Banning Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Could Have Unintended Consequences in Next Power Outage

Californians who have been seen power supplies become more unreliable in recent years have increasingly turned to gas-powered electric generators to keep the lights on during “public safety power shutoffs.”

According to the industry trade group, there are 1.5 million portable generators in use in California today.  The average gas-powered generator can provide 10-12 hours of power to run lights, phone chargers, refrigerators, microwaves and more, with a simple refueling keeping them powered another half-day.

But gas-powered portable generators may be on the outs in California under legislation passed last week and placed on Gov. Newsom’s desk.

According to the Assembly Floor Analysis, Assembly Bill 1346 would “require the Air Resources Board to adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new ‘small off-road engines.’”  It’s another example of a well-meaning bill that would generate serious unintended consequences if it becomes law.

The industry trade group notes that zero-emission power generators wouldn’t work very well in lengthy power shutoffs as current models only have the capacity to run the lights, appliances and technology listed above for between 35 minutes and 3 hours.  In addition, they can’t be recharged very easily during outages without expensive solar panels or backup batteries.

The Senate Floor Analysis of AB 1346 also notes that “while portable power stations such as the popular Goal Zero Yeti can provide power without any associated noise or emissions from the unit, they are ultimately constrained by battery capacity.”  These alternatives “can also be five to twenty times the cost of fossil-fuel powered options.”

Joseph Harding, technical director of the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association, says that “when someone turns to a portable generator, it’s out of necessity . . . (to) keep food from spoiling, keep water available, to maintain communication with the outside world, even keep vital medical equipment operating.”

Measures like AB 1346 are examples of the state making big policy changes and imposing sweeping new mandates at a time when technology and the marketplace just haven’t caught up yet.  As much as they try, policymakers can’t dictate people’s buying habits or the evolution of technology by passing a bill.  And when policymakers go down this road, it is ultimately consumers and entrepreneurs who will pay the price.

And as noted in PRI’s “Legislating Energy Poverty” study, California’s big government energy mandates also haven’t proven very successful in lowering emissions compared to other states with more market-based energy policies who have achieved greater reductions than the once-Golden State.

AB 1346 would also have a negative impact on entrepreneurship.  As PRI’s Wayne Winegarden writes in his upcoming final study in the Breaking Down Barriers to Entrepreneurship series, new government regulations as envisioned in the bill are typical of the regulations that make it so difficult for individuals to start or grow a gardening business in California.

It would make it difficult and more expensive for lawn businesses to operate.  For example, there are many battery-powered leaf blowers on the market today for commercial use.  However, a review by The Spruce of the “8 best cordless leaf blowers of 2021” notes that some models have “hard to find replacement batteries” while the “battery takes a long time to recharge” for others.  The Assembly Floor Analysis of AB 1346 notes, “for commercial uses, there is very little market for zero-emission equipment as today’s technology is relatively expensive and requires multiple batteries and/or frequent recharting and replacement.”

A June Washington Post article on the push for battery-powered lawn equipment described how a Florida-based landscaping firm has “its landscaping vans . . . outfitted with solar panels to recharge the batters on the go” at a conversion cost of $100,000 per van.  The firm’s president says customers are charged “10 to 20 percent more than his competitors.”

Californians now await Newsom’s verdict to see if they’ll have to go out of state to buy a gas-powered generator or will have to sit in the dark the next time the power goes out.

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of communications and the Sacramento office.

This article was originally published by Pacific Research Institute.

Failed Recall Widens Rifts In GOP

California Republicans thought they found a unifying rallying cry in the recall attempt against Gov. Gavin Newsom. Instead, the campaign exposed — and even worsened — some of the long-standing clashes between the establishment and grass-roots base, while leaving unsettled the question of how the party can stop its losing streak in the state.

The GOP can take comfort in knowing it made Newsom sweat far more than any Democrat has in the last decade of statewide races, at least until the polls closed and the governor easily prevailed.

The lopsided outcome underscores how the party’s daunting climb back to political relevance is made all the more difficult by the recall effort’s missed opportunities and internecine squabbles.

