California’s Travel Bans Are the Worst Virtue-Signaling Tactic Yet

California is becoming an unhappy mix of serious problems and unserious policy ideas.

The Golden State is grappling with skyrocketing homelessness rates, net negative migration, nation-leading poverty rates, and an outbreak of disease that hearkens back to the Dark Ages.

It’s the perfect storm of ugly circumstances that cry out for bold leadership.

But rather than tackle these problems, state leaders are shifting the focus to other states who apparently deserve a moral lecture from California: The state has now added Iowa to its “travel ban” list.

According to Fox News, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that as of Oct. 4, “California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.”

Why? Because the state will no longer spend Medicaid dollars on gender transition surgeries, thanks to a newly passed Iowa law.

Becerra said in a statement:

The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care. California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.

Apparently, not paying for someone else’s transgender surgery is beyond the pale.

This isn’t the first time California has issued a travel ban.

In 2017, the state announced a ban on taxpayer-funded travel to states deemed “discriminatory” toward LGBT people. The list of banned states has grown to 11 with the recent addition of Iowa.

No surprise, those states are almost entirely red or red-leaning.

The policy may be getting lots of press, but it’s barely having any impact. Though the policy prohibits public universities from partaking in events in states on the list, it hasn’t interfered with the college sports schedule, according to The Sacramento Bee.

And, no surprise, the law makes clear exceptions for tax collectors traveling out of state. 

Apparently, social justice takes a back seat to good ole cash revenue.

As I noted when California first started implementing this law, it was telling that California placed a ban on these states while suing the Trump administration for its own travel ban on terrorist hotbeds like Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, where same-sex sexual activity is illegal and in some cases is punishable by death. …

Click here to read the full article from the Daily Signal.

California to assist financing of California-Vegas train

California officials on Wednesday could put a private company’s plan to build a high-speed train connecting Las Vegas and Southern California one step closer to reality by helping it access billions of dollars in private financing.

A committee chaired by state Treasurer Fiona Ma is likely to approve $300 million in tax-exempt private activity bonds for Virgin Trains USA this year, followed by the same amount again next year. That will allow the company to issue about $2.4 billion in debt, roughly half of what it needs to build the first private, high-speed train in the U.S. West.

Ben Porritt, senior vice president for public affairs at the company, called the approval “a major milestone.”

“This is a significant private investment that will generate thousands of new jobs, spark new mixed use and housing development and remove nearly 4.5 million cars off the road each year,” he said in an emailed statement. …

Click here to read the full article from KCRA News

California — Still Crazy After All These Years

The California Legislature session has ended for the year, so there’s little it can wreck over the next few months. But enough damage was done since January to last beyond 2019 and deep into the Blue future.

It’s easy for the rest of the country to dismiss Sacramento’s lawmaking. After all, it’s just more left coast madness. But it’s truly a contagion. Despite the state’s growing flakiness, California remains a trendsetter. So don’t be surprised when variations of its lousy policies inevitably pop up in legislative chambers across the country, even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol.

H.L. Mencken once said “every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.” A disturbing lack of shame in California has created a permanent majority in Sacramento pushing the state down the unsustainable path it’s been on for more than 20 years. Some of the Legislature’s worst work was done by lawmakers under pressure as the session was closing out last week.

In particular is the late-breaking bill that will establish a statewide rent-control regime. Socialist economist Assar Lindbeck once said that “in many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city — except for bombing.” Though quite apt, the statement is not quoted as often as the Mencken proverb above. So maybe the majority of lawmakers in Sacramento have never heard it.

But surely they’re not unaware of that “a substantial body of economic research has warned about potential negative efficiency consequences to limiting rent increases below market rates, including over-consumption of housing by tenants of rent controlled apartments.” Yet they passed Assembly Bill 1482, which is sure to be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. After that, nothing more can be done but to sit back and watch it aggravate the state’s housing crunch.

In another end-of-session stumble, lawmakers broke up the gig economy. There are, or were, roughly 2 million independent contractors in California. They are free to make their own hours, work for as many different companies as they wish to at the same time and avoid rotten bosses. Full-time workers can make extra money on the side to cover life’s emergencies or to pay off a loan or two. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that fewer than 10% of independent contractors prefer a traditional work arrangement over freelancing.

But Sacramento decided Californians had to be saved from all that freedom. So they approved Assembly Bill 5, which codifies a state Supreme Court ruling, meaning that freelancing will be in essence outlawed in California beginning next year, should Newsom sign the bill, which he will.

Some gig workers cheered when the bill passed. They’ll live to regret it. Many will miss the freedom they once had, and quite a few will lose their jobs entirely. Compliance costs could reach as much as $6.5 billion a year, according to the R Street Institute, so it’s unlikely companies that built their businesses on utilizing independent contractors will be able to afford to hire all of their gig workers.

The added costs also leave companies with fewer dollars available for growth and innovation, and will adversely affect their ability to attract capital, as well.

Consumers will feel the effects, too. With fewer drivers on the roads — Beacon Economics reckons that Lyft alone might have to get by with 300,000 fewer California drivers — service will fall and prices increase.

It’s also a good bet that the adoption of AB5 will inspire unions, lusting for a fresh stream of dues from hundreds of thousands of new members, will ram through similar legislation in states where they still have political clout.

While a host of stubborn issues, such as the state’s public employee pension crisis, an alarming business exodus, a shrinking middle class, and crumbling roads, grow worse, the Legislature also found time in this session to: ban the sale, trade, and manufacture of fur products (Assembly Bill 44); outlaw the use of circus animals unless they’re dogs, cats, or horses (Senate Bill 313); and protect children from the misfortunes of being educated by non-union teachers (Assembly Bill 1505).

But Sacramento did post one highlight: Senate Bill 206, the Fair Pay to Play Act. It will allow, beginning January 1, 2023, student-athletes at state colleges to earn money from their names, images, and likenesses.

In this single instance, the California Legislature is allowing free enterprise to flow. It’s a sharp departure from its habit of locking down markets whenever and wherever it’s able, and it’s tempting to think maybe the majority is awakening to the advantages of liberty. Yet bitter experience tells us that’s hoping for too much.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by the Daily Caller

If California Relies on Obama School Discipline Policy, It Will Put Students at Risk

California legislators seek to expand a law that limits a teacher’s ability to keep order in the classroom.

Surveys find opposition to such loosened policies, and research demonstrates that ideas such as these may put students at risk and even limit student achievement. The provisions also dredge up painful questions about the relationship between recent school shootings and student discipline policies.

Under the proposal (SB 419) that legislators passed and sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature, California schools may not suspend students in grades 4 through 8 for having “disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority” of school personnel. 

The measure also amends existing law to say that educators cannot expel high school students on these grounds, and applies all of the new provisions to charter schools as well as regular public schools. Existing law already limits the use of suspension for students in grades K-3. 

Research finds that such policies can be harmful to students. Studies from Florida and Philadelphia found that leaving troubled or disruptive students in a classroom is related to negative academic outcomes for the peers of offending students. 

Media reports point to data showing that minority students in California are suspended for “defiance” at higher rates than their peers. Advocates of the change say these disparities are enough reason to limit the ways in which teachers and school officials address student misconduct.

However, research has not determined the causes for these disparities and has found other ethnic and gender differences in student discipline. 

For example, a 2017 study of North Carolina schools found that black boys were less likely to be suspended by black teachers, but researchers said the data did not allow them to determine why. Others have pointed to national data showing that white students are disciplined more than Asian students, and that teachers discipline boys more than girls. 

Variables such as violence in a student’s neighborhood or home also could be contributing factors to why some students act out more than others.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Mathematica Policy Research have suggested violent neighborhoods or gang activity concentrated in urban areas could be involved. They said “the greater frequency of violations among minority students could be caused by factors outside of the school’s purview, such as more exposure to poverty, crime, and life trauma resulting from residential and economic inequality.”

In 2016 and 2018, nationally representative surveys administered by Education Next found that more than half of respondents opposed school district policies limiting suspension and expulsion.

This topic has garnered more attention because of the school discipline policy in place when a former student took the lives of 17 students and teachers in February 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

Education officials in Broward County, which includes Parkland, had instituted a policy that limited teachers’ and other educators’ ability to suspend or expel students—similar to the California proposal. 

Heritage Foundation research last year showed that the Parkland tragedy involved individual and institutional lapses at more than one public agency, but Broward County’s school discipline policy kept turning up during the course of investigations into the causes and ensuing recommendations.

And because Broward County’s policy resembled—perhaps even inspired—Obama-era policy on school discipline, proposals to limit a teacher’s choices over how to manage his classroom deserve rigorous evaluation.

Last December, the Trump administration rescinded federal school discipline policy limiting suspensions and expulsions.

Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, like Newsom a Democrat, more than once vetoed legislation similar to the bill sent to his successor. In his 2018 veto letter, Brown wrote: “Teachers and principals are on the front lines educating our children and are in the best position to make decisions about order and discipline in the classroom. That’s why I vetoed a similar bill in 2012.” 

