Budget and Taxes

Rail Funding Proposal Sparks Controversy in CA: The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) intends to use $61.3 million of the revenue generated from the state’s gas tax for “priority rail projects,” according to a 200-page proposal from the department. That plan is in keeping with an executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in September calling for the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) to “Reduce congestion through innovative strategies designed to encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation.”

But Republican state lawmakers say the governor’s order defies the will of the state’s voters, who opted last year, through the passage of Proposition 6, not to repeal a gas tax enacted in 2017 to provide additional funding for road repairs (SB 1).

“The executive order basically says your own personal automobile is the problem and we’re going to force you out of your automobile by spending your gas tax money on things that don’t improve roads, highways, and streets,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R).

Republicans say the fact that the CalSTA proposal also calls for the suspension of three highway projects in the state proves their point.

Matt Rocco, a Caltrans spokesman, however, said the bulk of the money included in the department’s proposal goes toward road repairs, and rail projects were a goal before the governor’s order. He said the department “has always looked at multi-modal opportunities in improving transportation, which includes miles of highway widening and rail.” (SACRAMENTO BEE)

$1B in Red Light Camera Tickets Issued Over Past Decade in IL: Over the past decade, more than 10 million red light camera tickets - $1 billion worth - have been issued to Illinois drivers, according to a new study by the libertarian Illinois Policy Institute.

That finding has revived an effort in the state’s legislature to ban the cameras. But the effort could face strong resistance from local governments in the state.

Two red light cameras in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Terrace generated $5.4 million in a single fiscal year. One of those cameras captured 54,000 drivers, an average of over 147 a day.

Chicago, the state’s biggest beneficiary of the cameras, collected $56 million in fines from them last year. The metropolitan area had less than 40 of the cameras in 2014. Now it has almost 600.

The Illinois Policy Institute’s research shows the cameras don’t always improve traffic safety. Accidents actually increased at a few intersections after cameras were installed at them.

“People are paying millions of dollars for something that has little safety benefit, said Austin Berg, the Institute’s director of content strategy. “That’s why so many states are moving away from red light cameras. Illinois is building more and more and more.” (CBS CHICAGO)

Budgets in Brief:

‘OPPORTUNITY ZONE’ PROGRAM NOT HAVING DESIRED EFFECT IN PA: A program included in the 2017 federal tax overhaul, granting a tax break for investing in economically distressed areas designated as “opportunity zones,” was supposed to be a boon for struggling Rust Belt cities. But early indications suggest the program isn’t helping the communities that need it most in PENNSYLVANIA, because investors seem to be gravitating to areas already benefiting from redevelopment where the potential payoff is greater. (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER)

HI FACING $88B BILL FOR MAJOR GOVERNMENT OBLIGATIONS: Infrastructure repairs, climate change preparations and public employee retirement obligations could cost HAWAII more than $88 billion over the next 30 years, according to a report presented last month at the Hawaii Executive Conference, an annual invitation-only event for influential Hawaii businesses, nonprofits, academicians and politicians. The report’s authors said that sum could change the role of government in the state. (HONOLULU CIVIL BEAT)

WI SUPREME COURT TO HEAR BUDGET VETOE CHALLENGE: The WISONSIN Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to budget vetoes issued by Gov. Tony Evers (D) this summer without the case having to go through the lower courts first. The challenge was brought by three taxpayers who are being represented by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL)

AR MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENT SHRINKS ENROLLMENT BUT DOESN’T GROW EMPLOYMENT: Over 18,000 people have been cut from ARKANSAS’ Medicaid rolls since June 2018, when the state became the first to fully implement a work requirement for Medicaid recipients. Several studies have found little evidence the requirement has boosted employment among beneficiaries. (WALL STREET JOURNAL)

MO OWES COUNTY JAILS $35M: MISSOURI owes county jails across the state over $35 million. The state’s Department of Corrections is supposed to reimburse county jails for holding and transporting state prisoners, but it has fallen behind on those reimbursements in recent years. (COLUMBIA MISSOURIAN)

--Compiled by KOREY CLARK


Politics and Leadership

CO Asks SCOTUS to Rule on ‘Faithless Electors’: Colorado has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case concerning whether those selected to cast Electoral College votes must vote in accordance with the state’s electorate.

