment call and that’s concerning,” said Foley, who ran unsuccessfully against Min in the state Senate primary in 2020. “This is going to get used by Republicans. They’re going to use it against him and he won’t be able to win the general.”

The fight took a tense turn on Thursday, when Weiss’ campaign released an ad criticizing Min for allegedly accepting money from special interests and for his DUI. The ad included dashcam footage from the police patrol car that showed Min swaying as the officer conducts a field sobriety test.

“It’s important that voters in our community understand their choice in this election. Dave Min cannot be trusted and he is a huge liability for Democrats in this must-win race to flip the House,” Weiss’ campaign manager Emma Weinert said.

Min responded by remarking on X, formerly Twitter, that “it’s so disappointing to see Joanna Weiss run such a negative campaign.”

Min’s camp argues that Weiss, a first-time candidate, doesn’t have the name recognition needed to win such a competitive seat.

Questions have also been raised about the source of money Weiss has used to support her campaign. An article published by the Daily Beast this month suggests funds Weiss has put into the campaign is income earned by her husband Jason Weiss, who specializes in labor and employment law at the firm Sheppard Mullin and has defended the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in sex abuse lawsuits.

Weiss called the story “a desperate attack.”

“I’m the No. 1 woman fundraiser in the country who isn’t an incumbent in the 2024 cycle,” she said. “I think the article unfairly attempted to highlight the purported self-funding, but we’ve had men completely self-fund their campaigns here in Orange County and no one asked them where their money came from.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

About Last Week… ‘Please tread on me’

California is where freedom goes to die

“Please tread on me.”

(Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)


Maybe the legislature wouldn’t exactly approve that textual change to the state flag – though some legislators might vote for it, considering their private proclivities – but at least it would be honest.

There are more than 400,000 business-related regulations on the state’s books, doctors were (even if only temporarily) banned from being honest with their patients, parents worried their eight-year-old may be a bit too young to learn about anal sex are harassed, and any attempt to voice any opinion outside of what is deemed appropriate is met with a metaphorical boot stamping on the misthinker’s face.

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As Joel Kotkin recently wrote, California is where freedom goes to die.

Of course, feel free to do things in public that only a few years ago would get you tossed in jail, even if you did them in private.  

So it comes as no surprise that a bill has been proposed to limit how fast cars will go. Scott Weiner, San Francisco state senator and quite possibly a pro-treader, has introduced a bill that will make sure new cars, starting in 2027, cannot travel faster than 10 miles over the speed limit.

So, not quite the “kill switch” proposed by the feds, but at least a “coma switch” would be in every car.  And, because speed limits do things like change, the system would have to track a cars exact location at all times.

One way around this for people with long driveways would be to set an 834 MPH for said driveway and have some fun, but that may be legally impractical.

However, it will help a certain demographic group: stalkers. All they would have to do is to make sure to only buy used cars without coma switches and then they would never have to worry about their prey getting away.

And what will fancy Tesla owners do now when they will no longer be able to hit the “plaid” button?  

Welcome back to khaki, guys.

But the over-regulation does not stop in the driveway; in LA it’s moving into the house.  The county Board of Supervisors, apparently having nothing else to do, passed an ordinance that will set a maximum room temperature so people don’t have to suffer the heat.

First, that’s absurd.  Second, do the four supes who voted for the ordinance not know how INCREDIBLY DAMAGING TO THE CLIMATE AND UNFAIR AIR CONDITIONING IS!?!?

Well, let’s remind them. Eric Dean Wilson wrote a piece for Time a couple of years ago that the county nabobs clearly should read before finalizing the ordinance.

Wilson, who used the phrase “the terrible cost of comfort” in a book subtitle, has much to say on the subject. First, air conditioning can lead to “thermal monotony” which could make people “more vulnerable to heat-related illness.” 

As to thermal monotony, I didn’t know living in San Deigo was so dangerous, but I digress.

But if people are going to have to use – sigh – air conditioning, at least it should be in a communal space:

“The troubled history of air-conditioning suggests not that we chuck it entirely but that we focus on public cooling, on public comfort, rather than individual cooling, on individual comfort. Ensuring that the most vulnerable among the planet’s human inhabitants can keep cool through better access to public cooling centers, shade-giving trees, safe green spaces, water infrastructure to cool, and smart design will not only enrich our cities overall, it will lower the temperature for everyone. It’s far more efficient this way.”

Words fail me.

Speaking of failing words, three Democrats and Steve Garvey faced off in a senate race debate last week.  Garvey did well, though you would not know that from the vast majority of the media coverage.

The never-ending screeching of Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee about Big Bad Don was an exercise in talking-point induced tinnitus and utterly meaningless outside of the failed attempt to get Garvey to invoke the Orange Devil as his lord and master.

“Will you vote…” questions are sub-gotchas and remind one of the “why won’t you condemn X for Y?” reporters shout at members of Congress.  The question has no meaning and is just a verbal prop on which the reporter can hang anything they wish.  Didn’t answer?  WHY NOT?  Didn’t condemn?  HE’S EVIL!

But Garvey did have a highlight reel moment when chatting with the egregious Schiff. Adam was yammering on about Trump and democracy and this happened:

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe