Category: California Proposition 8

California Proposition 8 Sponsors Protect Marriage Legally Entitled to Defend Measure

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So, ruled the California Supreme Court this morning.

The California Supreme Court decided Thursday that the sponsors of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures are entitled to defend them in court when the state refuses to do so, a ruling likely to spur federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

The state high court’s decision, a defeat for gay rights groups,  sets the stage for a federal ruling — which could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — that would affect marriage bans outside California.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering an appeal of a trial judge’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8, had asked the California court to clarify whether state law gives initiative sponsors  standing,  or legal authority, to defend their measures.

I am happy that the standing of Protect Marriage to defend Proposition 8 in the federal appeals court process was protected. Otherwise, my vote for Proposition 8 would have been worthless – as would the votes of millions of Californians.

Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris should be ashamed of themselves for trying to disenfranchise my vote.

Back to the Ninth Circuit and then ultimately to the United States Supreme Court.

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California Proposition 8 Will NOT Have Repeal Election in 2012

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After all of the noise about repeal of Proposition 8 after its passage in 2008, there will be no repeal election in 2012. The initiative proposition is currently tied up in the federal appeals court. Most legal pundits expect the United States Supreme court will ultimately decide the issue.

A leading California gay rights group said today that it won’t seek to qualify a ballot initiative to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage ban in 2012.

Equality California had previously said it would try to reverse Proposition 8 during next year’s presidential election, saying high turnout among young voters could boost its chances of success.

But the group said today it has decided not to pursue what would “inevitably be a very expensive and difficult campaign” to overturn the 2008 voter-approved initiative.

With the ultimate fate of Proposition 8 still tied up in the courts, EQCA announced that instead of launching an initiative qualification drive it will back an outreach campaign to “overcome the psychological, cultural and emotional triggers” that lead to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Wedge issue elections of the variety of California’s Proposition 8 tend to alienate voters than affect any kind of policy change. However, the California Supreme Court forced the issue with their ridiculous opinion striking down a California statute defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

With other states passing laws that allow Gay Marriage, whereas the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits it, the incongruity will lead to a United States Supreme Court review – eventually.

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Flap’s California Morning Collection: September 7, 2011

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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California

Today is all about the GOP Presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley – just down the road from where I live in Thousand Oaks. The debate which marks the debut of front-runner Texas Governor Rick Perry will begin at 5 PM PDT. John F. Harris of Politico and Brian Williams of NBC News will be the moderators.

I will be tweeting the debate live and you can follow me here (@Flap).

After the debate I will head down to Camarillo for a meet and greet with Rick Perry.

The California Legislature is in session and will end its session on Friday. A number of bills are to be considered including AB 155, the Amazon Tax which while defeated in the State Senate yesterday can be called up for reconsideration by its sponsor Senator Lori Hancock.

The California State Senate’s Schedule is here and the Assembly is here.

On to today’s headlines…..

California’s top Democrats reject Amazon offer

Top Democrats denounced an offer by Internet retailer Amazon.com Inc. to create thousands of new jobs if the state postpones for more than two years its effort to force online merchants to collect sales taxes on purchases by Californians.

Legislators and their bricks-and-mortar retail allies cast doubt that Amazon would follow through with a promise to build two distribution centers in the state and hire as many as 7,000 people.

The company, which has a total workforce of 38,000, has made similar promises in other states that also are trying to force Amazon to collect sales taxes, they said at a state Capitol news conference Tuesday.

“More jobs will ultimately be created in California when we have a tax system that is fairly and adequately applied to everyone in our state,” Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) said.

“And, we’re not going to allow the notion of jobs that may or may not materialize to dictate our position on an issue of fundamental fairness to all businesses in California,” he said.

Amazon, said Assembly Rules Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), is “cynically promising jobs that aren’t going to materialize.”

California has lost about 18,000 jobs because of unfair competition from Amazon and other Internet sellers that don’t collect sales taxes, enabling the online merchants to undercut store prices, said Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Assn.

A spokesman for Amazon’s “More Jobs Not Taxes” referendum campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

The company and its allies are close to gathering the required number of signatures on petitions to get the referendum on the June 2012 ballot. The referendum would ask voters to repeal a new state law requiring the collection of sales taxes by out-of-state Internet companies that have offices, workers or other connections in the state. The company has refused to comply with the law, which took effect July 1.

In the meantime, Democrats in the Senate and the Assembly, as well as lobbyists hired by big-box retailers, are trying to persuade a handful of Republican members to vote for a new, similarly worded bill that would replace the recent law, thus nullifying the Amazon referendum. Also, as a so-called urgency measure, the proposed law would be immune to a voter referendum.

Lawmakers seek stronger Internet sales tax law

Supporters of a bill that would force Internet retailers to begin collecting sales taxes immediately pressed lawmakers on Tuesday to pass the measure before the end of the session this week.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill as part of this year’s budget to expand tax collection by Internet retailers effective July 1, but Amazon.com has spent more than $5 million toward a 2012 ballot referendum to overturn it.

