California considers lower taxes on legal pot to compete with black market

Alarmed that California’s fledgling legal marijuana industry is being undercut by the black market, a group of lawmakers proposed Thursday to reduce state taxes for three years on growing and selling cannabis to allow licensed sellers to get on their feet.

With many California license holders claiming they can’t compete because of high state and local taxes, the new legislation would cut the state excise tax from 15% to 11% and suspend a cultivation tax that charges $148 per pound.

“Criminals do not pay business taxes, ensure consumers are 21 and over, obtain licenses or follow product safety regulations,” said Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), one of five legislators pushing the bill. “We need to give legal businesses some temporary tax relief so they do not continue to be undercut by the black market.”

California voters approved the 15% tax when they passed Proposition 64 in 2016, allowing legal growing, distribution and sales of marijuana for recreational use and requiring state licenses for the continued sale of pot for medical purposes. License holders began growing and selling pot on Jan. 1. …

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

Appeals Court Upholds Texas Ban On Sanctuary Cities

A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld the bulk of Texas’ crackdown on “sanctuary cities” in a victory for the Trump administration as part of its aggressive fight against measures seen as protecting immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans allows Texas to enforce what critics call the toughest state-level immigration measure since Arizona passed what critics called a “Show Me Your Papers” law in 2010.

The law allows police officers to ask people during routine stops whether they’re in the U.S. legally and threatens sheriffs with jail time for not cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The ruling comes a week after the U.S. Justice Department — which had joined Texas in defending the law known as Senate Bill 4 — sued California over state laws aimed at protecting immigrants.

“Dangerous criminals shouldn’t be allowed back into our communities to possibly commit more crimes,” Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in response to the decision. …

Click here to read the full article from CBS

Trump receives mixed welcome in visit to California-Mexico border

A mix of protesters and supporters greeted President Donald Trump on Tuesday during his first visit to the California-Mexico border since taking office.

There he inspected prototypes for his promised “big, beautiful border wall.”

Hundreds of people, on both sides of the border participated in rallies – cheering, booing and waving Mexican and American flags as rows of police acted as barriers while Trump’s motorcade sped down the road.

U.S. Army veteran and Trump voter Mark Prieto, 48, shook his head as he walked past protesters.

“People are so narrow-minded,” the firefighter told AP. “Finally we have someone who is putting America first.”

Despite the Trump administration’s near-constant battles with California state officials, and the recent Department of Justice lawsuit against the state over its immigration policies, the president’s visit was, for the most part, peaceful. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

L.A. Rolls Out The Unwelcome Mat For Trump

President Donald Trump will be met with protesters when he makes his first visit as president to the Los Angeles area Tuesday, and police said they are prepared to respond to any troubles.

“We are working with all of our local and federal partners to ensure that all security safeguards are in place for the president’s visit, both along his route of travel and at the locations where events will take place,” Los Angeles Police Department Detective Meghan Aguilar said. “We are not aware of any threats against the president’s safety.”

Aguilar said the president’s travel route, details of which are never fully disclosed for security reasons, will be set by the U.S. Secret Service. Local police generally issue an advisory to the public to alert motorists about areas to avoid during presidential visits, but those details have not yet been determined.

Trump is scheduled to fly into Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego County at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, then head to Otay Mesa to view the 30- foot-tall border wall prototypes that have been erected there. …

Click here to read the full article from the SoCal Patch

Trump’s repeat attacks on Maxine Waters’s IQ are familiar

Congressional Black Caucus Holds Press Conference On Stimulus BillJabs between President Trump and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) aren’t new. But Trump’s latest comments are a reminder of how often he will go out of his way to personally attack the black women who challenge him.

The liberal lawmaker has been one of the most vocal critics in Congress of the president’s policies and made comments deeming him unfit for office before he entered the White House.

But while campaigning for Rick Saccone, a Pennsylvania state legislator running for Congress, the president directed his attention toward the West Coast politician.

“Did you ever see her? Did you ever see her? ‘We will impeach him. We will impeach the president,’ ” Trump told the crowd.

” ‘It doesn’t matter, we will impeach him.’ She’s a low-IQ individual,” he added. “You can’t help it.”

