Congressman introduces ‘Libby Schaaf Act’ to criminalize immigration raid warnings

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has a new bill in Congress named after her — but it’s not one she’s likely to support.

Rep. Steve King, a firebrand conservative Republican from Iowa, announced what he’s calling the “Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018” on Monday, in an attempt to make it illegal for public officials to warn of upcoming immigration sweeps.

It’s the latest move by national Republicans — including President Donald Trump — to target the Oakland mayor for her decision in February to issue a public warning about immigration raids in the Bay Area. Under King’s bill, state and local government officials who purposefully “broadcast” information relating to “any imminent action by a federal law enforcement officer or agent” would be guilty of obstruction of justice and could face up to five years in prison, as well as a fine.

Schaaf said she received information about the upcoming raids through “credible sources” and felt an ethical obligation to share it with her constituents. Then-head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan claimed that Schaaf’s tip-off led to 800 undocumented immigrants with criminal records avoiding capture — although an ICE spokesman resigned over that claim, calling it “misleading.”

While King’s bill doesn’t specifically target immigration enforcement, the congressman said in a statement that he saw it as an effort to fight back against officials supporting sanctuary policies. ..

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

Jerry Brown signs bill preventing disclosure of immigration status in court

Pushing back against mounting criticism of California’s sanctuary policies, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a bill placing strict limits on the disclosure of a person’s immigration status in open court.

Approved in the Senate with bipartisan support last week, Senate Bill 785 was introduced in response to news reports of ICE agents tracking down undocumented immigrants in courthouses across the country. It takes aim at a tactic that advocates say is keeping many immigrants from testifying in court, reporting crimes or simply showing up to pay a ticket.

“Our courthouses should be places of justice, not places where immigrants are threatened with deportation,” said Senator Scott Wiener, one of the bill’s authors, in a statement Thursday. “This law makes everyone in our community safer by ensuring that witnesses and victims of crime are not afraid to report crimes, go to court, and hold criminals accountable.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment. …

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

San Luis Obispo prepares marijuana business tax measure

Marijuana StoreThe San Luis Obispo City Council formally adopted an ordinance allowing marijuana businesses on Tuesday and then proceeded with preparations to place a cannabis business tax measure on the November ballot. [Cal Coast Times]

San Luis Obispo’s new ordinance allows up to three brick and mortar pot shops to open in the city. The ordinance, a first of its kind in SLO County, permits both medical and recreational marijuana businesses, which include delivery services and some types of pot manufacturing, in addition to brick and mortar shops.

However, the ordinance contains a provision stating marijuana business operations will not be allowed in the city until voters approve a cannabis business tax. The city’s proposed tax initiative would consist of a gross receipts tax of up to 10 percent and a cultivation tax of up to $10 per canopy square foot.

Gross receipts pot taxes are assessed at every stage of marijuana production, including retail sales, testing, manufacturing and distribution. Cultivation taxes are assessed based on the size of the pot canopy or the growers’ license issued by the state.

The city’s proposed rates reflect the maximum allowable pot tax rates under California’s new marijuana regulatory scheme. At least initially, San Luis Obispo officials plan to keep the rates lower than the maximums.

Under the proposed initiative, the city council would hold the power to adjust the city’s pot business tax rates. City staff estimates the proposed taxes could raise an estimated $1.5 million a year.

If the city voters approve the initiative, the two taxes would be levied on top of an existing state gross receipts tax of 15 percent and a cultivation tax of up to $9.25 an ounce. …

Click here to read the full article from calcoastnews.com

Taxing California: Highest in the nation and unstable, too

California’s major revenue sources have shifted over time. Until 1995, the biggest was property taxes. Today, it’s personal income taxes.

And California ranks fairly high in overall taxation: 10th highest both per capita and as a percentage of personal income, based on the latest available data from the U.S. Census.

In 2015, state and local governments collected $228.7 billion in taxes, including property, sales, personal and corporate income levies and a few others, according to the census. That’s in a state with more than 39 million residents and personal income worth nearly $2 trillion that year.

California’s taxes have risen in ranking partly because of voter-approved increases. In November 2012, the state passed a temporary hike in sales taxes of 0.25 percent and raised personal income taxes on the rich. Four years later, voters extended the income tax increase for 12 more years.

State tax

Gov. Brown and lawmakers also approved a 12-cent gas-tax hike in 2017 to help raise $5 billion a year for aging infrastructure. The measure includes increasing the annual vehicle fee between $25 and $175, depending on the vehicle’s value. …

Click here to read the full article from the Los Angeles Daily News

SDSU to keep Aztec name following racially and politically charged debate

San Diego State University will keep the word Aztec as its nickname but create a more culturally sensitive version of its mascot in a decision that reflects nearly 20 years of racially charged debate about how the school treats indigenous people.

The Aztec Warrior … will be retained, but as Spirit Leader, not mascot,” interim SDSU President Sally Roush told the Union-Tribune on Thursday.

“We just expect a much more dignified and appropriate demeanor from that person. You won’t see the Aztec Warrior doing pushups in the endzone. You won’t see the Aztec Warrior dancing with the cheerleaders.”

