CA Lawmakers Pass Bill to Require 100% Clean Energy Statewide

Lawmakers ignore the additional $3.2 billion in costs in SB 1020, which will be passed on to 27 million ratepayers

Assembly Bill 1020, a bill to establish 100% clean energy statewide, and require state agencies to accelerate their 100% clean energy policy goal by 10 years, passed the Senate Tuesday. This is just one of many 2022 climate change bills being passed by the Legislature.

Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) railed against the bill critical of propping up a lofty goal with no plan on how to achieve this.

He’s right. California lawmakers have a long history of this laissez faire style of legislating: lawmakers pass the vague law, and then allow unelected, politically appointed regulatory officials and agencies to write the laws and implementation process.

The state has passed ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and clean energy goals since 2006 when AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At that time, AB 32 required statewide greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to at least 40% below the 1990 level by 2020. But the state achieved that in only a few short years, largely because California did not have much greenhouse gas pollution, so lawmakers moved the goal posts out to 2030, which allowed the state to continue passing more and more strict regulations and laws.

Why should anyone care about AB 32 and its debilitating regulations?

AB 32 directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to be the lead agency to implement the law.  The Climate Action Team, made up of relevant state agencies, is charged with helping direct state efforts on the reduction of GHG emissions and engaging state agencies.

The Climate Action Team includes:

  • California Environmental Protection Agency
  • Governor’s Office of Planning and Research
  • California Air Resources Board
  • Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency
  • Government Operations Agency
  • California Natural Resources Agency
  • California Department of Public Health
  • Office of Emergency Services
  • California Transportation Agency
  • California Energy Commission
  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Water Resources
  • Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery
  • State Water Resources Control Board

California lawmakers also passed Senate Bill 2, the Renewable Portfolio Standard program in 2011, which required all retail sellers of electricity and publicly owned utilities to buy 33 percent of the electricity delivered to their retail customers from renewable resources by 2020.

Again, the goalposts were moved and now electricity providers must each meet at least 50% of their electrical load from renewable energy resources by December 31, 2026, and at least 60% by December 31, 2030.

State law – codified under SB 100 (De León), establishes the policy that eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources supply 100% of all retail sales of electricity to California end-use customers and 100% of electricity procured to serve all state agencies by December 31, 2045, the “100% clean energy policy.”

Bill analysis published opposition to SB 1020: “The Western Electrical Contractors Association writes in opposition to the bill’s requirements of project labor agreements on state agency procurement, claiming the requirement will raise costs, reduce competition and discriminate against otherwise qualified workers. The State Water Contractors and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California have an Oppose Unless Amended position on the bill, citing cost concerns from the accelerated procurement required for SWP. A coalition of environmental and environmental justice organizations have an Oppose Unless Amended position on the bill, noting their concern with policies – such as RPS – which provide incentives to bioenergy production, specifically from dairy digester biomethane.”

Notably, lawmakers ignored the additional $3.2 billion in costs in SB 1020 to the Department of Water Resources, which will pass the costs on to the 27 million ratepayers of 29 public water agencies of the State Water Project.

Click here to read the full article at California Globe

Oakland Sued Over Ballot Measure to Allow Noncitizen Voting

Lawsuit says judge struck down similar San Francisco law

A judge’s recent ruling that a San Francisco law allowing noncitizens to vote in school board elections is unconstitutional threatens a similar plan in Oakland, as well as efforts in other cities like San Jose.

The same organizations and law firm that won their case against San Francisco’s 2016 law sued Oakland officials Aug. 16 to keep their proposed measure off the November ballot.

“Oakland’s noncitizen voting measure should be removed from the ballot because it will be a waste of public resources to spend money … to submit a measure to voters that can never be enacted,” the complaint said. “Allowing a vote on an unconstitutional measure will undermine the integrity of the initiative process.”

Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker said the city has yet to be served with the complaint and could not comment.

Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb, who is leading the effort to get the measure on the ballot, believes it is legally sound because it would not directly extend voting rights to noncitizens, but allow the city to do so if it is not prohibited by state law.

“There’s no legal basis for their lawsuit,” Kalb said.

