Something the CA Legislature Should Pass – But Won’t

CapitolWhen the California Legislature passes “resolutions” — as distinct from actual legislation, it is a meaningless exercise. Sure, it makes people feel better about some issue or crisis de jour, but because resolutions lack any force or effect of actual law, they are quickly forgotten.

Most resolutions are just silly, having to do with “fluff” issues like, “Resolved, we recognize National Puppy Day,” or a resolution establishing another country, such as Cambodia, as a “sister state” to California. Nice gesture, but substantively trivial.

In the last year, resolutions from our decidedly left-of-center legislature have been used to vent against the Trump administration, from establishing a separate immigration policy to whining about the Electoral College. At the beginning of last year’s session, so many days were spent on angry venting that almost no work got done, which for taxpayers may actually have been a good thing.

While those of us who are focused on actual law normally gloss over resolutions, one was recently introduced that caught our eye. Senate Joint Resolution 21 from Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, would encourage any individual taxpayer in California who disapproves of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to donate their tax savings to the state of California’s General Fund.

Democrats throughout the nation — and particularly California Democrats — have thundered for months that the tax reform bill is just a tax cut for the rich and would hurt the poor and middle class. Actually, for California, the opposite is true: The middle class is better off but, because of the loss of certain deductions, California’s wealthiest 11-12 percent will likely pay higher federal taxes.

SJR21 correctly points out that while “Californians are struggling with the rising costs of living due to high personal income tax rates and high housing rates due to burdensome regulations … the Republicans in Congress and the President have passed and signed significant tax reform legislation to ease the pain inflicted on California taxpayers.”

The resolution also lauds the new law’s positive effect on economic growth, noting that “leading tax experts have stated the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will significantly lower marginal tax rates and the cost of capital, which would lead to a 1.7 percent increase in gross domestic product over the long term, in addition to a 1.5 percent increase in wages, and produce an additional 339,000 full-time jobs.”

SRJ21 acknowledges that “the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limits the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted on individual income tax returns” but notes that “placing limits on the state and local tax deduction allows individuals in high-tax states like California to finally recognize the true amount of their state tax liability.”

The resolution lists the many benefits of the tax reform law for Californians, including the doubling of the federal standard deduction, doubling of the child tax credit, and reduction of individual tax rates and number of tax brackets.

On the business side, SJR21 recognizes that “the lowering of the corporate tax rate has already resulted in at least one million employees receiving significant bonuses, salary increases, and benefit increases” as well as a massive repatriation of billions of dollars from overseas. Other beneficial economic impacts include a marked increase in GDP and record employment levels for African-Americans, Hispanics, and minorities across the United States.

Yet despite the proven benefits of tax relief, “the California Legislature has considered no fewer than 89 proposals in the current legislative session that would cost taxpayers more than $373 billion annually in higher taxes and fees, including taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, sodas, candy, groceries, and services, among others.”

After listing examples of questionable spending in California — “the High-Speed Rail Program, which has already cost more than $20 billion, and free college tuition for undocumented immigrants while legal residents are subject to tuition rate increases” — SJR21 comes to the real point, declaring that “the Legislature encourages any individual taxpayer in California who disapproves of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to donate their tax savings to the State of California’s General Fund, which pays for programs including, but not limited to, the bullet train that has already cost the state tens of billions of dollars.”

This resolution, of course, has no chance of passing. But it exposes the hypocrisy of the high-tax crowd in a most entertaining way.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register

Democrats in Sacramento Should be Honest in Tax Policy

Tax reformThe tax plan announced by Speaker Paul Ryan is a positive move towards simplifying our tax code and making taxes more transparent to working families.

While some Californians will be adversely affected by an elimination of the deductions that currently exist for state and local taxes paid, a bigger question arises:  Why don’t we just lower the tax burden on California’s hard working families in the State to offset the impact that comes with the removal of federal deduction for state income taxes?

It’s never made sense that we’re able to raise taxes on California’s working families to pay for big social programs and then just say that it won’t really cost anything because families can write the state income tax off on their tax returns.  All that policy does is allow California’s big spenders to have the federal government ultimately pay the bill for our own state’s costly programs.

