Electric bills could rise for folks in cooler coastal climes under new plan

Column: Inland and lower-income folks could see bills drop, analyses say

Nearly universally loathed: An income-based fixed service charge on electric bills.

It could have exceeded $100 a month for the wealthiest folks, according to early proposals, but “progressive” apparently only goes so far, even here in California.

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Once lawmakers realized they had approved this provision — a handful of paragraphs stuck into a long, last-minute trailer bill in 2022 — howls of rage erupted from Democrats, Republicans, and an irate public-at-large. Lawmakers backed away in nearly stampede-like fashion. Bills to repeal it were floated by legislators from both parties. Flurries of competing proposals were filed with the California Public Utilities Commission.

None of the bills survived. And now, after much gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair and high theatrics, a $24.15 flat, fixed, monthly service charge for all residential customers except the lowest-income Californians goes to the PUC for approval on May 9.

Folks in cool coastal climes would likely see bills increase, while folks in hot inland climes would likely see them decrease, according to the PUC’s in-house Solomon-the-Wise, charged with protecting the little guy.

Opponents call it a “utility tax” and say it’ll inflate costs for working and middle-income folks, with no cap to keep it under control going forward.

Here everyone might stop and take a breath. This is not a rate increase, the PUC insists, trying to raise its voice above the angry din. It is not a tax. It does not impose any new fees. It does not generate new profit for utilities.

“It simply reallocates how existing costs are shared among customers,” the PUC said in its primer when the proposal was announced in March.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California Supreme Court will weigh removal of Taxpayer Protection Act from ballot. Here’s why

The state’s Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case this week that could determine whether Californians are allowed to weigh in on an expansive ballot measure that would put virtually all tax increases before voters. It’s part of a rare case in which the court will consider removing a proposition from the ballot before an election.

At issue is whether the sweeping ballot measure, known by its supporters as the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act,” is a constitutional amendment or a constitutional revision. The business-backed initiative would mandate that voters sign off on all new tax increases, both at the state and local level. If approved by voters, the initiative would also reclassify many government fees as taxes and require any tax increase enacted since 2022 to comply with the new requirements.

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A heavy-hitting coalition of Democratic officials and public labor leaders – from Gov. Gavin Newsom to teacher and firefighter unions – are asking the state’s highest court to remove the measure from the November ballot. They argue the ballot initiative is too broad to be considered a constitutional amendment, but is instead a constitutional revision.

While voters can propose amendments to state law and the constitution through ballot measures, only the legislature can propose broader constitutional revisions. Business and taxpayer advocates submitted more than 1 million signatures in late 2022 to place the measure on the ballot. Its backers say the measure is an attempt to rein in what they describe as runaway spending by California’s Democratic leaders and make the state more business-friendly. “California is the highest-cost state in the country and every employer knows it,” said Robert Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, a lead proponent of the initiative. “It’s our job to try and create balance in those policies or try and change those policies in a major way by appealing directly to voters.”

WHAT THE TAXPAYER PROTECTION ACT WOULD DO At its core, the Taxpayer Protection Act is designed to make it harder to raise taxes in California.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

Crime is Not Down, Bidenflation is Real, the Border is Not Secure, and ‘Migrants’ are Illegal Aliens

A few thoughts from the peanut gallery: opinion backed by facts

Crime is not down, Bidenflation is real, the Border is not secure, boys can’t be girls, progressives are not “progressive,” and “Migrants” are illegal aliens and some are terrorists.

It’s time to get a few things straight.

The pro-Hamas, pro-Palestine protests on universities are not peaceful, nor are they organic. They are being funded by corrupt elitists the way ACORN, BLM and the George Floyd mobs were.

Fentanyl from China has killed more Americans than died in the Vietnam War – more than 80,000 overdoses occurred in 2021 and approximately 77,415 between April 2022 and April 2023, according to the CDC.

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“Climate Change” originated in the United Nations and is a redistribution-of-wealth scheme – even the BBC knows this.

Democrats are socialists and Marxists – the Democratic Socialists of America is theirs. (What is Democratic about them anyway?) Are there Republican Socialists of America within the Republican Party? Nope.

Today’s so-called “progressives” are not – they are antiquated emotional reactionaries.

