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The California Flap: February 6, 2013

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President Ronald ReaganToday would be the 102nd Birthday of California Governor and President of the United States Ronald Reagan

The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

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

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • S.F. GOP leader slammed by Republicans – As chairwoman of the San Francisco Republican Party, attorney Harmeet Dhillon possesses an unusual background for a GOP leader. The Indian American is a past board member of the American Civil Liberties Union and doesn’t focus on the divisive social issues that have alienated the GOP from Californians. But now that Dhillon is running to be vice chair of the California Republican Party – she would be the first female of color in the job – one of the state’s top conservative groups is ripping her for being a little too San Francisco, warning that Dhillon is a Bay Area liberal who “simply doesn’t represent our values.” The California Republican Assembly, a conservative activist group, says Dhillon’s political contributions to Kamala Harris when she was running for San Francisco district attorney and Dhillon’s 2002-05 stint on the board of the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is a deal-breaker.
  • CARB honcho Mary Nichols makes power grab – What do the California Air Resources Board, the Transit Authority, the Highway Patrol, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Bar Pilots have in common? More than you would think. Because all vehicles, railroads, aircraft, freight movers and floating vessels are polluters, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols (pictured nearby) would like a say in regulating them. The Assembly Transportation Committee originally announced it would meet on Monday, Feb. 4. The meeting agenda said it was to be about Assembly Bill 8, which would increase or extend $2.3 billion of fees on car owners until 2023. According to Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, these will include smog abatement fees, air quality management district fees, vehicle and boat registration fees and new tire fees. However, AB 8 was dropped from the agenda, and no mention of it was made at the two and one-half hour hearing.
  • California passes up millions for prison healthcare, report says – California’s court-run prison healthcare program is missing out on tens of millions of dollars a year in federal funds because of disagreement with counties and software problems, a new legislative report states. The legislative analyst’s office found increasing numbers of prison inmates who, because of their low income status, are eligible for the state’s Medicaid program. That program, delivered through counties, draws matching federal reimbursements. The LAO notes that federal policy has allowed states to collect federal Medicaid reimbursement for eligible state prison inmates since 1997. The agency states that California has only recently developed a process to obtain this funding, and is not yet seeking the full amount possible.
  • Compromise pot measure placed on May ballot – A third measure to regulate how medical marijuana clinics operate in Los Angeles was placed on the May 21 ballot by the City Council on Tuesday, offered as a compromise to two other measures that are also going before voters. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich urged the council to adopt the measure to resolve the marijuana issue after years of dispute and legal challenges. “This will put in place what we had back in 2010,” Trutanich said. “I believe this is the most sensible regulation we can come up with. This will give us the opportunity to regulate medical marijuana while making it accessible to those who need it.” Under the proposal, approved on a 10-3 vote, the original 135 dispensaries that registered with the city when an interim control ordinance was in place will be able to operate in the city. Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who has admitted using marijuana as part of his cancer treatment, hailed the council action.
  • California cities likely to keep right to ban medical pot dispensaries – California cities appear likely to retain the power to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, over the objections of medical pot advocates who argue such restrictions undermine the state law allowing the use of cannabis for medical reasons. During a hearing Tuesday in San Francisco, the California Supreme Court appeared inclined to allow cities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in a case that has sweeping ramifications for local governments across the state and in the Bay Area, where dozens of cities have enacted dispensary bans. The dispensaries argue local governments cannot ban what California law allows, but the Supreme Court appeared unready to embrace that position. Most of the justices were openly skeptical of the arguments of a dispensary that challenged Riverside’s right to ban medical pot providers. The justices appeared particularly troubled that the 1996 voter-approved law allowing medical marijuana use, and later legislative revisions, did not expressly bar local gov..
  • Gov. Brown dismisses Texas’ job-poaching efforts as ‘a big nothing’ – Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday dismissed the efforts of Texas Gov. Rick Perry to recruit California businesses to relocate as a political stunt motivated by a breathless media. The story received wide attention Monday when the Texas governor launched a statewide radio ad urging California businesses to move to the Lone Star State to take advantage of what Perry called a more favorable environment for companies. Speaking at a news conference in West Sacramento, the California governor quoted philosopher Marshall McLuhan as Brown dismissed Perry and scolded reporters for giving more attention to the story than it deserves. Noting that Perry spent just $26,000 on statewide radio, Brown called the ad campaign “a big nothing.” He went on to say people have been seeking to take what belongs to California since the gold rush. “You go where the gold is,” he said. Perry is “not going to Lubbock, or whatever those places are that make up that state.”
  • Environmentalists and unions band together to fight CEQA changes – Environmentalists and labor unions are banding together to fight efforts to overhaul California’s landmark environmental law. Organizers said the new coalition, made up of dozens of advocacy groups and dubbed “CEQA Works,” was formed to counter an aggressive campaign by business groups to make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. While legislation has yet to be introduced, Gov. Jerry Brown has called on the Legislature to streamline the law to help speed the state’s economic recovery. Environmentalists fear a repeat of last year, when lawmakers tried and failed to push through last-minute changes that activists said would have gutted CEQA. “CEQA is the most foundational environmental law in California,” said Bruce Reznik, executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, one of the coalition’s founding members. “We decided we couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore and wait for bad things to happen.”
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The California Flap: February 5, 2013

