MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 Epilogue — October 4, 2018

With Senate Bill 656 being only the second bill I have had vetoed over my entire public service career, it provides an opportunity to share that I do not react well to vetoes. By this, I mean that I may come back with a different or improved iteration in a subsequent Session. I hint at it in my release on SB 656’s veto, which is provided by the Orange County Breeze in the second piece below.

Allow me to further explain what I mean. I authored Senate Bill 1463 in 2016. It is the first bill of mine that Governor Brown vetoed. It tried to prevent wildfires caused by disrupted or broken electric power lines. Tragically, in the two subsequent years after the Governor’s veto, numerous innocent and mostly elderly people have died as a result of wildfires from electric transformers and lines sparking in high gust weather conditions.

SB 1463 (2016) would have, at the minimum, accelerated the fire prevention efforts at the California Public Utilities Commission and CalFire so the electric utilities could have had the validation to expedite their processes of hardening the infrastructure that causes fires.

Sadly, the Governor’s veto message essentially said, “The bureaucrats are doing their jobs and I prefer to look the other way and let them finish . . . sometime . . . someday . . . in the future.”

Not that SB 1463 would have stopped all of the fires we’ve seen. But, can you imagine what may have transpired if Gov. Brown had taken this bill seriously? Perhaps there could have been one or two fewer fires. Some mitigation efforts to strengthen lines or transistors could have been easily done.

When Sen. Bill Dodd (D – Napa) introduced SB 901, I immediately asked to be a coauthor. I do not coauthor many bills. But, it was focused in the same vein as my redux of SB 1463 in 2018. I used the same bill number as two years prior, but added the use of Cap and Trade revenues to fund hardening the utility lines around the state. That funding would have brought upwards of $600 million annually to address California’s problematic and ostensibly, reduce GHGs caused by wildfires. My bill was killed in the first Senate committee hearing. This bill had no formal opposition. I can only assume the Committee members who voted against it were more concerned about their pet AB 32 projects than about actually reducing GHG emissions. But, SB 901 became the vehicle for a massive wildfire reform package.

For my Senate colleagues in the impacted areas, it created a Conference Committee near the conclusion of this year’s Session to address dealing with utility caused wildfires. And, why not? I stood up on the Senate Floor on many occasions to point out the massive loophole in AB 32’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases because it did not include those generated by wildfires. So much so, that a few days of wildfires generate more GHGs than all of California’s cars driving for an entire year!

When asked by the Sonoma Valley Sun, for the first piece below, why I voted for a bill that would cost PG&E ratepayers a lot of money, I had two responses. The first is that I have very few PG&E ratepayers in my District. A calloused answer, I know. But, if you live in areas with a higher fire danger, there is an increased cost for addressing this risk.

The second answer was that SB 901 took my recommendation to use Cap and Trade revenues, to the tune of $200 million per year over five years. This is an appropriate use of this unique tax in addressing the generation of GHGs by reducing wildfires.

Not all of my bills will be signed by the Governor. But, when a core piece from one of my bills shows up in another bill, thereby having my fingerprints, then I just may be on board. I even stated the same in behalf of SB 901 on the Senate Floor during the waning hours of this year’s Session (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rEQ9uM7P-o).

For additional history on this matter, here is the journey I’ve had on this topic:

Introduction of SB 1463 in 2016

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 — March 25, 2016

After numerous committee hearings and three Floor votes, SB 1463 headed to Governor’s Desk

MOORLACH UPDATE — Moving Down the Line — August 31, 2016

Strong editorial in support of reducing wildfires

MOORLACH UPDATE — First Veto — September 24, 2016

Governor’s Veto

MOORLACH UPDATE — First Veto — September 24, 2016

MOORLACH UPDATE — Rejection/Disappointment — September 27, 2016

MOORLACH UPDATE — Thank you, Vin Scully — September 28, 2016

After the Santa Rosa fire, the media noticed my previous efforts

MOORLACH UPDATE — Conflagration Legacy — October 12, 2017

MOORLACH UPDATE — Secretive and Expensive Union Deals — November 3, 2017

MOORLACH UPDATE — Burning Year End Issues — December 15, 2017

Bay Area disappointment in Brown’s veto and the tragic fire

MOORLACH UPDATE — Bonuses and Bogusness — October 21, 2017

Local frustrations over vetoed bill

MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns — October 27, 2017

RCRC acknowledgement

MOORLACH UPDATE — Haven for Hope — January 19, 2018

SB 1463 Redux, with Cap and Trade funding introduced

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 Redux — March 30, 2018

Second SB 1463 killed in committee with my reactions

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1297 – COO — April 19, 2018

My editorial submission to use Cap and Trade

MOORLACH UPDATE — Reducing Wildfires — July 31, 2018

Efforts to use Cap and Trade funding acknowledged as a potential solution

MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Tornado Funding — August 2, 2018

Other commentators lamenting the lost opportunities with both SB 1463s

MOORLACH UPDATE — Spewing Carbon Into The Air — August 8, 2018

All to show that my office is providing a full portfolio on critical issues facing California, besides pension liabilities and unrestricted net positions. There is so much to do. And, sometimes, the Legislature picks up on an idea that, I believe, makes sense.

