A Catalog of California’s Anti-Janus Legislation    

School union protestNo state in America is as firmly in the grip of public sector unions as California. For nearly 20 years, they have exercised nearly absolute power in the state Legislature. Over the past few years, as they have slipped in and out of having a two-thirds majority, and often with the help of a few Republican legislators, they have been able to pass legislation at will, sometimes within days.

Government union power in California derives from their ability to automatically collect over $1 billion per year in dues from payroll departments of state and local agencies, combined with their ability to compel well over 1 million state and local government employees working within any of their over 6,000 bargaining units to pay these union dues.

While it is legally possible for these government employees to opt out of formal union membership and only pay so-called “agency fees,” the process to opt-out is deliberately rendered tedious and intimidating, and in any case agency fees usually are around 80% of the total dues.

The Janus vs. AFSCME case threatens public sector union power in California and dozens of other states, because, depending on the ruling, it may permit public employees to opt-out of paying any dues at all, including agency fees. But if unions made it difficult and intimidating for government employees to opt-out of paying the full union dues, i.e., if they made it difficult for these employees to get a 20% discount, imagine how difficult they’re going to make it for employees to get a 100% discount.

What the unions can do in Sacramento changes every day. But insofar as a Janus ruling could come down from the U.S. Supreme Court any day, it is appropriate to delve into a bit of wonkiness, and list every recently enacted and pending law, backed by unions, that California’s legislature is compliantly handing down in order to thwart the intent of the Janus plaintiffs.

CALIFORNIA’S ENACTED ANTI-JANUS LEGISLATION

AB-83 Collective bargaining: Judicial Council – enacted

This bill permits unionization of Judicial Council staff, something previously off-limits. Here’s what they do, quoted from their website: “The Judicial Council is the policymaking body of the California courts, the largest court system in the nation. Under the leadership of the Chief Justice and in accordance with the California Constitution, the council is responsible for ensuring the consistent, independent, impartial, and accessible administration of justice. Judicial Council staff implements the council’s policies (italics added).” Unionized judicial council staff – what could possibly go wrong?

SB-201 Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act: employees – enacted

This bill permits students who have jobs at the schools they attend to unionize. This will, of course, allow the unions to collect their cut from yet another category of public payroll, but it will also offer them another avenue to indoctrinate students, since they aren’t already getting enough indoctrination from our public schools and universities.

SB-285 Public employers: union organizing – enacted

This goes straight at the heart of Janus. Layering on top of existing federal law but making it even more explicit and restrictive, this bill would prohibit a public employer from deterring or discouraging public employees from becoming or remaining members of an employee organization. Employers are already forced to be extremely careful how they communicate the pros and cons of unionization, but now they’ll be even more hamstrung, while the unions have full access to employees to argue and advocate their position. Worse, this bill would grant the Public Employment Relations Board jurisdiction over alleged violations of its provisions instead of the courts. This board, PERB for short (see footnotes; “PERB Board”), is stacked with labor activists and is very unlikely to ever rule in favor of a public employer vs. a union.

SB-550 Public school employment: meeting and negotiating: legal actions: settlement offer: attorney’s fees – enacted

In this law, from now on, if a union makes an offer to settle a dispute alleging an employer’s failure to provide wages, benefits, or working conditions, and if the employer does not accept the offer and fails to obtain a more favorable judgment, the employer must pay the union’s attorney’s fees and expenses incurred after the offer was made. Note this “loser pays” provision only applies to the employer, not the union. This legislation puts tremendous pressure on agencies to agree to union demands in order to avoid court, especially those smaller agencies, cities and counties that don’t have deep pockets like the unions.

CALIFORNIA’S PENDING ANTI-JANUS LEGISLATION

AB-1937 Public employment: payroll deductions – passed Assembly

This bill appears to be designed to prevent local jurisdictions from enacting measures that might expedite an individual employee’s decision to stop paying union dues. Reading through the introductory text of the bill, here is a key excerpt: “…the bill would authorize employee organizations and bona fide associations to request payroll deductions and would require public employers to honor these requests. The bill would authorize public employers to make rules and regulations for the administration of specified payroll deductions, subject to meeting and conferring with the applicable employee organizations.” Notice that it is the union, not the employee, who will notify the employer to start dues deductions, and notice that any rules the employer may wish to apply to the administration of union dues deductions has to be cleared (meet and confer) with the union.

AB-2017 Public employers: employee organizations – passed Assembly

Similar to SB 285, This bill broadens the definition of employer to “those employers of excluded supervisory employees and judicial council employees.” It then “prohibits a public employer from deterring or discouraging prospective public employees, as defined, from becoming or remaining members of an employee organization.” The operative words are discourage and deter, which can be quite broadly interpreted. For example, even an employer stating that an employee does not have to join a union might “deter” them from doing so. The intent of this bill is to deter employers from saying anything to employees about unionization, with no such restrictions on the unions.

AB-2049 Classified school and community college employees: payroll deductions for employee organization dues – passed Assembly

Similar to AB 1937, but even more explicit, “this bill would authorize school districts and community colleges to rely on labor unions when determining whether a request to discontinue payroll deductions for union dues is in conformity with the requirements established in the initial payroll deduction authorization.” The intent is to make it harder to get out of paying union dues by adding layers of union bureaucracy to the process.

Concurrent with ensuring the union, and not the agency, has the final say in suspending dues withholding, the unions are revising these “initial payroll deduction authorizations.”

Take a look at this photo of a union contract (below). Note how it states “this authorization shall renew annually, irrespective of my membership status,” and “a revocation must be mailed… postmarked between 75 days and 45 days before such annual renewal date.” There are at least two gotchas here. First, automatic renewal of payroll deductions “irrespective of membership status” means that someone wanting to stop paying union dues has to opt out every year. Second, if they neglect to opt-out, via mail within the exact window of time and in advance of the automatic renewal, they will have to pay dues for another year.

No wonder the unions want themselves, and not the agency, to have the ability to say whether dues will stop being withheld. In any city or county with local elected officials willing to stand up to their unions (admittedly a rare occasion), ordinances could be passed allowing an employee to simply inform their payroll department that they don’t want to pay union dues. That will be impossible under these laws.

The Hotel California Contract – You Can Check In, But Checking Out…

AB-2886 Public Employee Relations Board: Orange County Transportation Authority: San Joaquin Regional Transit District – passed Assembly

Because the above named agencies were not previously required to resolve labor disputes using the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), this bill changes that so they will have to use PERB. By moving the dispute resolution process out of the courts and instead putting them under the jurisdiction of PERB, the unions improve the probability of winning these disputes.

AB-3034 Public transit employer-employee relations: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District – passed Assembly

This bill, similar in concept to AB 83 and SB 201, allows the unions to collect their cut from yet another category of public payroll, in this case BART supervisors, by allowing them to unionize.

SUMMARY OF ANTI-JANUS LEGISLATION

So in response to Janus, California’s unions representing public servants are doing the following:

1 – Expanding the pool of public employees eligible to join unions – AB 83, SB 201, and AB 3034

2 – Making it difficult, if not impossible, for employers to discuss the pros and cons of unionization with employees – SB 285 and AB-2017

3 – Precluding local governments from unilaterally honoring employee requests to stop paying union dues – AB 1937 and AB-2049

4 – Making employers pay union legal fees if they lose in litigation but not making unions pay employer costs if the unions lose – SB 550

5 – Moving the venue for dispute resolution from the courts to PERB, which is stacked with pro-union board members – SB 284 and AB 2886

This catalog of countermeasures to Janus is undoubtedly incomplete. A few enacted in 2017 have probably slipped under our radar, and there will be many more crafted in the coming months and years, especially if there is a strong ruling in favor of the plaintiff. But California’s unions have been doing this for years. Whether it’s charter schools, “release time,” transparency in government, charter cities, public education reform, budget and tax issues, project labor agreements, or pension reform, the agenda of the union always comes first in Sacramento.

When it comes to protecting the government union agenda in California, pro-union legislation is fast and furious, belying the more common political reality of gridlock.

*   *   *

FOOTNOTES

California’s Public Employment Relations Board – 2018, at least 3-2 stacked for unions 

The three:

  • Arthur A. Krantz “represented unions, employees and nonprofits in litigation, arbitration and administrative cases, and he worked on law reform, organizing, negotiation, and strategic campaigns to effect social change. Krantz did this work as an associate and partner at Leonard Carder, LLP.” San Francisco based Leonard Carder, LLP‘s home page states: “As one of the oldest and most renowned law firms representing labor unions and employees, Leonard Carder’s focus is to provide top-flight legal representation to the labor movement.”
  • Priscilla Winslow‘s “career in public sector labor law spans over 30 years, during which time she served for 15 years as Assistant Chief Counsel for the California Teachers Association where she litigated and advised on a variety of labor, education, and constitutional law issues.”
  • Eric Banks “served in multiple positions at the Service Employees International Union, Local 221 from 2001 to 2013, including Advisor to the President, President, and Director of Government and Community Relations.”

The other two:

  • Erich Shiners: “Prior to his service on the Board, Erich Shiners represented and advised public agency employers in labor and employment matters, including many cases before PERB. Most recently he was Senior Counsel at Liebert Cassidy Whitmore.” Liebert Cassidy Whitmore represents itself as California’s preeminent public management employment law firm with over 80 attorneys in five offices.
  • Mark C. Gregersen‘s “career in public sector labor relations spans over 35 years. Prior to his appointment to the California Public Employment Relations Board, he has served as director of labor and work force strategy for the City of Sacramento and director of human resources for a number of California cities and counties.”

REFERENCES

Funding the Post-Janus Fight Against Government Unions, May 2018

Janus vs AFSCME Ruling Imminent – What will Change?, May 2018

A Post-Janus Agenda for California’s Public Sector Unions, February 2018

After Janus, Will Union Grassroots Members Assert their Political Voice?, December 2017

How Can Local Officials Prepare for the Upcoming Janus vs AFSCME Ruling?, October 2017

In California, the “Jungle” Is Predictable

Gavin NewsomOne doesn’t expect the unexpected in California elections. A progressive Democrat will become governor; Dianne Feinstein will return to the Senate yet again; and so on. Nuances still matter, particularly at the congressional level, in part due to the “jungle primary” system, but nothing much has changed. Statewide, the ideological die, at least for now, is cast.

Perhaps the best news for Republicans, with the surprisingly strong showing of businessman John Cox, is that they will actually have a candidate on the November ballot for governor. Businessman Cox easily beat out the Democratic challengers to the front-running Democrat, former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Some conservatives, like Newt Gingrich, think that Cox has a serious shot at victory in November, but all GOP candidates combined pulled in barely 35 percent of the vote.

Here’s the reality: California Republicans, constituting barely a quarter of the electorate, now make up a smaller cohort than Independents. Combined with Independents who lean to the GOP, they perhaps could win 40 to 45 percent of the vote in November—still not good enough. The big money that once filled the coffers of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon now goes overwhelmingly to the other side: the top three Democratic gubernatorial candidates raised over $70 million, more than ten times what the GOP’s top candidate, the largely self-funded Cox, had drummed up by the end of last month.

