MOORLACH UPDATE — 2017 Top 20 Veto Worthy Bills — September 22, 2017

This is the third year that I have enjoyed the end of the Legislative Session, a grueling exercise where hundreds of bills are voted on in rapid succession and, with a few exceptions, very little Floor debate. And, for the third time, I have been invited by the FlashReport to list the 20 worst bills that on the Governor’s desk awaiting either a signature or a veto. For these 20, we’re definitely encouraging a veto (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2016 Veto Worthy Bills — September 12, 2016 september 12, 2016 john moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Worst and Vaguest — September 22, 2015 september 22, 2015 john moorlach).

Last year we were permitted to provide the worst 25 bills. This year the list could have been double that. But, we were once again constrained to 20 bills the Governor should veto. We did not include some worthy bills as they have already been signed, as they either were voted on some time ago or were budget trailer bills Gov. Brown signed upon receipt.

I want to thank my Sacramento Capitol Office staff for doing an outstanding job of assisting me in my research on all the bills that came before me for a vote. I also want to thank them for their willingness to improve on our technologies to stay organized on the massive volume that occurs with the legislative process. With that, thank you Lance Christensen, my Chief of Staff, Eric Dietz, my Legislative Director, Robert Nash, my Legislative Analyst and electronic organizer par excellence. They kept my sanity intact the last few weeks.

I also want to thank Jacob Ashendorf, who served in my Capitol Office the past few months, but recently accepted a job offer in D.C. He is now my fifth staff member to join the Health and Human Services executive team. I don’t know whom to be mad at more, HHS Secretary Tom Price or President Donald Trump.

This year we also had the privilege of hosting a Capitol Fellow. James Moore, a Harvard grad who played basketball in high school, made me not feel tall. James was able to work a bill or two of mine to the Governor’s desk. So, that offensive experience on the court came in handy.

Now that we have a tradition, I’ll try to keep you posted on the status of these 20 bills in future UPDATEs.

bc2f75af-1bb0-4394-b7b3-b576ff825671.jpgFlashReport 2017 Top Bills Worthy Of The Governor’s Veto

Introduction from FlashReport Publisher Jon Fleischman

This is the 12th year that we have presented for your viewing displeasure the worst pieces of legislation sitting on the Governor’s desk. Of course there are a great many bills on the Governor’s desk – most of them worthy of a veto. Thus the task of trying to cull through those bills and single out just the twenty worst is not easy. For the second year in a row, our list comes to us courtesy of both State Senator John Moorlach and Assemblyman Matt Harper. I will add that this session in particular was over-the-top with noxious legislation, and limiting this list to twenty bills was no easy task. – Flash

The FlashReport Top 20 Bills Worthy Of The Governor’s Veto

As compiled and described by State Senator John Moorlach and Assemblyman Matthew Harper

Supermajority legislative leaders declared that the 2017 Session “may be the most productive and progressive legislative session in memory.” They may be right. And it’s only half done.

We don’t know if that is something to brag about, though. We believe that media perspectives describing 2017 as a rage reaction against the new Trump Administration are also accurate. From the first day of Session last December, the Democrats provided an anti-Trump resolution nearly every week and emphasized a strong move to the left on policies that will hurt California, prohibiting the state from leading the nation to prosperity.

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What was most stunning was how unabashed the public employee unions were in pushing through massive, if not coercive, requests to strengthen their declining membership numbers. AB 1250 was a brazen attempt to eliminate non-profits’ contracts and hand county services over to unions. Luckily, the non-profit world summoned enough strength to fight it off, at least until January. But in light of these union bills, it begged the question, “Who’s your daddy?”

Regretfully, our “Top 20” list is not comprehensive and does not include all the terrible bills the legislature has passed and the governor has signed this year. The gas-tax increase (SB 1) and cap-and-tax (AB 398) are already the law of the land.

There also were several bills we watched throughout the year to see if they were going to make it to final floor votes. Several didn’t.