How the state — and you —will help PG&E pay for the fires

PGE_WildFire-Work_ENRready

By Dan de la Torre

http://sonomasun.com/2018/10/04/how-the-state-and-you-will-help-pge-pay-for-the-fires/

At the one-year anniversary of the fires which burned nearly 200,000 acres and claimed the lives of over 40 people in Sonoma and Napa counties, the cost of rebuilding is beginning to take shape — as is PG&E’s ultimate responsibility to pay for it.

The bills are still coming in, and lawsuits against the utility pending. But State Senator Bill Dodd, whose district was ravaged by the fires, thinks the figure is about $10 billion. His SB 901, signed into law by Jerry Brown, authorizes that much in bonds.

To back those bonds, every PG&E ratepayer, even those outside the fire area, will now see $50 added to the monthly bill — for at least 20 years. The other $5 billion will come from PG&E itself.

In the immediate aftermath of the fires, blame seemed to be focused solely on PG&E, and the company began a defense on multiple fronts. Because of a legal doctrine known as Inverse Condemnation, PG&E knew that it couldn’t fight any legal battles in court because of the way the language is structured in that particular law.

The law in essence says that even if PG&E did everything it was supposed to regarding maintenance and equipment, as mandated by the state-run California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), it would be liable — no matter what.

With this in mind PG&E began a media campaign to improve its image. It ran ads profiling how the company interacts with the community. It also ran commercials on how much money it spends on overall maintenance, its equipment, and its program to trim tree branches from around power lines. PG&E said it spends $1 billion annually cutting down dead trees and dry brush.

wildfire_powerline

PG&E also blamed climate change as one of the main factors in last year’s fires, something that Governor Jerry Brown has also strongly advocated.

In Sacramento, PG&E lobbied legislators to find a compromise that would allow the company to continue without facing bankruptcy. The legislature and the governor went back and forth with a number or proposals before settling on SB 901. The chief architect of this bill was state Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa).

The Sun recently interviewed both Dodd and Senator John Moorlach (R- Orange County) to get an overview of the bill.

According to both Senators, the 100-plus-page bill addresses the issue on several fronts. A) It makes it easier for PG&E to engage in forest management including tree cutting and disposal of dead wood and dry brush caused by the recent drought. B) Working alongside the CPUC, PG&E will begin the preliminary process of designing underground power lines. C) A financial “stress test” will be conducted to determine how much PG&E can pay without causing it to go into bankruptcy and cause its stockholders, many which are elderly and depend on a limited return from these stocks, to continue to invest.

Senator Dodd suggested that SB 901 will allocate approximately $10 billion in the form of bonds that will immediately be available to plaintiffs suing PG&E. For their part, ratepayers will be assessed that $50 monthly surcharge.

With over 200 individual lawsuits and virtually every city, county and municipality affected by the fires engaging in their own lawsuits, the assumption from Senator Dodd is that $10 billion will be enough to cover all costs.

But it does not address overruns, and it is far from exact.

One of the cities suing PG&E is Santa Rosa. “Honesty I don’t know, as the city is still assessing how much damage the fires caused so at this point there is no price tag,” Assistant City Attorney Adam Abel told The Sun.

To complicate state budget matters, SB 901 does not address claims in connection with lasts year’s devastating fires in Southern California. Or more recent fires in Redding and beyond.

As noted, all PG&E customers will chip in with that monthly $50 fee — no matter where they live.

Diana and Doug Gill, visiting Sonoma from Livermore recently, say the situation is frustrating. They understand that someone has to pay for the overall costs but are demanding more answers. Diana questioned not just the cost of the fire but the cause, as she doesn’t believe that a fire could have spread as rapidly as it did. Like many, she questions if there is a missing element that hasn’t been made public.

SB 901 was signed into law on Friday, September 21. Brown, whose term is ending this year, has said that long, epic fire seasons will be the new normal in California. How to pay for them remains the question.

A plausible possibility is a bill that didn’t pass, but could come back in the next session. AB 33, introduced by East Bay Assemblyman Dr. Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), would have also issued a series of bonds to expedite payments, but had no ceiling price cap. The bill would authorize as many bonds as needed — $50 billion or more was a number mentioned by Quirk’s office.

That figure may have been too high for an election year, but the 2019 legislature might reconsider such an option when the costs of fighting more recent fire disasters come due.

 

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Governor Brown vetoes Moorlach Judicial Pension Reform SB 656

http://www.oc-breeze.com/2018/10/01/128123_governor-brown-vetoes-moorlach-judicial-pension-reform-sb-656/

I am disappointed that Gov. Jerry Brown today vetoed Senate Bill 656, which I authored. At a minimal cost, it would have made key changes to the retirement system of the pensions of California judges, encouraging our best lawyers to seek these positions, and our best judges to stay in them. More than 800 California Superior Court Judges signed on in support of SB 656, as comparable retirement incentives for all state employees was a fair and just modification to make. And providing the appropriate benefits ensures judicial quality and integrity, which are essential to our democracy.