In January, the San Jose City Council voted to study the possibility of letting noncitizens vote in municipal elections, but they weren’t pressing to get a measure on the November 8 ballot.

San Francisco voters extended voting rights to noncitizens – both legal and unauthorized residents – to cast ballots in school board elections in 2016, and the Board of Supervisors extended the law indefinitely in 2021.

The conservative nonprofits United States Justice Foundation, based in Phoenix, and the California Public Policy Foundation in Laguna Niguel filed suit, arguing the provision was unconstitutional.

In a July 29 ruling, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard B. Ulmer, Jr. agreed, citing the California Constitution stating that only “A United States citizen 18 years of age and resident in this state may vote.” Ulmer also noted that several sections of the Elections Code say voters must be U.S. citizens.

Ulmer rejected the city’s argument that the state constitution’s “may vote” language isn’t restrictive.

“By the same logic, children under 18 and residents of other states ‘may also’ vote in California elections, which our constitution does not allow,” Ulmer wrote, adding that had the constitution said “shall vote,” it would have made voting mandatory in the state.

Ulmer’s ruling came just days after the New York Supreme Court justice struck down a New York City law passed in November that would have let 800,000 noncitizens who are permanent legal residents or authorized to work vote in municipal elections, citing similar barriers in the state constitution.

On Aug. 12, Ulmer also rejected San Francisco’s request to stay his ruling while the city appeals, saying he disagreed with the city’s contention that the case presented “difficult questions of law.”

“This is not a difficult or close question,” Ulmer wrote.

The Oakland lawsuit argues that the city’s voters have “a constitutional right in avoiding the vote dilution that flows from extending voting privileges to those not authorized to vote in the state.”

James V. Lacy, the lawyer representing the organizations that sued over the measure, argued it would benefit Asians, Hispanics and Whites who have larger shares of noncitizens among them at the expense of Oakland’s nearly one in four Black residents. But Kalb said the city is home to a large number of noncitizen African immigrants as well.

There is a history of noncitizen voting in the United States. New York allowed it for school elections until 2000. Advocates for the Oakland measure said noncitizens could vote in the United States until 1926. Sin Yen, spokeswoman for Chinese for Affirmative Action, which led the coalition that campaigned for San Francisco’s law, said noncitizen voting efforts are also afoot in Santa Ana, New York, Boston and Chicago.

Advocates argue that immigrant parents of kids in city schools shouldn’t be denied a voice in their governance just because they aren’t citizens. Oakland estimates that 13,000 of 230,000 voting-age residents are noncitizens of various ethnic backgrounds, including Hispanic, African and Asian.

“If you’re a parent or legal guardian of children under 18, you should be able to decide who runs the schools,” Kalb said. “It seems so obvious, like such a no-brainer. It’s sad there are some people who don’t want that to happen.”

Critics say they’re not anti-immigrant but that extending the vote to noncitizens unfairly benefits foreigners at the expense of the country’s own citizens.

“The purpose of our lawsuit is not to denigrate noncitizen rights in the state – noncitizens have all kinds of rights,” Lacy said. “But the idea of voting is something completely different. If you talk to a general person in the state about what is the qualification for voting, the general feeling is, well, you have to be a citizen.”

Click here to read that the full article at the Mercury News

Teen killed in Shootout Near Hollywood Walk of Fame

A teenager is dead following a shootout along Hollywood’s Walk of Fame overnight.

The victim was shot just after 1 a.m. on Hollywood Boulevard. 

Preliminary information reveals it appears that a group of men – at least one armed with a gun – tried robbing another group of men, leading to a shootout with multiple people shooting at each other. 

Witnesses said they heard about 10 gunshots. 

The victim was taken to the hospital where he later died, officials said. He was shot multiple times. 

At least four suspects were seen running from the scene, including at least one that had been with the victim. 

It’s unclear if this was an attempted robbery, or if the men got into some type of argument that led to the shootout. 

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

What proposed laws are imperiled by Gov. Newsom’s rumored presidential ambitions?

SB 57 was supposed to help addicts, but critics decried legal drug dens

He’s trolling red-state Republican governors with attack ads, picking fights over the country’s most hot-button issues and calling out political “bullies” in a baseball cap to cover up his usually-coiffed hair.