Finally, the bills below are those that, despite our opposition, were affirmed by both the Senate and the Assembly and are going to the Governor’s desk. He has until October 15 to sign them – or prevent them from harming Californians by vetoing them. We present them to you in numerical order.

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AB 20 (Kalra) Send Jobs, Not Investments to Dakota Bill: Paves the way for the California Public Employees Retirement System to “divesting” from valuable investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Doing so could reduce the value of CalPERS assets, endangering retiree pensions.

AB 168 (Eggman) Across the Board Salary Lowballing: Inhibits employers’ ability to hire qualified employees, prohibiting employers from using past salary information of a prospective employee as a factor in deciding whether to hire someone, or how much to pay them. This will lead to reduced production at a time when the state economy is starting to falter. Instead of helping employees, an unknown number of their jobs could be killed.

AB 199 (Chu) Construction Reduction Act: We should be avoiding government-mandated prevailing wages, not increasing their requirements. This legislation would significantly increase circumstances where prevailing wages would be mandated.

AB 569 (Gonzalez Fletcher) Discrimination of Church by State: Beyond limiting private religious organizations’ code-of-conduct policies for employees, it could bring the state into conflict with federal religious-rights legislation because it mandates that employers provide employee handbooks to include information on abortion coverage. That violates the religious conscience of many employers and employees.

AB 890 (Medina) Voter Suppression Act: This is anti-democratic and would silence voters pursuing pro-growth land-use decisions, usurping local control by mandating changes in local land use decision-making via state law.

AB 1008 (McCarty, Gipson, Holden, Reyes, Weber) Employment Meddling Act: This bill prohibits employers from inquiring about or using a prior criminal conviction of an prospective employee as a factor in whether to make them a conditional offer of employment. This is another bureaucratic hassle for businesses, increasing costs and, in the end, killing job opportunities because of increased legal liabilities and administrative burdens for employers.

AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher) Women Employee Reduction Act: Gender discrimination already is against state and federal law. This would increase companies’ red tape in providing useless data about employee compensation to state busybodies, who would then post the information online. It could kill the jobs of the women it’s supposed to help.

AB 1269 (Mark Stone) Mobile Home Tax: This is a tax on mobile home parks and increases regulations on them. It could encourage owners to bulldoze the parks and turn them into condos.

AB 1274 (O’Donnell) Fee Hidden as a Tax: This is yet another car tax that is estimated to cost certain car owners over $100 million. The majority can’t get enough of car taxes.

AB 1455 (Bocanegra) Public Employee Bargaining Secrecy Act: How can we be reducing transparency? Yet this bill would prohibit local governments from sharing with the public documents concerning labor negotiations. We should be doing everything in our power to increase government transparency for our taxpayers.

AB 1461 (Thurmond) Are Food Handler Cards for Farmers Next?: Pointless red tape to give food unions an edge on the new “gig economy” by increasing the costs of doing business for companies that send food ingredients to your home for you to prepare.

AB 1513 (Kalra) Union Invasion of Privacy: Requiring that the Department of Social Services release private information of registered home care aides is a blatant invasion of privacy. It is also a shameless attempt by public employee unions to increase their membership.

SB 2 (Atkins) Killing Homes and Jobs for the Middle Class Act: Would raise taxes on real-estate transactions (by hundreds of millions of dollars annually), thereby discouraging home purchases.

SB 3 (Beall) California Legislature’s Housing Sub-Prime Act: Another massive, unneeded multi-billion dollar bond measure that doesn’t address or solve the underlying issues of housing supply or costs. It just creates more debt for the state for generations to come for homes they won’t be able to afford.

SB 5 (De Leon) Park Bond Boondoggle: Who doesn’t want more parks? But at $6.5 billion for principal and interest, that’s $235 million a year removed from the General Fund. Voters just enacted the Proposition 1 water bond in 2014. Let’s wisely spend all that money first. A review of this bill shows pork-barrel spending at it’s finest.