Specifically, SB 656 would have authorized a judge, who is not otherwise eligible to retire with a monthly allowance, to retire and receive the annuity at a later date upon reaching the prescribed retirement age. It would have permitted those judges who face difficult personal circumstances in their later years, such as caring for an ailing spouse, to leave office with the promise of later taking the retirement they worked so hard to achieve.

That means the current system is retained. Under it, if a judge must leave office early, he or she must take a lump sum payment instead of retirement annuity, a reduction in benefits that discourages the best from seeking and accepting these posts.

I want to thank my staff, who worked on this bill for two years, for all of their hard work. I also want to thank the staff at the California Public Employees Retirement System for their assistance in drafting the language. Most importantly, I want to thank the majority of California’s Superior Court judges who took the time to encourage us in this endeavor.

This year Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law two of my three bills that reached his desk. I want to thank him for those he signed. But, I believe that SB 656 is so critical to the morale of our judicial colleagues, that I am considering reintroducing this necessary solution again next year under the next governor.

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 656, 905, 174 and AB 3129 — September 30, 2018

The Governor waited until the final allowable day, the deadline, to weigh in on SB 656 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Final Hours For Bills — September 28, 2018). He decided to veto it.

I know this was a difficult bill for him. Does he stick to absolutes, not allowing any pension modifications since his minimalist Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) passed around this time six years ago (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 340 Withholdings — September 12, 2012 september 12, 2012 john moorlach)?

Or does he sign it to address a flaw in the current retirement plans that his Judicial appointees have to live with? A formula where rank and file staff and even courtroom janitors have a better retirement plan (see https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-656-judicial-retirement-system)? A flaw where many good candidates turn down the offer of an appointment to the bench?

I believe we had a righteous bill, correcting a concern that became evident after nearly 24 years of experience, that could be remedied with a minor deferral modification at no or minimal cost. I say no or minimal, as the actuarial studies leaned toward the worst case situation more than what is most likely to occur. I’m confident in this as I believe most judges like their jobs and stay long after retirement age. And, besides, the cost would be tantamount to an insignificant increase in wages if a raise is considered, but it would be a much more powerful morale booster than a pay raise.

Thank you, Governor Brown, for giving it your attention for the entire month. We have all been busy with the legislative process with August having the focus on the Assembly and the Senate and September having the focus on you.

The East County Today provides a review of a few bills in a manner that reflects my vantage point. It provides the legislative votes and the Governor’s veto message, if applicable.

Now that you have the status on SB 656, as it may be tomorrow’s news, at least in legal publications, today let’s discuss SB 905, SB 174 and AB 3129.

Believe it or not, I supported SB 905. I don’t go to bars, never really have, but that doesn’t mean I should prevent others from staying out past 2 a.m. The Governor saw it differently in the first piece below. It provides the background, the Governor’s message, the details of the bill, and the voting record, highlighting how the East Bay legislators voted. This information is also available at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/.

The second East County Today piece addresses SB 174, a bill that I recommended that the Governor should veto (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2018 Top 20 Veto Worthy Bills — September 13, 2018). Well, good news. The Governor vetoed it!

The third East County Today piece addresses AB 3129, which I thought was headed in the right direction, but was a tad severe. The Governor liked the bill.

Governor Brown Vetoes Bill Allowing Cities to Extend Last Call to 4 a.m.

By
ECT

http://eastcountytoday.net/governor-brown-vetoes-bill-allowing-cities-to-extend-last-call-to-4-a-m/

A bill that was introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (San Francisco) that would allow local governments to extend alcohol services for bars and restaurants until 4:00 am was vetoed by Governor Brown on Friday.

According to the Governors veto message, he stated:

I am returning Senate Bill 905 without my signature.

This bill would authorize nine California cities to extend the hours business can serve alcohol from 2:00 am to 4:00 am.

Without question, these two extra hours will result in more drinking. The business and cities in support of this bill see that as a good source of revenue. The California Highway Patrol, however, strongly believes that this increased drinking will lead to more drunk driving.

California’s law regulating late-night drinking has been on the books since 1913. I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.

Sincerely,

Edmund G Brown Jr.

According to the Bill:

This bill, beginning January 1, 2021, and before January 2, 2026, would require the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to conduct a pilot program that would authorize the department to issue an additional hours license to an on-sale licensee located in a qualified city which would authorize, with or without conditions, the selling, giving, or purchasing of alcoholic beverages at the licensed premises between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., upon completion of specified requirements by the qualified city in which the licensee is located. The bill would impose specified fees related to the license to be deposited in the Alcohol Beverage Control Fund. The bill would require the applicant to notify specified persons of the application for an additional hours license and would provide a procedure for protest and hearing regarding the application. The bill would require the Department of the California Highway Patrol and each qualified city that has elected to participate in the program to submit reports to the Legislature and specified committees regarding the regional impact of the additional hours licenses, as specified. The bill would provide that any person under 21 years of age who enters and remains in the licensed public premises during the additional serving hours without lawful business therein is guilty of a misdemeanor, as provided. The pilot program would apply to Cathedral City, Coachella, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Francisco, and West Hollywood.