The Federal Commission on School Safety’s final report last December recommending the rescission of the Obama administration policies had a similar analysis: 

“Teachers are often best positioned to identify and address disorderly conduct at school,” the report said. “They have an understanding of the students entrusted to their care and can see behavioral patterns on an ongoing basis.” 

California’s governor and lawmakers should reconsider teacher and school leaders’ efforts to protect children. Limits such as these on an educator’s ability to choose how to maintain order in the classroom puts all students at risk.

Jonathan Butcher is a senior policy analyst in Heritage’s Center for Education Policy.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal

Criticism of Big Tech Indicates A Political Shift

When the Attorney Generals of 48 states joined AGs from Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico to announce a widespread probe of dominant technology firms, the focus here was that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra did not sign on. Yet, there is another aspect to the story that indicates a political shift occurring with some Republicans raising concerns about Big Tech and monopolies.

We are talking about the Republican Party that is supposed to be a knee-jerk defender of big business. The Attorney Generals probe, as well as a like investigation of the tech industry in Washington, is bipartisan. But some Republicans in California see an opportunity to gain support from voters who tend to favor Democrats while setting the party on a different path.

Assembly Republicans Jordan Cunningham, James Gallagher, Tom Lackey and Chad Mayes are authors of a resolution presented to the legislature that praises and encourages Congress to investigate giant technology companies on antitrust grounds, while at the same time urging the California Attorney General to work with other state AGs to curb Big Tech’s monopolistic powers.

While the resolution introduced in the last hectic days of the legislative session was not addressed, the plea to the Attorney General covered in the resolution apparently fell on deaf ears.

The Attorney Generals and Federal investigators want to see if the big technology companies are engaged in noncompetitive behavior to roadblock competition or even buy up possible competitors to gain a stranglehold on the market. With rich technology companies now scooping up businesses in different industries, this issue of monopolies is beginning to catch the public’s attention.

It wasn’t shocking that Becerra chose not to add the state’s name to the investigation since three of the top five tech companies, Google, Facebook, and Apple, call California home. 

But conspiracy theorists and reporters immediately raised questions, checking the technology sectors financial support for the Democrats in California who control the legislature and for Becerra in particular. Meanwhile, conservatives who distrust the rich entrepreneurs who largely side with Democrats politically and who feel conservative issues don’t get a fair hearing on Silicon Valley websites, approve of keeping pressure on the industry.

Not all conservatives are praising the action of the Attorney Generals. The politically engaged libertarian Koch foundations have announced ads to support the tech industry against the AGs’ investigation.

Still, we are hearing cries of dominant corporate power coming from the side of the political aisle that is most often silent on this subject. Perhaps not surprising in an era in which pages of the political playbook are being torn to pieces.

Then again, the move by Republicans to clamp down on monopolies and side with small business and consumers served some Republicans well in a different era. Teddy Roosevelt busted up trusts in his day and probably would exclaim, “Bully!” if he heard about the resolution introduced by California Republican legislators.

Joel Fox is Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

San Jose set to become largest U.S. city to enact natural gas ban

an Jose is set to become the largest city in the United States to ban natural gas from many new homes in direct contrast to the federal government’s rollback of environmental regulations.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a proposal from Mayor Sam Liccardo and four of his fellow council members to create an ordinance barring natural gas in new single-family homes, low-rise multifamily buildings and detached granny flats beginning next year.

The proposal would not affect existing homes or high-rise developments.

“Electrifying buildings is not only good for the planet, but good for our health and safety,” the mayor, Raul Peralez, Lan Diep, Magdalena Carrasco and Dev Davis wrote in a memo. …

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

Will Bringing Back Redevelopment Create Additional Affordable Housing?

A bill that would revive redevelopment as a tool for local governments passed the state Legislature in the final days of the summer session on party-line votes.

Now the question is whether a so-far noncommittal Gov. Gavin Newsom will accept the claims that Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, has enough safeguards to prevent redevelopment from going as astray as the version that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature killed in 2011.

That version allowed local redevelopment agencies to divert a slice of property taxes to use on projects meant to spur the economies of “blighted” neighborhoods. If the projects boosted property tax revenue, the additional increment would go to the agencies for new projects. In 2010, some 400 redevelopment agencies diverted 12 percent of all California property taxes for their use.

‘Scams providing windfalls to cronies’

But by 2011, many investigations had found that redevelopment funds were routinely diverted to pay for City Hall salaries and that many of the projects that did get funding were those pitched by politically connected developers. Then-state Controller John Chiang said many redevelopment projects were “scams providing windfalls to political cronies.”