Even more than money, the problem for Republicans is demographics, which suggest a continued decline of the state party. In the last decade, the state gained 2 million Hispanics and 1 million Asians—both groups now trending overwhelmingly Democratic—while losing almost 800,000 whites, the GOP’s vanishing base. Migration patterns show middle-aged, middle- and working-class families exiting a state increasingly dominated by the unmarried childless and older, affluent white voters, including many who have profited from the rise in housing prices and are the most bullish on the state’s future.

The Republican brand’s weakness was dramatized in the success of former state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner, a onetime Republican now running as an Independent for his old job. Poizner, who sold his GPS company to Qualcomm for $1 billion in 2000, came in first, with 43 percent of the vote. Another promising result was the first-place finish in the state superintendent’s race of school-reform advocate Marshall Tuck, also an Independent, against teachers’ union-backed Tony Thurmond. Poizner and Tuck will face the progressive money machine’s full fury in November, but each has resources with which to fight back. Such non-party candidates, suggests former GOP congressman Tom Campbell, could draw some moderate Democrats and help reestablish a modicum of policy debate.

At the top of the ballot, Newsom’s large plurality suggests that he will become the next governor. Given his strong financial support from the state’s public employees, the tech oligarchy, inner-city real estate developers, and Bay Area progressives, he represents the apotheosis of California gentry progressivism. Newsom’s showing displays how dominant the Bay Area machine, with its media, union, and tech support, has become. He swamped former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a charter school advocate, even beating him easily in L.A. (Villaraigosa’s handlers may have erred in promoting him primarily as an anti-Donald Trump candidate rather than as an independent reformer. All Democrats compete to show their hatred for the president.)

In the manner of the old Miller Lite commercial, Newsom is much like departing Governor Jerry Brown, but less filling. Brown may sometimes sound hysterical about climate change, recently suggesting that it would kill “billions,” but he has also been willing, sometimes, to speak hard truths, notably on fiscal issues. His stature allowed him to go off the progressive reservation—for example, shooting down egregious Title IX abuse—and get away with it. Newsom, a good-looking, callow opportunist, lacks this kind of uncalculated independence. When California’s economy was on the rocks, he seemed concerned about the state’s business climate, even visiting arch-rival Texas in search of inspiration. He expressed doubts about Brown’s out-of-control bullet train project. But as the economy improved, particularly for state workers and oligarchs, Newsom learned how to stop worrying and love the bullet train, though it is increasingly unpopular with voters. He has reinvented himself as a “futuristic” prospective governor, a kind of digital moonbeam who sees tech as the solution to all problems.

California’s economy is slowing some amid the national surge, but as long as it seems healthy, Newsom will feel little urgency to address the state’s serious long-term issues: pension-driven fiscal realities, a dearth of high-wage growthoutside the Bay Area, poorly performing schools, a huge homeless problem, and decaying infrastructure.

From a national perspective, the big California story is in Congress. Senator Feinstein’s reelection, based on her four-to-one margin over progressive Latino climatista Kevin de Leon, seems assured. Any Republicans who show up in November will likely back her. She will remain the most moderate, reasoned voice in the party, until she fades from the scene.

The real competition is at the House level. GOP seats are in play in seven districts that went for Hillary Clinton, mostly in suburban Southern California or the Central Valley. In many of these, an increasingly minority population spells trouble for Republicans. And with President Trump’s approval rating at roughly one-third among California voters, House Democrats have no reasonable fear of losing seats. In places like Orange County, Trump gets somewhat more support (37 percent), according to a recent Chapman University poll. Voters in this former GOP stronghold are evenly divided on whether the country would be better off under Democratic or Republican governance. Expect at least two to three California seats to flip, given the big Democratic edge in money and organization. GOP stalwarts like Devin Nunes and Kevin McCarthy won their primaries by sizable margins, though, and will be back to battle the Democrats in D.C.

With Republicans an afterthought, California’s Democrats seem poised to exert greater influence on the national stage. However wrongheaded the Golden State may seem to outsiders, it remains easily our most economically and culturally dominant state—and its massive influence likely will continue to push Democrats further left. The anti-Trump Resistance, consisting of media, oligarch-funded activists, academia, and government unions, regards the state as a role model. In the past, California Democrats have failed to win the presidential nomination, with the party choosing more pragmatic figures such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, candidates who could campaign effectively in what is now considered Trump country. But with many national Democrats increasingly contemptuous of red states, the door might open for a California presidential candidate. In 2020, that could mean three contenders—Senator Kamala Harris, presumptive-Governor Newsom, and L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti—crowding the stage. Of the three, Harris is clearly the front-runner. Part Asian, part black, and all San Francisco, she is an intersectional dream.

Yet as they consolidate control, California Democrats must face some profound contradictions, as the Marxists would say. The gentry—tech oligarchs, real estate speculators, and venture capitalists—stand comfortably with the left on symbolic race, gender, and environmental issues. But these party bankrollers could be hard-pressed if they face the prospect of higher taxes to pay for a state single-payer health-care system, massive housing subsidies, and Governor Brown’s choo-choo, not to mention the state’s ever-soaring pension costs. As Amazon is learning in Seattle, progressive politicos have figured out where to find the biggest piles of cash. Aggressive taxation of tech companies is already becoming a trend in Silicon Valley.

A stronger, motivated grass-roots Left could constitute the greatest immediate challenge to Governor Newsom. Many Californians, particularly millennials and minorities, face a lack of high-wage jobs, soaring rents, and essentially insurmountable barriers to homeownership. A majority of Californians, according to some surveys, express dissatisfaction with the state’s bifurcated economy. The disappearance of upward mobility makes these voters susceptible to embracing such things as rent control, higher minimum wages, free college, and free health care. They will support ever higher taxes on businesses and on generally white, affluent Californians. The call for new spending will become more problematic once the state comes back to earth from its Silicon Valley and real-estate inflation highs, which for now keep the operating budget in the black.