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Connie ConwayCalifornia Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway

The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

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

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • GOP leader Connie Conway getting heat from caucus critics – Whispers are getting louder.Assembly Republicans are not talking publicly, but they’re meeting in little groups and buzzing among themselves about the possible overthrow of their caucus leader, Connie Conway.A key question is whether any Republican can corral enough votes for a coup. No Assembly member has pushed publicly to succeed Conway, though veteran Don Wagner of Irvine and freshman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach are touted privately as possibilities. They did not respond to interview requests Monday.

    Republicans are still reeling over the loss of three GOP seats in last November’s election, a stunning party defeat that handed Democrats a supermajority in the 80-member house.

  • TED conference leaving Long Beach for Vancouver – TED is leaving Long Beach.The national TED conference, which has taken place in Long Beach for four years and will have its fifth event here this month, will move to Vancouver, Canada, next year to celebrate its 30 th anniversary, officials announced Monday.TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, will host its final Long Beach-based conference Feb. 25 to March 1 at the downtown Long Beach Terrace Theater. The sold-out, invitation-only conference will be headlined by Bono, a renowned activist for social justice and lead singer of U2.

    Mayor Bob Foster said in a statement Monday that TED will be “missed.”

    “We enjoyed TED’s run in Long Beach and the past five years gave a tremendous opportunity to showcase the city to new audiences. California will miss them, but we wish them nothing but the best in Vancouver,” Foster said.

  • Janet Napolitano: San Diego border ‘secure’ – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday that the San Diego border with Mexico is secure but not impregnable.“I believe the border is secure,” Napolitano said following an aerial tour of the international line and a meeting with Mayor Bob Filner and law enforcement officials. “I believe the border is a safe border.”Others noted that illegal crossings remain more of a problem in some areas than others.

    Napolitano cited a sharp decline in apprehensions for attempted illegal crossings and increases in the capture of contraband currency, illicit drugs and human traffickers as evidence that measures used in San Diego are working.

    The secretary added that there is no way to declare the border free from illegal crossings.

  • Twitter has big Super Bowl Sunday – The 49ers may have come up short in Super Bowl XLVII, but another San Francisco entity came out a big winner Sunday: Twitter.Various postgame breakdowns on social-media use during Sunday’s big event showed Twitter has become the outlet of choice for viewers who increasingly use their mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops as secondary screens to multitask while they watch live televised events.Also, Super Bowl advertisers this year heavily favored posting Twitter hashtags over links to Facebook pages during commercials aired during the game – not an insignificant trend considering that 30-second spots cost up to $4 million each.
  • Medical marijuana bans to be decided by California Supreme Court on Tuesday – The state Supreme Court this week will hear arguments about whether cities can use zoning laws to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.The high court will begin hearing oral arguments today from attorneys representing Riverside and attorneys for Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center, a medical marijuana collective in the city.The Supreme Court’s ruling will be binding on numerous cases questioning the use of zoning to ban dispensaries and could affect dozens of cities bans.

    “The Supreme Court is going to bring clarity and uniformity to the law because we now have some courts of appeal that have ruled in favor of cities in these issues and some that have ruled in favor of medical marijuana dispensaries,” said T. Peter Pierce, an attorney for Los Angeles-based Richards, Watson & Gershon, whose firm is representing Upland in a similar case that was appealed to the Supreme Court.