The state party failed to coalesce around a candidate to replace Newsom or muster the money to counter the governor’s sizable war chest. The candidate long seen by Republican leaders as a potential savior — Kevin Faulconer, the moderate former mayor of San Diego — failed to gain traction with voters. Larry Elder captivated the conservative base, but moderates and hard-liners alike worry about his ability to expand his support if he runs for governor next year. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Reflections On The California Recall

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

What started as a lark, then became an impossible dream — a conservative resurgence, starting in California — ended, like many past efforts, in electoral defeat. With his overwhelming victory in the recall election, California Governor Gavin Newsom and his backers have consolidated their hold on the state for the foreseeable future.

One can quibble about the political wisdom of the recall gambit, particularly given that Newsom was up for reelection next year. But the main reason for the stunning defeat lay with the state’s highly bifurcated political economy, which might sustain a progressive mega-majority in the Golden State, but also alienates some voters—and limits the national appeal of the progressive governance model that Newsom embodies.

The sinking of the state’s once-buoyant middle class undermines the base for a two-party politics in California. The kinds of taxpayers who called the state home during the 1980s and 1990s are leaving, and few families are moving in. Many of the leading companies that employed middle-class workers—McKesson, Hewlett Packard, the oil and aerospace industries—are fleeing at a quickening pace.

California today works primarily for two key Newsom constituencies: unionized public employees and pop culture, tech, and financial leaders. Money from these groups gave Newsom a massive advantage in advertising and organizing. Newsom’s coffers exceeded those of the nearly bankrupt recall campaign and all the prospective candidates combined by almost three to one. The combination of tech IPOs and federal money has also financed massive relief funds for a third Newsom constituency—California’s highest percentage-in-the-nation poor population—allowing the governor to act like a modern-day Boss Tweed.

This electoral triangle remains too entrenched to dislodge, at least for now. Massive spending secured the votes of disengaged voters, even as the San Francisco Chronicle warned about “an alarming enthusiasm gap” among Democrats. The effort to reach enough of these voters clearly worked.

The media played its assigned role. The overwhelmingly progressive press never much liked Newsom, but the threat of a potential Republican governor in the person of Larry Elder, the leader among the challengers, drove them to partisan distraction. Paul Krugman framed the recall as an assault on California’s “progressive success story.” The New York Times’s Ezra Klein referred to Newsom as a leader of “substance,” just months after he’d observed that the state has deteriorated so badly that it makes “liberals squirm.”

With the recall threat gone, Sacramento insiders expect more progressive moves—such as attempts to tax wealth, including unrealized gains, from the upper-middle class. More pressure will be brought to bear to restrict the use of contract workers, particularly with the recent court overturning of Proposition 22. The state will accelerate its program of ever-more stringent restrictions on water and energy use.

In this environment, California’s blue-collar workers face a grim future unless they’re employed by the state. Progressive success drives out the very businesses—manufacturing, suburban homebuilding, the once-robust oil-and-gas sector—that historically employed middle-income workers. Indeed, the lack of stable jobs and a dependence on low-paid service workers contribute to the state’s highest-in-the-nation unemployment rate. One out of every three households, notes the United Way, find achieving even basic security “elusive.”

Newsom’s victory is more of a reality check for the Republican Party than an endorsement of progressive policies. Voter dissatisfaction, particularly among minorities and the young, has not waned. Polls show that many Californians don’t see Newsom as effective at battling such problems as deepening income inequality, homelessness, rising crime, fires, and the pandemic. Some longtime progressives broke with the governor. But the state Republican Party could not capitalize—a sign that it remains largely marginal, particularly in the highly populated coastal areas, where dislike of Donald Trump has tarnished its brand.

To shift emphasis from Newsom’s failures, the local and national media, the state’s political establishment, and academics denounced the recall push as an operation carried out by Trumpian extremists. By the end of the election, the ongoing wildfires were being cast not as an indictment of Newsom’s failed forest-management policies but of Republican inaction on climate change. Unrelated events—such as Texas Republicans passage of a restrictive abortion bill—may have helped Newsom, too.