Despite all the signs, Gov. Gavin Newsom insists he’s not running for president.

But a very high-profile veto message this past week quickly had both critics and some supporters asking if the proud progressive governor has suddenly started weighing how his decisions in Sacramento will go over with more moderate voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, the first stops on any presidential hopeful’s road to the White House.

Newsom vetoed SB 57, which would have allowed Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles to open supervised injection sites for drug addicts. It seemed like the kind of out-of-the-box approach to a vexing social problem that Newsom would embrace.

As San Francisco’s mayor in 2004, he made national headlines marrying gay couples when most fellow Democrats clung to the tradition that only a man and woman could tie the knot. So this past week when he rejected SB 57, critics blamed his rumored presidential ambitions – and his fear of attack ads decrying his state’s legal drug dens.

“We are incredibly disappointed and heartbroken that Governor Newsom has put his own political ambitions ahead of saving thousands of lives and vetoed this critical legislation,” Jeannette Zanipatin, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement after the veto.

With the Legislature wrapping up its latest session this week, there are dozens of bills from California’s left-leaning Democrats headed to the governor’s desk that could signal whether Newsom is concerned about his appeal to more moderate voters. Those include bills that would make it easier for felons to pass background checks and require judges to consider alternatives to jail when sentencing offenders.

None pose as big of a threat to his national aspirations as the safe injection site bill, political experts agree.

“This was definitely the biggest obstacle on the road to New Hampshire,” said veteran political analyst Dan Schnur.

Claremont McKenna College political science Professor Jack Pitney said it would be “easy to write the script for the attack ad” on SB 57. Opposition researchers would have a trove of visuals at their disposal of addicts passed out on the streets of San Francisco, where the city’s liberal voters in June overwhelmingly recalled their district attorney who’d campaigned on alternatives to jail for offenders.

With even progressives pushing back when it comes to crime and quality of life, Pitney said, Newsom has to be wary of bills that could feed a narrative that he’s soft on crime.

“Particularly when it comes to crime policy, he has to reflect on what happened to Michael Dukakis,” Pitney said.

Dukakis was the Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential nominee whom Republican George H.W. Bush clobbered in a 1988 campaign that hammered on Dukakis’ veto of a bill that would have ended prison furloughs for murderers. Bush supporters ran ads calling out a Maryland rape by furloughed Massachusetts murder convict Willie Horton.

Pitney in a column earlier this month noted similarities between Newsom and Dukakis, who had won reelection in a landslide and was lauded for pushing progressive policies while balancing budgets. Both Democrats, Pitney wrote, suffer “Blue Bubble Syndrome” from spending their political lives in comfortably blue states. Progressive crime policies applauded by social justice activists might land with a thud among voters who have shown heightened concern about declining public safety and quality of life.

To that end, SB 731, which has passed the Legislature and would expand expungement of felony arrest and conviction records so people can more easily pass background checks, “could become a political liability,” Pitney said.

“Newsom may well sign it, but with the awareness that it is politically risky,” he said.

With Newsom so comfortably ahead in the polls, there’s not much focus on his re-election campaign this November. Instead, even though Newsom has said his longtime political ally, Vice President Kamala Harris, should be next in line after President Biden, his name is front and center about running for the White House in 2024. Polls show Biden and Harris are unpopular, even among Democrats, and that Newsom would be a viable alternative should Biden and Harris bow out.

Newsom’s Republican reelection opponent, state Sen. Brian Dahle, said he was “thankful SB 57 was vetoed” and “appalled” it even made it to Newsom’s desk. But he said others are on their way, like SB 2167, which would require judges to seek alternatives to incarceration.

“I voted NO! Enough is enough,” Dahle said on Twitter.

Another crime and drug-related bill Newsom may be wary of is SB 519, which in its early language would have decriminalized possession of hallucinogenic drugs by adults 21 and older including LSD, Ecstasy, mescaline and psilocybin mushrooms. The current version of the bill would merely require a study on doing that.

“If you were worried about being Governor Psychedelic,” said Thad Kousser, a UC San Diego political science professor, “I can see the campaign poster with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.”

Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution fellow who worked in the administration of former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and has consulted for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan, said a number of pandemic policy bills also may give Newsom pause.