Many healthy businesses with prime locations had been declared “blighted” so cities could use eminent domain to seize them and hand them over to car dealerships or big-box stores which would generate the sales taxes that are a key source of revenue for city coffers.

And on top of these issues, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said there was “no reliable evidence” that redevelopment helped the economy. Instead, it attracted businesses that would have opened elsewhere without subsidies offered by local government – shuffling economic activity around, not spurring it.

New version would emphasize housing

In interviews and committee meetings, Beall has argued that a much-more focused version of redevelopment that gives at least half of diverted funds to subsidized low-income housing – up from the previous 20 percent – can help California with its housing shortage. The new program would also fund transit-oriented projects and play its old role of helping poor neighborhoods boost their economies. 

To prevent past problems with cronyism, a state oversight group would have to certify projects met basic standards before funding could be diverted.

The bill would initially allow $200 million in property taxes to be diverted annually with a phased-in upper limit of $2 billion a year. About $5 billion a year was being diverted when redevelopment was shelved by the state in 2011.

While running for governor in 2018, Newsom was supportive of reviving some form of redevelopment. But he included no funds for a new program in his initial state budget and has told reporters that his budget already includes record funding for affordable housing.

Meanwhile, while it didn’t get as many headlines as some other problems did, redevelopment’s record with creating affordable housing in California was also poor to mixed.

Old version often generated no new units

In 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that, “At least 120 municipalities – nearly one in three with active redevelopment agencies – spent a combined $700 million in housing funds from 2000 to 2008 without constructing a single new unit … .  Nor did most of them add to the housing stock by rehabilitating existing units.”

Where did the money go? The Times cited many examples of redevelopment agencies buying property that was never subsequently developed.

It also found that “nearly three dozen cities, including Monterey Park and Pismo Beach, reported spending most of their affordable housing money over the decade on ‘planning and administration’ – but never built a single unit.”

Beall’s bill passed the Senate 29-9 and the Assembly 55-19.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Iowa Becomes 11th State on California Travel Ban List

Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday extended California’s ban on taxpayer-funded trips to an 11th state, adding Iowa to the list based on the Midwestern state’s passage of a law that removed gender protections under Medicaid.

Becerra’s order means public employees and college students may not travel to Iowa under provisions of a 2016 California law.

Twelve years ago, Iowa’s Legislature made gender identity a protected characteristic under its Civil Rights Act, which prohibited refusing service to or discriminating against people based on their gender identity preferences. …

Click here to read the full article from the Fresno Bee.

Donald Trump Proposes Federal Homeless Task Force for Los Angeles, San Francisco

President Donald Trump promised to address the homelessness issue in major California cities, as he traveled to the state for a series of political fundraisers.

He suggested the creation of an “individual task force” that would address the problem.

“The people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up,” Trump said. “And we’re looking at it, and we’ll be doing something about it.”

The president spoke to reporters on Air Force One on the trip to California and confirmed that he would speak to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson about the problem.

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco, and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump said.

He said that he spoke to foreign business investors in California who were so frustrated with the homelessness problem that they were ready to leave. He also expressed concerns about the spreading diseases in tent cities. A recent outbreak of Typhus in Los Angeles has also raised the alarm among residents.

“Our policeman that are on the beat are getting sick. They’re actually sick,” Trump said. “They’re going to the hospital. We can’t let that happen.”

Reports last week noted that the president was looking at a number of options to deal with the problem, including possibly invoking the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to declare an emergency or moving the homeless in Los Angeles to a FAA facility.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Trump to revoke California’s authority to set vehicle standards

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle emission standards, a source familiar with the plans told CNN on Tuesday, the latest move in the Trump administration’s ongoing fight with the Golden State and attempts to chip away at former President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.

The source said the change could come as soon as Wednesday. It’s yet another escalation in the clash between California and Trump administration. Industry watchers feared that the Trump administration’s plan to freeze federal emission standards, a rollback of tightened standards created by the Obama administration, could have led to two auto markets in the US — one subject to more restrictive California regulations and another linked to significantly less stringent federal standards.

The Trump administration has also made unraveling Obama’s environmental legacy a priority. Months after he arrived in office, President Donald Trump announced the US would leave the Paris Climate Agreement and in June he revoked the Clean Power Plan, the key regulation underpinning the US’ pledge in the landmark 2015 international agreement. The administration also recently revoked Obama’s Waters of the United States rule and has made number of other moves that would allow for increased oil and gas production on public lands. …

Click here to read the full article from CNN.com