    “And, the trial courts are feeling like they don’t have concrete guidelines and have been a…

  • Texas governor sets sights on Haas Automation in Oxnard – Haas Automation Inc. in Oxnard will host a visit from Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Feb. 12, as the governor kicks off a campaign in California to lure businesses to his state.Perry likely has chosen Haas because the manufacturing giant and its site selection company, which negotiates packages with state and local officials on incentives and other deals, have been requesting proposals from Texas, North Carolina and Nevada, at least, for a possible expansion outside California.“I hope it doesn’t alarm anyone. We haven’t made any decisions, and I hope people understand we want to stay in California,” said Peter Zierhut, vice president of European operations for Haas, a maker of computer-controlled machines.

    “Yes, we’ve considered all our possibilities, and that includes talking to people in other states,” Zierhut said. “California has not been too bad to us, but as a growing company, it’s reasonable we listen to people when they come to us.”

  • Texas governor’s radio ad lures California business – It’s only a radio ad, but if you listen closely you can almost hear the swagger of the governor of Texas.”Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible,” says an sympathetic Gov. Rick Perry in the 30 second radio ad now on the air in California’s major radio markets.”I have a message for California businesses,” says. “Come check out Texas.”

    Perry’s new public relations assault is only the latest chapter in a saga that has been running now for years — a battle between the nation’s two most populous states for bragging rights about who’s got it the best.

  • California State GOP may pick a dealmaker for its revival – Jim Brulte – Desperate to return to relevance, the battered California Republican Party is looking for salvation in a shrewd dealmaker and prolific fundraiser once known for advancing his party’s interests in a Capitol dominated by Democrats.Jim Brulte, a former Senate and Assembly minority leader forced from the Legislature by term limits in 2004, is the odds-on favorite to be chosen state GOP leader at the party’s convention here next month.His plans for a rebirth focus, at the moment, on shoring up the basics: the fundraising operation, get-out-the-vote apparatus, data analysis capabilities and recruitment efforts. All have been ailing, leaving the GOP bent with debt and precipitating its increasingly poor performance at the polls.

    “I want to be the most boring Republican Party chair in history,” Brulte, who represented parts of the Inland Empire, said in an interview. “That means being in the trenches, doing the nuts and bolts. It’s not very glamorous, and it’s not very exciting, but it…

  • Engineering association funded shadowy initiative campaigns – A group that backs privatizing public infrastructure engineering work gave $400,000 to a opaque out-of-state organization that injected millions of dollars — and plenty of controversy — into California’s initiative campaigns last year.New state campaign filings show that American Council of Engineering Companies California made a $150,000 donation to a Virginia-based nonprofit in July and another $250,000 in September.That nonprofit, Americans for Job Security, in turn, gave money to another non-profit organization based in Arizona which then contributed $11 million to a California committee that opposed Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax hike and supported Proposition 32, which sought to end payroll-deducted political contributions.

    The engineering business group’s donation surfaced on Friday because California law requires political action committees to show their spending, including money that goes to issue-advocacy groups.

  • Jerry Brown responds to Rick Perry: ‘Texas, come on over!’ – Gov. Jerry Brown said today that the radio ads Texas Gov. Rick Perry is voicing in California are nothing more than a “few tricks,” doubtful they would influence businesses to leave the Golden State.”Do you think a few tricks from a politician is going to make any difference?” the Democratic governor told reporters at a business event in Los Angeles, according to a transcript provided by the governor’s office. “People invest their money where these big things have occurred. The ideas, the structures, the climate, the opportunity is right here on the Pacific Rim.”
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The California Flap: February 4, 2013

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[youtube]http://youtu.be/PlydO0TaZH4[/youtube]

Victor Davis Hanson warns Californians of higher user fees and traffic tickets to pay for California government