Her action is part of a larger movement in the United States in which everyone from small high schools to large universities to Major League Baseball teams have tweaked or dropped nicknames and mascots that were regarded as culturally unacceptable. …

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

California’s wildfire reality needs this new plan

A wildfire rages in Buck Meadows, in the Yosemite National ParkWildfires in California, which for the first time in living memory know no season — the state is dry at all times of the year — are vastly different from the old notion of “forest” fires in mostly unpopulated places.

That’s why a fresh initiative out of Sacramento in Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revision of his budget forecast is right to include $96 million in new annual spending, from various funding sources, to support up-to-date firefighting that acknowledges new climate and exurban-growth realities. That modest but important spending will come in addition to $160 million proposed in January to use money from the environmental cap-and-trade funds on timberland-management improvements and fire protection in state and national forests.

Forest fires of what can now be thought of as the old-fashioned, Smokey Bear variety, do indeed still occur, often in remote wilderness areas of California’s many mountain ranges, often sparked by old-fashioned causes such as lightning. And they still need to be fought, or at least monitored. In fact, because of increased dryness and ever-vaster fires throughout the nation’s West, almost the entire budget of the United States Forest Service in recent years has been devoted to fighting wildfires.

But think back to the most recent devastating fires of several months back in California — they were not exactly in the Sierra Nevada.

October’s wine country wildfires in the end became the most financially harmful in our state’s history, with insurance claims of almost $10 billion. The state Insurance Department says that means the several related fires centered in Sonoma and Napa counties went past those in the suburban Oakland Hills fire of 1991 to become the most expensive every in California. …

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

November initiative would give baby boomers huge property tax break

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image14115451Older California residents who buy pricier homes could save thousands of dollars in property taxes under an initiative that has qualified for the statewide November ballot.

The initiative – backed by the California Association of Realtors – would change a key provision of Proposition 13, the state’s 40-year-old property tax law that ties a home’s assessed value to its sales price and caps the property tax rate at 1 percent of that value.

Under the initiative, people over the age of 55 moving within the state could pay property taxes based on the sales price of the home they are leaving.

For example, if a resident sells his or her home for $400,000 in Sacramento and then buys a condo in San Francisco for $1 million, their property tax rate would be discounted thanks to the lower Sacramento home value. In that instance, if the resident’s Sacramento assessed value was $200,000, the formula would result in a San Francisco assessed value of $800,000 on the $1 million condo, 20 percent less than it would be otherwise. …’

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Trump Rails Against California Sanctuary Policies

President Donald Trump on Wednesday hammered California for its so-called sanctuary immigration policies, in what appeared to be his latest push to embolden his base leading into the midterm elections.

As the debate over immigration heats up on Capitol Hill, Trump surrounded himself with mayors, sheriffs and other local leaders from California who oppose the state’s immigration policies and who applauded his administration’s hard-line efforts.

“This is your Republican resistance right here against what they’re doing in California,” said California Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, coopting a term used by Democrats opposed to Trump’s presidency. She, like others, said the president and his policies were far more popular in the state than people realize.

“It’s a crisis,” Melendez said of the situation.

They were responding to legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year that bars police from asking people about their immigration status or helping federal agents with immigration enforcement. Jail officials can transfer inmates to federal immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one of about 800 crimes, mostly felonies, but not for minor offenses. …

Click here to read the full article from NBC Los Angeles

Jerry Brown to Leave Office With $13.5 Billion Rainy Day Fund

California Gov. Jerry Brown has submitted his May revised 2018-2019 budget, which indicates he will leave office in January with the maximum $13.5 billion rainy-day fund.

Brown, a liberal Democrat, has complained that no politician should face the type of catastrophic financial crisis he inherited when he returned at age 72 on January 3, 2011 for his third term as the state’s chief executive officer.

At the time, outgoing Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finance department was forecasting a $28.5 billion deficit over the next 18 months and California had been already been downgraded by to the lowest credit rating of any state in the nation.

Most political observers thought Brown might be the worst possible California governor for the crisis, given that after being termed out of office after eight years in 1983, he left newly elected Republican Gov. George Deukmejian with what was considered at the time a hellacious budget deficit of $1.5 billion. …

Click here to read the full article from Breitbart.com/California

Gov. Jerry Brown’s last budget grows to $199 billion

Gov. Jerry Brown is using a surging, $8.8 billion surplus in his 16th and final year leading the state to stash billions of dollars in reserves.

He wants to put almost all of the additional money — $7.6 billion of it — into two reserve funds that combined would hold $17 billion a year from now if trends hold.

He warned at a press conference Friday where he unveiled his final budget for the 2018-19 financial year that a recession could be just around the corner and the state should avoid long-term commitments that it might not be able to afford in a downturn.

“This is a time to save for our future, not to make pricey promises we can’t keep. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Let’s not blow it now,” Brown said.

His plans calls for $137.6 billion in general fund spending and $199.3 billion in total spending. Those sums reflect the dramatic turnaround in the state’s fortunes since Brown took office in the throes of a recession eight years ago. …

Click here to read the full article from the Modesto Bee