Category Archive: California State Assembly

Sep 01 2011

Flap’s California Morning Collection: September 1, 2011

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Santa Barbara Mission

The California Legislature is in session today.

Lengthy senate sessions M-F this week. Noon-5pm today then 10am start times thru Friday- which btw is the last day to amend bills on floor

The California State Senate’s Schedule is here and the Assembly is here. The Assembly has a floor session scheduled for 9 AM today.

And, there are more POL’S fundraisers today:

Speaking of breakfast, legislators’ fundraisers are still in full swing, with breakfast events scheduled for Democrats Lois Wolk and Kevin deLeón and Republicans Jean Fuller and Joel Anderson. Evening events benefit Democrats Nancy Skinner, Charles Calderon and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.

On to today’s headlines:

Amazon makes offer to persuade California to drop sales tax collection law

Amazon.com is offering to build a number of distribution centers and hire more than 1,000 workers if California lawmakers back away — at least temporarily — from their efforts to force the Internet giant to collect sales taxes on purchases made by customers from the Golden State.

The proposal was made in the form of draft legislation at a meeting Tuesday night between Amazon lobbyists and representatives of companies that belong to the California Retailers Assn.

Backers of California’s effort to collect about $300 million a year in unpaid taxes on Internet sales dismissed the Amazon compromise as a ploy. “It’s a totally cynical maneuver that’s part of their game that they try to play in every state that keeps them from getting the sales tax,” said Lenny Goldberg, a legislative advocate for the California Tax Reform Assn.

According to an informal memo based on a description of the deal by an Amazon lobbying firm, Greenberg Taurig, Amazon wants the state Legislature to repeal a law that took effect on July 1. The statute requires Amazon and other out-of-state Internet sellers to collect California sales taxes.

Amazon, so far, has said it would not do so and is bankrolling a referendum campaign to repeal the law.

Amazon wants California to refrain from forcing it to collect the sales tax until at least January of 2014.

In return, Amazon would hold the signatures it’s already collected and drop its effort to repeal the sales tax collection law on the June 2012 ballot. Amazon also would build build two fulfillment centers, one in Northern California and one in Southern California, with approximately one million square feet of floor space and 1,000 employees.

Amazon further offered to send its customers annual statements listing their total purchases and advising them that they owe California use tax on the goods, the memo said.

The use tax, which is paid by the buyer, is the same basic rate of 7.25% for the sales tax.

The retailers association confirmed that the meeting took place and dismissed the proposal as “not serious.”

Retailers President Bill Dombrowski said the deal “will only prolong the harm to small businesses that employ Californians.”

“We’re looking at their proposal,” said Retailers President Bill Dombrowski.

For its part, Ned Wigglesworth, a spokesman for the Amazon referendum campaign, declined to discuss the matter.

Amazon showdown over sales tax to fizzle?

In a move that could forestall a big ballot box showdown, Amazon.com has told traditional retailers it would agree to an online sales tax — but only if it’s delayed two years to give Congress time to pass a national law.

Under Amazon’s proposal, the company would go along with a sales tax for goods purchased online — as long as the tax is uniformly enforced across the country, according to sources involved in talks with the company. As part of the possible deal, Amazon is also offering to create 7,000 distribution center jobs in California and drop its push for an initiative to bar such a tax.

Amazon’s new position emerged from intense Capitol efforts to call a truce in a war that has seen California vote to impose the tax, Amazon respond by circulating petitions for a referendum to overturn the tax, and legislators taking steps to invalidate any such referendum.

“We’re trying to find a way to not have World War III,” said one brick-and-mortar retailer, whose group believes it’s unfair that Amazon doesn’t have to collect the tax. “There seems to be real interest in reaching an accord.”

A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment on the developments.

The political obstacles to a national agreement on online taxes are steep, and some Democratic leaders in California worried Wednesday that Amazon’s proposal for a two-year delay in California’s efforts to impose its own online sales tax is too much to pay for an uncertain outcome in Washington, D.C.

One leader of the group of traditional retailers said he was wary of Amazon’s offer.

“The so-called deal that Amazon has proposed is not serious,” Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, said in a statement. “Amazon is an out-of-state company with an unfair advantage over California businesses, and it is seeking a complete repeal of the law and another exemption from any further state action.

“Again and again, Amazon continues to demonstrate that they do not care about California businesses, taxpayers or communities,” Dombrowski said. “This deal will only prolong the harm to small businesses that employ Californians.”

It was not immediately clear how the Legislature would make up for the $200 million in revenues it is expecting to get from sales taxes Amazon was supposed to collect in the fiscal year that began July 1. Top Democrats such as state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, have said that the state desperately needs that revenue.

But Republican leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said Steinberg was working with him to put together a bill that could gain bipartisan support.

“They had a very informative meeting,” Dutton said. “I wanted to encourage the individual retailers and their associations to get together with Amazon to work this out. It would be a win-win for them and people of California.”