At some point, Newsom and the Democratic nomenklatura will have to deal with pervasive conditions of diminished opportunity, racial polarization, and fiscal weakness. When these realities eventually impinge, the state’s progressive rulers may find themselves on the defensive, and—if confronted with a plausible opposition—vulnerable, at long last.

Local Officials Avoid Pension Discussion as They Push New Taxes

TaxesWhile public and media attention to this week’s primary election focused – understandably so – on contests for governor, U.S. senator and a handful of congressional seats, there were other important issues on Californians’ ballots.

One, which received scant attention at best, was another flurry of local government and school tax and bond proposals.

The California Taxpayers Association counted 98 proposals to raise local taxes directly, or indirectly through issuance of bonds that would require higher property taxes to repay.

The proposed taxes on legal marijuana sales and other retail sales and “parcel taxes” on pieces of real estate were particularly noteworthy for how they were presented to voters.

Most followed the playbook that highly paid strategists peddle to local officials, advising them to promise improvements in popular services, such as police and fire protection and parks, and avoid any mention of the most important factor in deteriorating fiscal circumstances – the soaring cost of public employee pensions.

City, county and school district officials howl constantly, albeit mostly in private, that ever-increasing, mandatory payments to the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) are driving some entities to the brink of insolvency.

However, those officials are just as consistently unwilling to tell their voters that pension costs are the basic underlying factor in their requests for tax increases.

Why?

Tying tax increases to pensions, rather than popular services, not only would make voters less likely to vote for them but make public employee unions less willing to pony up campaign funds to sell the tax increases to voters. It is, in effect, a conspiracy of silence.

This week’s local tax and bond measures are just a tuneup for what will likely be a much larger batch on the November ballot.

It’s a well-established axiom of California politics that low-turnout elections, such as a non-presidential primary in June, are not as friendly to tax proposals as higher-turnout general elections, such as the one in November. Primaries tend to draw more older white voters who often shun taxes, while general elections have younger and more ethnically diverse electorates more attuned to taxes.

As local officials make plans to place those proposals on the November ballot, a bill making its way through the Legislature could skew local tax politics even more.

Senate Bill 958 would allow one school district, Davis Unified, to exempt its own employees from paying the $620 per year parcel tax that its voters approved two years ago.

The Senate approved SB 958 on a 24-19 vote last month, sending it to the Assembly. It’s being carried by Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat whose district includes Davis.

The bill’s rationale is that housing is so expensive in Davis that teachers and other school employees cannot afford to live there, and that exempting them from the parcel tax would, at least in theory, make housing more affordable.

However, if SB 958 becomes law, it would set a dangerous precedent. It doesn’t take much imagination to see local government and school unions throughout the state demanding similar exemptions from new taxes with the threat, explicit or implicit, that they would refuse to finance tax measure campaigns.

The very people who benefit most from additional taxes by receiving higher salaries and/or better fringe benefits thus would be able to avoid paying those taxes themselves.

Where would it end?

olumnist for CALmatters

California Primary: Big Night for Republicans as John Cox Qualifies for November Ballot

John Cox 1Republican businessman John Cox has been projected as the second-place finisher in the California primary for governor, securing a slot at the top of the ticket on the November ballot and lifting GOP hopes to retain Congress.

The major news networks made the call with just a small percentage of the vote counted, thanks to a surprisingly strong result from Cox, who far out-performed his poll numbers.

With just 17.2% of precincts partially reporting as of 10:04 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, Cox had 26.0% of the vote, behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 35.1% and far ahead of former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 11.1%, as well as conservative Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who had 10.9%.

The final RealClearPolitics average of polls had Cox at just 17.5%.

Cox appears to have benefited from an endorsement from President Donald Trump. He also spent heavily in the early months of the race, boosting his name recognition and convincing observers he was the GOP’s only hope. Newsom’s campaign also boosted Cox, fearing an expensive battle against Villaraigosa in the general election.

The gubernatorial race was once thought to be a guaranteed all-Democrat fight between Newsom and Villaraigosa. Under California’s “top two” or “jungle” primary system, the top vote-winners in the primary advance, regardless of party. The conventional wisdom was that Villaraigosa would turn out the Latino vote and surpass any GOP rivals. Special interests began placing multimillion-dollar bets on that outcome, using the Newsom-Villaraigosa race as a proxy for a battle over school reform, for example. Democrats hoped that race would boost down-ticket candidates.

But Republicans, led by Allen and others, began organizing a statewide effort to put a repeal of California’s new gas tax on the November ballot. Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived in Sacramento in early March, armed with a federal lawsuit against California’s new “sanctuary state” laws. That inspired conservative activists to mount a revolt against those laws in local governments throughout Southern California. Cox and Allen saw their polls rise.

With a Republican now competing in the most important statewide election, the GOP believes it can turn out its vote in November and protect vulnerable members of Congress in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. That, in turn, will make it much more difficult for Democrats to pick up the 23 seats they need nationwide to win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives and to put former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) back in power.

Villaraigosa struggled to gain traction in the polls. He was also hurt by errors in the voter rolls in L.A. County, which accidentally excluded nearly 120,000 people, many of whom had to cast provisional ballots, and some of whom may not have been able to vote at all. Villaraigosa called on officials to extend voting through Friday.

Republicans appeared to qualify for the general election in several other statewide races, but not for insurance commissioner, where former Republican Steve Poizner won the primary as a “no party preference” candidate. The race for second in the primary for U.S. Senate was neck-and-neck between Republican James Bradley and State Sen. Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles); incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) came in first place easily.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Our soldiers deserve educational freedom

Education Savings AccountsA bill proposed by Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana) directs the Department of Education to establish a program that would “provide children with parents on active duty in the uniformed services with funds for specified educational purposes.” The proposed law would allow military parents to establish Education Savings Accounts, which would enable them to use public funds for private school tuition, online learning programs, tutoring, etc. While ESAs are a good idea for everyone, they are especially important for military families, many of whom move around frequently, and should not be subjected to our stifling, antiquated, ZIP-code monopoly education system.