SB 54 (De Leon) Sanctuary State Nonsense: California has prioritized defiance to the federal government over its duty to govern responsibly and protect its citizens. If signed, this bill could cost the state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars in public safety grants, establishing a state mandate that state and local governments may not assist federal immigration authorities as they attempt to find and detain illegal aliens. This is showmanship for the cameras, not leadership for the people.

SB 63 (Jackson) Small Business Meddling Act: It goes without saying that allowing new parents to bond with a child is very important and the state has a number of paid and unpaid benefit programs to provide for that leave. This bill requires that a an employer with 20 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave within one year of the child’s birth. And employers must maintain the employee’s group health coverage during that leave. There should be concern about the impact of this heavy-handed requirement on small businesses and the potential liability that could result.

SB 149 (McGuire, Wiener) Do As I Say, Not As I Disclose: This Constitutionally-dubious legislation would preclude a candidate for President from being placed on the California ballot if they have not publicly disclosed their tax returns – yet another dig on President Trump. It’s disingenuous to limit disclosure of tax documents to only presidential candidates. Why not all elected officials attempting to get on the ballot in California? This didn’t seem to be an issue in 2010 or 2014 when Governor Brown did not release his own tax returns.

SB 239 (Wiener) HIV Assault Act: Although strides have been made in HIV and AIDS treatment, those infected still can die. So intentionally infecting someone is as serious as assault and battery and even homicide, and should retain similar penalties. This legislation reduces this crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

SB 285 (Atkins) Bargaining Meddling Act:Federal and state laws already guarantee the right to collective bargaining. The author claims this bill extends that right “to employees who are choosing whether or not to become or remain union members.” But it’s really redundant and would just increase costs for local governments, reducing services to the public.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Good Luck With That — September 17, 2017

Sacramento just doesn’t get it. A housing crisis is not solved with new fees, bonds, and local government process overrides.

Let’s talk about housing. KQED provides some of the gory details in the piece below. But, allow me to elaborate. A quick tip, KQED provides the last act first.

For Senate Bill 3 (and 5), I provided the following abbreviated concerns on the Senate Floor:

1. Let’s review the housing market over the last eleven years. In Orange County, the median price for a home in 1996 was $221,800. Ten years later, after the subprime mortgage boom (for fun, watch “The Big Short”), the median rose to $739,000. With the Great Recession, the median went down to $498,200 in 2011. And, as of June 2017, it is back to $734,200.

2. Why the recent resurgence?
A. A slow, but steady rise in job growth.
B. Foreign investors. They came in at the market low as a safe haven.
C. Explaining an increase of all-cash transactions; more than 50% in 2013.
D. This has caused a decrease in home ownership and more renters.
E. Difficulty for developers to obtain entitlements and to build.
F. The other usual suspects, like NIMBYism, CEQA and open space demands.
G. For those lucky enough, try working with the California Coastal Commission.

It makes you wonder, what has Sacramento done to address foreign buyers and entitlement restrictions? And, I can see now why SB 714 (Newman) was removed from the calendar this last week, as it doubles down on taking entitled property for building new homes in the city of Brea and requiring total open space. Boy, this bill was so out of touch, the Democrats had to save the author from himself. But, I digress.

3. What is the current dilemma?
A. Americans find the home buying process too overwhelming.
B. They find it too difficult to come up with the down payment.
C. More than other generations, Millennials value experiences over ownership.
D. Americans change jobs more often than in previous generations.

With SB 2, Sacramento will be adding to the burdens. Within minutes, the Democrats also voted for AB 166 (Salas), which provides exemptions from the new SB 2 fees. You can’t make this stuff up. And those who qualify are not those going through a foreclosure!

