Judge orders changes to voter guide for property tax measure

A California judge has ordered changes to an election guide mailed to every registered California voter this fall, ruling Wednesday that some arguments opposing a hotly contested property tax initiative are “false or misleading.”

Proposition 15 will ask voters to raise taxes on business properties with a value of $3 million or more. Supporters say the change will generate an additional $12 billion for struggling local government and public school budgets that depend on property taxes for most of their revenue. But opponents say the measure will hurt businesses during a pandemic-induced economic recession that has already cost millions of people their jobs.

The measure would repeal portions of Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 ballot initiative that changed how California assesses property taxes. The law set property taxes for homes, businesses and farmland at 1% of the sales price and limited tax increases at 2% per year. Proposition 15 would let local governments assess the taxable value of some business properties based on their market value at least once every three years. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

California bill would make employers report Covid-19 exposures

A California bill supported by labor unions and opposed by business groups would force employers to quickly notify employees and health officials if a worker is exposed to coronavirus.

Under Assembly Bill 685, sponsored by The California Labor Federation and United Food and Commercial Workers, public or private employers would face fines up to $10,000 for failing to providenotifications of exposure within 24 hours. Failure to provide any of the notifications would be a misdemeanor, under the bill authored by Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) and promoted by Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) and Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

“As the average age of those falling ill from COVID-19 has become younger, it is critical to track workplace exposure and to use that data to find ways to keep workers safe on the job,” the bill says. “With infections and deaths disproportionately high in the Latino, Black, and Asian-Pacific Islander communities, more information about workplace illness and industry clusters can inform policy makers in addressing healthcare disparities and protecting vulnerable workers.”

Existing law fails to make employers’ reporting requirements clear, the bill says. …

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

California may crack down on bad cops in wake of George Floyd’s killing

Just as the California Legislature was adjusting to the new reality of a session reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic, the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day upended it again.

Video of white Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling for nearly nine minutes on Floyd’s neck, killing the unarmed Black man, sparked a national upheaval that has thrust issues of police brutality and misconduct back into the spotlight at the state Capitol.

Dozens of bills before lawmakers could transform policing in California — opening up more personnel records, holding officers liable for not intervening when their colleagues use excessive force, and creating a process to strip police of their badges statewide when they break the law. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Tesla could still leave California, Musk says

Despite winning a standoff with local health officials over reopening his factory, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk is sticking with his threat to move company headquarters to another state.

“There’s no question that our headquarters will remain in California for the short term,” he said in a recent interview with Automotive News. “Long term, we’ll have to wait and see.”

He didn’t specify what he meant by short term and long term, or what might eventually prompt such a move.

Musk’s take-his-ball-elsewhere warnings first came in a May 9 tweet, after Alameda County officials ordered him not to reopen Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant until COVID-19 closure restrictions were lifted. …

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

California sees signs of optimism in controlling coronavirus surge

Three weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a retreat from the coronavirus and reinstated statewide shutdowns for much of the economy, it appears the plan is working: California’s outbreak is showing signs of slowing down.

Newsom rang cautiously optimistic at a news briefing in Sacramento County on Monday, noting that case counts and hospitalizations are dropping for the first time in several weeks. The percentage of people testing positive — a key indicator of the outbreak — is trending down too.

The state continues to see far more disease now than even a month ago, and the death toll is still climbing, public health experts noted. But it appears the decision to pause reopening in much of the state and implore the public to wear face coverings and avoid gatherings is paying off. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

California to let absent lawmakers vote during pandemic

The California Assembly changed its rules on Monday to let lawmakers at high risk for the coronavirus vote on bills without being present in the chamber, defying advice from the Legislature’s own lawyers who say the new rule is likely illegal.

It’s the first time in the state Assembly’s 170-year history that absent lawmakers will be allowed to vote on bills. Assembly leaders say the rule is necessary to protect the health and safety of its members after a coronavirus outbreak last month infected at least six people who work there. One of two lawmakers to get sick was briefly hospitalized.

But critics warn legal challenges could cancel any bills the Legislature passes over the next month as they rush to finish a pandemic-shortened session. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

San Francisco plans to redirect $120 million from law enforcement to Black community

San Francisco officials plan to redirect $120 million over the next two years from the budgets of the police and sheriff’s departments to fund investments in the city’s Black community.

The money is intended as a gesture of reparations for decades of city policymaking that have created or exacerbated deep inequities for San Francisco’s African American residents.

Following George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton pledged in June to shift funding from the city’s Police Department. The nationwide civil rights protests that followed Floyd’s death amplified calls for civic leaders to shift resources from law enforcement agencies to initiatives that improve people’s socioeconomic conditions. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

High court sides with Trump on military funds for wall

The Supreme Court has allowed President Trump to defy Congress and continue to spend more than $6 billion diverted from military funds to pay for the construction of a border wall in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California.

By 5-4 vote, the justices on Friday rebuffed lawyers for the Sierra Club and House Democrats who sued to challenge Trump’s diversion of funds as illegal and unconstitutional.

They won rulings before judges in California and Texas, but in a brief order last summer, the court allowed Trump to continue spending the disputed funds while the litigation continues. …

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

California Tops 500,000 Covid-19 Cases

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California surpassed 500,000 on Friday, and the state set a new record for the number of deaths reported in a single day — troubling milestones that cap months of surging outbreaks across the state.

At least 214 coronavirus-related fatalities were reported Friday, according to a Los Angeles Times tally, the fifth time in July California has broken a single-day record in reported cases, and the third time this week. The record was last broken on Wednesday, when 176 deaths were recorded.

COVID-19 cases have been spiking since late May as California reopened the economy and people got back to old routines. Deaths and hospitalizations have also risen, prompting officials to roll back some reopening measures in hopes of slowing the spread. …

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

Tax hike on California millionaires would create 54% tax rate

A proposal to raise taxes on California millionaires would result in a top tax rate of nearly 54% for federal and state taxes.

Democrats in the California state legislature this week proposed a tax hike on the state’s highest earners to help pay for schools and services hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. Legislators say the tax hike would raise more than $6 billion a year, and would redirect funding from the wealthy to those who have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 crisis.

The plan follows proposals in New York state to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for a widening budget deficit. And it adds to a growing debate over expanding inequality during the pandemic and who should pay the soaring costs to government. …

Click here to read the full article from CNBC.