After all, the Governor campaigned for Proposition 30 which raised income taxes on Californians.  The tax was supposed to be temporary, but as is usually the case, there is no such thing as a temporary tax in the State of California.

It seems clear the proposed tax plan unveiled yesterday is upsetting California’s entrenched liberal Legislators heartburn because it’s going to force the State to finally be honest with constituents about how much their pet programs and social engineering are really costing the State.

If the Democrats in control of Sacramento want to keep spending, they should be honest and just own up to the fact that the federal government isn’t responsible for the fiscal mess we’re in.  The Democrats keep raising taxes in California – it’s about time the federal government stops letting them off the hook by giving them cover with an overly complicated federal tax system.”

There will be a lot of work done over the coming weeks in Congress, but I’m hopeful that the discussion on taxes is less about what the federal government is doing to California and focuses more on what big spending liberals in the Legislature are really doing to the taxpayers of California.

California State Senate, representing the 28th District.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily 

Which legislators stood up for California taxpayers this session?

CapitolIn 2017, the California Legislature launched a sustained and withering assault on middle-class taxpayers. Its victories were numerous and significant: A $75 per document recording tax was approved, affecting up to 400 different transactions; a gas and car tax, which takes effect November 1, will cost California households another $600 a year; and an increase in environmental regulations, known as cap-and-trade, could increase the cost of fuel by an additional 70 cents/gallon by 2030.

In the face of such devastating policies, it is easy for taxpayers to question whether legislators will ever be held accountable. However, a useful tool to assist taxpayers is the annual legislative Report Card published by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Introduced back in 2007, the point of the report card is to document how lawmakers have voted on issues important to taxpayers. Lawmakers tend to hide behind statements, often of dubious veracity, to justify their votes. The report card sets aside motives, politics and party affiliations and simply asks one question: did legislators stand up for the interests of taxpayers?  While politicians may obfuscate, the numbers don’t lie.

HJTA’s 2017 scorecard featured a list of 22 bills which, represents a broad sample size, making it easy to see who is either a friend to taxpayers or beholden to the special interests that pervade the state Capitol. Beyond the obvious tax increases listed above, other bills include those that make it easier for local governments to increase sales taxes, and allow for San Francisco Bay Area residents to increase bridge tolls. Attacks on the initiative process are another common theme highlighted in the scorecard.

Given the policy breadth of the bills listed above, it should come as no surprise that the 2017 scorecard was nothing short of abysmal. A record 79 legislators failed the scorecard while only 24 got a grade of “A.” Ten legislators received the coveted and difficult to get perfect score in 2017: Assembly Members Travis Allen, Brian Dahle, Vince Fong, Jay Obernolte and Jim Patterson. They were joined by State Sens. Joel Anderson, Patricia Bates, Jean Fuller, Mike Morrell and Jeff Stone. These legislators should be commended for their diligence on behalf of taxpayers. …

Click here to read the full article from the Orange County Register

California Senate Approves One-Gun-a-Month Purchase Limit for Residents

GunThe California Senate approved extending the one-gun-a-month handgun purchase limit to long guns on Tuesday, thereby limiting Californians to buying only one type of gun each 30-day period.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who said, “There is no need or reason why a person would need to purchase more than one gun a month.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Portantino indicated that limits on rifle and shotgun purchases will, in turn, limit straw purchasing. He is worried that some individual are passing background checks, then selling guns “on the underground market to criminals.”

Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Chico) pointed to the failure of California gun control and asked why passing another law would make a difference. He said, “It’s more of the same that will not decrease violent crime.”

California has universal background checks, firearm registration requirements, gun confiscation laws, a ten-day waiting period on gun purchases, an “assault weapon” ban, a “good cause” requirement for concealed carry, and a myriad of other gun controls. Yet they also had the May 23, 2014, Santa Barbara firearm-based attack; the December 2, 2015, San Bernardino terror attack; the June 2016 UCLA murder/suicide; and the October 8, 2016, Palm Spring police officer ambush. So Nielsen’s point is that none of the gun laws have hindered criminals, and there is no reason to believe a new law will do so, either.

Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Murrieta) said Portantino’s gun purchase limit “is yet another example of the government’s trying to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at

This piece was originally published by

Bill making CA a sanctuary state is approved Senate committee

Opportunistic California Democrats are presenting bills to refute the recent immigration executive orders of President Donald J. Trump, to protect Americans.

kevin de leon 2Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, the author of Senate Bill 54, says that ”immigrants are valuable and essential members of the California community” and all attempts to enforce immigration laws create fear of the police among “immigrant community members” who fear “approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes.”

Despite the wave of refugees coming to the United States from Syria and Iraq under the Obama administration, California Democrats are denying national security issues, in favor of political opportunism. California is home to the largest illegal-alien population in the country, with 35 sanctuary cities. President-elect Trump has vowed to build a border wall and deport immigrants that have a criminal record, which he estimates to be two-three million.

Several bills authored by Senate Democrats in the California State Legislature are meant to be a thumb in the eye of President Donald J. Trump over immigration laws.

SB6 by Sen. Ben Hueso would create a state program to fund legal representation for illegal aliens facing deportation, and AB3 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta would create taxpayer-funded training for defense attorneys and public defenders on immigration law for illegal aliens.

The third bill, SB54 by Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Kevin de León, heard Tuesday in the Senate Public Safety Committee, seeks to restrict local police and sheriffs from working with federal immigration enforcers. SB54 prohibits law enforcement from responding to federal requests for notification when a jail houses someone who might be the subject of an immigration enforcement action. Whether the immigrants are here legally or not, and whether they have committed crimes in the United States, this bill effectively prohibits communications between local law enforcement and federal authorities.

SB54 specifically prohibits almost all cooperation and communication with federal immigration authorities.

Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Kevin de León and California Democrats essentially want to bar state and local resources from being used for immigration enforcement. De León said Tuesday the cost to California to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detail suspected illegal immigrants is $65 million.

Proponents of SB54 claimed the Trump administration’s executive order is just more racial profiling, and California’s long-standing history of welcoming immigrants overrides illegal immigration enforcement.

Concerned about releasing criminal illegal aliens back into society, Sen. Jeff Stone, R- Temecula, asked repeatedly for assurances that the bill would not allow this. “When we have dangerous felons, undocumented felons, in prison, should they NOT be deported and prosecuted under the law?” Stone asked de León. Stone said he was concerned they will be released back into communities and cause heinous crimes, similar to what happened to Kate Steinle, who was murdered by a five-time deported criminal illegal alien.

Stone said the bill was making California a sanctuary state, if passed in its virgin form. Stone tried to get de León to agree to an amendment regarding criminal illegal aliens, but de León resisted.

“The bill decouples criminal acts from immigration statute,” de León said. “It doesn’t stop ICE from doing their job,” dodging the question.

Stone questioned de León again, asking if he would “be supportive of any amendment to allow local law enforcement to pick up dangerous criminal immigrants.”

“It’s not necessary,” de León said. “There is nothing stopping ICE from getting the individual.”

Another dodge from Stone’s question, splitting hairs. Stone asked if local law enforcement would be able to assist ICE only in cases of criminal illegal aliens, and de León replied, there is nothing stopping ICE from doing this – no mention of local law enforcement assistance.

“What is particularly alarming is a very false dichotomy, fueled by hyperbole and rhetoric,” said Committee Chairwoman Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. “All of us wand hardened criminals prosecuted under the law. We are watching now a pitting of the people against each other – of immigrants. That is not right.” Skinner talked again, for the third or fourth time in two days about “easily manipulable fear,” and said “the state of California will not be compliant with authoritarian policies.”

Cynthia Buiza of the California Immigrant Policy Center, a witness at the hearing in support of SB54, launched into an out-of-order editorial, calling Trump’s order “anti-immigrant, zenophobic and propaganda,” explains more from her organization’s website: “The California Values Act answers the ugly slurs of xenophobia with a simple but profound truth: all people are created equal. Against Trump and other forces who seek to demonize and persecute immigrants, the Golden State must embrace and defend our common humanity and deepest values.  Getting law enforcement out of painful deportations, protecting the integrity of public spaces, and rejecting any registry which target Muslims will send a potent message to the nation – and the world.”