Then I warned them about issuing more debt by sharing the following disturbing data from Moody’s Investors Service. Among the 10 largest states in the nation, California joins Illinois and New York as the three worst in all of the following categories:

1. Debt to personal income — 4.70%, when the median for all states is 2.50%.
2. Debt per capita — $2,323, when the median is $1,025.
3. Debt as a percentage of state GDP — 3.94%, when the median is 2.21%

And the state’s own bond credit rating is a measly AA-, just above Illinois, at BBB+. This means that California will be paying higher interest rates than issuing states with top credit ratings.

If this wasn’t enough of a reason to vote against the bond measures, I also gave a lecture on future budget and balance sheet concerns — a “what’s up?” listing:

1. A $4 billion bond translates into $225 million per year in payments! Where will this come from? The Senate approved two such bond bills on Friday.
2. The annual contributions for CalPERS and CalSTRS are also rising.
3. The Proposition 98 school funding threshold into the General Fund is also rising.
4. The minimum wage is rising and will impact the budget by $4 billion per year.
5. The recent voter approved $9 billion bond for school improvements will impact the General Fund by $500 million per year (no wonder the Governor hasn’t released any tranches).

What does all this mean? In a few short years, the General Fund is screwed. But I put it more politely on the Senate Floor, stating that “it will be dramatically impacted. Good luck with that.”

Sacramento so much wants California to be like other blue states that are heading for the fiscal precipice, such as Connecticut, Illinois and New York. And quickly. But, this is the wrong race to be in.

You can bet the Governor will sign these bills and the monopoly party will pat themselves on the back for once again dealing with a problem with inappropriate solutions. Tragic.

THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

Housing Bill Package Passes

Legislature, Goes to Gov.

Brown

By Guy Marzorati

https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/09/15/housing-bills-clear-toughest-hurdle-at-state-capitol/

A package of landmark housing legislation is on its way to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, after receiving final passage in the State Senate.

After a dramatic vote in the Assembly on Thursday night, bills to fund housing construction and streamline development rules received easier passage in the Senate.

“In my mind, this is a really historic day,” said Senator Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. “Together, we are lifting many of our residents out of poverty.”

Governor Brown supports Senate Bills 2, 3, and 35, and is expected to sign the legislation.

Senators had already approved earlier versions of the bills earlier this year.

Once again, moderate Democrats Steve Glazer, D-Orrinda, and Josh Newman, D-Fullerton voted in favor of a controversial real estate fee in SB 2 that will create new funding for affordable housing.

Senate Bill 3, a $4 billion affordable housing bond, passed with 30 votes. It will appear on the November 2018 statewide ballot if signed by Brown.

All Republicans opposed the fee in SB 2, which would be paid by homeowners on transactions like a mortgage refinance.

Senator John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said SB 2 is “taxing those who are having a tough time because they can’t afford down payment.”

Instead, many Republicans said the state should be focused on eliminating roadblocks to housing development.

That led four GOP members to support Senate Bill 35, which makes it harder for cities to block new housing if they had failed to meet regional goals for approving developments. Despite losing seven Democrats, the measure passed on a 23-14 vote.

Original Post:

A package of bills representing the Legislature’s most significant push in years to address California’s housing crisis overcame its largest hurdle to date, passing the State Assembly on Thursday night. But it didn’t come without suspense.

The bills earmark billions of dollars for home construction, and enact rules making it harder for local governments to block new developments, with the overarching goal of increasing housing stock in the state.

“We are once again showing that here in California we are stepping up and getting the job done,” said Speaker Anthony Rendon, ( D-Lakewood).

In a late night vote, the Assembly approved six housing measures, including the three most high-profile bills: Senate Bill 3, a $4 billion bond measure, Senate Bill 2, a new permanent source of affordable housing, and Senate Bill 35, legislation that makes it harder for local governments to block housing developments.

SB 2 would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for housing through a $75 fee on real estate transactions, such as those filed in a mortgage refinance, or the redemption of a foreclosed home. The fee would be capped at a total of $225.