Upon introducing the bill in March, Banks penned a piece for The Wall Street Journal in which he wrote, “A 2017 survey of Military Times readers showed that educational opportunities play an important role in determining whether a military family accepts a particular assignment — or even remains in the service at all. Thirty-five percent of service members have considered leaving the military because of the limited education options available, and 40% have either declined or would decline a career-advancing opportunity at a different installation if it meant their child would have to leave a high-performing school.” We cannot afford to lose our experienced soldiers for want of an easy fix.

According to an EdChoice poll, 72 percent of military respondents were in favor of the ESA program, after having it described to them, while just 15 percent opposed it.

The idea is not particularly new. The Senate Armed Services Committee considered a proposal to provide military families with tuition vouchers in 2009. While the idea enjoyed military support at the time, pressure from the powerful National Education Association helped quash the plan.

In 2012, researcher Vicki Alger wrote a report for the Independent Women’s Forum in which she explained that military ESAs “would help expand education options for children without adding costs to national and state budgets, and by facilitating the use of private options rather than adding students to the public school rolls, they could reduce the burden on the state.” However, her sage advice didn’t lead anywhere.

Which brings us to 2018. Just who is fighting against the Banks bill now? Interestingly, a coalition of military associations has come out against the legislation. As Pacific Research Institute scholar Lance Izumi writes, “Their letter to lawmakers, sadly, puts the concerns of school district bureaucracies above the clear needs and preferences of military families.” But this seems to be a top down decision. As Izumi states, “Evidently, these military associations, which proclaim that they represent more than five million current and former service members and their families, forgot to ask service members about what they think.”

But of course, the most potent force to deny military ESAs is, again, NEA. On its website, the union refers to the bill as a “voucher scheme,” and an “enemy of public schools,” and proceeds to launch into a frothing-at-the mouth, turf-protecting tirade, painting anything outside the realm of unionized, government-run, zip-code mandated schools as the work of the devil – or worse – Betsy DeVos. NEA claims that the bill would have a devastating effect on school districts which rely on federal Impact Aid. But as Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst Jonathan Butcher points out, the most “heavily impacted” school districts would lose between a meager 0.18 percent and 1.83 percent of their federal revenue.

One very perplexing part of NEA’s response to the soldier choice bill is the fact that the union has been a proud supporter of the G.I. Bill, the country’s first significant educational voucher program. Signed into law in 1944, the G.I. Bill is nothing more than a “choice” program for soldiers, allowing them to attend just about any college they want – public, private, religious or secular. In fact, not only has NEA been a supporter of the G.I Bill, but the NEA Legislative Commission worked for its passage in 1944.

So NEA supports military vouchers for college, but not k-12. Maybe one day the union will get around to explaining this inconsistency. (Don’t hold your breath.) But in the meantime, Jim Banks’ bill should become law. The people who risk their lives to protect our country need educational freedom. It’s the very least we can do for them and their families.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

California Primary Today: Voters to Decide Shape of 2018 Midterm Elections

VotedVoters will head to the polls Tuesday in the California primary, which will not only determine the final matchups in several key statewide races, including the race for governor, but will also set the framework for the overall battle for the U.S. House nationwide.

Democrats are targeting at least seven, and as many as ten, congressional districts in the Golden State, hoping that widespread opposition to the Trump administration will draw their voters to the polls. However, Republicans have seen a surge in voter enthusiasm lately, thanks to the conservative pushback against California’s “sanctuary state” laws. In addition, a glut of Democratic candidates in otherwise winnable districts has given Republicans new hope.

California’s primary is a “top two” or “jungle” primary, in which all of the voters may choose from all of the candidates, regardless of party. The top two finishers qualify for the general election ballot — again, regardless of party. In 2016, that meant an all-Democrat final for the U.S. Senate election between eventual winner Kamala Harris and then-Rep. Loretta Sanchez. But in 2018, it could mean that Democrats fail to qualify for the November ballot in some districts, simply because they are splitting their vote among too many independently viable choices.

Voters will also be determining the fate of State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), who voted to raise the gas tax last year by 12 cents per gallon and now faces a recall election. While many other legislators also voted for the gas tax hike, Newman is from a swing district where Republicans believe they can mount a successful challenge.

Typically, more than two-thirds of California voters submit their ballots by mail, but for the rest, polls will open at 7 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and close at 8 p.m. Turnout is expected to be low, though that may not be the case in November.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

In Sacramento, Democrats are run by the unions

Unions2June 6 marks the 40th anniversary of voters’ overwhelming approval of Proposition 13, which has been protecting all California taxpayers ever since.

Some people mistakenly think Prop. 13 protects only homeowners, because it cut the property tax rate statewide to 1 percent and put a stop to uncontrolled increases in assessed value. But it did something else, too. It required voter approval of local tax increases and set the threshold for approval of special taxes at a two-thirds vote.

For 40 years, big-spending politicians have been looking for loopholes.

Take parcel taxes, for example. A parcel tax sounds like a tax on UPS deliveries, but it isn’t. It’s a tax on real estate parcels. Under Prop. 13, politicians can’t raise property taxes that are based on the value of property, but they figured out that they could add a flat tax to property tax bills if it wasn’t based on value.

Under Prop. 13, two-thirds of voters have to be convinced to approve parcel taxes.