Date Result Location Ayes Noes NVR Motion
8/30/2018 (PASS) Senate Floor 28 8 4 Unfinished Business SB905 Wiener et al. Concurrence
Ayes: Allen, Anderson, Atkins, Beall, Cannella, De León, Delgado, Dodd, Galgiani, Glazer, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Hill, Hueso, Lara, Leyva, McGuire, Mitchell, Monning, Moorlach, Morrell, Pan, Portantino, Roth, Skinner, Stone, Wieckowski, Wiener
Noes: Bates, Chang, Fuller, Gaines, Nguyen, Nielsen, Vidak, Wilk
No Votes Recorded: Berryhill, Bradford, Jackson, Stern
8/29/2018 (PASS) Assembly Floor 51 22 7 SB 905 Wiener Senate Third Reading By SANTIAGO
Ayes: Aguiar-Curry, Berman, Bigelow, Bloom, Bonta, Brough, Burke, Caballero, Calderon, Carrillo, Chau, Chávez, Chen, Chiu, Chu, Cunningham, Daly, Eggman, Fong, Friedman, Cristina Garcia, Eduardo Garcia, Gipson, Gloria, Gray, Grayson, Harper, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Kamlager-Dove, Kiley, Low, Mathis, Mayes, Medina, Mullin, Obernolte, Quirk, Reyes, Rivas, Rubio, Santiago, Steinorth, Mark Stone, Thurmond, Ting, Voepel, Weber, Wood, Rendon
Noes: Acosta, Arambula, Baker, Cervantes, Choi, Cooley, Dahle, Frazier, Gallagher, Gonzalez Fletcher, Irwin, Lackey, Levine, Maienschein, McCarty, Melendez, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, O’Donnell, Quirk-Silva, Salas, Waldron
No Votes Recorded: Travis Allen, Cooper, Flora, Gabriel, Limón, Patterson, Rodriguez

Governor Vetoes Bill to Let Noncitizens Serve on Boards

By
ECT

https://eastcountytoday.net/governor-vetoes-bill-to-let-noncitizens-serve-on-boards/

On Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB-174, a bill that would have allowed legal residents and undocumented immigrants to serve on local and state boards.

According to the Governor’s veto message, he stated “This bill would open up all boards and commissions to non-citizens. I believe existing law—which requires citizenship for these forms of public service—is a better path.

The bill was introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara who claimed the bill amends an obsolete and unconstitutional 1872 law that blocked the children of Chinese immigrants from participating in civic life. According to Government Code Section 241, a citizen of California is defined as anyone born in the state, except the children of “transient aliens and of alien public ministers and consuls.”

SB 174 deletes the language about “transient aliens,” and does not change eligibility to hold elected office or vote, defined as a person over 18 who is both a resident of California and a citizen of the United States.

In August, Lara Stated:

“Immigrants are integral to California’s success, but racism and exclusion are part of our history too,” said Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “The California Inclusion Act is fundamentally about good governance. SB 174 rejects our history of exclusion and says we make the best policy when we hear the voices of all Californians, regardless of where they are born or what they look like.”

Assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco) were coauthors of SB 174. Section 241 has been amended only once, in 1971, to lower the age of eligibility for elected office from 21 to 18.

The bill passed the State Senate with a 26-11 vote with Senator Glazer supporting it. In the Assembly, the bill passed with 46-28 vote with neither Assemblymember Frazier or Grayson casting a vote.

Date Result Location Ayes Noes NVR Motion
8/24/2018 (PASS) Senate Floor 26 11 3 Unfinished Business SB174 Lara et al. Concurrence
Ayes: Allen, Atkins, Beall, Bradford, De León, Delgado, Dodd, Galgiani, Glazer, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Hill, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Leyva, McGuire, Mitchell, Monning, Pan, Portantino, Roth, Skinner, Stern, Wieckowski, Wiener
Noes: Anderson, Bates, Chang, Fuller, Gaines, Moorlach, Morrell, Nielsen, Stone, Vidak, Wilk
No Votes Recorded: Berryhill, Cannella, Nguyen
8/20/2018 (PASS) Assembly Floor 46 26 8 SB 174 Lara Senate Third Reading By GONZALEZ FLETCHER
Ayes: Aguiar-Curry, Arambula, Berman, Bloom, Bonta, Burke, Calderon, Carrillo, Chau, Chávez, Chiu, Chu, Cooper, Eggman, Friedman, Gabriel, Cristina Garcia, Eduardo Garcia, Gipson, Gloria, Gonzalez Fletcher, Holden, Irwin, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Kamlager-Dove, Levine, Limón, Low, McCarty, Medina, Mullin, Nazarian, O’Donnell, Quirk, Reyes, Rivas, Rodriguez, Rubio, Santiago, Mark Stone, Thurmond, Ting, Weber, Wood, Rendon
Noes: Acosta, Travis Allen, Baker, Bigelow, Brough, Chen, Choi, Cooley, Cunningham, Dahle, Flora, Fong, Gallagher, Gray, Harper, Kiley, Lackey, Maienschein, Mathis, Melendez, Obernolte, Patterson, Salas, Steinorth, Voepel, Waldron
No Votes Recorded: Caballero, Cervantes, Daly, Frazier, Grayson, Mayes, Muratsuchi, Quirk-Silva