Earlier this week, Senate caucus leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said he doubted Republicans would sign on to the effort to stop Amazon’s referendum.

“My guess is the caucus will take a position against (AB 155) in favor of letting the political process work,” Huff said. “As much as there might be merit in policy and we want to protect brick-and-mortar stores, there’s a bigger play in motion now. This bill is an end run around the political process.”

Huff indicated he would be in favor of allowing Congress to settle the issue.

“The retailers have made some good arguments, but this is one that would be better addressed nationally, or in the context of some kind of tax reform that makes a more level playing field for everybody,” Huff said.

Republicans may be hesitant to agree to any deal. Grover Norquist, the father of anti-tax pledges that Republicans break at risk of political retribution, sent a letter earlier this week to Republicans telling them that a vote to thwart their referendum was as good as a vote for taxes.

Bill to regulate California health insurance rates stalls

A controversial push to give state regulators the power to reject proposed increases in health insurance rates has stalled in the state Senate.

Assembly Bill 52, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, would let the state insurance commissioner or the director of the Department of Managed Health Care reject or modify proposed rate increases found to be “excessive,” “inadequate” or “discriminatory.”

The bill cleared the Assembly on a party-line vote in June. But Feuer has decided to hold off on any action this year, saying he does not have the votes to win approval from the Senate before the first year of the legislative session ends next week.

“Despite an outpouring of strong support from small business, working families and consumers throughout CA, the bill has hit a temporary roadblock in the Senate,” Feuer said in a statement. “Right now, not enough senators are prepared to vote for any form of health insurance rate regulation.”

A Feuer spokeswoman said the Los Angeles Democrat will continue to work for the bill’s passage next year, when the Legislature returns for the second leg of its two-year session.

Goodwin Liu confirmed to Calif. Supreme Court

Barely three months after Senate Republicans denounced Goodwin Liu as a left-wing extremist and torpedoed his nomination to a federal appeals court, he was lauded as a brilliant and open-minded legal scholar Wednesday and confirmed to a seat on the California Supreme Court.

The Commission on Judicial Appointments voted 3-0 to endorse Gov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of the 40-year-old Liu to succeed retired Justice Carlos Moreno as the only Democratic appointee on the seven-member court.

Liu will be sworn in to office by Brown today and join the court in time for Tuesday’s critical hearing on Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage in California. The justices will consider whether California law allows the measure’s sponsors to represent the interests of the state and its voters in appealing a federal judge’s decision that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.

Enjoy your morning!

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Aug 31 2011

California Legislation Brings the Nanny State to Babysitters

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Good Grief. Does the State of California have to regulate everything?
How will parents react when they find out they will be expected to provide workers’ compensation benefits, rest and meal breaks and paid vacation time for…babysitters? Dinner and a movie night may soon become much more complicated.

Assembly Bill 889 (authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, will require these protections for all “domestic employees,” including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers.

The bill has already passed the Assembly and is quickly moving through the Senate with blanket support from the Democrat members that control both houses of the Legislature – and without the support of a single Republican member. Assuming the bill will easily clear its last couple of legislative hurdles, AB 889 will soon be on its way to the Governor’s desk.

Under AB 889, household “employers” (aka “parents”) who hire a babysitter on a Friday night will be legally obligated to pay at least minimum wage to any sitter over the age of 18 (unless it is a family member), provide a substitute caregiver every two hours to cover rest and meal breaks, in addition to workers’ compensation coverage, overtime pay, and a meticulously calculated timecard/paycheck.

Failure to abide by any of these provisions may result in a legal cause of action against the employer including cumulative penalties, attorneys’ fees, legal costs and expenses associated with hiring expert witnesses, an unprecedented measure of legal recourse provided no other class of workers – from agricultural laborers to garment manufacturers. (On the bright side, language requiring an hour of paid vacation time for every 30 hours worked was amended out of the bill in the Senate.)

Now, young families will have an even greater incentive to move out of California. They will either not be able to afford or obtain a babysitter for some needed “ME” time.

If this bill passes, Governor Moonbeam should veto it.

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Aug 29 2011

Will ANY California Republican State Senators Support Online Sales Tax Proponents to Invalidate Amazon.com Sponsored Online Sales Tax Referendum?

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It is difficult to say at this time, but my Sacramento sources tell me that the California GOP Senators that Jerry Brown worked over the State Budget debacle (to obtain a 2/3′rds vote and political cover) are in the cross hairs of Wal-Mart, plus California Democrats, who want to screw over Amazon.com and California taxpayers. Remember when the original Amazon Tax Bill came through the California Legislature NOT one Republican Legislator voted for it in the Senate.

So, who are these GOP Senators who might FLIP?

One who is mentioned is outgoing Senate Republican Caucus leader Bob Huff. He has said he “could be open to supporting the measure.”

How about giving this California Legislator a few phone calls, e-mails and faxes telling him that we California voters do NOT want this tax increase. His contact information is here.