The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

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

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • California Tax Move May be at the Local Level – Despite talk in Sacramento that pro-tax advocates might want to push for more statewide tax increases, the move to raise revenue through tax increases well could focus on local governments. Governor Jerry Brown has been clear that he wants the state to live within its means. The state already secured two tax increases through Propositions 30 and 39 last November.While the schools and state agencies will see revenue from those ballot propositions, local governments feel left out. Moreover, the governor’s pledge to keep a reign on the state finances does not reference local taxes.Already, legislation has been introduced to make it easier to raise local taxes. Bills to lower the two-thirds vote for earmarked local taxes have been introduced to allow for 55-percent votes for schools and libraries. Transportation interests are also waging a campaign to get a lower standard to pass transportation measures.
  • California lawmaker wants to banish sugary drinks from CalFresh menu – Californians who get help under CalFresh, the food stamps program, may soon be put on a diet by state lawmakers, who are considering barring use of the benefits to buy sugary sodas and other fattening beverages.State Sen. Michael J. Rubio (D-East Bakersfield) introduced legislation that proposes to modify the list of allowable food items that can be purchased under CalFresh to exclude many sweetened beverages containing more than 10 calories per cup.“With the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the Central Valley and throughout California, SB 134 is simply the first step in trying to reverse this alarming trend, particularly among children,” Rubio said.

    He said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “reports that over 20% of Californians are obese, but could well exceed 45% if trends continue.”

  • California abandons algebra requirement for eighth-graders – By falling in line with other states, California is abandoning its push for all eighth-graders to take algebra.Last month, the State Board of Education unanimously shifted away from a 15-year policy of expecting eighth-graders to take Algebra I. The state will allow them to take either Algebra I or an alternate course that includes some algebra. New state standardized tests will focus on the alternate course — the same one adopted by most states under the Common Core curriculum being rolled out across the nation.Supporters welcome the change as more in line with current practice, of schools offering two tracks of math for eighth-graders. But critics fear that the new standard will let schools avoid offering rigorous courses for all. They point to a report released last week showing that some schools are not placing black and Latino students in advanced math courses even when they’re prepared.

    The change is controversial because success in Algebra I is the single best predictor…

  • Bill would allow charging commercial properties a bigger parcel tax – A newly elected assemblymember has introduced a bill that could make parcel taxes more attractive to school districts by allowing them to impose different tax rates on residential and commercial properties.The bill, AB 59, by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, would nullify a state Appeals Court ruling in December overturning an Alameda Unified School District parcel tax that levied one rate for residential and small commercial properties, and another for larger commercial properties. Bonta also represents Alameda.A product of Proposition 13, parcel taxes typically are a flat tax imposed on every real estate parcel regardless of its size or use. They are one of the few ways school districts can raise additional revenues on their own. Parcel taxes require a two-thirds majority to pass, although this year the Legislature will consider a constitutional amendment lowering the requirement to 55 percent.
  • Kevin L. James a Long Shot in Race for Mayor of Los Angeles – Kevin L. James, a conservative talk show host running for mayor of Los Angeles, was sitting in his campaign office recently pondering which was his bigger obstacle to victory: being openly Republican, or being openly gay.
  • California teachers pension fund faces $64 billion deficit – The trust fund that provides pensions to retired teachers has a $64 billion deficit and would need a $4.5 billion per year infusion of revenue to become fully solvent, according to a new internal study.The California State Teachers Retirement System produced the report in response to a legislative resolution.Its release came just days after the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, indirectly chided Gov. Jerry Brown for ignoring “huge unfunded liabilities associated with the teachers’ retirement system and state retiree health benefits” in his new budget.
  • Vast Oil Reserve May Now Be Within Reach, and Battle Heats Up – Secure in this state’s history and mythology, the venerable Midway-Sunset oil field near here keeps producing crude more than a century after Southern California’s oil boom. Many of its bobbing pump jacks are relatively short, a telltale sign of the shallowness of the wells and the ease of extracting their prize.
  • Cardinal in Los Angeles Is Removed From Duties – Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who retired less than two years ago as the leader of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, was removed from all public duties by his successor, Archbishop José H. Gomez, as the church complied with a court order to release thousands of pages of internal documents that show how the cardinal shielded priests who sexually abused children.
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The California Flap: January 31, 2013

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The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

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

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

Around the Capitol today:

Lawmakers are holding a press conference pledging their support for a federal immigration overhaul. Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will be joined by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres; Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens; Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella; Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo; Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento; and Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo. Starting at 10:30 a.m. in room 317 of the State Capitol.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • Controversial school bonds create ‘debt for the next generation’ – The Napa Valley Unified School District had a quandary: The district needed a new high school in American Canyon, but taxpayers appeared unwilling to take the financial hit required to build it.So in 2009, the district took out an unusual loan – $22 million with no payments due for 21 years. By 2049, when the debt is paid, it will have cost taxpayers $154 million – seven times the amount borrowed.School board member Jose Hurtado said he stands by the deal. But if it were a mortgage, he acknowledged, “we would run.”Napa is one of at least 1,350 school districts and government agencies across the nation that have turned to a controversial form of borrowing called capital appreciation bonds to finance major projects, a California Watch analysis shows. Relying on these bonds has allowed districts to borrow billions of dollars while postponing payments in some cases for decades.
  • California taxes surge in January, report says – California was flooded with tax dollars in January, according to a new report, and the state received $5 billion more revenue this month than Gov. Jerry Brown had anticipated.The Wednesday report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office shows a stark reversal for the state budget. At the end of November, tax revenue had fallen almost $1 billion short in the current fiscal year, according to figures from Brown’s Department of Finance.Now the state appears to be $5 billion ahead, which could provide further evidence for the governor’s declaration that California has emerged from its financial crisis.The analyst’s office floated three possible causes for the surge in tax revenue. The most positive theory is also the simplest — the economy has improved and there’s more income to tax.The others are less optimistic. It’s possible that wealthy residents, fearful that federal budget negotiations would increase their taxes, decided to cash out investments early. If so, that means the s…
  • PPIC Poll: Californians fear shootings, support citizenship – A new statewide poll finds Californians fearful of mass shootings and strongly in favor of more gun control, while also supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.The poll from the Public Policy Institute of California released Wednesday night also finds more optimism about the state’s economy than at anytime since 2007.”Still,” says PPIC pollster and president Mark Baldassare, “many Californians are expressing concerns about the direction of the economy and the state budget situation.”But it’s the California reaction to recent news headlines that offers an early view on what could become potent political issues during the 2013 legislative season in Sacramento and next year’s statewide elections.65 percent of those polled say the government is not doing enough to regulate access to guns, and an equal number support a nationwide ban on semi-automatic style assault weapons.
  • PPIC Poll: Californians upbeat over future, budget plan – Californians are more optimistic about the future of the state than at any time since before the recession and are giving high marks to Gov. Jerry Brown’s budgeting approach after voters approved higher taxes to help balance the state budget, according to a poll released Wednesday.The Democratic governor’s job approval rating reached a record high 51 percent in the latest poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, with even a slim majority of Republicans giving a thumbs-up to his recent budget proposal.The poll also found broad support for increased gun controls and changes to current immigration laws that would allow a path to citizenship. A majority support the federal health care overhaul that already is under way in California.The percentage of adults who said the state is headed in the right direction was 51 percent, the first time a majority of people said that since January 2007.
  • For millionaire athletes, states with highest tax rates may not make the cut – Is Lefty’s stance on California’s tax hikes a sign of things to come for millionaire athletes?The Golden State’s new 13.3 percent income tax on top earners prompted golfer Phil Mickelson to say earlier this month he was considering a move, and according to the accountants who advise millionaire athletes, he was just saying what a lot of jocks were already thinking. Federal taxes on the top income bracket just rose by roughly 5 percent, and, while there’s nothing rich athletes can do about that, they are paying attention to which states dip into their game checks — and how much they take.“They’re going to have an exodus of people,” said John Karaffa, president of ProSport CPA, a Virginia-based firm that represents nearly 300 professional athletes, primarily in basketball and football. “I think they’ll see some [leave California] for sure. They were already a very high tax state and it’s getting to a point where folks have to make a business decision as well as a lifestyle decision.”
