Brown’s Government Expansion Project
SEPT. 26, 2011
By KATY GRIMES
Many in the state say that Gov. Jerry Brown has demonstrated a propensity for doing things his way, even if it means bucking his own party. But what Brown really has shown a gift for is expanding government.
Faced with 600 potential new laws sent to him in bill form by the state Legislature, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown appears only to be prolonging the insecurity and uncertainty in California with his bill-signing pen.
A few good vetoes along the way have gotten more headlines than the impact of what he has signed into law.
As Brown unflappably shows his support for the state’s green agenda, he has also signed into law many nuisance bills — bills which add more restrictions on already weary businesses, and add to the long California regulatory checklist.
He signed a supposed regulatory reform bill, SB 617, to require every state agency proposing a regulation to also provide analysis of the impact of the regulation. But any said that it is just an opportunity for even more government expansion since state employees will be needed to do the analysis of the proposed regulations in each department.
Despite his early Executive Orders banning executive travel and cell phones in state ranks, if there is one common theme in Brown’s choice of bills to sign into law, it is that of growing government. (Look up bills signed into law: HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)
Currently, Brown has not vetoed anything that would interfere with the California Air Resources Board’s full implementation of AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. And on the flip side, it appears that Brown has signed anything and everything to do with California’s clean, green, solar, wind and renewable energy agenda.
The $3.3 billion California Solar Initiative has fallen short on the incentive payments to commercial businesses. Brown signed SB 585, by State Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, into law authorizing the California Public Utilities Commission to utilize accrued interest from CSI funds to meet the incentive payments for commercial installations. SB 585 then allows the CPUC to increase collections from electric ratepayers for any remaining shortfalls in funding. SB 585 will also to help school districts finance solar installations at schools by authorizing $200 million for the California Solar Initiative.
Brown has signed a bill authorizing state Air Resources Board-controlled air pollution control districts to collect the funds necessary to replace gas tanks on school buses 14 years or older, not to exceed $20,000 per bus.
Assemblywoman Bonnie Lownethal, D-Long Beach, authored AB 462, because “mobile source emissions are major contributors to the potential cancer risk from air pollution.” Even though most school districts are drastically cutting back on the use of school buses and instead relying on public transportation, AB 462 will be an expensive process.
Brown has signed AB 1150, by Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, D-Coachella, which authorizes the CPUC to collect funds for the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for the installation of 348 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. The SGIP program makes $83 million in rebates available each year and has already spent $619 million in rebates since 2001.
Sensible Bills Vetoed
He vetoed two Republican bills, SB 211 by Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Riverside, and SB 724 by Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Inland Empire, addressing the overreaching arm of the California Air Resources Board. Emmerson’s SB 211 would have modified the restrictive tire inflation regulation in AB 32 to allow auto service providers to exclude old tires from the requirements. But Brown rejected the exclusion and said that proper tire inflation is so important to greenhouse gas reduction that it can save “75 million gallons of gas, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons annually.” His veto message can be found here.
Dutton’s bill, SB 724, merely attempted to establish a 30-day deadline by which the Air Resources Board must act on applications for the certification of on-and off-road vehicles. Dutton said that the CARB takes months to respond to vehicle owners. Brown rejected the bill, stating that the CARB shouldn’t be held to such a tight time constraint, because it could interfere with the agency’s information gathering. His veto message can be found here.
The other budget-related bills:
AB X1 16 will clarify elements of the shift in public safety responsibilities from the state to the counties.
Addressing the public safety realignment to the local counties, SBX1 17 continues the implementation of the 2011 Public Safety Realignment, which moved the responsibility for custody of certain low-level felons, parolees and juveniles from the state to the counties. The bill clarifies “low-level offenders” primarily by re-defining which felonies are subject to state imprisonment.
AB 32 X1 will change the provisions of the education budget trailer bill specifically to delay the implementation of the community college student fee increase of $10 per unit, from winter term to summer term of 2012, if revenue falls short and so-called “trigger cuts” are required.
So far, it seems that there is not a single education bill that Brown won’t sign. Brown signed into law SB 48, by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, to require public schools in the state to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americas. The law has sparked a movement by parents to repeal it, StopSB48.com.
Brown also signed one-half of the California DREAM Act, AB 130, allowing access to privately funded financial aid for undocumented college students. The companion bill, AB 131, is on Brown’s desk awaiting his signature. Brown has already said that he will most likely support the bill to allow undocumented students access to state-funded tuition aid.
But many are critical of passage of the DREAM Act education bills when Brown has made drastic cuts to college programs, as well as to state programs benefiting many other groups. California’s 70 state parks are currently on the cutting table, and health programs for the elderly and disabled have already been cut.
Many of the other bills signed by Brown are nuisance bills, infringements on business and nuisance regulations. AB 214, by Assemblyman Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles, requires identification cards for employees of a professional photocopier to include a photograph of the employee.
AB 1128, by Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Long Beach, requires CalTrans to issue permits to overweight trucks, but only on a special section of the Pacific Coast Highway.
AB 1300, by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles, is a medical marijuana regulation bill which clarifies what local law enforcement are entitled to regulate, and what restrictions marijuana collectives are required to adhere to. Brown vetoed SB 847, which would have created state-run medical marijuana regulation, preempting local control.
One of the biggest issues in the state officially and finally came to a compromise. But like all compromises, not everyone is happy. On Friday, Brown signed into law AB 155, by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-City of Industry, the Amazon compromise bill. It suspends for a year ABX1-28, the “Amazon tax” law passed in June, on sales by out-of-state companies with “affiliates” in California. CalWatchdog’s John Seiler explained, “These ‘affiliates’ can be large companies. But commonly they are small Mom and Pop operations that use the on-line sales machines of Amazon and other companies to sell goods.”
After the Amazon tax bill passed in June, Amazon fired its 10,000 affiliates in California. With passage of the compromise bill, Brown said it will create 10,000 new jobs. But Seiler said that it is the affiliates who will be hired back. And Amazon has said it now will build a distribution center here.
“This landmark legislation not only levels the playing field between online retailers and California’s brick-and-mortar businesses, it will also create tens of thousands of jobs and inject hundreds of millions of dollars back into critical services like education and public safety in future years,” Brown said. But the compromise will require that Amazon and other Internet retailers start collecting taxes next year.
But as Seiler said, “No one knows if the new bill, AB 155, will bring back most of the affiliates that closed up shop or left the state. It may already have done permanent damage to state companies and jobs.”
And that seems to be the real mood in California — particularly if most of the 600 bills are signed into law.
Tags: AB 32, Arnold Schwarzenegger, budget deficit, California, California budget, California Legislature, darrell Steinberg, Democrats, Education, global warming, government, Jerry Brown, John Seiler, Katy Grimes, regulations, Republicans, tax increases, waste
June 18, 2013