They’re Back – The Legislature Starts Final Month of 2018 Session Today


For me, there was perhaps no scarier movie as a kid growing up in the 1980’s than the classic “Poltergeist”.  The most iconic moment of the film is when the little girl screams out to her parents, “They’re Back!”

Today is a good day to play that clip again and for every California taxpayer to remember how frightened we were when watching that movie and the little girl’s warning.

The California Legislature is back for the final month of its 2018 session, and there’s lots of unfinished business for lawmakers as they race to pass legislation before the August 31st deadline.

Here’s a preview of some of the issues at the top of the Legislature’s agenda this month.  Depending on your point of view, you’ll either cheer or run to hide under the covers!

  • Thwarting Working Freedom – Following the landmark Janus ruling, public employee unions are pushing back. As Kerry Jackson recently wrote, union allies have introduced several measures to try and blunt the ruling’s impact on them.  These measures would collective make it very difficult for disaffected union members to exercise their freedom and quit the union.  
  • Online Sports Betting – As I wrote recently, lawmakers are rushing to try and pave the way for sports betting following a May Supreme Court ruling. Government wants to get its hands on tax revenue generated by a $150 billion per year industry.  Assemblyman Adam Gray has introduced a constitutional amendment to legalize California sports betting, but many issues still must be resolved, such as where sports betting can take place (i.e. tribal casinos or race tracks). 
  • Single-Payer Health Care – With the rise of Democratic socialist movement, are “establishment” Democrats feeling the heat from extreme progressives on single-payer? Speaker Rendon has commendably bottled up SB 562, the single-payer health care bill.  It’s unclear whether nervous Democrats looking over their left shoulders may capitulate to pass some government health care bill before facing voters.
  • 100 Percent Renewables – PRI’s Kerry Jackson has written extensively about SB 100, costly and unworkable legislation to move California toward a 100 percent renewable energy standard by 2045. The bill stalled last year, but recently cleared a key Assembly committee in July.  This bill – along with a Brown administration proposal to create a regional power grid – will be hotly debated this month.  Both bills are very controversial and their prospects for passage uncertain. 
  • Soda Taxes – Feelings are still raw at the State Capitol after the beverage industry flexed their muscles and saw a 12-year moratorium on local soda taxes Two questions remain – will angry lawmakers try and seek retribution on the industry and will there be a push for a statewide soda tax instead?  
  • Gutting California’s Bail System – We’ve written about Senate Bill 10 to gut California’s cash bail system in California and muzzle Dog the Bounty Hunter and his fellow bail agents. Various interests have been trying to negotiate a compromise since last year.  Ending cash bail is high on the wish list of extreme progressive groups.  Given the current hot political climate on criminal justice issues, expect something to pass and land on Gov. Brown’s desk. 
  • Jerry’s Last Hurrah – Despite his disdain for discussing his “legacy,” this is Gov. Jerry Brown’s final end-of-legislative session. Among Gov. Brown’s unfinished business is a $400 million annual tax increase he’s proposing to fund an overhaul of the state 911 system.  It’s unclear after passing a gas tax increase and Cap-and-Trade if majority lawmakers will pass another tax hike right before facing voters.  Another item on Brown’s to-do list is his pet Delta tunnels project – can he push through any last-minute legislative maneuvers to make its construction more likely?

Tim Anaya is the communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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