The story may not be quite over, though. In 2020, voters defeated a tax increase backed by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders and shot down an affirmative action measure supported by virtually every element of the state establishment. The reservoir of resentment and potential future turmoil remains deep. Even before Covid, 53 percent of Californians were considering leaving; almost two-thirds thought the state’s best days were behind it. The New York Times may see California as a multicultural exemplar, but a 2019 University of California, Berkeley poll showed that 58 percent of African-Americans, 44 percent of Asian-Americans, and 43 percent of Latinos were considering leaving the state. A recent poll from Sacramento’s Chamber of Commerce showed that roughly one-fourth of the workforce was contemplating a move out within three years.

Californians sense that the status quo does not work in their favor. In this sense, Elder’s taking of roughly 40 percent of the vote in the now-discarded replacement primary may prove a first step to restoring two-party politics in the state. Elder’s sometimes-extreme libertarianism eventually got him in trouble, but a self-made African-American with a keen taste for political debate made for an appealing contrast with John Cox, the GOP’s weak 2018 gubernatorial candidate. Elder connected with Latinos and some younger people, and he made a brilliant contrast with the haughty Newsom and his wealthy supporters. Maybe Elder is not the ideal candidate, but he opened a class-based political approach that could bear fruit with the right spokesman.

When Elder spoke out for agency and aspiration as opposed to victimhood, he borrowed a Republican theme that worked well in 2020, particularly among Asians and LatinosAs late as July, before the media, advertising, and voter-turnout tsunamis formed, both those demographic groups favored the recall. Even the reliably progressive Los Angeles Times columnist Gustavo Arellano admitted that, among Hispanics, Newsom was about “as loved as a stale Mexican coke.”

If they want to become relevant in the state again, though, Republicans need a constructive agenda. The next opportunity could take place under more difficult circumstances for progressives. The expensive and unreliable electrical grid will continue to cause problems. The state is in such trouble that it has been forced to propose building five “temporary” gas plants to keep the lights on. Meantime, green-driven reluctance to stop water releases to the ocean risks taking jobs from workers in the now politically marginalized interior. Some 6,600 Central Valley farmers have already been told not to expect deliveries this year. Pension debt will mount; schools will surely not improve with the state’s new ethnic studies curriculum. As the expansion of the welfare state competes with the demands of the public sector, the financial crush could lead to a tax hike—forcing California Democrats to choose between their wealthiest backers and the union–social welfare juggernaut.

In the near term, Newsom’s recall victory could be seen as a boon to President Biden. Yet short of a massive federal bailout, the bill will come due for governance failures in this remarkably gifted state. And if the Biden agenda doesn’t survive next year’s midterms, neither can the wan hopes of extending California’s agenda nationally. Governor Newsom has survived the recall, but that doesn’t mean that the Golden State is destined to become the role model for the country—it might not even represent the inevitable future for most Californians.

Joel Kotkin is a fellow at Chapman University and the executive director of the Urban Reform Institute.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

Larry Elder Emerges As Face Of GOP In California

Although the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom failed, the lightning two-month campaign appears to have had at least one clear beneficiary: Larry Elder.

The conservative talk radio host jumped to the front of the pack of 46 recall challengers soon after he entered the race on July 12, enhancing his brand as a media provocateur and potentially paving the way for a future run for office.

His showing Tuesday, when he led the challengers by a wide margin, could establish him as the putative leader of the state’s Republican Party.

Some of his most ardent followers have said they hope Elder will run next year, to challenge Newsom for a second time. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

How Gavin Newsom Survived The Recall

For a moment this summer, Gavin Newsom’s inner circle feared the effort to recall him could be drawing uncomfortably close.

In late July and early August, the Delta variant of the coronavirus was raging, threatening school reopenings in the fall. Public polling showed many Democrats were so apathetic about voting that it was possible — if turnout was low enough — that a Republican could win.

“Clearly there was a time in the summer where the thing went from … this optimism [about Covid] like, ‘Oh, the war is over, it’s ended,’ to ‘Oh, shit,’” said Ace Smith, Newsom’s lead strategist.

Against that backdrop, principals involved in the campaign detailed a furious effort by Newsom’s campaign to put the race out of Republicans’ reach. The turning point for the campaign, according to Newsom’s strategists, came in the governor’s adoption of aggressive mask and vaccine mandates — both widely popular in California — and in Newsom’s avalanche of spending depicting his top Republican opponent, Larry Elder, as an anti-science clone of former President Donald Trump.

