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THE NOONER for February 5, 2015
DRIVING COSTS: California drivers could face new $52-a-year fee [Melody Gutierrez @ SFChron] - "California drivers would pay a new “road user” fee to help fund $2 billion in annual road repairs under a plan unveiled Wednesday by state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. At about $52 per year per car, the road user charge would generate an estimated $1.8 billion a year. Atkins said it has not yet been decided how the fee would be collected."
GREASING PALMS: Oil industry doubled spending on lobbying in California last year [Laurel Rosenhall @ SacBee] - "The Western States Petroleum Association poured nearly $8.9 million into lobbying California government in 2014, according to new filings with the secretary of state. That compares with almost $4.7 million the group spent on the effort in 2013."
UNCLE LELAND Additional allegations filed against former state Sen. Leland Yee - "The new indictment alleges that on July 16, 2013, Yee and Keith Jackson, his former campaign consultant, attempted to deposit three checks totaling $12,600 into Yee's secretary of state campaign account at Wells Fargo, knowing the checks "represented the proceeds" of unlawful activity."
SHORT RELIEF: CA Fwd report: Financing California's future means thinking beyond Prop 30 [Justin Ewers @ CAFwd] - "The CA Fwd report finds that Prop 30, while providing a much-needed boost after the recession to schools, in particular, may not be a stable source of long-term funding. Because the measure contributes to California’s increasing reliance on personal income taxes—already 65 percent of General Fund revenues—Prop 30 revenues can be expected to boom and bust just like they have in the past. Only potentially more so: During the last two recessions, income tax revenues from taxpayers in the Prop 30 tax brackets—those making $250,000 and up—dropped by more than 50 percent. With Prop 30 in place, these taxpayers are now responsible for nearly $2 out of every $3 of the state’s biggest revenue stream."
FEARLESS ADVOCACY: Harris appeals court ruling against California foie gras ban [AP] - "Califronia Attorney General Kamala Harris gave notice Wednesday that she will appeal a recent federal court ruling overturning the state's ban on foie gras sales."
TICK-TOCK: The clock is ticking on a decision by Antonio Villaraigosa on the Senate race, as Darrell Steinberg endorses Kamala Harris.
GOOD WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT: The Secret World of a Well-Paid 'Donor Adviser' in Politics - "Political fund-raisers are typically paid a mix of monthly retainers — up to $25,000 a month during campaign season — and performance bonuses. The Bonner Group is paid almost exclusively on commission, a practice that is legal but frowned upon by some fund-raising consultants, who say it leads to fights with clients and other consultants over credit, and is considered unethical by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a national professional organization." [Nicholas Confessore @ NYT]
WAL-MART DIDN'T PICK THAT: How the produce aisle looks to a migrant farmworker [Monica Campbell @ PRI] - "'I'm proud of the work,' [Francisco] says. He steps back and looks at the produce aisle like an artist in front of a painting. He likes to see how uniform all the produce looks, even though most of it is too expensive for him to afford. But he knows all the hard work that goes into making it look just right."
MY KIND OF RED TAPE: Senator says restaurant employees shouldn’t be required to wash their hands [Colby Itkowitz @ WaPo] - "Once we're done debating whether children should be vaccinated, we can move on to other pressing public health questions, such as whether eateries can force their employees to wash their hands after they use the bathroom. At least one freshman U.S. senator thinks, 'nah.' Because freedom."
OUCH: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings Appear to Be Done With Defense For the Year [Stephen Douglas @ USA Today] - "The Sacramento Kings are here to chew gum and quit on the guy who replaced Mike Malone. And it looks like they're all out of gum."
SCREECHLESS, BUT STILL SORT OF AWESOME: Jimmy Fallon Went to Bayside High with "Saved By The Bell" Cast
#CAKEDAY: Light those candles for Alan Edelstein!
TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
California Gov. Jerry Brown Appears Open To Restricting Vaccine Waivers
Gov. Jerry Brown, who preserved religious exemptions to state vaccination requirements in 2012, on Wednesday appeared open to legislation that would eliminate all but medical waivers.
UC Berkeley Human Rights Center wins $1 million MacArthur grant
Bob Egelko @ sfgate.com
UC Berkeley Law Schoolâs Human Rights Center, which has assisted international prosecutors in war crimes cases and investigated human rights violations both at home and abroad, will receive $1 million from the MacArthur Foundationâs awards program for Creative and Effective Institutions.
The Debate Over Extending Proposition 30 :: Fox&hounds
Some are looking to tweak the current Proposition 30 tax increase to gain more favor with the voters. There are calls, for example, for the creation of another temporary tax increase instead of making the Proposition 30 increases permanent. That may help gain voter support, but we have no PPIC polling data suggesting that voters supported Proposition 30 because it was temporary. Others argue that the tax on earnings over $250,000 should continue while the one quarter cent sales tax is allowed to expire. This might well improve the chances of passage and is consistent with our past polls, which show majority support for raising taxes on wealthy Californians and majority opposition to a state sales tax increase.
Capitol Minister Aims To Deliver State Leaders From Temptation
Amid the crush of lobbyists, lawyers and lawmakers packing the hallways of the Capitol in the final days of each legislative session, one figure moves through the corridors with noticeable serenity.