Politicians figured out that the two-thirds threshold would be easier to reach if they exempted a lot of people from having to pay the tax. Certainly people who won’t have to pay a tax are more likely to vote for it. And politicians who vote for the exemptions can say they voted for a tax break, even though they were raising taxes at the time.

An example of this was the Legislature’s action in 2008 to exempt people on Social Security Disability from paying education parcel taxes. HJTA opposed this bill because it undermined the two-thirds vote requirement for parcel taxes established under Prop. 13. The more classes of people who are exempted, the more the two-thirds vote will be watered down, and the easier it is to raise taxes.

Taxpayers are hit twice by the exemption trick. Taxes are raised more often, but the exemptions mean the government receives less revenue. So the likelihood of other taxes being raised to make up the difference in the future is that much greater.

But when something is working for the politicians, it tends to stick around.

Politicians love picking winners and losers.  It means power over the lives of others and provides a great source of campaign contributions.

The “progressive” legislators who control California’s government favor government employee union organizations — the most powerful force in Sacramento. Every favor granted to public sector unions is a transfer of wealth from taxpayers and the private sector to government employees and the public sector.

Right now, the Legislature is considering a bill that would exempt teachers and education support staff from paying education parcel taxes. Senate Bill 958, which has passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly, was initially a statewide proposal but has been narrowed to target only the Davis Joint Unified School District in Yolo County.

For now. …

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

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

CA Lawmakers Seek to Expand Gun Confiscation

GunCalifornia lawmakers are pushing numerous gun control measures including an expansion of confiscatory orders and limits on the number of firearms residents can buy each month.

Many of the lawmakers are claiming school shootings in Florida and Texas as the impetus for more gun control on law-abiding Californians.

The Mercury News reports that Assemblyman Rob Bonita (D-18) is pushing controls to bar 18-20-year olds from buying firearms. A companion bill, sponsored by State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-25), passed the Senate earlier this week. Portantino’s bill also puts a one-gun-a-month purchase limit in place for Californians.

State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-9) is pushing for an expansion of the state’s Gun Violence Restraining Orders. Whereas the orders currently authorize the confiscation of firearms, Skinner would also have them authorize the confiscation of gun parts. And Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-64) wants to close the “Ghost Gun Loophole” by regulating any parts that a prohibited person could use to build a gun at home.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is working with legislators to secure these various new controls. Brady Campaign legislative advocate Amanda Wilsox said, “Everything is certainly moving forward. Together, all these bills make a difference.”

California already has an “assault weapons” ban, universal background checks, a 10-day waiting period on gun purchases, a requirement that residents obtain a firearm safety certificate from the state before buying a gun, Gun Violence Restraining Orders, a “good cause” requirement for concealed carry permit issuance, a ban on campus carry, a prohibition against allowing teachers to be armed to shoot back, and various ammunition controls.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

How to Resurrect California’s Republican Party

CA GOPAnyone taking a look at California’s June 2018 state primary ballot would have plenty of evidence to suggest the Republican Party in that state is dead. For starters, California’s GOP has two credible candidates for governor, businessman John Cox and State Assemblyman Travis Allen, which in a normal state might be a good thing. But California’s Republicans are a super-minority party in an open “top-two primary” that pits them against at least two well-funded Democratic candidates, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Although Cox is polling better than Allen, they’re both likely to be aced off the ticket in November.

Worse, California’s Republicans have no viable candidate for U.S. Senate. The most recognizable candidate — indelibly listed as “Republican” on the ballot despite being kicked out of the recent GOP state convention — is Patrick Little, whose campaign website’s home page includes a “learn more” button on the topic of “How We Will End Jewish Supremacism.”

There is not one higher state office in California where a Republican has a realistic chance of victory. Nearly every position — lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, controller, and state superintendent of schools — Democratic candidates are likely to win. The lone exception is insurance commissioner, where the respected Steve Poizner, who has already held that office as a Republican from 2007 to 2011, is now running as an independent.

California’s GOP Party Organization Has Failed

If you go to the California GOP website to view endorsements, you will see the party faithful failed to choose a gubernatorial candidate. This failure of leadership means that their two candidates, Allen and Cox, are likely to split the support of GOP voters, which increases the likelihood that neither Republican will advance to the general election. (Though current polling suggests Cox could squeak through.) Given the fierce determination of both these candidates, one might forgive the state GOP for not managing to make a selection.

But the state GOP’s failure to make endorsements, which are critical in open primaries where only the top two candidates advance, continues down the ticket.

For state treasurer, there is “no endorsement,” despite two Republican candidates on the ballot. For U.S. Senate, there is “no endorsement,” despite 11 Republican candidates on the ballot. That lapse renders it likely that the top Republican vote-getter in the race for U.S. Senate will be the candidate with the most name recognition — you guessed it, the loathsome Patrick Little.

For insurance commissioner, the state GOP apparently didn’t know what to do, since most of them realize former Republican Steve Poizner is a good choice. So instead of “no endorsement” showing up, they simply omitted that position from their list of endorsements. Why couldn’t the state GOP recruit and promote top candidates? Is there really any excuse for this, when there are still tens of thousands of highly successful men and women who are registered Republicans in California and would be good candidates?

When you look for leadership in California’s Republican party, you might consider the last candidate for governor who had a respectable showing: Meg Whitman. (The less said about Neel Kashkari, the better.) But Whitman just publicly endorsed a Democrat, Antonio Villaraigosa. With leadership like that, who needs enemies? Is Whitman a RINO? Is she a turncoat? Or, to be brutally honest, is she just recognizing the cold reality that California is a one-party state, so she wants to support the person she perceives to be the lesser evil?