“It was about making the campaign a referendum on the opposition, not just a kind of a dunking booth exercise on the incumbent,” said Sean Clegg, a senior Newsom strategist who oversaw paid media and messaging for the campaign.

Clegg reduced the Newsom campaign’s closing argument not to a rejection of the alternative: “A ‘Yes’ vote for this recall means electing a pro-Trump, anti-vaccine Republican who is going to reverse the mandates on Day One.” It was the presentation of that “simple choice,” Smith said, that marked the “turning point” in the campaign, cementing Newsom’s victory.

By Labor Day, Newsom had turned what started as an up-or-down vote on his governorship into a choice between him and Elder, the radio show host Newsom relentlessly tethered to Trump — with a predictable outcome in this staunchly Democratic state. For Newsom, the emergence of Elder as the GOP’s standard-bearer was an unexpected gift, so beneficial to the governor that many Republicans came to resent Elder for turning the race into a traditional — and unwinnable — choice election. …

Click here to read the full article from Politico

5 Takeaways After Newsom Survives Recall Attempt

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ably fended off a recall attempt from Republicans on Tuesday, changing the stakes of the contest from a referendum on his own performance and into a partisan fight over Trumpism and the coronavirus.

Five takeaways from Newsom’s victory:

COVID PRECAUTIONS CAN HELP DEMOCRATS

Republicans intended the recall to be a referendum on Democrats’ rule of California, and the homelessness, crime, high housing costs and energy problems that accompanied it. But in a bit of political maneuvering — and with the help of the spreading delta variant — Newsom turned it into a referendum on Republicans’ opposition to precautions against the coronavirus.

The Republicans running to replace Newsom opposed mask and vaccine mandates, and the California governor was happy to highlight that. Newsom aired an ad calling the recall “a matter of life and death” and accusing the top Republican candidate, talk radio host Larry Elder, of “peddling deadly conspiracy theories.” …

Click here to read the full article from AP News.

California Needs Election Reform

Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill requiring that voters produce identification to show that they are legally entitled to vote. Notwithstanding the fact that 80% of Americans support voter ID laws, progressives claim that such laws constitute “voter suppression.”

But to see what real voter suppression is, one need only move west to California where political leaders routinely act to nullify election results. Let us count the ways.

First, last November, California voters approved Proposition 22, which permitted some classifications of gig workers to retain their status as independent contractors. But in what is just the latest example of progressive hypocrisy, there was much cheering on the left side of the political aisle over a court ruling striking down Proposition 22, the voter-approved initiative protecting drivers in the gig economy. When progressives don’t like the results of an election, they often attempt to get a judge to overrule the will of the electorate.

Second, voters also rejected legislation, via the referendum power, that would have eliminated cash bail in California. Turns out that Californians are concerned with increasing crime and still think cash bail is an effective way to ensure that those charged with crimes appear in court. But the California Legislature has tried, not just once, but twice to counter voters’ intent. First, one bill would flip the way referendum votes are counted so that a “no” vote would mean “yes.” But since that would take a constitutional amendment, they are trying to weaken the cash bail system so severely that it would be an effective repeal. This is contrary to what the voters want.

Third, progressives are circling the wagons to protect Gavin Newsom from being recalled and have manipulated the timing of the election in a manner which they thought would give them an advantage. While the rise of the new Covid variant and endless wildfires has probably neutralized that strategy, you can’t say that they didn’t try. In fact, the legislation changing timing of the recall election was just one of many bills enacted by progressives to give them an advantage in election contests.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Where Californians Are Moving. Texas? Idaho?

If there’s one thing the candidates vying to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom can agree on, it’s that too many Californians are fleeing the state.

While kicking off her campaign, Caitlyn Jenner shared that a fellow private plane owner was “packing up his hangar” for Arizona because he couldn’t stand to see any more homeless people. Kevin Paffrath, a YouTube star running as a Democrat, began his candidacy announcement by listing reasons for trading in “broken” California for Florida’s greener pastures.

In a recent debate, the Republican candidate Kevin Faulconer said that if you named a state, any state, Californians were headed there.

Sure, there’s some truth to what’s been called the “California exodus”: More Californians are relocating to other states than are moving here from elsewhere in the country. But that’s by no means a new trend — it’s been that way for more than 30 years. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Times.