The case stems from 2016, when three Democratic Party electors were told by then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams they had to vote for Hillary Clinton because she won the state’s popular vote. The electors wanted to vote instead for Republican John Kasich in an effort to convince electors in other states to vote against Donald Trump and deny him the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to become president.

Two of the electors agreed to vote for Clinton, but the third refused. Williams replaced him, and all three sued.

The lawsuit was dismissed by a lower court on the grounds that the electors lacked standing. But in August the 10th Circuit reversed part of that decision, ruling that the elector replaced by Williams could challenge his dismissal and that the removal of that elector and the “nullification of his vote were unconstitutional.”

Washington’s Supreme Court ruled the opposite way in May, upholding $1,000 in fines levied against so-called “faithless electors” there.

“There’s a different rule of law in Washington than there is in Colorado. That is not healthy,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser. “This is a basic constitutional principle that deserves a uniform standard.” (DENVER POST)

Politics in Brief:

NY TAKES AIM AT TRUMP’S PARDON POWERS: NEW YORK Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed legislation amending the state’s double jeopardy laws to allow state and local prosecutors to pursue cases involving individuals pardoned by the president. The state’s double jeopardy provisions became an issue last year after President Trump’s 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort and longtime attorney Michael Cohen were convicted of crimes and some raised concerns the president might pardon them. (ALBANY TIMES UNION)

NY CONSIDERS REDUCING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTION LIMITS: A special commission tasked by NEW YORK Gov. Cuomo (D) to create a taxpayer-funded political campaign system embraced lowering the state’s campaign contribution limits - currently among the loosest in the nation - at a meeting last week. The commission’s recommendations, which are binding, are due by Dec. 1. (ALBANY TIMES UNION)

NV LOCAL GOVERNMENTS SPEND MOST ON LOBBYING IN DECADE: NEVADA cities and counties spent over $3.9 million lobbying the state Legislature in 2019. That sum is the largest lobbying expenditure by local governments since the $3.99 million they spent in 2007. (NEVADA INDEPENDENT)

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK



Newsom Signs Suite of Data Privacy Bills: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) inked his name to five bills to further amend the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) before the law takes effect next January.

Although lawmakers weighed numerous proposals to dramatically change the CCPA this legislative session, none of the measures Newsom signed will dramatically alter the law. The governor signed two other data privacy bills as well.

The CCPA measures Newsom signed include:

AB 25, which exempts from CCPA coverage personal info collected from workers, job applicants or contractors. Lawmakers are expected to take this issue up again next year.

AB 874, a bill that excludes de-identified or aggregated consumer information from the law, including publicly available information collected from public records.

AB 1355, which also attempts to clarify the definition of personal information by specifying that consumers’ right to access any personal information a company has collected about them in the past year does not require the business to retain any personal information that it would not otherwise retain in the ordinary course of business. It further exempts most forms of B2B data, which is regularly collected as part of normal business transactions.

AB 1146, which exempts vehicle information and vehicle ownership information that is retained or shared by dealers for warranty or recall purposes.

AB 1202, a measure that requires data brokers to register with the California Attorney General’s office. Data brokers are defined as businesses that knowingly collect and sell the information of consumers with whom they don’t have a direct relationship.

Newsom also signed AB 1130, which adds biometric data and government identifiers, such as passport numbers or tax ID numbers, to data covered by the state’s data breach notification law, and AB 1564, which allows online-only businesses that have a direct relationship with their customers to provide just one method for submitting CCPA requests.

The signings came a day after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) issued the initial draft of the CCPA’s implementation regulations, which companies will rely on for guidance in complying with the law. The regulations focus on three main areas: notices to consumers, consumer requests and verification requirements.

None of those were unexpected, but the regulations also touch somewhat less expected areas, such as disclosure requirements for businesses that collect personal information from more than 4,000,000 consumers and a requirement that businesses must obtain consumer consent to use personal information for a purpose not disclosed at the time of collection.