Demographic Trends Favor the Democrats

If demographic trends and current voting patterns persist, California is going to be a one-party state for a very long time. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, among California’s “likely voters,” more whites are registered as Republicans, 39 percent, than Democrats, 38 percent. But “whites” are only 38 percent of California’s population, and that percentage is dropping fast. Among residents under 18 years old, excluding illegal aliens, whites are now barely 25 percent of California’s population. Why does this matter?

Because among likely voters, Latinos registered as Democrats (62 percent) far outnumber Latino Republicans (17 percent). Among blacks, the disparity is even greater—82 percent Democrat versus 6 percent Republican. Among Asians, where the disparity is less, the Democrats still have a nearly two-to-one advantage, 45 percent to 24 percent.

California’s Democrats successfully have tainted Republicans as racist ever since Governor Pete Wilson supported Proposition 187 in 1994. That citizens’ initiative, narrowly passed by voters then utterly decimated by liberal judges, would have—gasp!—denied taxpayer-funded public services to illegal immigrants. Ever since, any attempt to place realistic curbs on benefits for illegal aliens has been met with militant opposition by Democrats who control a supermajority in California’s legislature. California’s Democrats have played the race card with impunity.

In late 2016, when incoming President Trump proposed to deport criminal aliens, Democratic Assemblyman Ricardo Lara—now running for insurance commissioner—threatened to “fight in the streets” to preserve “the work we have done.” Democratic State Senator Kevin de León—now running for U.S. Senate against long-time incumbent Democratic Dianne Feinstein—frequently refers to “President Trump’s racist-driven deportation policies.” California attorney general Xavier Becerra has been quoted stating that “Trump was showing himself to be a racist in every respect.” Examples are endless. This November, California’s Democrats are going to make Patrick Little and Donald Trump the running mate of every Republican on every ballot in the state.

But will this work forever? Does California’s GOP have to stay dead? Will “people of color” continue to believe that California should be a one-party state?

Demographics Is Not Destiny

Eventually, California’s Democrats are going to go too far, because their policies are economically unsustainable. Gavin Newsom, the favorite to occupy the governor’s mansion in 2019, proposes a single-payer health care system for the state, something that would cost at least $200 billion a year, in addition to sowing chaos throughout California’s healthcare industry. Meanwhile, California’s Democrats propose to offer full health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants, spend tens of millions to provide free college tuition to illegal immigrants, in a state where taxpayers already fund over $25 billion per year to provide public services to illegal immigrants.

How long can this go on?

Objecting to these costly programs may attract accusations of racism, but growing numbers of Latinos, blacks, and Asians, along with white liberals, may eventually decide that Democrats no longer have the answer. All it will take is one major stock correction, or one more downturn in the historically cyclical tech industry, and California’s public finances will implode. All of a sudden, hundreds of billions in tax receipts necessary to sustain free health care, free tuition, and public-sector pensions, to say nothing of benefits for illegal aliens, will vaporize. Economic calamities that reach deep into the pocketbooks and tragically disrupt the lives of ordinary voters have a way of focusing the mind.

The GOP’s case in such times, and to prevent such times, is not abstruse. It goes like this: For decades, Democrats have told you that the most important issue in the world was protecting yourselves from white racism. But while you were voting for the people who kept telling you this, their government unions, controlled by Democrats, were destroying the public schools that might have provided your children with a useful education.

Their government bureaucracies, controlled by Democrats, were driving small businesses out of business with ridiculous, punitive regulations, forcing many of them to flee the state, denying you jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Instead of investing in transportation and water infrastructure to enable a reasonable quality of life to long-time residents and new arrivals alike, Democratic politicians used taxpayers’ money to overpay the government employees, so that government unions would fund the Democratic Party.

The GOP’s case doesn’t end with exposing racism as a diversion from the real issues of economic growth. It also exposes extreme environmentalism, and the synergy between the environmental movement, the overbuilt public sector, and left-wing oligarchs.

For decades, these extreme environmentalists, all of them Democrats, prevented perfectly benign land development in a state literally sprawling with open space. They did this in the name of saving the earth, downplaying how the resulting real estate bubble pumped up government property tax receipts and goosed the returns for the real estate portfolios in government pension funds. They prevented private investment in cheap conventional energy—in particular, clean natural gas and nuclear power—so residents have to pay twice as much (or more) for electricity as people in other states. Democrats barred private investment in oil drilling and refining, and imposed automotive and fuel standards in conflict with the rest of the United States, so Californians pay substantially more at the gas pump.

A Pro-Growth Economic Opportunity Agenda for California

Turning California back into the land of opportunity isn’t that hard, since it still has the best universities, the best weather, and the largest, most diverse economy in America. And California’s GOP politicians can make it happen, by promoting a pro-growth agenda at the same time as they expose identity politics and extreme environmentalism for what they are — a gigantic scam that distracted voters from the real issues. Here is a pro-growth, economic opportunity agenda for California:

Education

Restore the balance in California’s colleges and universities so that the ratio of faculty to administrators is 2-to-1, instead of the current ratio that allows administrators often to outnumber teachers.

End all discrimination and base college admissions purely on merit. Expand STEM curricula so it represents 50 percent of college majors instead of the current 20 percent.

Enforce the Vergara reforms so it is easier to retain quality public school teachers and easier to fire the incompetent ones. Eliminate barriers to charter schools.

Criminal Justice

Restructure the penal system to make it easier for prisoners to perform useful public services. For example. along with working the fire lines during fire season, they could work all year clearing dead trees out of California’s forests. Use high-tech monitoring devices to reduce costs. Reserve current prisons only for the truly incorrigible.

Infrastructure

Scrap the high-speed rail project and instead use the proceeds to add one lane to every major interstate in California, and upgrade and resurface all state highways.

Use additional high-speed rail funds to complete plant upgrades so that 100 percent of California’s sewage is reused, even treated to potable quality.