Governor Brown Signs Domestic Violence Protection Bill

By
ECT

http://eastcountytoday.net/governor-brown-signs-domestic-violence-protection-bill/

On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill aimed at increasing protections for survivors of domestic violence from gun violence.

The Bill, AB 3129, authored by Blanca E. Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), will prohibit a person who is convicted on or after January 1, 2019, of a misdemeanor violation of willful infliction of corporal injury upon a spouse, cohabitant, or other specified person, from ever possessing a firearm. The bill would make the violation of that prohibition punishable as either a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Locally, Senator Steve Glazer supported the bill along with Assembly members Catharine Baker and Tim Grayson. Assemblyman Jim Frazier voted against the Bill.

Here is the August Press Release when the Legislator Passed the Bill:

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Legislature today passed a bill by Assemblywoman Blanca E. Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) that will increase protections for survivors of domestic violence from gun violence.

Assembly Bill 3129 would impose a lifetime ban on firearm possession against an individual convicted of a serious misdemeanor domestic violence offense. While federal law imposes a lifetime firearms ban on the purchasing or possession if convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, California law is more lenient than federal law by only imposing a ten-year ban.

“The role of guns in domestic assaults is not limited to homicides, in fact, a 2004 survey of female domestic violence shelter residents in California found that more than one-third have been threatened or harmed with a firearm,” according to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. “In nearly two-thirds of all cases where a gun was present, the person harming their partner had threatened to shoot or kill her.”

“This bill is about saving lives. We need to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers,” said Assemblywoman Rubio. “Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, and domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to end in death than assaults with other weapons or physical harm. In addition, a recent report from the Center for Disease Control found that 50 percent of all female homicide victims are murdered by their intimate partners. Current California law is inadequate, and this bill will provide one more layer of protection.”

AB 3129 will better protect our survivors of domestic violence by imposing a lifetime ban on firearms for individuals with a history of domestic violence. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Assemblywoman Rubio represents the 48th Assembly District, which is comprised of the cities of Azusa, Baldwin Park, Bradbury, City of Industry, Covina, Duarte, El Monte, Glendora, Irwindale, Monrovia, West Covina, and the San Gabriel Valley unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, including Bassett, Charter Oak, Citrus, East Arcadia, Ramona, Valinda and West La Puente.

Date Result Location Ayes Noes NVR Motion
8/23/2018 (PASS) Senate Floor 26 7 7 Assembly 3rd Reading AB3129 Rubio By Skinner
Ayes: Allen, Atkins, Beall, Bradford, De León, Delgado, Dodd, Galgiani, Glazer, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Hill, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Leyva, McGuire, Mitchell, Monning, Pan, Portantino, Roth, Skinner, Stern, Wieckowski, Wiener
Noes: Anderson, Gaines, Moorlach, Morrell, Nielsen, Stone, Vidak
No Votes Recorded: Bates, Berryhill, Cannella, Chang, Fuller, Nguyen, Wilk
8/27/2018 (PASS) Assembly Floor 53 19 8 AB 3129 RUBIO Concurrence in Senate Amendments
Ayes: Acosta, Arambula, Baker, Berman, Bloom, Bonta, Burke, Caballero, Calderon, Carrillo, Cervantes, Chau, Chiu, Chu, Cooper, Cunningham, Daly, Eggman, Friedman, Gabriel, Cristina Garcia, Eduardo Garcia, Gipson, Gloria, Gonzalez Fletcher, Gray, Grayson, Irwin, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Kiley, Lackey, Levine, Limón, Low, Maienschein, McCarty, Medina, Mullin, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, O’Donnell, Quirk-Silva, Reyes, Rivas, Rodriguez, Rubio, Santiago, Thurmond, Ting, Weber, Wood, Rendon
Noes: Travis Allen, Bigelow, Brough, Cooley, Frazier, Gallagher, Harper, Kamlager-Dove, Mathis, Mayes, Melendez, Obernolte, Patterson, Quirk, Salas, Steinorth, Mark Stone, Voepel, Waldron
No Votes Recorded: Aguiar-Curry, Chávez, Chen, Choi, Dahle, Flora, Fong, Holden

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Final Hours For Bills — September 28, 2018

The Governor has a few more hours to sign or veto the remaining bills on his desk. I’ll try to give you an executive summary next week on how many of the 20 worst bills Gov. Brown actually did, thankfully, veto (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2018 Top 20 Veto Worthy Bills — September 13, 2018).