Newsom ordered the first statewide stay-home order in March 2020, oversaw the most extensive school closures and some of the longest-lasting face mask mandates, and called for California to be the first state to require COVID-19 vaccines for children to attend school.

He has touted his pandemic policies as life-savers over Republican-led states that took a more hands-off approach. But at a time when most of the nation has moved on from pandemic concerns, more mandates from Sacramento may leave a bad taste among voters across the country.

“If you want to cobble together 270 electoral votes, I don’t think you want to get bogged down in a mask issue,” Whalen said.

A couple of the most controversial bills, SB 1464, to require local law enforcement to enforce mask mandates, and SB 871, to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for schoolkids, haven’t made it out of committee. But another bill, SB 866, that would let teens age 15-17 get the vaccine without their parents’ consent continues to move through the Legislature.

Click here to read the full article at The Mercury News

California wants to end sales of new gas cars by 2035. Here are 4 key roadblocks

California wants to drive a stake into the heart of gas-powered vehicles.

State regulators approved a policy Thursday that will ban the sale of new gas cars by 2035 in what is the country’s largest auto market.

It’s part of an ambitious plan to fight climate change by accelerating the transition to an electric future, and it’s a decision a handful of states are expected to follow.

Despite the strong demand for electric cars, sales made up only 3% of total car sales last year.

The race now is for automakers to increase the production of electric vehicles, but that alone won’t be enough.

Analysts say the industry faces several challenges in ending sales of gas-powered cars by 2035.

Electric vehicles are still really expensive

The average price of an electric vehicle is currently $66,000 — well beyond the means of many people.

“That’s not going to fit in a lot of people’s monthly budgets at this point in time,” says Jessica Caldwell, executive director of Insights at Edmunds. “They [automakers] have to introduce the more expensive, more costly, higher-margin vehicles first to make the money to start to finance some of the lower-cost vehicles.”

Car companies like Chevrolet and General Motors are aiming to release more-affordable options in the coming years. A key provision of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act also provides a revamped $7,500 tax credit when buying a new electric car, although it has a number of caveats.

But to make cars more affordable, electric vehicles will need to make batteries more cost-effective.

“The batteries are simply more expensive than the internal combustion engine,” says Carla Bailo, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research. “Most manufacturers are saying by 2025 batteries will be on par with the cost of an internal combustion engine and when that happens, that will definitely help bring the price down.”

However, making batteries cheaper presents another challenge.

China dominates the critical minerals market

China currently dominates the rare earth mineral market and the auto industry has long relied on the country to source EV batteries.

The Biden administration is pushing automakers to reduce their dependence on China, but that’s easier said than done.

“Something in the order of about 90% of the lithium that’s used in batteries is processed in China right now, which is not a desirable situation,” says Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst with Guidehouse Insights.

And finding new sources or partners won’t be easy.

“Obtaining minerals from places with which we have trade agreements is going to be the biggest challenge because there’s huge competition for that,” says Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with Cox Automotive. “Everybody’s scrambling to cut deals for the minerals.”

But even if companies are able to ramp up production, they could run into another problem.

The EV infrastructure is still pretty limited

Not only are there too few charging stations across the country, many existing stations don’t always work.

A recent survey by J.D. Power found that the limited availability and reliability of charging stations is a key factor holding people back from buying electric vehicles.

The federal government is spending $7.5 billion to expand the country’s charging infrastructure.

But even if it gets there, it’s not clear how much an already fragile and vulnerable electric grid can handle.

Then, there’s another hurdle.

Adjusting the auto industry’s workforce

Embracing an electric future and accelerating the mass adoption of electric vehicles will require automakers to adjust their workforce.

Companies will need engineers with a different set of skills for this transition.

“They’re not going to be designing new transmissions, but instead they need people with the skills to design electric motors and electrical architectures,” says Abuelsamid.

Analysts expect to see companies lay off some workers while hiring in departments geared toward electric vehicles in the coming years.

