Which legislators stood up for California taxpayers this session?

CapitolIn 2017, the California Legislature launched a sustained and withering assault on middle-class taxpayers. Its victories were numerous and significant: A $75 per document recording tax was approved, affecting up to 400 different transactions; a gas and car tax, which takes effect November 1, will cost California households another $600 a year; and an increase in environmental regulations, known as cap-and-trade, could increase the cost of fuel by an additional 70 cents/gallon by 2030.

In the face of such devastating policies, it is easy for taxpayers to question whether legislators will ever be held accountable. However, a useful tool to assist taxpayers is the annual legislative Report Card published by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Introduced back in 2007, the point of the report card is to document how lawmakers have voted on issues important to taxpayers. Lawmakers tend to hide behind statements, often of dubious veracity, to justify their votes. The report card sets aside motives, politics and party affiliations and simply asks one question: did legislators stand up for the interests of taxpayers?  While politicians may obfuscate, the numbers don’t lie.

HJTA’s 2017 scorecard featured a list of 22 bills which, represents a broad sample size, making it easy to see who is either a friend to taxpayers or beholden to the special interests that pervade the state Capitol. Beyond the obvious tax increases listed above, other bills include those that make it easier for local governments to increase sales taxes, and allow for San Francisco Bay Area residents to increase bridge tolls. Attacks on the initiative process are another common theme highlighted in the scorecard.

Given the policy breadth of the bills listed above, it should come as no surprise that the 2017 scorecard was nothing short of abysmal. A record 79 legislators failed the scorecard while only 24 got a grade of “A.” Ten legislators received the coveted and difficult to get perfect score in 2017: Assembly Members Travis Allen, Brian Dahle, Vince Fong, Jay Obernolte and Jim Patterson. They were joined by State Sens. Joel Anderson, Patricia Bates, Jean Fuller, Mike Morrell and Jeff Stone. These legislators should be commended for their diligence on behalf of taxpayers. …

Click here to read the full article from the Orange County Register

Compelled Speech is Not Free

At first glance, Senate Bill 226 may seem harmless. It is portrayed simply as an effort to provide voters with the comfort of additional “transparency” in the election process.

But we must look closer. The simple transparency that SB266 claims to provide will actually undermine our fundamental first amendment rights to political speech, and that’s why I opposed this bill on the Senate floor.

Our founders very wisely understood that self-government relies on an informed populace. As citizens, we rely on the free exchange of ideas so that we may sift through the information that comes our way and decide for ourselves which facts and opinions will inform our voting decisions. It is the responsibility of government to assure this free flow of information is not disrupted.

However, if the information we receive during that election is actually controlled or compelled by government, can we really call it a free exchange of ideas?

The answer is obvious, and it is exactly why government bureaucrats have no business micromanaging what information we are allowed to see, what information we must see, nor how information is presented to us.

Yet that’s exactly what SB226 will do. It compels those who produce political mailers to include specific information demanded by the government, and mandates precisely how that information will be presented.

SB226 requires that when “slate mailers” are sent by organizations representing the view point of public safety officials, the number of members the organization represents must be stated on the piece. SB226 also compels slate mailers to follow arbitrary mandates as to what font size, type face, formatting, and contrasting colors must be used.

Electoral-CollegeWhile the bill may not seem like a burden on free speech on its face, SB226’s mandates mean there is less room for the organization to share their message with voters. Thus, its impact in the free exchange of ideas could be limited when compared to others who are not subject to the same restrictions.

If the government can mandate the inclusion of specific information when it comes to one issue, such as public safety, what’s to stop it deciding it must craft similar restraints for other topics, such as climate change, or education? If government can restrict the messages on one medium, in this case slate mailers, we can reasonably anticipate the restrictions will eventually spread to other mediums, such as newspaper ads, or blogs, or social media posts.

Allowing government to decide for us what we can be exposed to, and in what manner, is a very dangerous threat to our First Amendment rights. It is similar to campus officials at public universities deciding which speakers and messages students are allowed to hear, and which messages they must be “protected” from.  It is the business of government to assure that all messages can be heard, not to decide for itself which messages are safe for us to hear, or what information must accompany the message.

Compelled speech is not free speech. True freedom, including freedom of expression, can be a messy business. But freedom sure beats the alternative. SB226 is the alternative.

Sen. Joel Anderson represents the 38th District in the California State Senate. 

Sen. Kevin de Leon: “Half my family is here illegally”

California State Senator Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, makes an appearance on “Fox and Friends” to discuss state Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de Leon’s recent admission that half of his family is in the state and country illegally.

De Leon, while pushing his new bill, SB54, said, “The reality is, with the executive order and the criteria that has been developed, many individuals, I can tell you half of my family, would be eligible for deportation under the executive order.”