Developers drop threats over special Transbay tax district
J.K. Dineen @ sfgate.com
After months of saber rattling, property owners in the Transbay neighborhood did not follow through on threats to sue the city over a new tax district that is a key part of the plan to develop the $2.6 billion transit center at First and Mission streets. Last fall a group of high-powered property owners in the area, including Salesforce Tower developers Hines and Boston Properties, threatened to sue to block the formation of a so-called Mello-Roos district, an area where property owners pay a special tax that helps fund transit improvements and other public benefits. The property owners retained a small army of lawyers and consultants to help their cause, including well-known attorney John Keker, lobbyists Platinum Advisers and Democratic consultant Chris Lehane. Three âÂÂ Boston Properties, Hines, and Golub & Co. âÂÂ didnâÂÂt cast votes but approval was assured because government agencies own more than 50 percent of the land in the area. âÂÂThis is a great development for the Transbay because the money is needed for the downtown extension,âÂÂ said Jim Haas, an attorney who sits on the Transbay Community Advisory Committee.
National Briefing | South: Tennessee: Health Care Extension for Poor Is Rejected in Senate
s proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans was defeated Wednesday, 7 to 4, by the Senate Health Committee.
Health Care, Energy Stocks Among Gainers On Wall Street
U.S. stocks rose broadly Thursday, helped by a rebound in the price of oil and a rise in health care stocks following Pfizer's $16 billion deal to buy drugmaker Hospira.
Lausd Superintendent Calls For Check On Large Classes | 89.3 Kpcc
Southern California Public Radio @ scpr.org
Citing criticism of large class sizes, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines sent school administrators new data on Tuesday that show many middle school and high school classes have over 45 students.
Another problem for new Bay Bridge span: Elevator doesnâ
A $4 million elevator intended to take maintenance workers and well-connected investor-tourists to the top of the signature tower on the new Bay Bridge eastern span failed after just a few uses, and Caltrans is trying to figure who will pay the bill, The Chronicle has learned. The primary function of the glass cab elevator âÂÂ billed as unique by its manufacturer âÂÂ is to take workers from the base of the 525-foot tower to the top so they can make repairs and touch up paint. [...] bridge officials also hoped to use it to show off 360-degree views of the Bay Area to investors who purchased bonds that helped pay for the span, even ordering larger windows surrounding the elevator to get a more expansive view. Maintenance workers need access to that area to service giant dehumidifiers that work around the clock to prevent water from corroding the steel cable. âÂÂReliability is something we have to worry about,âÂÂ said Andrew Fremier, deputy director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversees the bridge. Unlike in most buildings, the bridge elevator operates at slight angles âÂÂ first it bows in at 2 degrees, then halfway up it bows out at 0.65 of a degree. The manufacturer, USA Hoist of Chicago, says on its website that the shifting, angled path is unique. [...] elevators can be problematic, because the slight angle means the load âÂÂ typically borne exclusively by the cable âÂÂ is shared by the guide rails, creating friction and adding to wear, experts said. âÂÂItâÂÂs sounds like another nightmare âÂÂ too bad,âÂÂ said Bob Bea, a UC Berkeley civil engineering professor emeritus. Robinson-Leach said the elevator was modified because âÂÂwe were ensuring anyone who had a vested interest, our partners,âÂÂ would be able to ride up in it. Fremier said there is a dispute between the bridgeâÂÂs main contractor, the joint venture American Bridge/Fluor, and Caltrans over who should pay to fix the elevator.
The New Health Care: Doc Fix: The Budget Gimmick That Actually Isnâ
A much-reviled budget measure has worked in reducing the deficit, but not in the exact way that was intended.
State appeals overturning of foie gras ban
California Attorney General Kamala Harris came to the defense of a statewide ban on foie gras sales Wednesday, serving notice that the state will appeal a federal court ruling striking down the ban. HarrisâÂÂ office declined to comment on the move, but the appeal had been widely expected after U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles ruled last month that the state prohibition on the fatty liver dish, made from force-fed ducks and geese, encroached upon the regulatory authority of the federal government. Two attorneys who represented foie gras farmers in Canada and New York who joined in challenging the law said in a statement, We're very confident that the district court's judgment will be upheld on appeal. ... Since the January ruling, many California restaurants have put foie gras back on the menu.
Republicans Outline Their Obamacare Alternative
A group of leading Republican lawmakers on Wednesday proposed an outline for replacing the Affordable Care Act in a bid to advance traditional conservative healthcare goals, including deregulating health insurance, curtailing Medicaid spending and changing how health plans are taxed.
California drivers could face new $52-a-year fee
SACRAMENTO âÂÂ California drivers would pay a new âÂÂroad userâÂÂ fee to help fund $2 billion in annual road repairs under a plan unveiled Wednesday by state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. A road charge advisory committee is currently working on recommendations for the best method of collecting new revenue for roadways as taxes collected at the pump drop due to fuel efficient cars. Alternative ideas include per-mile charges, vehicle license fees or fees on car insurance bills. âÂÂCalifornia cannot have a strong middle class or a thriving economy if our roadways are congested and people and goods cannot move efficiently throughout the state,âÂÂ said Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego. The plan also calls for the state to accelerate repayments of loans made during the recession to the stateâÂÂs general fund from transportation accounts, which would provide another $200 million per year for transportation. âÂÂEvery year we donâÂÂt invest in the roads, the cost of repairing our roads due to lack of short-term investments exponentially rises,âÂÂ said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, who is the AssemblyâÂÂs representative on the California Road Charge Pilot Program Technical Advisory Committee debating the best way to collect a new road fee.
State Pension Funds Look To Recover More After S&p Settlement
The nation's richest public pension fund was a big winner in the settlement with Standard & Poor's Financial Services over its ratings on mortgage-backed securities lawsuits.
Ppic: Many Districts Still Not Equipped For Digital Learning :: Si&a Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource For Superintendents And The Cabinet
Kimberly Beltran @ cabinetreport.com
Thirty-nine percent of the state’s schools and 44 percent of its districts have Internet connection speeds lower than 100 megabits per second – the federal government’s minimum recommendation for successful digital learning, PPIC researcher Niu Gao wrote in a late January synopsis of the K-12 education system’s digital capabilities.