Governors in Brief:

RAIMONDO NOT OKAY WITH RI DMV WAITING FEES: RHODE ISLAND Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said she is not in favor of a plan pitched by the Ocean State DMV to charge customers a $15 walk-in fee for conducting license or registration renewals that could be done online or by mail. Raimondo said she would not be including funding for the proposal in her 2020 budget. (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL)

OR GUBERNATORIAL RECALL BID FAILS: Organizers of a recall effort against OREGON Gov. Kate Brown (D) acknowledged they could not come up with the 280,050 signatures needed to get a recall vote before voters. No drive to recall a Beaver State governor has ever made it to the ballot. (HILL, OREGONIAN [PORTLAND])

DESANTIS PITCHES FL ALGEA, SEWAGE SPILL PLANS: FLORIDA Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) introduced legislation that will require wastewater treatment centers to develop maintenance plans for aging infrastructure. The measure, which also directs the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to collaborate with local universities to measure the impact of agricultural runoff and stormwater drainage, will go before lawmakers next year. (TAMPA BAY TIMES, PALM BEACH POST)

-- Rich Ehisen


Hot Issues

Business: CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs AB 9, which extends the timeline to bring forward a complaint of workplace harassment and discrimination from one year to three years (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). Also in CALIFORNIA, Gov. Newsom signs AB 44, which bans sales of new clothing and accessories made of fur. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023 (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). Staying in CALIFORNIA, Gov. Newsom signs AB 51, which bars employers from making forced arbitration a condition of employment. It takes effect I January (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). Also in CALIFORNIA, Newsom signs AB 539, which establishes an interest rate cap of 36 percent plus the federal funds rate on consumer installment loans in the $2,500 to $10,000 range (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). CALIFORNIA Gov. Newsom also signs SB 530, which among several things instructs the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to develop an industry-specific harassment and discrimination prevention policy for the construction industry (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). CALIFORNIA Gov. Newsom signs SB 749, which codifies that workers who sue their employer and then settle their case may not be barred from future work with the employer as part of the settlement (SACRAMENTO BEE).

Education: CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs SB 328, which makes the Golden State the first to mandate that high schools and middle schools start later in the morning. The law will be phased in, requiring that by July 1, 2022 public middle schools begin classes at 8 a.m. or later while high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The law does not apply to “zero periods” or to some rural districts (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). Also in CALIFORNIA, Gov. Newsom signs SB 265, which requires all children get the same meal, even if their family isn’t up to date on their meal fees. The rule applies from kindergarten through 12th grade (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). CALIFORNIA Gov. Newsom also signs AB 982, which requires teachers in public and charter schools to provide homework assignments to the parent or guardian of a student that has been suspended for two or more schooldays, upon request (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). Finally, CALIFORNIA Gov. Newsom vetoes AB 500, which would have required all school districts, charter schools and community colleges to provide at least six weeks of paid leave for teachers, other academic employees and classified employees for pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth and recovery (EDSOURCE).

Environment: CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs AB 342, which prohibits new pipelines and other infrastructure on state lands that would support new oil and gas production (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). Also in CALIFORNIA, Gov. Newsom signs AB 8, which bans smoking and vaping at state parks and beaches. It takes effect in January (LEXINEXIS STATE NET). Staying in CALIFORNIA, Gov. Newsom signs several animal welfare bills, including: AB 25, which prohibits the hunting, trapping or killing of bobcats until 2025, after which the state will implement a bobcat management plan; AB 128, which among several things requires the operator of an animal auction yard to determine and post online any identifying brand, tattoo, or implanted microchip an animal may have before being sold at auction: and AB 1260, which adds iguana, skink, caiman, hippopotamus, and three types of lizards to the import and trade prohibition of dead animals and dead animal parts into the state (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE).