Click here to read the full article at CapRadio

CA Senate Passes ‘Healthcare’ Clinics for K-12 Students, Along Party Lines

The state and school boards can actually facilitate abortions, vaccinations, and drug abuse treatment for children without parental consent

Sen. Ochoa Bough debating AB 1940. (Photo: screen capture sen.ga.gov)

California Democrats just passed a bill to fund healthcare clinics in the state’s K-12 public schools, against Republicans’ and the California Department of Finance’s objections. Included in the primary health care services are mental health services, “reproductive health services” (abortions, birth control), vaccinations, and drug abuse treatment. The clincher is that parental consent is not needed for any of these health services. In fact, according to bill analysis, “The Right to Life League said that this bill will ensure that state-funded chemical or surgical abortions can secretly and conveniently take place on school campuses, public or private, without parental involvement and without a doctor.”

The Department of Finance warned of the hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the School-Based Health Center Support Program (SBHCS Program).

The Senate had an intense debate Friday over AB 1940 by Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) to fund healthcare clinics within California public schools.

Senate Republicans were particularly concerned about these onsite health centers that don’t require parental involvement. Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Redlands) asked Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) about the ages of children served, and if the health clinics would be in elementary, middle and/or high schools. 

“The decisions are being made by schools and school districts,” Sen. Hurtado said. “It will be decided at the local level what services they provide to students.”

“Last year we passed a bill prohibiting health plans from informing parents medications children as young as 12 could receive,” Sen. Ochoa Bogh said. “We are now providing these services on campuses without parents, through their health plans, knowing what is being provided to their children.”

“We are opening a can of worms. Think very deeply about what that could mean,” Sen. Ochoa Bogh said. “That means that state, our school boards, can actually facilitate medical treatment for children with absolutely no knowledge or engagement from the parents. We are basically emancipating our children with their healthcare in the state of California. As a parent and future grandparent, I am extremely concerned about where we are going.”

 According to the California Family Council, the bill passed last year that Sen. Ochoa Bogh referred to is AB 1184 by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley), which requires insurance companies to hide from parents “sensitive” services including abortions, sexual assault, and mental health treatment that their children are receiving. Planned Parenthood sponsored that bill and would be one of the beneficiaries of this new bill, because they are advocating to set up health clinics within public schools.

“These on-site health care centers are to provide ‘comprehensive health care’ that is ‘age appropriate,” said Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield). “We all know that this legislative body has passed legislation that says appropriate age healthcare is 12-year-olds, for them to be taken off campus for an abortion without their parent’s knowledge.”

“This is why thousands of parents are taking their kids out of public schools, because it is turning into a health facility without our knowledge, and it is wrong,” Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Redding) said. “[Parents] do understand one thing, that this legislature is moving in a direction to take away the control of your child and letting somebody else administer their healthcare at school.”

“I have heard a lot of comments today about what people want and honestly what I want is for politicians to keep their nose out of our business and the business of our kids,” said Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Murrieta). “It is not the government’s role to raise our children. It is not the government’s role to decide what healthcare is best for them. Parents need to be involved. Parents need to be the ultimate decision maker regarding these health decisions for their children.”

“What if your child is thinking about ‘self-harm or suicide,’” Melendez asked her Senate colleagues. “Wouldn’t you want to know that that is going on in your child’s life so that you could partner with the healthcare professionals to help your child? Would you appreciate it if you were cut out of the loop and didn’t even know was thinking that?”

“Government employees and politicians think they know what is best for kids,” Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Chico) said. “The blood bond of having a child, of raising a child is so superior than the abstract concept ‘we know what is best.’”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Paul Pelosi Kicked Out of California Police Charity After Flashing Membership During DUI Arrest

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was kicked out of a California law enforcement association on Thursday after he flashed his lifetime membership card to officers during his DUI arrest earlier this year.

The California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation’s (CHP 11-99) decision to rescind Paul Pelosi’s membership comes just two days after he pleaded guilty to a DUI charge over the May 28 crash in Napa.

“After evaluating the events that led to Mr. Pelosi’s arrest and conviction, we are revoking Mr. Pelosi’s lifetime membership with the CHP 11-99 Foundation effective immediately,” the group said in a statement.

When the 82-year-old was questioned by highway patrol officers and asked for identification, a slurring Pelosi had offered up his driver license and the 11-99 membership card, according to a criminal complaint.