Trans-kids and “Gender-affirming care” is being pushed by global elitists – and China. The Biden Administration has ordered men into women’s shelters, medically transitioned children, used school lunch programs for poor children as leverage to force schools to adopt the rainbow agenda, and let males into girls’ locker rooms, the Ethics in Public Policy Center acknowledges. “And, of course, pretty much every major left-wing group has followed the LGBT lobby into pushing a radical transgender agenda.”

Boys with male genitalia and the XY chromosome are not girls. In humans, sex is determined by specific chromosomes – XX female, XY male. That’s just science and should not require a link.

Title IX was passed in 1972 and prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government.

There is nothing about gender identity or trans persons in Title IX:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

I have lived Title IX and know it intimately. Challenge me. Please.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is one of the corrupt elitists, part of the ruthless, sadistic ruling class, beholden to the UN, EU, WEF, WHO and China. He doesn’t govern California for the people; he is helping to destroy it. Human Events has reported extensively on the Young Global Leaders (YGLs) of the WEF:

“WEF doesn’t discriminate based on party – it recruits politicians from both sides. This is especially true in the United States. Dan CrenshawGavin NewsomAdam KinzingerPete ButtigiegNikki HaleyTulsi Gabbard, Texas Congressman Colin Allred, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego have all been named as YGLs.”

“Business leaders like Bill GatesJeff BezosMark ZuckerbergLarry Page and Sergey Brin are all listed as YGL alumni.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California settles opioid complaint with same company selling the state overdose meds

California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Friday announced a $273 million multistate settlement with New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceutical for the drug manufacturer’s alleged failure to report suspicious opioid orders, and as a consequence contributing to the opioid epidemic

If the name “Amneal Pharmaceuticals” rings a bell, it’s because just days earlier Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials announced a deal with this same company to procure naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, at a cheaper price than currently available. That agreement locks that state in as a long-term customer to the company.

Under the opioid settlement agreement that is yet to be finalized, Amneal will pay states a total of $92.5 million in cash and $180 million in naloxone products over a 10-year period. 

In a statement, Amneal said the settlement would resolve all pending lawsuits filed by states against the company.The company did not admit any wrongdoing. 

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Bonta in a written statement said the settlement “builds on our efforts to heal our communities and respond to this epidemic from all angles, from recovery services to resources on prevention and treatment.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James explicitly criticized the company in her statement about the settlement. 

“Amneal became one of the largest generic pharmaceutical companies in the world by profiting off the sale of dangerous opioids,” she said. According to James’ office, Amneal sold nearly 9 billion pills between 2006 to 2019.

To date, California  has secured $4.25 billion in opioid settlement funds from drug companies for their alleged role in fueling the opioid epidemic. The state uses the money on opioid remediation programs, such as distributing naloxone and training substance use providers.

Since 2018, the state has been purchasing the overdose reversal medication and distributing it to schools, law enforcement, county health departments and community harm reduction programs. 

Starting this month, California will be able to buy more naloxone because of the lower price it secured from Amneal: $24 for a two-unit nasal spray pack instead of the current price of $41.

In a statement, the Department of Health Care Access and Information, which is overseeing the naloxone contract, said it learned that Amneal was named in opioid litigation as it vetted proposals. 

“In making its decision to select Amneal for the naloxone program, CalRx prioritized factors such as price, time to market, and ability to meet the anticipated volume demands in California – understanding that more efficiency means more lives saved,” Andrew DiLuccia, a spokesperson for the department said in an email. 

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Judge rejects Eastman bid to retain law practice while fighting disbarment

He has pleaded with the judge to consider delaying the impact of her ruling.

A judge in California turned down an urgent plea Wednesday from John Eastman — an architect of Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election — to allow him to keep practicing law while he fights an effort to permanently revoke his license.

Judge Yvette Roland recommended Eastman’s disbarment in March after finding he repeatedly breached legal ethics in service of Trump’s scheme to stay in power. Though her ruling is not the final word — and Eastman plans to appeal — it triggered an automatic suspension of Eastman’s license.

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In recent weeks, Eastman pleaded with Roland to consider delaying the impact of her ruling, noting that his inability to practice law would disrupt several ongoing federal cases — including a lawsuit brought by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz against two California cities that denied their request to host a political event. Eastman also represents the Colorado Republican Party in an election-related suit and a Colorado teenager suing his high school over administrators’ refusal to allow him to display a Gadsden flag.