Bills Reaching Governor Gavin Newsom’s Desk

With the conclusion of the 2021 Legislative Session on September 10, Governor Gavin Newsom will be considering just over 800 bills. When a bill is passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor, there are three actions that can occur:

(1) sign the bill into law;

(2) veto the bill; or

(3) allow the bill to become law without a signature (“pocket signature”).

The options available to the Governor can be found in Section 10 of Article IV of the California Constitution.

Signature by the Governor

This year, Governor Newsom has until October 10 to act on the bills sent to his Desk. When the Governor approves a bill, he signs it, dates it and deposits it with the Secretary of State. This copy is the official record and law of the state. The Secretary of State (in consultation with the Governor’s Office) assigns the bill a number known as the “chapter number.”

The bills are numbered consecutively in the order in which they are received and the resulting sequence is presumed to be the order in which the bills were approved by the Governor. There is only one sequence of chapter numbers maintained for each year of the regular session of the Legislature. As a result, the numbers do not continue in the second year of the Session. In addition, a separate set of chapter numbers is maintained for each special session.

Veto by the Governor

When the Governor vetoes a bill, he returns it with his objections to the bill to the house of origin. The house of origin may consider the veto immediately or place it on the “unfinished business file.” The Legislature has 60 calendar days, with days in joint recess excluded, to act upon the vetoed bill. If no action has been taken during this time, then the measure is removed from the file and the veto is effective. Veto overrides are rare. The Legislature has not overridden a Governor’s veto since 1979.

Allowed to Become Law without the Governor’s Signature

California has a “pocket signature” rule. If the Governor does not act on the measure within the allotted time, then the bill becomes law without his or her signature. This rarely occurs. Governor Brown, for example, only did this with two or three bills during his second stint as governor.

Historical Look at How Many Bills Get to the Governor’s Desk

Prior to the Legislature imposing bill limits in both houses beginning in the 1990s, a typical legislative year resulted in a low of 850 bills and a high of over 2,100 bills being sent to the Governor’s Desk for final consideration. Looking back of the last twenty years and prior four Governors, we have the following statistics:

  • During Governor Wilson’s 8 years in office, between 1,050 – 1,700 bills were sent to him annually, and he vetoed between 8% – 24% of them
  • During Governor Davis’ 5 years in office, between 950 – 1,450 bills were sent to him annually, and he vetoed between 6% – 25% of them
  • During Governor Schwarzenegger’s 7 years in office, between 900 – 1,250 bills were sent to him annually, and he vetoed between 22% – 35% of them
  • During Governor Brown’s (second) 8 years in office, between 850 – 1,200 bills were sent to him annually, and he vetoed between 10% – 15% of them

Governor Newsom’s Bill Actions

The 2021 Legislative Session is the third legislative year of Governor Newsom’s time in office. The following are his statistics:

  • During Governor Newsom’s first year in office, just over 1,000 bills were sent to him, and he vetoed 16.5% of them
  • During Governor Newsom’s second year in office, when 9 weeks of Session were lost and the total number of introduced bills to be considered were reduced by 76%, just over 425 bills were sent to him, and he vetoed 13% of them
  • During Governor Newsom’s third year in office, also impacted by the pandemic, just over 800 bills have been sent to him. So far, he has signed all 159 bills sent to his Desk. He has about 300 bills already pending and close to 400 additional measures headed his way from the final week of Session.

On October 11, we will have a determination of how many bills he signs and vetoes.

Chris Micheli is a lobbyist with Aprea & Micheli, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

This article was originally published by the California Globe.

COVID in Schools: California To Clarify Independent Study Law

Students who are sidelined by the delta variant of COVID-19 might be able to take classes via independent study during quarantine, state officials confirmed.

In addition, school districts will not lose state funding over student absences in quarantine, as they would under normal circumstances, the state said Friday.

“The districts will get reimbursed,” Alex Stack, a spokesperson for Gov. Gavin Newsom, said Friday.

Stack’s comments come as state lawmakers seek to introduce amendments to clarify Assembly Bill 130, passed over the summer. The bill mandates that every school offer a semester-long or year-long online independent study option in case parents want to keep their children home for virus safety reasons. …

Click here to read the full article from the Mercury News.