  • Legislation proposed to help California launch healthcare overhaul – The state Legislature gaveled in a special session on healthcare Monday, pushing forward with sweeping proposals to help California implement President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.The measures, including a major expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s public insurance program for the poor, would cement the state’s status as the nation’s earliest and most aggressive adopter of the federal Affordable Care Act. Beginning in January 2014, the law requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.Gov. Jerry Brown called the special session so healthcare bills that he signs can take effect within 90 days rather than next year.
  • Counties express concerns about Medi-Cal expansion – As state lawmakers propose a major expansion of Medi-Cal to help California implement President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, county officials are raising concerns that the proposal could siphon critical dollars from their safety-net programs.On Monday, legislative leaders in both houses sponsored bills that would dramatically expand the state’s public insurance program. Under the proposals, individuals earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level — or $15,415 a year — would be covered, potentially adding more than 1 million Californians to the Medi-Cal rolls.The federal government would subsidize costs for the first three years, phasing down to 90% afterward.Currently, counties receive state funding to care for the uninsured. But Gov. Jerry Brown has said that if the state were to administer the Medi-Cal expansion it may reduce the roughly $2 billion it gives to counties each year to cover the new costs. In his proposed budget, the governor said the state might also shift…
  • State ordered to pay back districts $1 billion for 20-year-old mandate – A state commission has ruled that the state must reimburse school districts about $1 billion in mandated special education costs dating back 20 years. But like many protracted mandate cases, the victory is largely one of principle. Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to include a small payback in next year’s budget, and the dollars will come from funding within Proposition 98, so it will essentially involve shifting education dollars around.The unreimbursed expenses are for intervention plans for special education students identified with behavior problems. In the early 1990s the State Board of Education, under orders from the Legislature, prescribed interventions that teachers should incorporate into individual education plans, known as IEPs, according to Paul Golaszewski, an analyst with the Legislative Analyst’s Office who has followed the case.
  • L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, again, cast as possible transportation secretary – L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, again, cast as possible transportation secretaryThe departure of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood raised new questions over what Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would do if he is offered the job – either now or after July 1, when his term as mayor expires. | Also: Doug McIntyre on the mayor’s next moveVillaraigosa was in South Korea for the Special Olympics and is not expected to return until Thursday.
  • Phil Mickelson’s net state income tax increase: 83.6%!!!!! – Richard Rider, the dean of the small-government/low-tax movement in San Diego County, has come up with some stunning number-crunching on his blog:“Here’s the fact that EVERYONE (including me) initially undervalued concerning [Rancho Santa Fe pro golfer Phil] Mickelson and CA state income taxes. Starting in 2013, Mickelson’s NET state income tax has jumped 83.6%! And yes, this huge increase hits most Californians making more than $2 million income.“Here’s why. Until 2013, state income taxes were deductible for federalincome tax purposes. Starting in 2013, for the really rich, this deductibility largely goes away (as does deducting property taxes and many other deductions). For people with over $2 million of income, they lose 80% of such deductions.“With Proposition 30 passed in November, CA has raised its income tax on the wealthy by 29%. The combined tax increase is breathtaking. Do the math, and you find that in 2011 the net CA income tax for Mickelson was 6.7% In 2013 his net CA income tax is 12.3% — an increase of 83.6%.”This is mind-boggling. No wonder Phil said he was contemplating “drastic changes.”
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The California Flap: January 28, 2013

