3 Free-Market Bills Worth Watching in April Committee Rush
Former Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy said it best. When speaking about his time in the Legislature, he said, “I’m not a lawmaker. I’m a Republican!”
When I worked in the Legislature, I used to always joke that my fellow Republican staff and I had one busy month a year – April.
April is the heart of “committee season” at the State Capitol. Every bill that is introduced this year has to be approved by the policy committee to which it is assigned by roughly the end of the month. It usually involves marathon committee hearings, and legislators having to be in 3 places at once as they present their own bills and hear others as committee members.
Naturally, given the Democratic dominance in Sacramento, most Republican bills are blocked in committee during April.
During the frantic final days of the legislative session in August, I would always laugh with my Republican colleagues when we’d see our Democrat friends running around the Capitol. They still had dozens of bills to worry about, while ours were sent to the political graveyard months earlier.
As we begin the April committee rush, media coverage is dominated by the various proposals pushed by majority Democrats, such as outlawing the sale of gas-powered cars or enacting single-payer healthcare.
But there are some pro-freedom bills on the agenda this month. Here are three free-market oriented bills that – though the odds are stacked against them – are worth watching this month.
- Tax Relief for Californians – PRI’s scholars have written on this blog many times in the past just how overtaxed Californians truly are. Just as individuals and employers are enjoying a little tax relief thanks to President Trump, a pair of Democrats have even proposed a bill to double the corporate income tax this year. Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) has proposed legislation to finally give Californians some state tax relief. His bill would lower state income tax rates for the middle class, reduce the franchise tax for small businesses, and double the state homeowners tax exemption.
- Protecting Free Speech on Campus – My colleague Lance Izumi recently wrote on this blog about the battle over free speech on California’s campuses. Freedom of speech is one of principles upon which this country was founded, and state government simply must do more to protect the freedom of California’s college students to express themselves. Assemblymen Kevin Kiley and Bill Quirk have joined together to do just that, introducing a bipartisan bill to reaffirm the right of free speech on our state college campuses and teach more about the history of the First Amendment.
- More Freedom to Work – PRI’s Wayne Winegarden has written in the past about how outdated occupational licensing laws are making it difficult for more individuals to make a living in these regulated fields. Assemblyman Randy Voepel has introduced long-overdue legislation that would put the state on the path toward occupational licensing reform. His bill would ensure that licensing requirements are based on protecting health and safety, rather than government putting the thumb on the scale in favor of the status quo.
The Cato Institute has ranked California 49th in the nation for overall freedom. Instead of growing government, let’s hope lawmakers join together this month to give Californians a little bit more freedom.
Tim Anaya is communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.