If approved, the bill under consideration this week could not be overturned by voters because it would be considered an urgency measure.

Democratic lawmakers and retail businesses that support the new bill, AB155, say Amazon is trying to undermine the legislation with a proposal to add 7,000 California jobs at new distribution centers if the online sales tax law is delayed for at least two years.

Speaker of the Assembly John Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat, said Amazon and other Internet retailers kill thousands of California-based jobs each year by unfairly undercutting local businesses on price because they don’t charge the tax.

In the flurry of legislative activity in the last week of the session, Perez said, “California will not sacrifice real jobs for phantom promises.”

Amazon has proposed adding a total of nearly 22,000 jobs in six states that have stepped up tax collection efforts, which would amount to roughly a two-thirds increase in its worldwide workforce, said Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association.

“The job numbers appear to be nothing but fiction,” Dombrowski said.

Amazon has been pushing for a major expansion of its distribution network, proposing at least an additional 15 distribution centers as part of an effort to speed deliveries to customers.

Gay marriage foes may win right to defend Prop. 8 in court

The California Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to rule that the backers of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures have the right to defend them in court, a stance that would give opponents of same-sex marriage the chance to champion the initiative all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

During an hour of oral arguments, several justices appeared skeptical that only elected state officials may defend measures passed by voters, as gay-rights lawyers claimed.

If that were the case, same-sex marriages would resume in California because Gov. Jerry Brown and Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris have refused to appeal last year’s federal ruling against Proposition 8.

Justice Ming W. Chin observed that the power of the people to enact laws would be curtailed if initiatives could be blocked in court every time officials refused to defend them.

“So the attorney general and the governor get to pick the laws they want to enforce?” asked Chin, a conservative on the court.

Justice Joyce L. Kennard, one of the court’s more liberal members, appeared to agree. Denying initiative sponsors the right to appeal, she said, would be “nullifying the great power that the people have reserved for themselves” and “would not promote principles of fundamental fairness.””What we are going to hold is not limited to gay issues,” Kennard said. “Our holding will apply to any other circumstance when proponents of initiatives are asserting standing” — the legal term for the right to bring a case in court.

The seven-member court will decide within 90 days whether ProtectMarriage, the sponsors of Proposition 8, have the right to represent the state in litigation. That ruling will clear the way for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether ProtectMarriage had standing to appeal U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling against the 2008 ballot measure.

Bill to ensure parents’ right to circumcise clears Legislature

California cities and counties could not ban circumcision of male children under a proposed state law that cleared the Legislature today.

The Assembly overwhelmingly concurred in Senate amendments, 67-2, and the measure now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has taken no position on it.

Assembly Bill 768 would prevent local governments from enacting laws prohibiting the circumcision of male children.

The measure was sparked by a circumcision ban that initially qualified for San Francisco’s November ballot but was removed by a Superior Court judge, who ruled that an existing state law pre-empted it.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Los Angeles Democrat, opted to continue pushing his bill after the court ruling. He has characterized circumcision as a personal, medical and religious freedom.

AB 768 would take effect immediately if signed by Brown, which would prevent the possibility of a San Francisco vote on banning child circumcision if the Superior Court ruling is overturned on appeal.

Gatto contends that passage of AB 768 also would serve as a deterrent to other circumcision opponents, who might consider placing a similar initiative on their local ballot in years to come.

San Francisco’s first-of-its-kind initiative drew national attention for targeting circumcision, removal of the male foreskin, a practice that has biblical roots and that many believe was commanded by God in a covenant with Abraham.

Enjoy your morning!

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Flap’s California Morning Collection: September 6, 2011

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Avalon, Catalina Island

The California Legislature is in session today as it speeds to complete its business by Friday. There are about 300 bills which remain for consideration and disposition.

Floor sessions begin today at noon in the California Assembly and California State Senate.

The California State Senate’s Schedule is here and the Assembly is here.

Today in the news is same sex marriage and California’s infamous Proposition 8.

The California Supreme Court’s newest justice, Goodwin Liu, hits the ground running this morning with a high-profile issue: Proposition 8.

The high court is hearing oral arguments in San Francisco on whether state law gives sponsors of the same-sex marriage ban the right to defend it in a case now pending before a federal appellate court.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco struck down the voter-approved measure last year as unconstitutional. State officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, have declined to appeal. Another federal judge has since rejected the proponents’ argument that Walker’s decision should be overturned because he didn’t disclose that he is gay and in a long-term relationship.

Since interest is so high in the Perry v. Brown case, the California Channel will broadcast it live on its local cable channels and stream live online at calchannel.com. The proceeding starts at 10 a.m. at the Earl Warren Center, 350 McAllister St.

The legal wrangling on same sex marriage will be back and forth with the attorneys making a ton of money until the Supreme Court of the United States puts the issue to rest. I am afraid it will be quite a few years before the issue is resolved.