Pass legislation to streamline approval of the proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach, and fast-track applications for additional desalination plants, especially in Los Angeles.

Spend the entire proceeds of the $7 billion water bond, passed overwhelmingly by Californians in 2014, on storage. Build the Los Banos GrandesSites, and Temperance Flat reservoirs, adding over 5.0 million acre feet of storage to the California Water Project. Pass aggressive legislation and fund aggressive legal actions and counteractions, to lower costs and enable completion of these projects in under five years (which is all the time it used to take to complete similar projects).

Energy

Permit slant drilling to access 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits from land-based rigs along the Southern California coast. Build an LNG terminal off the coast in Ventura County to export California’s natural gas to foreign markets. Permit development of the Monterey Shale formation to extract oil and gas.

Permit construction of “generation 3+” nuclear power plants in geologically stable areas of California’s interior. Permit construction of new natural gas power plants.

Housing

Repeal the 2006 “Global Warming Solutions Act” and “Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act” of 2008 and make it easy for developers to build homes on the suburban and exurban fringes, instead of just “in-fill” that destroys existing neighborhoods.

Pensions and Infrastructure

Require California’s public employee pension funds to invest a minimum of 10 percent of their assets in infrastructure projects as noted above. They could issue fixed rate bonds or take equity positions in the revenue-producing projects, or a combination of both. This would immediately unlock approximately $80 billion in construction financing to rebuild California’s infrastructure. At the same time, save the pension systems by striking down the “California Rule” that prevents meaningful pension reform.

These reforms would lower the cost of living in California, at the same time as they would create resource abundance and hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs.

Why Republicans Are the Most Qualified to Rescue California

Once you’ve debunked the narrative that Republicans are racists, it is easier for voters, regardless of their ethnicity, to see their virtues. To a startling degree, California’s Republican legislators typically come from business backgrounds, whereas most Democratic legislators come from a government agency or a nonprofit background.

In 2016, an analysis of the biographies of California’s state legislators showed that 69 percent of Republican legislators came from a business background, 19 percent of them had some business and some government or nonprofit experience, and only 11 percent of them came exclusively from a government or nonprofit background. By contrast, only 6 percent of Democrats came from a business background, only 18 percent of them came from a mixed business and government or nonprofit background, while a whopping 76 percent of them came exclusively from a government or nonprofit background. One can draw profound conclusions from this unambiguous data.

In business, competence is emphasized; in government, personal connections are everything. In business, the objective is to competitively build and run productive companies; in government, to control, coerce, and redistribute. To work in business one must study engineering or finance and accounting. To work in government, one may study sociology or earn a major in any number of social justice-oriented “studies.”

What is the result of California’s Democratic lawmakers, in overwhelming numbers, lacking any experience in business? A state where financial realism is eclipsed by confrontational, utopian fantasy. A state where self-righteousness and self-deception are the currency of governance, instead of factual analysis and hard choices. A state where the infectious optimism that defines and is a prerequisite for business leadership is absent from a dismal capital.

Republicans can offer an irresistible alternative. They can promote abundance instead of scarcity; prosperity instead of an “era of limits;” hope and opportunity instead of resentment, retribution and redistribution; universal upward mobility instead of divisive scrapping for diminishing wealth.

They need to get busy.

Edward Ring co-founded the California Policy Center in 2010 and served as its president through 2016. This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

Will Top-Two Primary Provide Typical Wacky Results?

VotingWith less than a week to go before voting closes in California’s June primary, political insiders’ attention is riveted on the endless range of possible outcomes that are a function of the three-dimensional political chess game we call the Open Primary.

Big Bang’s Sheldon Cooper, while likely considering all this child’s play, might be amused, if not fascinated, by developments in the closing days of the campaign that include, but are by no means limited to, the following.

In the race for governor, ads for the Democratic frontrunner are aimed at driving Republican voters into the arms of the Republican frontrunner, with the hope of avoiding a Democrat versus Democrat fall face off.  Ads for the Democratic runner up in current polling are aimed at driving Republican voters in the opposite direction, with the hope of achieving a Democrat versus Democrat general election match-up.

In the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Democrats assert that a few pick-ups in California are essential to regain a majority.  Toward that end they have unloaded on the order of four million dollars on Republican contenders in three Congressional districts that the Democrats have consistently tagged as toss ups, ignoring the vote history in both.  Having boasted that they could win these historically Republican seats, they will suffer an embarrassing setback if one or more of them wind up with Republicans taking the top two spots for the fall.

To the pols in Washington who have no real understanding of California, the tumult of our top two primary season has undoubtedly confirmed their view that this is a certifiably wacky place.  But, irrespective of how wacky the outcomes will be next Tuesday compared with what a traditional closed primary would have produced, good old Will Rogers must be laughing in his resting place.

More than a year ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced with some fanfare that it was deploying a platoon of at least eight staffers from Washington to Irvine to help capture the five southern California House seats where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump for President. This notwithstanding the fact that no Democrat other than Clinton has ever carried any of those districts.

That high profile effort clearly inflamed the passions of would-be Democratic Members of Congress and produced a bounty of candidates who, it became evident at some point, could wind up splitting the collective Democratic vote into so many pieces that the top two vote getters turn out to be Republicans.

Whether the Democrats’ effort also inflamed the passions of voters in those districts we will know next week. If it did, the Party’s strategy will be proved brilliant. If it didn’t, we come back to Will Rogers and his confession more than 80 years ago that “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

The California Target Book will host a comprehensive Post Primary Analysis and Look Ahead to November the afternoon of Monday, June 11 in Sacramento. For details and to register please visit CaliforniaTargetBook.com.

ublisher of the California Target Book and USC professor.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily