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THE NOONER for January 2, 2013

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THE READS

THE AURAL PLEASURE

ICYMI: Former Assemblymember Alyson Huber landed a Sac Superior judgeship.

LEGTRACK: My new bill tracking database is nearing completion. Feel free to stop by and poke around at LegTrack.com. I am giving a free standard account to all Nooner subscribers for the first year (up to 3 users, 25 bills--a $150 value). Paid Nooner subscribers will receive a professional account for the first year (unlimited users, unlimited bills--a $350 value), although the deal will only be available to paid subscribers as of January 15. Stop by and give me feedback at scott@scottlay.com, but be patient as I'm still building and will undoubtedly break things between now and Monday's launch. (If you are a paid Nooner subscriber, sign up for the free standard account, e-mail me, and I'll manually upgrade you.

 

CLIFF-HANGERS AND CLIFF-JUMPERS

Unless you are backpacking in the Yosemite wilderness, you know that the House of Representatives approved a measure to avoid income tax increases on all but those who make more than $450,000 per year. The measure, H.R. 8, also postpones the sequestration spending cuts that were to be triggered today, and extends federal unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed until December 13, 2013. The bill also once again postpones MediCare provider payment cuts ("doc fix") and extends tax credits/expenditures/loopholes/pork for middle-class families and targeted businesses.

Oh, and before you buy into the rhetoric of either side, note that the expiration of the payroll tax holiday will take more money out of paychecks ($125 billion) than the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the 98% will put in them ($120 billion). While it's a smart policy move as accrued Social Security benefits weren't being correspondingly reduced thus creating a hole in the "lockbox," it's a bit funny how nobody talked about it.

From a California perspective, the action--ugly as it is--is economically significant. With 1.8 million unemployed and the nation's third highest unemployment rate, the extension of federal UI benefits keeps cash flowing to the state's slowly recovering economy. Meanwhile, the delay of sequestration comes as good news to California's businesses that rely on federal contracts--in 2008-09, California businesses received $41.7 billion (13.7%) of the nation's prime defense contracts.

Of course, the deal is expensive. The Congressional Budget Office projects that it will add $3.971 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years. We'll be back to this debate again in the days leading up to March 1, 2013, the date of the next sequestration trigger, or perhaps sooner as the nation once again approaches the arcane "debt limit." 

CALIFORNIA DELEGATION VOTE ON H.R. 8

italics=Democrats
* = departing member

AYES: Baca*, Bass, Berman*, Bilbray*, Bono Mack*, Calvert, Capps, Cardoza*, ChuCosta, Davis, Denham, Dreier, Eshoo, Farr, Filner*, Garamendi, Gallegly, Hahn, Herger*, Honda, Lee, Lewis*, Lofgren, Lungren*, Matsui, McKeon, McNerney, George Miller, Gary Miller, Napolitano, Pelosi, Richardson*, Roybal-Allard, Royce, Linda Sanchez, Loretta Sanchez, Schiff, Sherman, Speier, Thompson, Waters, and Waxman.

NOES: Becerra, Campbell, Hunter, McCarthy, McClintock, Issa, Nunes, Rohrabacher

NO SHOWS: Not voting were retiring California members Jerry Lewis*, Pete Stark*, and Lynn Woolsey*. The three have taken a pass from attending sessions since Congress reconvened on December 30, while likely collecting $3,346 for their final week of session.

 

**THE NOONER'S TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS:

DECEMBER 21'S QUESTION: How many voters are registered at a street address of 1225?

ANSWER: 7,702 voters live at the address 1225.

WINNER: Melinda Chuam with 7,895

Once again, thank you to CaPoliticalMaps.com and Political Data Inc (particularly Paul Mitchell) for sponsoring the contest! More contests and fun coming soon!

 

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TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Primary Care Doctors Growing Scarce
Drew Joseph @
sfgate.com
Roughly 4 million additional Californians are expected to obtain health insurance by 2014 through the federal health law, an expansion that will likely exacerbate the state's doctor shortage and could even squeeze primary care access in the Bay Area, experts say.

Brown Plans Extensive Changes For School Funding In 2013
Anthony York @
latimes.com
He says he wants more of the state's dollars to benefit poorer districts. He would also scale back dozens of rules that districts must abide by to receive funds.

California's Water Wars Breaking Out Again
Dan Walters @
sacbee.com
Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink? Samuel Taylor Coleridge didn't attach a question mark when he penned those words in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" two-plus centuries ago. But the eroteme seems appropriate in 2013 as Californians simultaneously experience a wet winter and contemplate how to avoid water shortages in the future.

10 Stories To Watch In California Politics For 2013
John Myers @
news10.net
2013 isn't an election year, and promises to be the first year in a long time without a severe fiscal crisis in California. So that means a year where there won't be much to watch in political circles, right? Think again.

Federal Cuts To Education Left Unresolved
John Fensterwald @
edsource.org
For California districts, that means a two-month reprieve from facing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in funding cuts to special education programs and Title I aid for low-income students, along with tens of millions in cuts to the preschool program Head Start, career and technical education and grants for teacher training.

Viewpoints: New state budget should deliver for students
sacbee.com
Last November, California avoided billions of dollars in cuts to our public schools and colleges with the passage of Proposition 30. California is now at a crossroads and with the political momentum from Proposition 30, our state has the opportunity to renew a historic commitment to an affordable and accessible higher education for all.

House Republicans grit teeth and prepare to vote
Lisa Mascaro and Kathleen Hennessey @
latimes.com
WASHINGTON – House Republicans, facing a political dilemma without good options, prepared Tuesday to vote on a Senate-passed bill to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff even as conservatives within the party denounced the measure because of its tax increases.

Cab Complaints Climb In San Francisco
accessing this site, you accept our @
baycitizen.org
San Francisco taxi drivers routinely flout the law by refusing rides, declining to take credit cards, charging unauthorized fees, speeding, ...

'Cliff' Bill Is A Bitter Pill For House's Tea Party Adherents To Swallow
David A. Fahrenthold, Rosalind S. Helderman and Ed O’Keefe @
washingtonpost.com
The bill was 153 pages long. It was written only the day before, by Washington insiders working in the dark of night. It was crammed with giveaways and legislative spare parts: tax breaks for wind farms and racetracks. A change to nuclear-weapons policy. Government payments for cheese.

Editorial: Energy retrofits for schools will pay off big time
sacbee.com
In this new year, voters should pat themselves on the back for delivering some stability to public schools. Voter support of Gov. Jerry Brown's increase in sales and income taxes (Proposition 30) stopped the precipitous decline in state funding for public schools over the last five years.

'Fiscal cliff' deal: House passes tax changes and delay for spending cuts, Obama to sign
David Espo and Alan Fram @
mercurynews.com
Past its own New Year's deadline, a weary Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation to avoid a national 'fiscal cliff' of middle class tax increases and spending cuts late Tuesday night in the culmination of a struggle that strained America's divided government to the limit.

Ex-marine General Takes Helm Of State Parks Agency
Chris Megerian @
latimes.com
Anthony Jackson is charged with managing 280 facilities across 1.3 million acres with a $500-million budget. A Sierra Club official calls him 'the right man at the right time.'

House moves toward vote to rescind broad tax increases
Lisa Mascaro and Kathleen Hennessey @
latimes.com
WASHINGTON — The House moved late Tuesday night toward final approval of a bill to rescind tax increases for the vast majority of Americans, but only after a day of closed-door debate among Republicans who were forced to allow a vote on a compromise many in their party disdained.

House Republicans Prepare For Final Passage of 'Fiscal Cliff' Bill
Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman @
washingtonpost.com
The House late Tuesday gave final approval to a Senate-backed bill that will let taxes rise for the richest Americans, shield the middle class from tax hikes and extend emergency unemployment benefits, ending Washington’s long drama over the “fiscal cliff.”

Obama Claims Victory, Heads Back To Hawaii
Kathleen Hennessey @
latimes.com
WASHINGTON -- Even as he claimed victory and praised leaders for walking back from the edge of economic danger,  President Obama looked ahead to his next round of sparring with Republicans in Congress over deficits, taxes and government spending.

Economy still likely to suffer after payroll taxes rise in 'fiscal cliff' deal
Paul Wiseman and Christopher S. Rugaber @
mercurynews.com
Lawmakers managed to avoid driving the United States over the so-called fiscal cliff with a late-night vote Tuesday. But higher taxes and brinksmanship in Washington are likely to sap strength from the fragile economy well into 2013.

Biden to meet with House Democrats on 'fiscal cliff'
Morgan Little @
latimes.com
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden will return to Capitol Hill to meet with House Democrats to talk over the votes expected later Tuesday on the “fiscal cliff” deal that was negotiated in the Senate.

The 'fiscal Cliff' Con Game
Michael Hiltzik @
latimes.com
There is no reason for the country to suffer now the austerity embodied in the spending cuts and tax hikes that were to come due Jan. 1; what's needed is continued stimulus to complete the economic recovery.

Renewable-energy Tax Breaks Hit Conservative Headwind
Ryan Tracy @
online.wsj.com
Dow Jones Reprints: This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers, use the Order Reprints tool at the bottom of any article or visit www.djreprints.com

Why Obama, Mcconnell Took The Deal
Reid J. Epstein @
politico.com
One word explains Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to toss out 20 years of Republican orthodoxy and sign on to major new tax hikes: leverage.

2012 Was A Good Year For High-end Home Sales In L.A. County
Lauren Beale @
latimes.com
Celebrity mega-deals in Los Angeles County increased in 2012 as the top of the market reflects the growing strength in overall home sales.

Editorial: Housing laws a good start to the new year
sacbee.com
California Attorney General Kamala Harris took a big risk in 2011 when she balked at a lowball settlement that the Obama administration and a coalition of state attorneys general had tentatively negotiated with banks and other financial institutions accused of mortgage abuses. Those abuses helped precipitate the financial meltdown of 2008 and the accompanying foreclosure crisis that persists today.

House approves 'fiscal cliff' deal, rescinding broad tax hike
Lisa Mascaro and Kathleen Hennessey @
latimes.com
WASHINGTON — The House gave final approval Tuesday night to a bill to rescind tax increases for the vast majority of Americans, but only after a day of closed-door debate among Republicans, who were forced to allow a vote on a compromise many in their party disdained.

Illinois Governor Seeks Fast Vote on Stateâ
nytimes.com
s underfinanced pension systems in a matter of days, after decades of failure and frustration.

Gray Wolf Takes To California But Is Unlikely To Find A Mate Here
Bettina Boxall @
latimes.com
The young male from Oregon has remained in the Golden State since spring and covered about 3,000 miles since leaving his pack. He's also shown exceptional homing abilities.