One of the bills still on the Governor’s desk is AB 3120. It did not make it to the “Top 20” list, as a number of Republicans voted for it. I am half of the Senators that voted against it. I even spoke against it on the Senate Floor, warning about the potential repercussions implementing this bill will have on our school districts and nonprofits.

AB 3120 would extend the statute of limitations for filing abuse claims and lawsuits. This is righteous. But, it will be expensive.

School teachers who are perpetrators do not pay the damages, the school district does. Usually, the insurance companies provide the settlement funds. But, will they do so after all of the claims have already been settled and now the goal line has been moved? And, will they continue to insure school districts? If they do, how high will the premiums go? And, if not, where will the money come from?

School districts will have few choices if AB 3120 passes and more lawsuits are filed against them. They can litigate and hope to prevail. But, this is an even more expensive proposition if they lose the cases. They can file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy and have a Federal Court forgive the settlement amount, thus damaging further the claimants who have gone through an exercise permitted by this bill. But, we haven’t seen this bankruptcy strategy pursued in California, yet. They could go to Sacramento, which is funded by you, the taxpayers, with hat in hand. But, the general fund is spent out, with additional bond principle and interest payments on the horizon. Or, they could attempt to put an assessment on your property tax bill, again burdening you, the taxpayer.

And I haven’t even mentioned what it may do to nonprofits, who do not have the potential remedies that school districts have. That’s why I took the risk of opposing a powerful legislator’s bill.

These are probably not the politically correct arguments to make, but I represent all of the taxpayers and need to provide balance to what appears to be a vindictive remedy. So, I’ve provided my concerns in the Fox & Hounds piece below.

Another bill still on the Governor’s desk is my SB 656

(see MOORLACH UPDATE — Attaboy — January 22, 2018 ). SB 656 would make minor modifications to the Judicial Retirement System, Tier 2 (also known as JRS II). It is supported by more than one-half of the Superior Court Judges in California, including Judge Lance Ito, who has come up to Sacramento twice to testify on my bill’s behalf.

Orange County Superior Court Judge John Adams was the instigator of this two-year bill. CalPERS was a huge assist in writing the language. It addresses a work hardship concern for those in this pension plan and will provide the Governor either an opportunity to assist many of his appointees to the bench or to shut the door on any pension plan adjustments post his PEPRA legislation.

I’ll be on pins and needles this weekend.

Justice v. Retribution: AB 3120 Could Bankrupt Schools, Non-Profits

Senator John Moorlach

By Senator John Moorlach California State Senate, 37th District

http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2018/09/justice-v-retribution-ab-3120-bankrupt-schools-pensions/#facebook-comments

Assembly Bill 3120 is aimed at the wrong target. I’m for justice, not retribution.

The bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, would increase childhood assault victims’ ability to sue both perpetrators and employers for claims that already have passed the statute of limitations. Yes, crimes committed against children are egregious, and deserve to be addressed swiftly without hesitation or disregard. I share the sentiment of the author. Something must be done.

Sexual misconduct allegations have prompted a series bills in the California Legislature, many of which I’ve supported. This legislation echoes a cry heard across the nation as the #MeToo movement exposed those who have abused positions of power to suppress the weak.

The need for justice is valid, but the vengeance unleashed when bills like this come into play negates the very issue it’s seeking to remedy. While trial attorneys may take 40-60 percent of the damages, schools and other non-profit organizations will be left with little to no resources to rebuild or repair.

That includes public schools, many of whose finances are in very bad shape. According to my analysis of California’s 940 K-12 school districts, about two thirds already suffer negative balance sheets. Even worse news will strike over the next year as, for the first time, their Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports must now include unfunded retiree medical liabilities.

For small school districts, one additional lost abuse lawsuit resulting from AB 3120 could lead to insolvency and the cancellation of those retiree benefits. Abuse victims also could receive reduced or no compensation from empty school treasuries.

Those districts that can make payouts will find it impossible to train or implement better procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again as their budgets will be either completely drained, or greatly impacted from higher insurance premiums (if they can obtain insurance). We cannot even be certain the threat will be eliminated, as a considerable amount of time has passed and employees who perpetuated the abuse are most likely no longer to be present at the school.

We’ve seen this before. In 2002 the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1779 by state Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco, opening up the statute of limitations retroactively for one year. Despite that, children continue to be abused and cover-ups still occur.

I’ve dedicated my public career to repairing the fiscal integrity of those municipalities I’ve served. In a time when schools are facing massive fiscal distress, I find it troubling the Legislature would even consider such a measure. This is a righteous cause, but it has the potential to devastate school districts and make obtaining insurance next to impossible.