“The mere presentation of his 11-99 Foundation identification credentials to law enforcement made it appear that he was presenting them for preferential treatment,” the group said, adding it was in violation of their terms and conditions.

CHP 11-99, which supported state highway patrol officers and their families, informed Pelosi of the decision via a letter on Wednesday.

The group said they’ll refund whatever Pelosi had donated once he returned all membership items he received when joining.

Pelosi dodged jail time during his sentencing in Napa County Superior Court on Tuesday after being ordered to serve three years’ probation as part of his plea deal.

The terms of his probation included five days in jail, but Pelosi will be given credit for those days, the judge said.

Roadside dashcam footage released by authorities in the wake of his guilty plea shows Pelosi slurring his words after the late night crash.  

In the video, Pelosi can be heard mumbling to an officer that he had a “glass of champagne before dinner” and also “a glass of white.” 

Click here to read the full article in the NY Post

With Our Car Culture, No Gas Is No Glory

Some parents offer their children a blessing every time they see them.

architecture auto automobiles bridge
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My dad’s holy water is gasoline.

Whenever I visit him, he looks under my car to make sure the fuel lines aren’t leaking, then switches on the ignition to see if the tank is at least half full, like he says it always should be. Whenever Dad visits me, he comes holding a five-gallon gas can to top off the lawnmower, weeder and edger we use on the patch of lawn I keep so we can have something to do together.

He’s a retired truck driver, someone who always tries to ride in style, despite his limited income. So most of Dad’s life lessons center on the combustion engine. Check the timing belts every morning. Ten cents saved on a gallon of lower-octane gas will cost you later. Always carry a wrench, jumper cables and a quart of oil. If you can’t own a truck, know someone who does.

Dad imbued me with a love of cars that continues. I own four gas-guzzling relics — a beat-up 1968 VW Bus, an immaculate 1974 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, a sturdy 1979 Ford SuperCab and a 2005 GMC Yukon that’s my daily driver. Yep, I wince at the pump every day — but I largely don’t mind, because I love ’em.

Strangers and friends are always surprised, because I seem like a Prius-driving liberal. I keep my fleet because it connects me to my self-sustaining, rancho libertarian roots. I boast that three of my four cars have carburetors, then laugh as I have to explain what one is. Owning an older car means constant vigilance and the acceptance that sooner or later, good times are going to break down. Besides, my jalopies force me to pay attention while I drive, since the most advanced thing any of them carries is a CD player.

So when I heard that California has banned the sale of new gas-powered cars after 2035, I didn’t immediately celebrate.

The development came via a vote by the California Air Resources Board, two years after Gov. Gavin Newsom tasked its members with developing and implementing a plan to accomplish the audacious goal. It’s the latest move in the state’s battle against anything that uses fossil fuels.

The air board last year banned the sale of gas-powered gardening equipment starting in 2024 and portable generators by 2028. More than 50 cities are limiting or outlawing natural gas in new homes and businesses. California is supposed to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045, and Newsom pushed the state Legislature earlier this month to make it harder to tap into new oil and natural gas wells near schools.

We’re doing all this to fight climate change and set an example for everyone else. Lauren Sanchez, Newsom’s climate advisor, described the gas-engine ban as “a huge day not only for California but the entire world.”

I’m all for cutting back on emissions. They exacerbate climate change, poison our environment and disproportionately affect minority communities, like the one I grew up in right next to the 91 Freeway that divides Anaheim and Fullerton. I appreciate California thinking big and its willingness to lead on important issues while other states look on. Coming into the Los Angeles Basin on a sunny morning and seeing a tarry gray cloud over it is a grim reminder of what we’ve done to ourselves.

But a crackdown on gas engines also threatens a communion that working-class Californians have shared for decades.

Learning how to work on your car is a rite of passage in car culture, a torch passed from hot-rodders to lowridersvan-life hipsters to import-car enthusiasts. Maybe you can’t own a home, but you can at least maintain something and call it your own.

You learn to respect the engine’s facets, whether you’re a gearhead or not. The different greases and grimes each part creates. The deep smell of oil, the acrid stench of gas. The symphony of sounds — a roar, a purr, a putter — each engine creates. An ecosystem of enthusiasts, generalists and specialists creates community (if mostly among men).