Health & Science: The OREGON Liquor Control Commission imposes a six-month moratorium on the sale of flavored nicotine and cannabis vaping products. The ban comes in the wake of a national outbreak of vaping-related illnesses that have sickened at least 1,300 people and killed 26 (ASSOCIATED PRESS). CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs SB 600, which will require health insurance companies to cover the cost of fertility procedures for patients undergoing treatment that can make it difficult to have children, such as chemotherapy (LOS ANGELES TIMES). Also in CALIFORNIA, Gov. Newsom signs AB 1264, which clarifies that birth control can be prescribed via teleconference without a video chat (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). CALIFORNIA Gov. Newsom also signs AB 290, which will restrict the amount of money dialysis providers and drug rehabilitation centers can charge group health plans in the state. The measure also requires that third-party payers of health insurance premiums reveal to commercial health plans the names of patients who get premium assistance and the names of dialysis providers who provide financial assistance to each patient (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). NEW YORK Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signs AB 264, which requires health insurance companies to ensure that when enrollees receive care from a non-participating provider, the patient will not incur greater out-of-pocket costs than they would have incurred from a participating provider (NEW YORK GOVERNOR’S OFFICE).

Immigration: CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs AB 1747, which bars personal information stored in statewide databases from being used for immigration enforcement, except in cases where the information is related to an individual’s criminal history (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET).

Social Policy: CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs AB 32, which makes the Golden State the first to ban both for-profit, private prisons and civil detention centers. As of January 1, 2020 the state will be barred from entering into new or renewed contracts with for-profit private prisons, with all use of those facilities phased out by January, 2028 (LEXISNEXIS STATE NET). Also in CALIFORNIA, Gov. Newsom signs SB 313, which bans the use of bears, tigers, elephants, monkeys and other wild animals in circuses (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). CALIFORNIA Gov. Newsom also signs SB 24, which requires student health centers on University of California and California State University campuses to offer abortion by medication techniques on site (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE).

Local Front: CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoes SB 127, which would have required state transportation agencies to create safer and better sidewalks, bike lanes and cross walks on state highways that run through communities when the agency is already doing work on those streets (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). The LOS ANGELES City Council unanimously approves a directive to the city attorney to draft an emergency ordinance that would stop landlords from evicting tenants without sufficient cause, limit rent increases for the rest of the year and block evictions for failure to pay rent if recent increases were above the coming state cap. The proposed ordinance would need to pass another vote to become law (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

-- Compiled by RICH EHISEN


Once Around the Statehouse Lightly

Jerry Brown in Spaaaaaace: By now we all know that former California Gov. Jerry Brown received his famous (or infamous if you ask Brown) nickname “Governor Moonbeam” from the equally notable – and equally curmudgeonly – Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko. But Brown may soon have the last laugh. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, current California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said the weather satellite the Golden State plans to launch soon will bear the name of his predecessor. Newsom didn’t give a date for said launch, but given that Brown is 81 years old now, he might not want to wait too long.

Birds of a Feather: Speaking of the late Mike Royko, it’s no secret that part of his indifference toward Jerry Brown was his even more pronounced disdain for California and what he saw as its goofy politics. Royko was nothing if not a grouch, the living embodiment of the old guy in your neighborhood screaming “you kids get off my lawn!” Which might explain why he was perpetually annoyed by the young, brilliant and oh-so-brash Jerry Brown of the 1970s. Royko died in 1997, long before Brown’s improbable rise in 2010 from the political junk heap to a second go around as governor and his continued ascension to international leader status in combatting climate change. Royko probably still wouldn’t be impressed, but he sure would have appreciated that Brown became just as crusty and cantankerous as he was along the way. 

Bird-Brained: Memo to anyone and everyone that is not African-American: using the N-word is strictly forbidden at all times and in any context. Just don’t do it. And yes, we’re looking right at you, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who, as the New York Daily News reports, dropped that bomb during a radio interview in Albany last week. Cuomo was admittedly quoting a New York Times story that claimed Italian-Americans were once referred to by a variation of the N-word, but that didn’t stop folks from being angry with him anyway. It also surely distracted from his point, which was that Italian-Americans are also still subject to racism. That’s fair, but as indicated by the recent angry confrontation between his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, and a heckler who called him “Fredo” – an allusion to the weakest of the three Corleone sons in the movie “The Godfather” - there are some words best left out of your mouth.