MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 2: Another Tax! — July 7, 2017

The Senate voted to create a new tax yesterday morning by approving Senate Bill 2 with the necessary 27 votes needed to meet the two-thirds threshold. This means all of the Democrats voted for the bill. All of the Republicans present were opposed.
Capital Public Radio covers the joys of the Democrats having the super-majority and the havoc that it brings in the first piece below. During the Floor debate, I warned that their constituents would "recall" this vote next November.

I’m making premiers on the next two websites. In the second piece, we are introduced to MyGovCost.Org, which appears to be affiliated with the Independent Institute. It discusses the Caltrans fireworks I’ve enjoyed over the last few days (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Caltrans Boondoggles — June 28, 2017 june 28, 2017 john moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Caltrans Fireworks — July 4, 2017 july 4, 2017 john moorlach). We have seen the editorial’s author before (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Money for Nothing — September 2, 2015 september 2, 2015 john moorlach).

The third piece is from World Animal News and provides a glimpse at the use of social media to encourage individuals to call their state legislators. Next week, I have several Senate committee meetings, including Public Employment and Retirement, Judiciary, and Governance and Finance. Fortunately, these committees do not conflict. I do my best to attend them in full and listen attentively to every bill.

Now that we are halfway through the legislative session, the Assembly bills are coming fast and furious to the Senate committees. Remember, the Assembly has twice the number of legislators, so we now have our workload in the Senate doubled.

Assembly Bill 243 passed in the Assembly Agriculture and Appropriations Committees without opposition. There were only three votes in opposition on the Assembly Floor. It has already cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee with no opposition. Consequently, this bill, from a Democrat author, will be difficult to stop.

It is hard to oppose a bill that is pro-beef, as I had the joy of living on a dairy during a portion of my childhood. What is frustrating to me about this bill, and many like it, is that it would "create the California Beef Commission, which would be comprised of 11 members and 11 alternate members . . . [and] provide[s] for reimbursement of traveling and other expenses incurred by commission members."

I’m sorry, but one area I did whole-heartedly agree with former Gov. Schwarzenegger was the concept of "blowing up the boxes." I am not in the mood to create another box. California is edging closer to the fiscal abyss and the last thing it needs is more costs for more commissions. The standard for creating new commissions should be increasing cost efficiencies and promoting industries, rather than adding another burdensome layer of government. I am unsure if this proposed commission accomplishes this goal.

So, call away, I may be persuaded; not for the reasons advocated by this publication and its plea, but because this proposed new endeavor will have to be stripped as soon as the Capitol goes over the fiscal cliff.

Now, on to the final piece below. The Orange County Breeze announces a legislative success story. My bill, SB 665, which the piece covers, passed on the Senate Floor last Thursday morning and has gone to the Governor’s Desk. Also, my SB 742 passed on the Senate Floor with no opposition Monday morning and is also going to the Governor’s Desk (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Legislative Efforts — June 29, 2017 june 29, 2017 john moorlach).

Calif. Senate Passes Fee To Fund New Affordable Housing

California has the most expensive real estate markets in the U.S., while state funds for affordable housing have largely dried up.

A proposal to create a new funding source passed the state Senate on Thursday.

The measure would add a $75 fee to most real estate documents–except when they involve purchase or sale of property–capped at $225. Developers building new units, banks foreclosing, and people refinancing their homes would be prime targets.

The bill’s author, Democratic Senator Toni Atkins, says the fee could draw in almost a billion dollars in new funding a year.

"This is a subsidy to help provide housing which then people will be able to remain in California—our kids, our grandkids, the people who work in our fields, the people who work in grocery stores," Atkins said before the vote.

Republican Senator John Moorlach criticized Democrats for seeking more revenue.

"It just seems that Sacramento can’t manage its money," Moorlach said. "When it has a project that’s underfunded, it just raises a tax."

Governor Jerry Brown has been reluctant to subsidize housing. The state Legislative Analyst’s Office primarily attributes high home prices to a lack of new units. Brown has favored addressing this by expediting approvals for new development. A deal with Democratic lawmakers to do that in exchange for funding affordable housing fell through last year.

The new fee passed by the required two-thirds majority, and now moves to the Assembly.


Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley

Two years ago, California’s Legislative Analyst learned that 3,500 Caltrans engineers were doing little more than sitting at their desks and sought to eliminate those positions. Caltrans bosses cried foul and so did Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government. As the union boss told reporters the Legislative Analyst was “childish,” that idle staff should be kept on in case of future projects, and that outsourcing work to independent contractors “wastes taxpayer money.”

