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THE NOONER for July 7, 2011
It was a busy one in the Capitol yesterday as policy committees scrambled to meet Friday's deadline to act on bills with a fiscal impact. The biggest showdown was over AB 52, which would allow the Insurance Commish to regulate health insurance premiums. The Senate Health Committee let the bill out, with the caveat that the author take amendments that would reduce the opposition of insurers and doctors.
Health policy guru Anthony Wright got a reprieve from the hearing and instead is our eyes and ears at tomorrow's final space shuttle launch.
USE IT OR LOSE IT: Today's hot issue under the dome is the death penalty, as Loni Hancock's SB 490 is heard by Assembly Public Safety following the floor session.
WE'RE #1!: The California State University leads the nation -- in tuition increases, writes the Chron's Nanette Asimov.
DIVIDE AND FLOUNDER: The Bee's Jon Ortiz looks at the infighting among proponents of pension reform, finding that the biggest impediment to pension reform may be its supporters.
Norberto Santana, Jr. writes in Voice of OC that Orange County officials are fighting to try to recover $48 million swept from the county in the budget deal. Since only one elected official from Orange County (Assemblymember Solorio) voted for the budget, we'll just say "Good luck with that."
A Constitutional Change Taxpayers And Businesses Should Pursue - Joel Fox @ foxandhoundsdaily.com
Last year, public employee unions marched from Bakersfield to Sacramento carrying a list of proposed tax increases on individuals and businesses that totaled $40 billion. After watching the budget battle this year, if tax increase interests capture two-thirds of the legislature, there is little doubt that tax increases will be a certainty. Some might argue that if the voters choose legislators that support tax increases then the voters must approve of the legislators' actions to raise taxes. Not necessarily. As I have pointed out a number of times on this page, there are two electorates in California - one that votes for its elected representatives and one that votes directly on issues. Often the two are not in sync. There are numerous examples in which the legislature would make a different decision than the voters as proven by the results of a number of ballot initiatives. Since this commentary deals with the right of the people to be final arbiters on taxes, let's cite tax examples when this occurred. We know the legislature of the time did not support Proposition 13 but the people did. In 1996, the voters passed the "Right to Vote on Taxes Act," Proposition 218. Legislators had a number of opportunities to pass a similar measure, especially dealing with taxes disguised as benefit assessments, which was corrected by Prop 218. Ross Johnson introduced the bill in the legislature only to have it turned back in committee even though the Democratic chairman of one committee noted the problem with assessment districts. In the last statewide election, voters put their stamp of approval on Proposition 26 requiring a two-thirds vote on fees, something that would never pass the legislature. In fact, you could go back nearly 100 years to the progressives who championed the initiative, referendum and recall. They formed the League to Protect the Initiative to fight off attempts supported by legislators to make it more difficult for the people to deal with tax matters through the initiative process.
Trying To Fix A $48-million Oops - NORBERTO SANTANA JR. @ voiceofoc.org
Top Orange County political leaders scrambled to Sacramento this week in a bid to persuade state lawmakers to reverse a last-minute tax grab by Gov. Jerry Brown that translates to $48 million less in the county treasury.
Steinberg Defends Budget Bill Protecting Teachers From Layoffs - Kevin Yamamura @ sacbee.com
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg defended a last-minute budget bill protecting teachers from further layoffs and reducing district authority, saying that Democrats preserved class sizes and education jobs.
Union-backed Measure On Local Government Bankruptcy Stalls - blogs.sacbee.com
Union-backed legislation that would make bankruptcy more difficult for local governments stalled today in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.
Rubbing shoulders with glitterati has its price - Dan Morain, Senior editor @ sacbee.com
Hollywood cannot live without politicians. That became clear once more Wednesday when film producers and crew members came to Sacramento to urge a Senate committee to extend a film industry tax credit, at a cost of $500 million, to help encourage movies to be made in California. Lawmakers obliged.
Key Online Poker Bill Gets Heavily Amended - Malcolm Maclachlan @ capitolweekly.net
Amid parliamentary maneuvering over one of the most important issues of the year, online poker, dueling bills face a Senate committee showdown next week.
Biggest Obstacle To Pension Reform May Be Pension Reformers - Jon Ortiz @ sacbee.com
In the last year, a group zealously leading the charge for pension rollbacks has split into two groups. Although one is a foundation that can't legally run political campaigns and the other exists solely for that purpose, they're vying for attention and competing for cash.
Senate Panel Weighs Health Insurance Regulation - ADAM WEINTRAUB, Associated Press @ signonsandiego.com
A legislative committee is voting on a bill that would give California officials authority to reject health insurance rate increases, but some Democrats haven't voted as they face heavy lobbying to weaken or kill the measure.