“One thing we all share at this time is that we are living in the worst housing crisis that our state has ever experienced,” said David Chiu, (D-San Francisco) chair of the Assembly Housing Committee. “SB 2 is at the heart of what we need to do.”

The vote on SB 2 provided most of the night’s drama.

Like SB 3, the proposed fee required a two-thirds vote in the Assembly, meaning Democrats could not afford to lose any votes if Republicans unified in opposition.

That calculation changed during floor debate, when San Diego Republican Brian Maienschein announced he would support the measure.

Maienschein, the former San Diego commissioner on homelessness, mentioned the issue of Californians living on the street as his motivation for voting in favor.

Half of the money collected from SB 2 in its first year would go towards assisting Californians who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.

“I do feel compelled to act,” he said. “I wish there was something different to be done, and to do nothing to me isn’t an option.”

But the bill wasn’t out of the woods yet. After debate over the measure ended, three Democrats remained unconvinced.

Democrats Sabrina Cervantes of Riverside, Adrin Nazarian of the San Fernando Valley and Marc Levine of Marin refrained from voting for the fee hike.

Cervantes is a swing-district Democrat who also didn’t vote on July’s cap-and-trade extension.

Levine voiced his opposition to the real estate fee during the summer recess, instead calling for California corporations to shoulder a tax increase to pay for housing.

After holding out for almost an hour — and paying a visit to Speaker Rendon’s office — Levine and Nazarian both relented and voted for the measure.

Rendon and Levine said no side deals were exchanged for their ‘aye’ votes.

“What I’m most concerned about is that the work continues,” Levine told KQED after the vote. “That we’re trying to find flexible policies that help all Californians in all communities plan for the housing we desperately need.”

Getting 54 votes on SB 2 was the culmination of a furious four weeks of negotiating and vote whipping after the Legislature returned from recess in August.

The bill carried the distinct disadvantage of being a legislative caboose on a train with several tough supermajority votes.

In just the last five months, moderate Democrats had been asked to support a road repair bill that raises the gasoline tax and an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade system that will likely increase fuel prices as well.

The third request on moderates, many of whom represent swing districts, came with little time left in the legislative year. That forced SB 2 to compete for public attention with the usual logjam of bills jockeying for passage before Friday’s end-of-year deadline.

Lawmakers pushing the housing fix also had to do without much public help from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown, who made fiery, meme-generating speeches in the final days before successful votes on the road repair and cap-and-trade bills, didn’t make a similar rally for the housing bills.

After the vote, Brown did send out a tweet of approval for the bills, which he supports, and is expected to sign if they pass the Senate.

Senate Bill 2 was able to gain support through a series of tweaks; more money was added for the homeless, and a greater share of funds will be directed to local government.

Additionally, language was added to a separate bill to create a hardship exemption for some low-income Californians. Levine said this provision was critical to gaining his support for SB 2.

The Assembly also passed a separate funding measure, SB 3, a $4 billion housing bond that will go before voters in November of 2018, if given final approval by the Senate and signed by the governor.

The bond passed the Assembly on a 54-20 vote, with Republicans Maienschein and Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) voting in favor.

For the most part, Republicans shied away from supporting the bonds and fees, instead arguing that the elimination of regulatory roadblocks would spur more development.

“We’re not talking about zoning,” said Devon Mathis (R-Visalia). “We’re talking about throwing more money at it.”

Legislation to ease restrictions on development also sailed to passage on Thursday night, needing only a majority vote.

The key streamlining measure was Senate Bill 35, which would bypass certain local reviews for developments in cities that have fallen behind on regional housing goals.

Opponents from both parties worried the bill would remove local control from important planning decisions.

“I might have agreed with [that argument] five years ago or ten years ago,” said Laura Friedman (D-Glendale). “But we’re in a really different climate right now. We’re in a crisis, in a housing crisis,” she said before voting for it.

The measures now head back to the State Senate for passage on Friday, the last day in the Legislature before a recess until the new year.

KQED’s Scott Shafer contributed to this report.

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