In response to the LAO report, state senator John Moorlach wrote a bill to require Caltrans to contract out 50 percent of architectural and engineering services. AsMoorlach recently explained, the engineers’ union killed that bill and now wants to add 400-500 new positions in the next fiscal year. If those were contracted out, according to a study for the American Council of Engineering Companies, that would save state taxpayers $43.4 million a year. That got a rise out of Bruce Blanning, who charged thatMoorlach “cited phony figures – ginned up from the same private companies that want to gorge themselves on tax dollars – to try to justify his false assertion that it would be cheaper for taxpayers.”

Blanning did not show how, exactly, the figures Moorlach cited were “phony,” but he did contend that California has nearly 1,000 engineers on contract doing work that “Caltrans employees can perform at half the cost.” Giving the work to Caltrans employees, the union boss argued, would save $100 million in one year. “Let’s not waste public money by overpaying private companies,” Blanning concluded. “California is best served when a publicly employed professional engineer designs and inspects infrastructure projects.” And doubtless when more than 3,000 government engineers sit at their desks doing nothing, or when they play golf during work hours.

As the state auditor noted, for 19 months, one Caltrans engineer played dozens of rounds of golf during work hours, with Caltrans bosses duly approving his time sheets. Maybe Blanning can identify the lucky government golfer, and show how his game best served the state. The union boss did not indicate which infrastructure project he might have personally designed or inspected. Taxpayers might recall that Caltrans engineers supervised the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge which cost $5 billion more than the original estimate, came in ten years late, and remains riddled with safety issues.

Urgent! Calls Needed Today To Oppose Bill AB 243 That Would Promote Meat Consumption & Industrial Farming

By Lauren Lewis

Calls Needed Today!

A dangerous new bill is quickly making its way through the California state legislature, and a host of environmental and animal welfare organizations issued an urgent call to action for people to help stop it from passing.

AB 243 would increase the state beef check off fee and create a California Beef Commission almost entirely made up of agribusiness interests.

The bill would promote meat consumption and industrial farming at a time when an ever-growing number of Californians are moving toward kinder, healthier, and more environmentally friendly options.

Supporters of the bill want to promote the “essentiality of beef and beef products in proper human nutrition” and erroneously describe it as “vital to the public health and welfare.”

The bill is opposed by a diverse range of groups including Farm Sanctuary; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment; the Center for Food Safety; the Humane Society of the United States; the Consumer Federation of California; Food and Water Watch; and even the California Farmers Union.

AB 243 goes to the state Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on July 11. It is imperative that those of us who oppose this bill act now to stop it in its tracks.

Here are two things you can do to help:

1. Call the office of Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the Senate Judiciary Committee chair, at 916-651-4019. Please politely ask Sen. Jackson to reject bill AB 243.

2. If your state senator is Sen. John M. W. Moorlach, Sen. Joel Anderson, Sen. Robert M. Hertzberg, Sen. Bill Monning, Sen. Henry I. Stern, or Sen. Bob Wieckowski – the other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee – please call their Capitol office and ask to speak to him, or the staff member who handles judiciary issues. (If you don’t know your state senator’s name, you can look it up here.) Again, politely request that they oppose AB 243.

Thank you for your help!

Bill clarifying arguments in ballot measure submissions headed to governor

Senate Bill 665, Sen. John Moorlach’s bill clarifying potential signatories for the arguments in ballot measure submissions, has been approved unanimously by both houses of the Legislature. It now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

The proposal originated from a situation in Orange County where two purported bona fide associations of citizens submitted competing arguments against a local school bond measure. Without a clearer set of guidelines for how to proceed, the Registrar of Voters held a random drawing to pick which argument to use. Despite having a bona fide association present substantial arguments against the bond, the ad hoc group won the drawing.

The losing association, as well as the Orange County Board of Supervisors, challenged the decision in Orange County Superior Court, contending the ad hoc association did not represent a bona fide citizens’ group. The Registrar of Voters replied that, under existing law, it was unable to make a proper determination of which submitter’s argument should receive priority. Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks dismissed the case, citing the lack of guidance in state law and the First Amendment.

At the state level, current law requires the Secretary of State – and county Registrars of Voters for local measures – to randomly select one of the arguments for printing in the voter information guide, if more than one argument for or against a state measure is filed within the time prescribed.

Among other things, the bill clarifies the precedence for selecting arguments for or against a measure, giving priority to elected officials, then proponents of a measure, then associations, and finally citizens. And it requires associations backing or opposing a measure to provide its bona fides, such as articles of incorporation.

This article was released by the Office of Senator John Moorlach.


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