Prisoners Help Defray The Costs Of Their Crimes - John Howard @ capitolweekly.net
Money is tight and times are tough but at least one outfit has money to give away â and is looking for the right people to give it to. Among the duties of a small section of the state prison system called the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services is to make sure that court-ordered restitution gets to the victims of crime. When an inmate is sentenced, typically the judge also orders restitution to be paid by the defendant.
EQI May Replace API In School Rankings - Kathryn Baron @ toped.svefoundation.org
The new measurement system would also replace the API with a new system known as the Education Quality Index, or EQI, which would be based on multiple measures developed by a committee headed by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. For starters, however, SB 547 calls for including graduation rates and how well schools prepare students for college and career success. And the bill allows more measures to be added down the road.
Vernon Disincorporation Bill Advances - Sam Allen @ latimesblogs.latimes.com
Assembly Speaker John PÃ©rez secured an important -- but narrow -â victory Wednesday in his effort to disband Vernon despite strong opposition from local business owners and labor groups as well as objections from some fellow lawmakers.
Obama's Twitter Forum Gets Thousands Of Tweets - Carla Marinucci @ sfgate.com
President Obama hosted a Twitter town hall from the White House on Wednesday, taking 140-character questions on jobs, the budget, taxes and education in his latest attempt to use social and mobile media that was...
Senate panel backs state power over health insurance rate hikes - Darrell Smith @ sacbee.com
Assembly Bill 52, the controversial bill that would impose rate regulation on health insurers, passed out of the state Senate's Health Committee by a 5-to-3 vote Wednesday along party lines.
Obama Seeks Broad Deal On Entitlements, Tax Code In Debt Talks - Lisa Mascaro @ latimes.com
As congressional leaders meet at the White House for debt talks Thursday, President Obama will seek broad changes to Social Security, Medicare and a commitment to overhaul the nation’s tax code in a bold push for a $4-trillion package of deficit reductions, sources said.
Death Penalty Author To Argue For Its Abolition - ibabuzz.com
By Josh Richman Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 at 2:58 pm in Assembly, California State Senate, Loni Hancock, Public safety, State Prisons.
Deep In The Heart Of Taxes - Mandy Honeychurch @ capitolweekly.net
The fight over the Amazon sales tax is just beginning.
UC Davis Researchers' Lab Tests Safety, Potency Of Medical Marijuana - Hudson Sangree @ sacbee.com
Two UC Davis researchers are on a mission to make sure pot is pure. Chemistry professor Donald Land and university lab manager Kymron deCesare are running a startup medical marijuana testing facility in West Sacramento called Halent Laboratories.
Bill Calling For State Regulation Of Health Insurance Rates Clears Key Hurdle - Duke Helfand @ latimesblogs.latimes.com
A hotly contested bill that would allow state insurance regulators to reject excessive health insurer rate hikes cleared a legislative hurdle Wednesday, but it faces amendments that could weaken its consumer protections.
Measures To Abolish Vernon Now Headed To Full Senate - Dan Walters @ blogs.sacbee.com
Assembly Speaker John A. PÃ©rez's legislation to erase the city of Vernon is headed for votes on the Senate floor. Today, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee gave its blessing to Assembly Bill 781, the second of two measures that PÃ©rez says will counteract "generations of corruption" in Vernon, a tiny Los Angeles County enclave with only about 100 residents but dozens of industrial businesses with tens of thousands of employees.
Villaraigosa's Chief Of Staff Says He Will Step Down - David Zahniser @ latimes.com
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa 's chief of staff, Jeff Carr, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from his post, the latest sign of turbulence to hit the mayor's office during his second term.
2nd Public Draft Of Redistricting Maps Delayed - Total Buzz - The Orange County Register - totalbuzz.ocregister.com
I was looking forward to Thursday’s release of the second round of official public draft maps for the new congressional and state legislative districts, but the citizens redistricting commission apparently realized last month that it had more work ahead of them than the planned July 7 release date would accommodate.
CSU Campuses On List Of Steepest Tuition Increases - Nanette Asimov @ sfgate.com
California State University students won't be surprised to learn that CSU campuses dominate a new list of top public schools in the nation - for fastest-rising tuition.
CalPERS board member contends trumped-up charges fueled sexual harassment reprimand - Jon Ortiz @ sacbee.com
A CalPERS board member contended Wednesday that a sexual harassment reprimand he received last year is based on trumped-up charges by fund employees who have conspired to smear him.