Waters told the crowd at the California Democratic Convention last month that “it is time to get ready for impeachment,” based on the latest updates from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia. …

Click here to read the full article from the Washington Post

Senate fellow harassment shows how bad Sacramento culture was

One of the most dramatic moments in the far-reaching fallout from last fall’s revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s appalling history of sexual misconduct came on Oct. 16 with the release of a letter signed by more than 140 women who worked or had worked in Sacramento. The letter condemned a state Capitol in which men “leveraged their power and positions” to create a culture in which sexual harassment was taken for granted — all but a routine part of the job.

One claim that really illustrated the scope of the problem was the case of a 23-year-old aspiring legislative staffer who worked last year for then-state Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, as part of the California Senate Fellows program, which is run in partnership with Sacramento State University. The woman told David Pacheco, director of the fellows program since 2005, that Mendoza had invited her to his home on at least two occasions to “review résumés” and had invited her to come to his hotel room. But the Sacramento Bee reported in November that instead of Pacheco notifying officials at Sacramento State of this awful conduct — as required by university policy — he advised the fellow not to take immediate action to leave the office and noted that she may yet get a job with Mendoza.

This is stomach-turning. Instead of acting decisively to protect a young woman in his charge, Pacheco’s first instinct was not just to look away from gross behavior by Mendoza toward the woman but to see a situation where she went to work for the lawmaker as something positive. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Diego Union-Tribune

California bullet train plan to show higher cost, timeline

California’s bullet train project will likely require more time and money to complete than last estimated, but its new chief executive is promising more transparency with the public about its challenges.

“It’s going to be bumpy,” said Brian Kelly, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “What’s important to me is you hear that from us.”

The rail authority on Friday will release its latest business plan, a biennial snapshot of building timelines, cost estimates and other critical details about the ambitious plan to transport people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under three hours.

It will be the first plan since Kelly took over the project in February after leading the state’s transportation agency and comes on the heels of a nearly $3 billion cost increase on a segment of track underway in the Central Valley and repeated delays.

The last plan put the estimated cost at $64 billion, with a train running between the two major cities by 2029. …

Click here to read the full article from the Union Democrat

SF judge orders first-ever hearing on climate change science

A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered parties in a landmark global warming lawsuit to hold what could be the first-ever U.S. court hearing on the science of climate change.

The proceeding, scheduled for March 21 by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, will feature lawyers for Exxon, BP, Chevron and other oil companies pitted against those for San Francisco and Oakland — California cities that have accused fossil fuel interests of covering up their role in contributing to global warming.

“This will be the closest that we have seen to a trial on climate science in the United States, to date,” said Michael Burger, a lawyer who heads the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

Experts on both sides say Alsup’s call for a climate change “tutorial” is unlike anything they’ve heard of before. …

Click here to read the full article from McClatchy

Becerra loses yet another court case against Trump

A federal judge has turned down a request from the state of California to put an immediate stop to enforcement of a key part of the Trump administration policy aimed at punishing so-called sanctuary cities and other jurisdictions seeking to protect undocumented immigrants.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick did not rule out eventually deciding the case in the state’s favor and, at times in the 28-page opinion he issued Monday, he sounded sympathetic to many of the state’s arguments about Attorney General Jeff Session’s stated plans to enforce a 1996 law aimed at requiring local and state officials to cooperate with requests for information about the citizenship and immigration status of individuals they encounter.

However, Orrick said many of the legal issues involved were murky and did not tip so clearly in favor of the state as to warrant a preliminary injunction blocking the Justice Department from using the two-decade-old law known as Section 1373 to deny certain federal grants to localities and states seen to be in violation of the federal law. …

Click here to read the full article from Politico

Bay Area leaders pledge millions to protect undocumented immigrants in court

San Francisco interim Mayor Mark Farrell announced Thursday that the city plans to pay for legal representation of any immigrant that the Trump administration tries to deport.

On Thursday, ICE announced 232 arrests in Northern California in a four-day period.

Farrell spoke at Carecen, an immigrant rights organization in the Mission District, where he made the announcement alongside Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and Supervisor Hillary Ronen. He said his goal is to make sure every single immigrant that the Trump administration tries to deport has legal representation in immigration court.

“We are in unprecedented territory here,” Farrell said. “He is targeting our immigrant community, here in San Francisco. We’re not going to stand for that.”

Farrell and Assemblyman Phil Ting are partnering together to advocate for $7 million in state funding. The city will spend an additional $3.5 million annually on legal defense services, bringing the total annual amount to $11.1 million. That represents a 236-percent increase from spending levels two year prior.  …

Click here to read the full article from KTVU