California needs to focus on policies that prevent sexual misconduct so we don’t create more victims. This new legislation is a reactive approach to an issue that requires a proactive, preventative solution.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Attaboy — January 22, 2018

Just like anyone else, it’s nice to receive an attaboy once in a while. Last month the Apartment Association of Orange County awarded me with their 2017 Legislator of the Year Award. Allow me to extend my gratitude to its members for this kind recognition.

Last week the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) made me a recipient of one of their two 2017 Rural Leadership Awards (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Haven for Hope — January 19, 2018). Thank you, RCRC!

Yesterday, Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association provides an attaboy for my reaction to the Governor’s proposed 2018-19 Budget (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Budget and Legacy Priorities — January 11, 2018). It’s provided below in The Press Enterprise. It also made it to the OC Register and the Daily News. Thank you, Jon Coupal!

Not a bad week. But wait, there’s more. A week ago last Monday, I presented my bill, SB 656, to the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee. One of my two witnesses in support was Judge Lance Ito. It passed 5-0. Last Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee put SB 656 in suspense status. But, on Thursday, it voted to move it onto the Senate Floor and it also picked upthe Appropriations Committee Chair, Sen. Ricardo Lara, as a co-author. That’s a major attaboy.

However, last Tuesday the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to hear a reconsideration of my bill, SB 722. It addressed cheaters in mobilehome parks that are subject to rent control. Unfortunately, the Chair prefers rent control over mobilehome park owners that are forced to give lower rents to those who occupy their space as a second home. Instead of doing the task of finding housing, some Democrats prefer subsidizing those who can afford multiple homes. So, it wasn’t a perfect week.

BONUS: I have a District fund raising event this Friday, January 26th, at 5:30 p.m. I would love for you to attend and to invite as many of your friends that are concerned about the direction of this state to participate.

Former Costa Mesa Mayor Steve Mensinger and current Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer are the hosts. We’re enjoying a great response and you will be glad that you attended.

For a copy of the invitation and an easy way to RSVP, please go to https://www.efundraisingconnections.com/c/Moorlach2020/EveningReceptionJan2018.

OPINION

The two most insightful

responses to the governor’s

budget

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, listens as lawmakers

debate a bill Thursday, June 2, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif.

By JON COUPAL

https://www.pe.com/2018/01/20/the-two-most-insightful-responses-to-the-governors-budget/

Last week, Gov. Brown released his proposed 2018-19 state budget. But few citizens even pay attention to public finance issues except in the most general sense. For example, we hear from media either that the budget is balanced or that we’re running a huge deficit and the world will soon end.

If people tune out news about the budget, you can’t blame them. The whole process is a bit of a choreographed Kabuki dance where every Sacramento player has a role. First, the governor proposes a budget in January, then there is the infamous “May Revision,” and that leads up — hopefully — to the passage of the final budget by the constitutional deadline in June.

Part of the January dance when the initial plan is released is the reaction from constitutional officers, legislators and interest groups that customarily supply some sort of quote to media outlets. It’s a dog and pony show, but it does help in staking out turf between now and the June 30 deadline.

Not surprisingly, the comments from Democratic legislators and constitutional officers regarding the proposed budget were positive given that the general fund budget has grown to $132 billion — a staggering 44 percent since Gov. Brown was elected in 2010. Still, most of the voices from the left called for even more spending. For example, State Treasurer John Chiang stated “I would continue to urge him and lawmakers to continue to invest more heavily in three bedrock areas that are critical to the long term prosperity of this state: higher education, affordable housing and early childhood education.”

Republicans, on the other hand, want more accountability and would prefer that some of this year’s surplus be returned to taxpayers. Fiscal watchdogs, such as Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, expressed concern with the explosive growth in Medi-Cal spending as well as the billions in unfunded pension liabilities.

Two of the best responses to the governor’s proposed budget stand out for very different reasons. The first is from Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, the California Legislature’s only CPA, who has been laser-focused on the staggering amount of public debt in California even when we have balanced budgets. His reaction was a distillation of the true state of California’s fiscal condition: “Gov. Brown admits that ‘the last 5 budgets have significantly increased spending,’ and this budget proposal is no different. Coming in at just under $300 billion dollars of total spending, debt and poverty remain at all-time highs. Even worse, our balance sheet is massively short and unfunded liabilities are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Our underfunded pension systems will get minimum payments of $6.2 billion for CalPERS and $3.1 billion for CalSTRS. These costs are directly related to policies Jerry Brown embraced 40 years ago during his first time as governor. While he’s sensitive to a possible economic slowdown and should be lauded for increasing our rainy day funds, he has been a spendthrift in Sacramento.”

The second best reaction to the governor’s proposed budget is from Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, who simply acknowledged that the proposed budget is just that — proposed. We won’t know the true state of fiscal affairs until the debate over the final budget in June concludes. However, the way he stated this fact garners extra points for style: “Semper in excretia sumus solim profundum variat.” This Latin phrase translates as, “We’re always in the manure; only the depth varies.”