From the Bill:

SB-54 would, among other things, prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies and school police and security departments from using resources to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes, or to investigate, enforce, or assist in the investigation or enforcement of any federal program requiring registration of individuals on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national or ethnic origin, as specified. The bill would require state agencies to review their confidentiality policies and identify any changes necessary to ensure that information collected from individuals is limited to that necessary to perform agency duties and is not used or disclosed for any other purpose, as specified. The bill would require public schools, hospitals, and courthouses to establish and make public policies that limit immigration enforcement on their premises and would require the Attorney General, in consultation with appropriate stakeholders, to publish model policies for use by those entities for those purposes.

SB54 passed the Senate Public Safety Committee along party lines.

This article was originally published by the Flash Report

“Right to Try” Bill Sits on Gov. Brown’s Desk

Pills health careDavid Huntley was the picture of health. A San Diego State University professor and a triathlete, he never expected to face a disease that would stop him in his tracks in his 60s. But that’s what ALS does. It comes on fast and there’s no way to stop it.

We met David and his wife Linda earlier this year when they came to Sacramento to support a bill we had sponsored, AB159 the California Right To Try Act.

Right To Try allows doctors to prescribe to terminally ill patients medicines being used safely in clinical trials. The goal of this legislation is to get promising new medications into the hands of people who have exhausted all their options and need one more chance to try to save or extend their life.

David was already wheel-chair bound and had to use a machine to talk, but his testimony was extremely powerful and helped lead to the passage of this bill in both the State Assembly and State Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Sadly, David passed away just a few short weeks later. David’s tragic story has been repeated too many times in the United States. Medical researchers who develop promising new treatments typically spend a decade and $1 billion to maneuver through the FDA’s approval process. While a promising medicine is under review, only a tiny fraction of all patients who could benefit ever gain access through a clinical trial.

The FDA does have a process that allows patients to seek permission to access investigational medicines. But this “Compassionate Use” process requires a massive amount of paperwork and hundreds of hours to navigate. There are dozens of documented cases of people dying while waiting for approval.

But Americans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to try to save their own lives. They should be able to work with their doctors directly to decide what potential treatments they are willing to try.

Right To Try is an effort to help sick and dying Californians get access to the medications that could save them more quickly. Under the law, terminally ill patients would be able to work with their doctors and companies with promising new drugs that have already passed FDA safety tests to take those drugs without having to enroll in a clinical trial.

California wouldn’t be acting alone. Twenty-four other states have adopted Right To Try laws. In every state where the law has been considered it has been approved by wide margins by both Republicans and Democrats. This is a rare non-partisan issue in today’s fractured political climate.

But what could be partisan about giving a dying person the right to try to save his own life?

Right To Try is also having an impact on Washington. Earlier this year, in response to this national movement, the FDA announced plans to revise the paperwork that doctors must submit to request permission to treat a terminally ill patient with an investigational medicine. The FDA said its goal is reduce a doctor’s time to apply from 100 hours to 45 minutes.

That’s a great move in the right direction, but it’s not enough. Even though the forms in the first step of the process will be shorter, patients will still be required to submit an application asking the federal government for permission to try to save their own lives.

We need to remove barriers that prevent doctors from providing the care they are trained to give. And that’s exactly what Right To Try will do. People should have access to the medications that could save them with no exceptions and no permission slip required.

AB159 is on Gov. Brown’s desk, waiting for his signature. David Huntley didn’t live to see him sign it. But let’s hope every other terminally ill Californian has the chance to benefit from the new options this law will provide. If this law has the potential to save even one person’s life, we should let them try.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Senator Jeff Stone represents the 28th Senate District. Assemblyman Ian Calderon represents the 57th Assembly District.

Which CA Legislators Received Most Gifts in 2014? Find Out Online

Mike McGuire made over $100,000 in 2014 as a Sonoma County supervisor and another $525 in parting gift certificates as the young Democrat left to take a $95,291-a-year job as a state senator.ethics_form_california_700_1407530095875_7285193_ver1.0_640_480

Richard Pan, a physician, took in just over $2,800 in gifts and travel payments, including a $440 outing at a San Francisco Giants baseball game, compliments of the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Pan is now a Democratic state senator representing a Sacramento district.