I say get on with it and make a decision – one way or another.

Also, in the news today is AB 155, the Amazon Tax bill.

The New York Times had a good precis on the California internet sales tax issue yesterday.

Opposing Amazon are traditional retailers as big as Wal-Mart and as small as the neighborhood bookstore — the few that are left. “Amazon is killing our business in bricks-and-mortar stores,” said Bill Dombrowski, head of the California Retailers Association, which was the driving force behind the original law.

Amazon easily collected the half-million signatures necessary to put the issue on ballots next June. Since people will in essence be voting on whether to pay an additional 8 or 9 percent when they buy online, Amazon could easily triumph among voters who are watching their wallets. Democrats in the Legislature responded with an urgency bill, a rare tactic used only a few times a year.

“We’re not doing this lightly,” said State Senator Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat. “But it seems like Amazon doesn’t really care about the State of California or the people whose lives are affected by whether or not we have enough money for schools and roads and to keep the libraries and parks open.”

Any Californian who buys a book or a DVD player from Amazon is supposed to pay a use tax when filing state taxes. In practice, however, few do. For years, the issue has been simmering. Then came the withering recession, and the economic calculus changed.

In the two months since the law took effect, Amazon has declined to start collecting sales tax in California. Once it submits the signatures for the referendum and they are verified, the law will be suspended until the vote.

Senator Hancock and other Democrats say they have stopped shopping at Amazon. “This is getting pretty acrimonious,” said the California treasurer, Bill Lockyer, who said he was also boycotting the retailer. “It’s snarly.”

One has to wonder if Senator Hancock and California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer have paid their “use tax” to the State of California on their previous Amazon.com, Overstock.com et. al. purchases over the years.

Anyone have their tax returns?

Or, maybe California taxpayers should just call their offices and ask.

And, include California Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez, along with Hancock and Lockyer.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and other legislators join business leaders, including Bill Dombrowski of the California Retailers Association, to urge the Legislature to reject Amazon’s proposal to exempt it from collecting taxes for two years in exchange for distribution center jobs. Their news conference starts at 11 a.m. in the Capitol’s Room 317.

A few headlines for this morning:

Solorio: ‘I’ve Been Robbed’

Count Assemblyman Jose Solorio as another Orange County lawmakers who says he’s fallen victim to treasurer Kinde Durkee.

Meanwhile, the chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez says the congresswoman is in the “process of assessing the damage” after learning of Durkee’s arrest.

As first reported by the Orange County Register on Saturday, Durkee, a campaign treasurer for many California Democrats, was arrested by the FBI on suspicion of mail fraud. Durkee’s clients include at least 113 committees at the state level as well as federal clients, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

On Saturday, O.C. State Sen. Lou Correa, another Durkee client, told the Register that after speaking with the FBI about Durkee’s arrest he believes he has lost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in campaign funds.

Solorio, a Santa Ana Democrat, sent an email to his supporters Sunday titled “I’ve Been Robbed. The FBI Has Arrested My Treasurer.”

“I wanted to reach out to you directly with the facts regarding the recent arrest of Kinde Durkee, the person I trusted as my campaign treasurer,” Solorio said in his statement to his supporters. “I hired her because she was regarded as a highly respected professional, and for decades, the treasurer for the campaigns of many prominent elected officials in the state.

“I received a call Friday afternoon by the FBI to be alerted that I and others are victims of a crime. In the coming days, you may read more about this developing story, but please know that with the help of my family, friends and supporters, we will eventually be able to recoup our losses and put this unfortunate incident behind us.”

Jerry Brown trying for last-minute bipartisan tax deal

Gov. Jerry Brown is pondering changes in the corporate tax swap plan he introduced last month in hopes of reaching a bipartisan accord before the Legislature adjourns for the year.

Although no final deal has been reached, the outline of a possible agreement began to emerge Monday. Like Brown’s original plan, it involves changing a 2009 law so that corporations could no longer choose which formula to use when calculating their state tax liability.

But instead of Brown’s original plan, which used the estimated $1.1 billion the change is expected to generate on new tax credits for businesses that hire California workers or buy new equipment, the new proposal would include more sweeping changes to the state’s business taxes.

Among the concepts being pushed by Republicans are tax cuts for corporations that pay personal income tax instead of corporate tax. The plan also includes reductions in the corporate tax rate for smaller businesses.

The state Board of Equalization would have some discretion to set the tax rates so that the amount in new tax credits is equal to the amount of revenue that the other changes are expected to generate.

Multiple legislative sources confirmed the bipartisan negotiations, but would not allow their names to be used for fear of damaging the fragile talks. Administration sources refused to confirm the details of the proposal.

It was unclear whether there was enough backing from Republicans or Democrats to get the revised proposal through the Legislature. Democrats have not yet signed off on the deal, and it was unclear whether an agreement could be reached before Friday, when the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year.

Enjoy your morning.

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