All of this is now endangered. California officials insist that only new gas-powered cars are being targeted. But no one buys that. In 2004, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger repealed the so-called grandfather clause on smog checks, which exempted cars older than 30 years. Now, it applies only to models from before 1975. With the new regulations, the slow drip against the combustion engine turns into a fire hose.

Again, I get the reason why. But telling Californians that banning combustion engines is necessary to save the planet isn’t enough. The air board also needs to realize that the culture gas-powered cars created is one that electric cars will have a hell of a time replacing. There’s no emotional attachment yet from the masses, and I don’t think there ever can be.

Nothing is cheap on electrics. Something as simple as getting out of the car turns into a dystopian mess if the computer doesn’t cooperate. Most need specialized mechanics for the tiniest fixes — you can’t call over a cousin to check on your car in the driveway. Their shape and feel remain robotic and antiseptic. Their sickly wheeze when on the move is such a stumbling block for blue-collar types that the electric version of Dodge’s iconic Charger muscle car will roar just like its gas-powered ancestor. Electric cars also aren’t as harmless for the environment as proponents make them out to be, since mining for the rare-earth minerals that power them threatens oceans and Native American reservations alike.

These are just some of the reasons only a handful of my friends and family float around in electrics. Families tend to get hybrid SUVs; men favor mamalonas (massive trucks) or muscle cars that proudly belch out exhaust. None are conservatives; all believe in climate change. But the state will have to pry their Silverados from their cold, dead hands.

These might seem like selfish and trivial points in the face of the existential dread that is our air-quality emergency. But to dismiss such concerns is classic elitism. You can’t shame the working class out of what brings them joy. That’s why the air board hasn’t outright outlawed gas-powered engines — yet.

Bans in the name of saving Earth almost always fall on the very people they claim to uplift. I sadly know this from experience. In 2006, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced a program to ban all but the newest big rigs in the name of cracking down on diesel emissions. The air board eventually adopted the same regulations. Drivers whose rigs were no longer eligible either had to buy a new model or retrofit their old ones, costing thousands of dollars that self-employed truckers didn’t have.

Many lost their jobs. One of them was my father. Dad was too old to justify buying a new truck, yet too young to retire. He had to sell off his Kenworth and remained unemployed for years as a glut of younger truckers flooded the market.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Biden’s Vote-Buying Debt Cancellation Scheme Is An Insult to American Workers.

The Biden administration has, as expected, announced a plan to forgive up to $10,000 of student loan debt for those making under $125,000, and up to $20,000 for low-income Pell Grant recipients. 

This may be the first direct bailout of student loan debtors, but it surely won’t be the last. In just four years, student loan debt will be right back to where it is today, and we will have the same debate over what to do about it.

The proposal has been talked up by its supporters in terms of fairness and compassion. Leftist darling and failed congressional candidate Nina Turner went even further, tweeting that there are no arguments against debt forgiveness not “rooted in cruelty.” As with so much of our political discourse, nearly the opposite is true. 

Biden’s debt forgiveness plan is no exercise in compassion for the poor. Rather, it’s grossly unfair to people who never took out loans, or who paid them off. Moreover, it’s a crass exercise in rewarding your political supporters at the expense of your enemies, and a finger in the eye to the working- and middle-class Americans footing the bill so that lawyers and administrators can benefit.

The obvious political dimension of this forgiveness program is dramatized by the fact that the Biden administration will potentially be granting debt relief to more than half of its own employees. But even if they don’t work in the Biden White House or live in Washington, D.C., the beneficiaries of this federal largesse are the Democrats’ true constituency: woke managerial elites staffing agencies, administrative jobs, and the DEI and HR departments in Fortune 500 corporations. The true one percent are too rich to care, but the top quartile will happily accept its payout in this massive vote buying scheme, while making life both financially and culturally more hostile for the rest of America.

The most significant beneficiaries of these bailouts, however, are America’s universities. No major household expense has more explosively soared than college tuition. Colleges and universities have been chowing down at the gravy table facilitated by offering every high school graduate a six-figure government check, and escalating tuition accordingly. An obvious effect of this cash flow has been the university “building boom,” with millions of square feet of new construction, much of it not qualifying as classroom space. But even more pernicious might be the 60% increase in administrative positions since the 1990s, especially among the diversity bureaucracy. 