Senator Huff is finishing his first term as a California State Senator, having served previously in the California Assembly. Huff will be up for re-election in 2012 and all Senate districts have been reapportioned this year.

Let your voice be heard Californians. Tell Senator Bob Huff to just say NO to this end around by left-wing Democrats and Wal-Mart.

The other California GOP Senators that are “SQUISHY” or are being lobbied to FLIP on the Amazon Tax are:

  1. Senator Tom Berryhill
  2. Senator Sam Blakeslee
  3. Senator Anthony Cannella
  4. Senator Bill Emmerson – Senator Emmerson is also an orthodontist.
  5. Senator Tom Harman

So, light up the phones of these California Legislators. Tell them to just vote NO on internet sales taxes. Tell them no more supporting the games of left-wing Democrats and Jerry Brown.

Remember Wal-Mart and the Democrats will need three (3) GOP Republican senators to FLIP in order to pass this last minute legislation. And, two (2) in the California Assembly. The Senate vote is first and will likely be tomorrow.

Light up the phones, Californians.

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Aug 28 2011

California Amazon.com Internet Sales Taxes – The Week to Come

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Amazon.com is certainly willing to put its money where its principles are.
More than nine months before a proposed June 2012 referendum asking that California’s new Internet sales tax law be overturned, Amazon, the Seattle-based online retailer, has already spent $5.25 million, state records show, more than any company has spent in California this far from a vote in at least a decade.

“The initiative and referendum process have been hijacked,” said Loni Hancock, a state senator from Berkeley, who wrote the law Amazon is trying to overturn and who is now pushing legislation that could block Amazon’s referendum effort.

Even by California’s expensive campaign standards, the company’s early contributions are causing observers to take note.

For example, the company’s $5.25 million investment dwarfs the $1.5 million that Pacific Gas and Electric spent nine months ahead of the vote on Proposition 16, a June 2010 initiative that would have made it more difficult for local governments to get into the electricity business.

P.G.& E. ultimately spent $46 million on that campaign. Political observers say that by spending more, earlier, Amazon is showing potential opponents that its ultimate campaign spending could soar even higher.

“These types of sums can send a very strong discouraging signal to potential opponents,” said Dan Schnur, a veteran Republican political strategist who is now director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

While Wal-Mart and other deep-pocketed retailers have lined up in favor of the tax law, they may decide to forgo financing the opposition to Amazon’s referendum if they feel it faces long odds, Mr. Schnur said.

Early polling has suggested that a vote would be close. A Los Angeles Times-University of Southern California poll released last month found 46 percent of voters favoring an online sales tax, with 49 percent opposed.

Ned Wigglesworth, a political consultant coordinating the Amazon-financed More Jobs Not Taxes campaign, said he did not see “any significance” in the company’s historic giving and dismissed the notion that Wal-Mart could be scared away by $5 million in campaign contributions.

Neither Amazon nor Wal-Mart representatives responded to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Ms. Hancock has begun a quixotic quest to keep California voters from weighing in on whether online retailers should be required to collect sales tax. On Thursday, she pushed a new bill through a legislative committee that election law experts said could prevent Amazon from putting a referendum on tax collection before the voters.

I understand there will be a vote on Tuesday in the California Assembly on this new legislation and the lobbying this weekend has been intense on “SQUISHY” Republicans who will be needed to push this forward (two thirs vote required).

Now, Wal-Mart spends a lot on campaign donations to California Legislators and, of course, has a physical presence in the state. They will try to leverage their political muscle to derail Amazon.com and recapture some of their California market.

Nothing personal – it is just business.

Plus, the Democrats who love to bash Wal-Mart about the fact they are not a union shop, perhaps have agreed to lighten up on the mega-store, if they help against Amazon.com.

Oh the POLS, they will tax anything, anywhere and anyway they can.

When I am able to identify the “SQUISHY” Republicans, I will post up their names/contact information and I will be sure that they hear about the issue from California VOTERS.

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Aug 26 2011

Updated – Nothing New: California Legislature Relents and Will NOW Release Member Spending Records

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In a Friday Doc dump no less – note the impending East Coast hurricane too.

Under growing political and legal pressure, the Legislature plans to release lawmakers’ spending records this afternoon, information that party leaders had argued was protected from public disclosure.

The current expenditures for all members of the Assembly and Senate, in addition to legislative committees, will be posted online at 4 p.m., according to multiple legislative sources. The Assembly will post its records on the chamber’s website.

The move is an apparent concession to calls from lawmakers and media outlets to release spending records in the wake of a feud between Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles).

After Pérez labeled Portantino a profligate spender last month and slashed his office budget, Portantino denied the accusation and requested the current spending records of all 80 members of the lower house. Assembly administrators rejected the lawmaker’s request, along with ones from several newspapers, including The Times.

Officials cited provisions in the Legislative Open Records Act that protect legislative memoranda and correspondence from public disclosure.

Stay tuned as we await the 4 PM Dump.

Wonder how detailed the records will be?

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