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Thousand Oaks, California

The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

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

An important deadlines to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • Elections will bring a big shake-up on L.A. City Council – Voters across Los Angeles are poised to engineer the biggest shake-up on the City Council in a dozen years, sending seven newcomers into office in a series of contests that will unfold between March and July.Although the mayoral campaign has grabbed most of the attention this election year, with millions raised by the five leading candidates, the stakes are just as high for the city’s powerful 15-member legislative body.Term limits and other factors — illness and the election of a sitting councilman to higher office — have created the largest number of incumbent-free council races in more than a decade. Six current council members depart June 30 and a seventh — Tony Cardenas — already has moved to Congress.
  • Dan Walters: California pension funds still face huge liabilities – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has reported – with no small elation – that it has recouped virtually all of the $95 billion in investment losses it sustained during the global financial crisis.A steadfast investment strategy and a generally rising stock market are responsible for the recovery, CalPERS says.
    The good news comes just a few months after Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature enacted a pension reform plan they say will shrink the long-term liabilities of CalPERS and local pension systems.
  • Secret hearings in case of Chandra Levy slaying – A judge has been holding secret hearings in the case of the man convicted in the 2001 killing of Chandra Levy, the latest twist in a high-profile murder that went unsolved for years and captivated the public because of the intern’s romantic relationship with a California congressman.The meetings, held sporadically behind closed doors at the courthouse over the last several weeks, raise questions about what comes next in a criminal case that appeared resolved by the 2010 conviction of Ingmar Guandique. The illegal immigrant from El Salvador is now serving a 60-year prison sentence in Levy’s death, but the hearings could signal a problem with the prosecution of the case.
  • Brown puts former prisons critic atop oversight agency – Gov. Jerry Brown says it’s time for the federal courts to end their oversight of medical care and other operations within the California prison system, and he’s named a somewhat surprising ally to help him make the case.Jeffrey Beard, who testified four years ago that California’s prisons were dangerously overcrowded, began work last week as secretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
  • California becoming less family-friendly – Sacramento lawmakers of both parties share some responsibility. The dominant progressives’ regulatory and tax agenda continues to reduce economic prospects for younger Californians, leading many young families to exit the state. In contrast, older Anglos, the bulwark of the now largely irrelevant GOP, are committed to massive property tax breaks because of Proposition 13. Add good weather and the general inertia of age, and it’s not surprising that families might flee as seniors stay.Other factors work against parents, prospective or otherwise. The knee-jerk progressive response to our demographic problems usually entails more money be sent to the schools.But they rarely include the student-oriented reform measures such as those enacted in New Orleans (where I am working as a consultant). The poor performance of public education, clear from miserable test results and dropout rates, makes raising children in California either highly problematic or, factoring the cost of private education, extremely expensive.
  • Mickelson and the Sports Star Tax Migration – America’s top-grossing golfer Phil Mickelson drove himself into a bunker on Jan. 20 when he said that federal and California state tax hikes had made him contemplate making “drastic changes” in his life—including, it was widely assumed, moving to a no-income-tax state such as Texas or Florida. But he was only stating publicly what many professional athletes are mulling privately.
  • Obamacare & California: State media ignore coming headaches – Gov. Jerry Brown’s eagerness for California to be the first state to implement the federal Affordable Care Act is being reported matter-of-factly by state newspapers. Completely absent is any big-picture explanation of what this will mean for health providers, companies and individuals in the Golden State. We’re less than a year away from the state implementing policies that give employers a financial incentive to stop providing health coverage and that give individuals, especially the young, an incentive to not buy health insurance. I wrote about these enormous looming headaches last week for the U-T San Diego editorial page:
  • California prison reform’s unintended consequences – The prison reform law that shifted responsibility for non-violent felons from the state to the counties is also affecting the management of more serious and violent offenders who have completed their prison terms, presenting a challenge for reform supporters and potentially undermining public support for the change.Since the passage of Assembly Bill 109, also known as prison realignment, people who violate the conditions of their parole go to jail rather than prison – including those with sex offenses and other serious and violent crimes on their records.But because of jail overcrowding, some county jails can’t house people for technical parole violations — including bad drug tests and missing appointments with parole agents. That lack of consequences can make it more difficult for parole agents to compel people to stay within the conditions of their release from prison and to keep track of offenders who are released from jail early.
  • LAUSD plans to add 1,000 new campus aides for security at elementary schools – The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to make more than 1,000 new hires to bolster security at hundreds of campuses in a move some critics have called “security on the cheap.”More than 400 LAUSD elementary school campuses are slated to receive 1,087 campus aides – a minimum of two on each campus – as early as March 1, LAUSD school board president Monica Garcia told the Daily News on Friday.The $4.2 million plan comes a month after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that killed 20 first-graders and six adults.

    “Another two people on each campus can help us maintain a safe environment that can ease the minds of our employees, parents and students,” Garcia said. “This way we can focus on reading and writing, teaching and learning.”

  • AEG, Koreatown developer help fund L.A. sales tax campaign – The developer of a proposed downtown Los Angeles football stadium and the company behind two planned apartment towers in Koreatown have provided about two-thirds of the funds for the group backing a half-cent sales tax increase in the city, according to the first report released in the campaign.The committee for Proposition A on the March 5 ballot reported that it had raised $185,000 by Jan. 19, with $100,000 coming from stadium developer Anschutz Entertainment Group. The City Council, which is seeking the tax increase to address a $220-million budget shortfall, approved AEG’s proposed stadium last year, which involves the demolition and reconstruction of a section of the city’s Convention Center.
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