Click here to read the full article in Politico

Jailed students, a canceled commencement, angry parents: USC’s Carol Folt takes on critics

When USC trustees selected Carol Folt as their next president, they gave her one of the most challenging mandates in American higher education: Restore trust in a university diminished by scandals.

She replaced key administrators, brokered a $1-billion settlement with alumnae victimized by a sexually abusive gynecologist, hired a new football coach and authorized the removal of the name of an antisemitic, eugenics-supporting former USC president from an iconic campus building. To dozens of Japanese American ex-students unjustly incarcerated during World War II, then later denied reentry to the university, Folt awarded honorary degrees.

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“We are bringing some closure and perhaps healing,” Folt told descendants of those former students at a 2022 gala for Asian American alumni, distilling two key themes of her five-year tenure.

But a cascade of decisions that Folt made this spring around USC’s commencement and Israel-Hamas war-related protests have inflamed tensions and opened fresh wounds, presenting the most significant test of her tenure as university presidents around the country wrestle with similar dilemmas.

Citing unspecified safety threats, Folt rescinded pro-Palestinian valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s speaking slot in USC’s main commencement ceremony. Days later, amid a swell of outrage, Folt “released” director Jon M. Chu and other celebrities from receiving honorary degrees at the ceremony. 

After students set up a tent encampment in support of Palestinians and demanded that USC divest from financial ties with Israel, Folt and her team called in the LAPD, and 93 were arrested. Last week, Folt canceled the “main stage” commencement ceremony altogether, depriving students and their families of a treasured ritual.

For nearly two weeks, Folt made no public remarks, and her silence fed a growing sense that the university’s top executive was missing in action, according to interviews with faculty, students and alumni.

In balancing campus safety and the right to protest with concerns about antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, Folt was bound to take criticism from all directions. 

But many saw the damage at USC as self-inflicted.

Tabassum was not known to be a campus activist, and canceling her speech in the name of safety was seen by some as shutting down a Muslim student’s voice at the very time the world needed to hear it. “Let Asna speak” became a rallying cry at USC and beyond.

“This is an epic failure in leadership,” said Annette Ricchiazzi, a USC alumna whose daughter graduates this month. Ricchiazzi, a former USC administrator who now works as a consultant for nonprofits, predicted that the events of April would end up as a case study taught to crisis communications or business classes. “I don’t think she’s a great decision-maker,” she said of Folt.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Crime is a ballot ‘vulnerability’ for California Democrats after Schiff, Bass break-ins

A trio of crimes involving Democratic lawmakers has put the spotlight back on public safety in the Golden State, an issue on which experts warn the party’s candidates could be vulnerable in November.

In the span of a week, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass was the victim of a burglary at Getty House in Windsor Square, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) had his suitcase stolen out of his car in the Bay Area, and a plainclothes police officer protecting San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan was punched by a pedestrian during a television interview.

All three incidents were ready-made fodder for Republican critics who often lambast California’s approach to public safety. They have also renewed concerns that how California voters think about crime could affect some Democrats in swing districts in November.

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“Voters are thinking: You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Darry Sragow, a longtime Democratic strategist. “Adam Schiff isn’t safe, Karen Bass isn’t safe — if they’re not safe, who is?”

Property and violent crime rates in California both rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, but remain far below the peaks of the 1980s and 1990s. When it comes to campaigns, though, what the statistics show is less important than how voters feel, Sragow said.

Crime is “definitely one of the top issues on voters’ minds right now,” said Mark Baldassare, the survey director of the Public Policy Institute of California, or PPIC, a nonpartisan think tank that regularly surveys Californians about their views on public policy issues.

The economy, homelessness and housing affordability are still top concerns, Baldassare said, but the share of likely voters who are concerned about crime appears to be growing. In December, the PPIC found that 8% of likely voters described “crime, drugs and gangs” as the most important issue facing the state. Two months later, 12% of likely voters said that crime was the most important issue for Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature to address in 2024.

Those numbers are particularly high among voters who described themselves as independents: In February, 17% of likely independent voters said crime was the most important issue, up from 8% in December.

“The thing about crime is, it doesn’t take much — it just takes one or two things that people notice and makes them scared,” Baldassare said.

Recent high-profile attacks, including the shooting of an L.A. County Sheriff’s Department deputy stopped at a traffic light in West Covina, and a spate of stabbings on the L.A. Metro system, can leave uneasy Californians wondering “whether everything is falling apart,” Sragow said.

The job of Democratic candidates, Sragow said, will be “to address how people feel, that people have to feel safe when they walk outside.” Republican challengers, he said, will try to make a case for tough-on-crime policies, crafted subtly enough to try and appeal to “disaffected independents, and maybe some Democrats.”

Some of that tough-on-crime talk is coming from Democrats too. A shift in how state lawmakers in Sacramento are talking about public safety is proof that crime is “clearly a vulnerability” for Democrats in tight races, said Rob Stutzman, a Republican strategist.

He said voters’ concerns over crime probably won’t make a difference in the Senate race, where polling shows Schiff with a commanding lead over Republican challenger Steve Garvey. But, Stutzman said, those concerns could make a difference in more competitive districts, including the handful of California swing seats for Congress that could help decide control of the House of Representatives in November.

“The pendulum is swinging, and it’s dragging them with it,” Stutzman said of Democrats.

Democrats are a ripe target, given that the party has a firm grip on political power in California. Democrats hold every statewide office and control both chambers of the state Legislature. Republicans have not won a California statewide election since 2006, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won reelection and Steve Poizner became insurance commissioner. Registered Democrats also outnumber Republicans by almost 2 to 1 in the state.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California electricity prices now second-highest in U.S.: ‘Everyone is getting squeezed’

North Beach resident Serena Satyasai never thought much about her utility bill, but that was before February when California’s electricity prices rose to become the highest in the contiguous United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

Satyasai’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. bill jumped by about $100 compared with the same month last year. Like many of PG&E’s 5.5 million customers, she’s having to rescript her monthly budget around these rising costs.

North Beach resident Serena Satyasai never thought much about her utility bill, but that was before February when California’s electricity prices rose to become the highest in the contiguous United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

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Satyasai’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. bill jumped by about $100 compared with the same month last year. Like many of PG&E’s 5.5 million customers, she’s having to rescript her monthly budget around these rising costs.

A pack of New England states have historically had some of the nation’s highest electricity prices (the federal government doesn’t track rates but rather calculates prices using customer counts, sales and revenue data) due to factors such as a shortage in natural gas pipeline capacity plus the region’s reliance on costly fossil fuels to generate electricity. 

But California has joined them in the past 10 years, leapfrogging with Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to periodically hold the title as the most expensive state for electricity usage in the lower 48. (Even though Californians pay a high amount for each unit of electricity, their total bills tend to be lower than other states in the Northeast and South due to the West Coast’s relatively temperate climate.)

Click here to read the full article at the SF Chronicle

RFK Jr. says he’ll be on California’s ballot

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Tuesday that he has qualified for California’s presidential election ballot, giving his candidacy a long-shot chance at collecting 54 electoral votes this fall.

If his spot on the ballot is certified by the California secretary of state, which could happen in August, Kennedy would represent the American Independent Party. The secretary of state’s office confirmed to The Times that Kennedy’s candidacy had been submitted by the party.

The party has a controversial history dating to 1968, when it nominated Alabama Gov. George Wallace as its candidate for president. He ran opposing desegregation and other federal civil rights laws in championing states’ rights. Kennedy’s father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a Democrat from New York, was assassinated in Los Angeles the night he won that year’s California presidential primary.

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Kennedy says he has qualified for the ballot in California, Hawaii, Michigan and Utah. He has been investing heavily and, though running as an independent, is seeking alternative paths to the ballot since he opted out of running in the Democratic primary late last year. He recently selected California tech lawyer, entrepreneur and political newcomer Nicole Shanahan as his running mate.

In a video statement released Tuesday, Kennedy said the American Independent Party was “so impressed by this outpouring of democratic energy and vigor. … So they approached my campaign and offered us their spot on the California ballot. I see this story as a symbol of America’s homecoming.”

Kennedy added that he saw Wallace as a “bigot” who “was antithetical to everything my father believed in.”