And Jeff Stone, whose business, Innovative Compounding Pharmacy, is worth over $1 million, took 25 pages to document his property holdings, including a number of manufactured home rentals. The Riverside County Republican, too, is part of the state Senate’s freshman class.

Their financial information is part of the new filings of statements of economic interest for 2014, which went online Tuesday and are available for public perusal.

It’s the first filing for the freshman class of both the Assembly and the Senate — and for the public, it’s the first time to get a glimpse of their wealth as well as their perks.

Elected in November, taking gifts in December

Some got off to a quick start. Ling-Ling Chang, a new Republican assemblywoman from Chino Hills, declared $2,433 in travel payments over four days in December. In that period, she participated in an education symposium for the California Charter Schools Association for $1,258 and a policy summit for TechNet, a group that lobbies for tech giants with a hub in Los Altos, for which she claimed $1,175.

At the same TechNet event, freshman Assemblyman Bill Dodd, a Napa County Democrat, received $340. Both Chang and Dodd noted the money was for speech/panel participation.

Some like gifts in keeping with their interests. State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat referred to as a “deal-making, cigar-smoking” guy in a 2004 L.A. Times profile, disclosed $765 in gifts involving cigars.

Hertzberg, a former speaker of the Assembly, is back in Sacramento after spending 13 years in the private sector.

Some of the financial disclosures are on the quirky side: Kansen Chu, a San Jose Democrat Assembly member, holds a financial interest of between $10,000 and $100,000 in NeuroSky, a company that sells a product that claims to use electrodes on your forehead to interpret brainwave electricity – and, yes, to read your mind.

Like most states, California requires annual disclosure of gifts as well as income and property interests. They are submitted to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, or FPPC, which also polices alleged violations of the state’s campaign laws.

At the state Assembly level, 18 of the 27 new state Assembly members come from the ranks of city councils. At the upper ranks, five of the 10 new senators are former Assembly members.

Lawmakers with a history of having hands slapped

The FPPC sends warnings to lawmakers who have violated the rules in the form of a public letter. And some taking new offices have already been warned of potential malfeasance.

Jeff Stone received a warning in 2010 about a 2009 vote when he was a supervisor in Riverside County, in which he “may” have violated conflict of interest provisions by awarding funds to a nonprofit that stood to benefit him.

“However, we have determined that an enforcement action for a violation is not warranted, because the funds awarded were restricted and could not be used for administrative costs of your source of income,” the note from the commission stated.

Pan has also received a warning about political behavior when he allegedly received services worth over $500 from a lobbyist who hosted a fundraiser for him in 2012.

Much is made of the staggering wealth of members of Congress, where California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is among the richest senators and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, is noted as the wealthiest among U.S. representatives.

At the state legislator level, wealth is not so easily tracked in California. Filers must note holdings in both real estate and stock ownership, which can indicate in increase in wealth.

Gifts, though, are more readily tracked. In California, the gift limit for 2013-14 was $440 for goods from a single source.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris in her filing for her final year in 2010 as district attorney in San Francisco reported no personal stock holdings. It was her last year before taking her current office and she received $1,869 in gifts, mostly flowers as a departure present.

In the previous year, 2009, she noted that her book, “Smart on Crime,” had earned her between $10,000 and $100,000 in royalties, although the book was released in October.

Book royalties are usually paid on a semi-annual or quarterly basis.

Newsom likes gifts; Harris, not so much

This year, Harris, the leading Democratic nominee in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, has more holdings to declare due to her marriage in August to fellow attorney Douglas Emhoff.

Harris’ filing shows holdings in Comcast, Costco, Home Depot, Nike, Verizon and Visa, which she notes were held in Emhoff’s IRA and are held separately. Harris, as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, could potentially oversee activity involving some of those companies.

Her gifts this time around are more modest: just one receipt of flowers, from Fox Entertainment, declared at $101.

The man initially seen as her rival for Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, has for years accepted more lucrative gifts.

In 2010, Newsom’s last year as mayor of San Francisco, he declared $3,512 in gifts, including tickets to the opera, symphony, sporting events and Cirque du Soleil.

Last year, Newsom, who declared in January that he would not run for Senate, reported $3,781 that again included tickets to sporting events, a crystal trophy and a Christofle tray.

Originally published on