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Ballot measure fee to rise from $200 to $2000

It’s about to get a lot more expensive to submit a proposed ballot measure in California.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill by Assemblymen Evan Low, D-Campbell, and Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, that raises the fee for submitting a ballot measure from $200 to $2,000, effective Jan. 1, 2016. AB 1100 is freshman Low’s first bill to be signed into law.

“It has been over 72 years since this aspect of the initiative process has been updated. This reform is overdue,” Low said in a news release. “We live in California, the cradle of direct democracy, but we also need a threshold for reasonableness. And this bill will do just that.”

The $200 fee was established in 1943 to deter frivolous proposals and to cover some of the costs of analyzing and processing initiatives, but that’s not a lot of money today. Low’s office said $200 today is the equivalent of $14.80 in 1943 dollars.

The bill was inspired in part by the submission in March of a “Sodomite Suppression Act” that if enacted would’ve required the state to execute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled the proposal unconstitutional and it has been removed from consideration for next year’s ballot, but critics called for reform of the ballot initiative process nonetheless.

“If a proposal makes it to the ballot, the $2,000 fee would be refunded to the proponent,” Low noted. “If a proponent feels strongly about a measure, a true grassroots campaign will find the means to pay the filing fee and get their proposal on the ballot.”

Critics insist the bill raises a barrier for ordinary Californians to engage in the process.

“Direct democracy is a citizen’s right – a cornerstone of the checks and balances of democracy that have been protected passionately in California,” state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said in a news release. “Raising the fee by 900 percent is cost prohibitive.”

Only the state’s elite political class will be able to put their ideas on the ballot, he said: “Elected officials should increase voter participation, not discourage it.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, Evan Low | No Comments »

Gov. Jerry Brown creates cybersecurity center

Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order Monday to bolster California’s preparedness for cyber-attacks which could disrupt the Golden State’s economy and infrastructure or violate residents’ privacy and lead to identity theft.

The order directs the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to create a California Cybersecurity Integration Center (Cal-CSIC), responsible for strengthening the state’s cybersecurity strategy and improving inter-agency, cross-sector coordination to reduce the likelihood and severity of cyber-attacks.

The new Cal-CSIC will work closely with the California State Threat Assessment System and the U.S Department of Homeland Security to improve information sharing between local, state and federal agencies, tribal governments, utilities and other service providers, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

Cal-CSIC will also establish a multi-agency Cyber Incident Response Team to serve as the state’s primary unit to lead cyber threat detection, reporting, and response in coordination with public and private entities across the state.

Posted on Monday, August 31st, 2015
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

State Sen. Steve Glazer to be sworn in. (Again.)

The Bay Area’s newest lawmaker will be sworn in this week. Again.

Steve GlazerState Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, in May defeated fellow Democrat Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla won the special election to succeed Mark DeSaulnier, who was elected to Congress last November.

Glazer was officially sworn in by Gov. Jerry Brown at the State Capitol on May 28, and has cast dozens of votes since. But his in-district ceremonial swearing-in is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, Aug. 27 in the Danville Veterans Memorial Building, 400 Hartz Ave. Former Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, will administer the oath of office and Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson will serve as master of ceremonies.

The event is open to 7th State Senate District residents.To RSVP, contact Glazer’s district office at 925-942-6082 or senator.glazer@senate.ca.gov.

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, steve glazer | 1 Comment »

Go talk to your congressman

With only two weeks left in Congress’ summer recess, there are still a few chances to see and be heard by your lawmaker.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, has several events coming up. First, I’ll moderate a Commonwealth Club of California discussion with him at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25 in the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Tickets cost $12 for club members, $20 for non-members or $7 for students, and are available online.

DeSaulnier also is continuing his series of free, public town-hall meetings as well. The remaining three are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 26 in the Harding Elementary School auditorium, 7230 Fairmount Avenue in El Cerrito; Wednesday, Sept. 2 in the Orinda Library Auditorium, 26 Orinda Way; and Thursday, Sept. 3 in the Clayton Library’s Hoyer Hall, 6125 Clayton Road. All three will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, will host a town hall forum on Social Security at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25 in the Florence Douglas Senior Center, 333 Amador St. in Vallejo. Special guests will include Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and Sandy Goodman, District Manager of the Vallejo Social Security Administration field office.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, will host a California drought solutions forum from 10 to noon Tuesday, Aug. 25, in the San Joaquin County Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center, 2101 E. Earhart Ave. in Stockton. Open to the public, the forum will feature experts and voices that include farmers, water technology innovators, policy makers, federal and state government, academia, and others.

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2015
Under: Jerry McNerney, Mark DeSaulnier, Mike Thompson, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Jerry Brown on Hillary’s emails: ‘Like a vampire’

California Gov. Jerry Brown called Hillary Clinton’s email controversy “a vampire” that she’ll have to stake through the heart, in an interview Friday with NBC News “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.

Jerry Brown on Meet the Press (NBC NEWS)In a segment that will air Sunday, Todd noted that Brown in March had cautioned that the email problem might not go away on its own, and asked what Clinton should be doing better to deal with it now.

“Well, I don’t know,” Brown replied. “This email thing, it has kind of a mystique to it. You know, an email is just an utterance in digital form. But it has some kind of dark energy that gets everybody excited. So I don’t know how.