For California’s beleaguered taxpayers, Sens. Moorlach and Vidak bring clarity and truth to California’s fiscal dysfunction.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — 2018-2019 Budget Recommendations — January 4, 2018

The 2018 Session started yesterday afternoon with a bang. Sen. Andy Vidak (R – Hanford) introduced Senate Resolution 69, a resolution to permanently expel Sen. Tony Mendoza (D – Artesia) from the California State Senate. This caused the Democratic Caucus to immediately meet in a closed door caucus, for several hours, while the Republican Senators simply spent the afternoon and early evening waiting for them to conclude. A little after 6 p.m., the Senate reconvened and Sen. Mendoza gave an “I’m taking a one month leave of absence” speech. This is something he should have done when the President Pro Tem offered him this solution at the end of last year, during the recess. And then yesterday’s Floor Session closed with a quick thud. No comments allowed from anyone in the Chambers. The fun has begun.

I return next week for a boatload of work. I have four two-year bills to address before committees, SB 656, SB 681, SB 688 and SB 722 (see the 2017 legislative package on my Senate website). I will also have Public Employment and Retirement Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Governance and Finance Committee meetings. Plus there will be two joint hearings, where the Senate and Assembly combine, addressing sexual harassment and the Ghost Ship fire. And, if that was not enough, the Governor will be announcing the 2018-19 Budget on January 10th.

In anticipation of one of next week’s upcoming events, I decided to submit a snarky but extremely serious op-ed on the proposed budget to the San Francisco Chronicle. It is the piece below.

The year of our Lord 2018 is here and it’s game on, as we try to message to the Governor and the Legislature that California needs to turn its ship of state around. We issued an ICYMI yesterday that proves the necessity of minding the fiscal store here in Sacramento (also see my Senate website at http://district37.cssrc.us/).

Happy New Year!

More money than expected for new budget

Will Gov. Brown propose to spend more or reduce debt?

By John Moorlach

http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Will-governor-propose-to-spend-or-save-12472049.php#photo-14786355

While you’re struggling to make ends meet, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that this year the state’s coffers will overflow with an additional, unexpected $7.5 billion of your tax dollars. Will the governor propose to spend it or save it?

On Jan. 10, Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to release his budget proposal for fiscal 2018-19, which begins July 1. It will be his 16th and last budget proposal and likely will include a small surplus, more funding for the Rainy Day Fund and money for his pet boondoggle, the high-speed rail project.

Meanwhile, the stock market is up some 20 percent for the year since our new president was elected. And the value of your home has been rising at a rapid clip. You’re doing great, so you’re able to spend more for gas and pay a little more in taxes. You’re a giver.

But, what about those with no savings? No stock portfolio? No home? Those who cannot afford to live close to their job? You know, those in the middle class the Democrats always talk about protecting? Those who oppose the $5.5 billion-a-year gas tax whom the governor referred to as “freeloaders”?

Guess what? The Democrats have bamboozled this significant segment of our state’s people, because the new budget, like last year’s, likely will not include adequate reforms to reduce the $8 billion to fund pension liabilities.

In 2012, Proposition 30 was approved by voters as a “temporary” fix to get us past the Great Recession, and was to expire in 2018. But, at the behest of the public employee unions and other special interests, California’s voters approved Proposition 55 in November 2016. It extended this reliance on the highest income and sales tax rates in the nation another 12 years!

Then earlier this year, the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature increased your gas tax, effective Nov. 1, 2017, starting at 12 cents more a gallon. It goes on indefinitely, with adjustments for inflation. All this tax revenue, yet the Golden State’s fiscal condition is awful.

There is some good news, however: The state’s ranking on fiscal condition no longer is the worst — it has risen to 43rd, according to a 2017 Mercatus Center Study. (New Jersey is the worst.)

We know the Democrats aren’t going to decrease tax rates and these taxes will be collected. So, what to do? As a serious corrective, here are some proposals Brown should announce in his new budget to smartly use that $7.5 billion in unexpected revenues.

Pay off bonds. The Department of Finance can proffer a list of lenders who should be paid off in advance. A state cannot rack up a $169 billion deficit without borrowing money. Sacramento could use a strategy whereby it puts in escrow enough cash to service the debt, thus saving the interest payments. The controller could then call the debt paid, as the funds in escrow will pay off the bonds as they are regularly scheduled.

Make another prepayment on public employee pension debt to both the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers Retirement System (Cal STRS), as he did last year. This will reduce required payments in future years. This debt comes at a 7 percent cost, so paying it down is a no-brainer.

Get more aggressive in paying down the state retiree medical liabilities — exceeding $76.7 billion as of June 30, 2016. (A revised estimate is expected later this month.)

Pay cash. Get really radical and start making infrastructure investments without borrowing. The bond measures on the June and November 2018 ballots would be unnecessary if California made improvements the way many of us do on homes or business buildings.

Jan. 10 will let you know if Brown is trying to balance his budget with some serious balance-sheet debt reductions. Otherwise, his legacy will be presiding over a financial bottom-dweller state.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, represents the 37th District in the California Senate.

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

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