The effect for those on the “trickle-down” side of the economic scale, however, will be markedly different. Poorer Americans will be underrepresented among beneficiaries of Biden’s jubilee, largely because the skyrocketing costs of college, buttressed by government loans, dissuaded them from pursuing advanced degrees in the first place. Students from that economic background make up a smaller percentage of college campuses than they did back in the 1970s, before we were dumping trillions into loans ostensibly for their benefit. 

Subsidizing the college track has also distorted the job market for lower-income Americans by inflating the number of degreed job applicants, thereby imposing artificial degree requirements for entry-level positions, often without corresponding salary increases. Two generations of young people have now faced the unpleasant choice between going into ever-higher debt in order to credential themselves for many of the same jobs that once didn’t require it, and refusing to take the college route but competing for a shrinking pool of jobs that don’t ask for a degree. We’ve put everyone on a credentialing treadmill that ratchets up in incline level every half-decade. 

And now, to add insult to injury, those who picked the latter option are expected to chip in to pay off the tuition tab of their degreed but underemployed high school classmates, and also to support a university staffed by well-paid academics who regard them as deplorable.

Since the origins of the Great Society, our government decided that going to college was an intrinsic good for everyone. We have backed up that belief with trillions of taxpayer dollars, at the expense of other routes to a successful life. That choice, the cost of which is now borne by people who avoided both the debt and the indoctrination that come with a degree, has worked out great for cultural revolutionaries granted the power to ideologically certify the entire workforce of elite institutions. For everyone else, there’s not much in the bargain.

California May Allow More Ill, Dying inmates to Leave Prison

 California would allow more ill and dying inmates to be released from state prisons under legislation that cleared the state Senate without opposition on Thursday and heads to the Assembly for final approval.

It would ease the current standard, which critics say is so restrictive that it keeps inmates locked up who are too sick to be dangerous. That not only fills prison beds unnecessarily, they say, but is costly because the inmates often require the most expensive and intensive care.

Ninety-one California inmates died while they were awaiting compassionate release between January 2015 and April 2021, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) — nearly a third of those who were waiting. During that time, 304 inmates sought compassionate release, but just 53 were released through the courts.

“Unfortunately, due to flaws in the current system, too few people are being released and far too many are dying before the process is completed,” the group said in a recent report.

The new threshold would allow inmates to be freed if they are permanently medically incapacitated, or have a serious and advanced illness “with an end-of-life trajectory,” the standard used by the federal prison system.

It would also also create a presumption that a qualified inmate should be released, unless a judge finds an unreasonable risk to public safety.

By contrast, current law requires inmates to be terminally ill or permanently medically incapacitated, with strict definitions. The illness currently must be expected to be fatal within 12 months. And permanent incapacity is defined as meaning that an inmate requires medical care around the clock.

The bill would remove the 24-hour-care requirement, instead making inmates eligible if they cannot complete activities of daily living. It would also allow them to be freed if they have progressive dementia or another cognitive impairment.

California also currently requires a recommendation from the corrections department’s secretary, the highest ranking prison official, who rejected 25% of all applications, according to FAMM’s data. The bill would instead require lower-level employees to recommend an inmate be released if they meet the new threshold.

“California’s current policy is too narrow, and the process is lengthy and redundant, unnecessarily saddling the state with high medical costs,” Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting said after the Senate supported his bill. “We can do better.”

The California Narcotic Officers’ Association said in opposition that there is no need for “drastic changes in what is a well-crafted document.” The California District Attorneys Association similarly said that current standards “already provide for truly ill inmates to be paroled or resentenced.”

But FAMM’s general counsel, Mary Price, said in a statement that “the state cannot afford to waste its limited resources incarcerating seriously and terminally ill people who pose no threat to public safety.”

An earlier version of the bill cleared the Assembly last year on a 45-24 vote, with some membrs of both political parties opposed or not voting.

California’s policy became more restrictive last year when officials began limiting medical parole to inmates so ill they are hooked to ventilators to breathe, meaning their movement is so limited they are not a public danger. They said they had no choice under a change in federal rules.

Click here to read the full article in AP News