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News & Press: Advocacy

Legislative Update: February 23, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shari McHugh
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Gavin Newsom Announces Run for Governor in 2018

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D) officgavin-newsomeially announced his intent to run for Governor in 2018 this week and can now begin campaigning and raising funds for the race. With his campaign committee officially established, Newsom can raise up to $56,400 total per donor – $28,200 per donor for the primary and for the general election.

With more than three years before Governor Brown is termed out, Newsom is the first candidate to officially announce and begin campaigning. While Newsom is the first out of the gate, the competition may ultimately be fierce as other potential candidates such as Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, Republican San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin all contemplate jumping in to the fray.

Unclaimed Property Grows

The amount of unclaimed property in California continues to grow each year – from $28.4 million in the 1950s to assets worth an estimated $7.2 billion today. The state’s current policy is to return such assets, however, doing so would cause the state to lose nearly $400 million in annual revenue that reverts to the General Fund.

Unclaimed property is California’s 5th largest revenue source for the state general fund budget. Since taking office, Controller Betty Yee cited plans to return those assets to its rightful owners by ensuring, under state law, banks, insurance companies, financial institutions and others in possession of customers assets notify account owners. In agreement with the brokerage firm Charles Schwab & Co. and other entities, the state will be given access to account information on lost and abandoned accounts.

While payments will be made to valid claims, the bulk of more than $7 billion will go to the Governor’s proposed spending plan. State officials estimated an actual liability at nearly $850 million in claims, since most unclaimed assets are untraceable or from dead owners or residents that no longer live in California.

Congestion Grows at California Ports

port-of-long-beachAs you will recall from last week’s reporting, the congestion at California’s ports in Los Angeles and Long beach worsened over the holiday weekend as labor disputes led to the ports having to shut down. According to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, 33 vessels were unable to dock so they anchored off the coast of L.A. and Long Beach.

As the gridlock worsens, businesses are hurting as shipments are diverted to alternate ports or by air, which is more costly. The delay has largely been attributed to labor disputes as parties including the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have remained in a stalemate over contract talks for nine months. Negotiations would affect nearly 20,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports.

For businesses, ports are major gateways for trade. The 29 West Coasts ports handle about $1 trillion of goods annually with an estimated $7 billion in jeopardy of being lost this year to congestion and labor disputes. Additionally, the congestion is beginning to hinder the recycling industry. Storage is a challenge in Southern California, in particular, and recyclers are growing frantic about finding space to store the excess material that cannot be sent offshore.

Absent movement soon, some recyclers may be forced to landfill recyclable material. What’s more, with falling exports by roughly 40% combined with storage costs revenues have declined which could ultimately translate in to forced layoffs. For smaller recyclers, the situation could result in outright closure as they may be less prepared to wait out the negotiation process and congestion.

As recyclers and other businesses wait weeks to fill orders and others lose customers to competitors, California’s federal delegation responded with a joint letter to the parties involved to encourage an end to the dispute. Additionally, the West Coast Governors including Governor Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon Governor Kate Brown as well as the U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez have all called for an end to the impasse. Governor Brown called the arcane process and lack of negotiation “unacceptable”. The dispute is resulting in massive disruption to economies relying on trade and West Coast economies are currently at their mercy.

For additional information, see http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=18863.

“Made in USA” Debate Revived

american-flagThe label “Made in America” will once again return to the Capitol for yet another discussion as Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) introduced his bill AB 312. The bill would make it easier for products sold in California to be labeled “Made in America”, which current law requires all parts to come from the United States to sport the label. Currently 49 states allow a more lenient federal law which permits some outsourcing as long as “virtually all” of the product’s components originate from the U.S.

While his 2012 attempt on the issue won unanimous favor in the Assembly, the measure – AB 858 – failed to pass the Senate. Opposition, at the time, included consumer groups and trial lawyers arguing that the change would be misleading. This time around, Assemblyman Jones has the backing of more companies as the approach aims to support California jobs and investments without compromising consumer protection.

In 2012, opponents included the nonprofit Consumer Federation of California and Consumer Attorneys of California both argued that current California laws provide better standards and clearer meaning to consumers. On the flipside, some supporters and companies have cited the lack of labeling advantages in making a product 100% “Made in America” is a disincentive for businesses keeping productions in California, which only encourages outsourcing.

AB 293 (Levine) – Prison Inmate Threats

san-quentinAB 293 by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) was recently introduced to help improve safety in California prisons. The bill would require the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to establish statewide guidelines for investigating death threats against correctional officers, including notifying peace officers when inmate or a family of an inmate makes death threats and to conduct investigations to addressing the serious allegations. The bill aims to improve safety for correctional officers and their families, while providing uniformity among correctional institutions and consistency in investigations.

For more information, please see http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/15-16/bill/asm/ab_0251-0300/ab_293_bill_20150211_introduced.pdf.

Judge Rules Victims Can Push State To Plan Execution Protocol

In a court ruling this week, family members of murder victims have been given some reprieve as Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Shellyanne Chang’s ruling would give victims’ families the right to push along the state’s execution plans for developing new methods for lethal injection. The court ruling is intended to force the state’s corrections department to develop an acceptable method by which to administer execution by lethal injection.

In April 2012, the three-drug injection was found to be problematic. More than 3 years have passed with no plans to move forward seemingly in the works. Pro-death penalty advocates suggest the state is dragging its feet. The ruling was based on a lawsuit by a former NFL star whose 4 family members were murdered. In the ruling the court determined the state violated state law by not establishing a new protocol. The ruling cited California must follow the law that requires them to establish regulations, although the means of execution is determined by the state. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation argued that delays are due to the state’s difficulty in obtaining drugs for execution that manufacturers are refusing to sell under pressure from opponents against the death penalty.

For now, the state has yet to decide on a course of action. Several other states have already adopted a single drug lethal execution method as California considers an appeal.

Poll: Early Support for Potential Candidates in 2018 Senate RaceSource: The Field Poll Release #2495

Source: The Field Poll Release #2495

In the latest statewide poll by the Field Poll, 972 likely voters in California were asked about their support for the 18 prominent candidates mentioned in the media for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer who has decided not to seek reelection. Results cited early support for five preferred candidates for the U.S. Senate in 2016 including Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State (R) (49%); followed closely by Kamala Harris, State Attorney General (D) (46%); Loretta Sanchez, Congresswoman (D) (39%); Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State (D) (38%); and Jackie Speier, Congresswoman (D) (36%). Harris, however, is the only person who has formally announced her candidacy.

Among inclined voters within their own parties, Democrats are more inclined to support candidates who are Democrats than Republicans with support highest for Harris (74%), Sanchez (64%), and Padilla (61%); while Democrat support for Republicans candidates was much lower with highest for Rice (31%), Chavez (10%), and Konnyu (9%). Among Republican voters, they were also more inclined to support members of their own party with support highest for Rice (74%), Wyman (51%) and Sundheim (46%); while Republican support Democrats was also much lower with highest support going to Padilla (16%), Garamendi (13%) Villaraigosa (12%), and Harris (10%).

Additionally, voters were surveyed across preference and other key voter subgroups which included no party preference, minor party registrants, Latino voters, non-Hispanic voters, Southern and Northern California voters, female and male voters. Overall, Rice, Harris, Padilla, Sanchez, Harman, Garamendi and Villaraigosa were among the top candidates with consistent voter inclination and support.


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