In recent years, the AIP has been a source of confusion for voters seeking to avoid registering as either Republican or Democrat.

In California, voters may register as having no party preference, but The Times reported in 2016 that tens of thousands registered for AIP, many of them in error. Nearly 3 in 4 people did not realize they had joined the party, according to a survey of registered AIP voters conducted for The Times.

The AIP now exists only in California. Wallace won 46 electoral votes nationally as its standard bearer in 1968, one of the most successful third-party runs in modern history.

AIP today is not segregationist. In recent years, officials told The Times it “is a conservative, constitutionalist party.” It has opposed abortion.

The 2024 March California primary voter guide said AIP members “are all refugees from the Republican or Democrat parties. We believe the Constitution is the contract America has with itself. Its willful distortion led to the violation of our 10th Amendment guaranteed right to limited government — which inevitably requires oppressive taxation. Its faithful application will lift that burden.”

In a statement Tuesday, AIP state Chairman Victor Moroni said, “We all deserve to find inspiration at the ballot box. Our party is pleased to provide the opportunity for all 22 million voters in California to vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for President. Voters crave a real leader who will unite America.”

The move could have an impact on the presidential race in California, but not enough to change the expected outcome.

March poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies and The Times found President Biden leading former President Trump by 18 percentage points statewide in a head-to-head matchup. That dropped to 12 points when independent and candidates from minor parties were included.

In battleground states, Kennedy’s ability to qualify for the ballot could prove pivotal. In Michigan, like in California, Kennedy latched onto a smaller party — the Natural Law Party — that long held a ballot line. His success in these efforts appears to have led Trump to ratchet up his attacks on the Los Angeles resident. The former president said on social media over the weekend that Kennedy is “far more LIBERAL than anyone running as a Democrat.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California’s population grew in 2023, halting 3 years of decline, state estimates

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The nation’s most populous state is growing again, ending a trend of population decline that had dogged Gov. Gavin Newsom through much of his tenure.

California gained just over 67,000 people last year, the first increase since 2019, according to an estimate released Tuesday by the state Department of Finance.

After joining the United States in 1850 on the heels of a gold rush, California was a demographic marvel for its first 169 years — adding population every year as people flocked to the Golden State for its stunning terrain, weather and super-sized economy, which is larger than those of all but four countries.

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That streak ended in 2020, when California lost population for the first time during a pivotal census year that led to the state losing a congressional seat. Newsom’s partisan critics said the state’s high cost of living, uncertain power supply, a housing and homelessness crisis and concerns about crime were partly to blame. For a two-year period, Californians moving to Texas made up the largest state-to-state movement in the U.S., according to U.S. Census data — a fact often shared by Republicans eager to slam Newsom.

But the Democratic governor, who is widely considered a future presidential candidate, had reason to celebrate Tuesday, as state estimates showed a return to the formula that has powered California’s growth in recent years: A strong influx of legal international immigration, fewer deaths following the coronavirus pandemic and a reduction in the number of people leaving California for other states.

“People from across the nation and the globe are coming to the Golden State to pursue the California Dream and experience the success of the world’s 5th largest economy,” Newsom said in a news release.

Tuesday’s estimate — representing a 0.17% growth rate — can hardly be called a surge. But state officials were confident that it signaled a return to more normal population patterns after years of pandemic disruption.

Legal immigration to California from other countries stalled during and just before the coronavirus pandemic amid a spate of travel restrictions and tightened rules under then-President Donald Trump. It rebounded last year, though, with a net gain of 114,200 people, which was nearly its pre-pandemic level.

State officials called it “a stable foundation for continued growth” — although that growth will likely be a lot smaller than it had been, said Eric McGhee, senior fellow for the Public Policy Institute of California.

“It’s going to be better for the state in terms of its total population,” McGhee said. “It would still, at this rate, not be enough to probably avoid losing more congressional districts in the 2030 census.”

More people still left California for other states in 2023 than moved to California from other states, but it was far less than previous years.

In 2021 — when coronavirus cases were still surging and more people were working remotely — California lost a net 355,648 people because of domestic migration. In 2023, that was down to 91,189. That’s much closer to pre-pandemic trends, according to Walter Schwarm, chief demographer for the California Department of Finance.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

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