“It’s almost like a vampire,” the governor continued. “She’s going to have to find a stake and put it right through the heart of these emails in some way. But I don’t think a leading candidate for president needs the advice of another politician. Generally they don’t follow it, and I think they know everything I can figure out on their own.”

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Gov. Jerry Brown, Hillary Clinton, Jerry Brown | 9 Comments »

Jerry Brown on Donald Trump: ‘Oh, my God.’

Asked Wednesday what he thought of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign tactics, California Gov. Jerry Brown replied with a pained, “Oh, my God.”

Jerry Brown in Oakland 8-19-15 (photo by Anda Chu)But Brown, questioned during an Oakland news conference on transportation funding, acknowledged The Donald is bringing a lot of attention to the GOP presidential field.

“I did watch that debate from beginning to end,” he said. “I did think that when he raised his hand and said ‘I might run as an independent,’ I think there are very few politicians who would do that.”

Pressed for more opinion on Trump’s trademark bluster – which in recent weeks has involved insulting Mexicans immigrants, prisoners of war, his GOP rivals, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and (obliquely) most voters’ intelligence – Brown replied, “I think you need to dial it back.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had opined Monday that if Hillary Clinton’s email woes continue to build, other Democrats might choose to enter the race – including Brown. Brown said Wednesday he’s “flattered by what Mr. Gingrich said, but I wouldn’t look to him” for prognostications of candidacy.

Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 8 Comments »

Where Bay Area lawmakers stand on the Iran deal

As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi continues rolling out Democratic supporters one by one, almost half of the Bay Area’s House delegation has not yet committed to support or oppose the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran.

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have said they’ll vote for the agreement, as have Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and representatives Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin; Sam Farr, D-Carmel; and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.

Most recently on the bandwagon are Swalwell and Farr, both Wednesday, and then Speier on Friday. Speier said in her statement that this is “one of the most important votes I will ever cast.

Jackie Speier“To come to this decision I attended scores of hearings, classified briefings, and met with U.S. allies, my Republican and Democratic colleagues, foreign policy experts, nongovernmental groups, the military and intelligence communities, and my constituents. I also met with the President for over two hours to discuss this deal,” she said.

“As President Kennedy once urged, we must pursue ‘a more practical, more attainable peace, based… on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned.’ This deal, like those Kennedy pursued with the Soviet Union, is a first step away from catastrophe,” Speier said. “So as he said, ‘Let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable and war need not be inevitable.’ ”

No Bay Area members of Congress have come out against the deal, but five still aren’t ready to say where they stand: Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.

“It’s my first big, consequential foreign policy vote, so I wanted to avail myself to learn as much as I could,” DeSaulnier said Friday, adding that while he sees no need to rush the decision during this month-long recess, “I’m leaning very much to support the president’s agreement.”

Mark DeSaulnierHe said has met both with President Obama in Washington, and then with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his recent trip to Israel with other Democratic House freshmen. “I promised both sides I would listen to them.”

And he said he’s reserving final judgment until after he completes five town-hall meetings he has scheduled for constituents over the next few weeks. In fact, he’s dedicating the second half of his first such meeting – 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18 in the community room at Pleasant Hill Middle School, 1 Santa Barbara Road in Pleasant Hill – to this issue.

Honda spokeswoman Lauren Smith said Thursday her boss “is continuing to meet with people and get input and feedback, as well as fully considering all of the details of the deal. He will make a decision once he has collected all pertinent information.”

Lofgren’s chief of staff, Stacey Leavandosky, said Thursday her boss “is currently studying the agreement, meeting with constituents about it as well as hearing from Administration officials.”

McNerney spokesman Mike Naple said Thursday his boss “is still reviewing the agreement and hasn’t made a decision yet.”

And Huffman spokesman Paul Arden referred to his boss’s July 15 statement, in which he had said that “while I will vote based on the merits of the agreement, Iran’s credibility and trustworthiness are also considerations.”

UPDATE @ 1 P.M. THURSDAY 8/20: Mike Honda has just announced that he supports the deal.

UPDATE @ 2:55 P.M. THURSDAY 8/20: And now Jerry McNerney is on board, too.

UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M. FRIDAY 8/21: Lofgren now says she will vote in favor of the deal.

Posted on Friday, August 14th, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Swalwell, Iran, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, Mark DeSaulnier, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Sam Farr, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 12 Comments »

Jerry Brown enters the presidential debate fray

California Gov. Jerry Brown threw himself into the presidential debate fray Wednesday morning by pressing the Republican candidates to describe their plans to deal with the threat of climate change.

Jerry BrownBrown wrote an open letter to the 17 candidates and also submitted his question using the “Debate Uploader” on the Fox News Facebook page, through which members of the public can send queries for Thursday’s debates in Cleveland.

“Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here – and here to stay. This is the new normal. The climate is changing,” Brown wrote in his letter. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

“Continuing to question the science and hurl insults at ‘global warming hoaxers’ and ‘apostles of this pseudo-religion’ [ed. note: Rick Santorum’s words] won’t prevent severe damage to our health and economic well-being,” Brown continued. “Americans, their children and generations to come deserve – and demand – better.”

Brown then describes California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and details efforts by Republicans – including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and current presidential candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki – who’ve dealt with the issue head-on.

“And lest you think this movement is limited to Democrats and only embraced within our borders, the conservatives in England, the moderates in Germany, and even the communists in China are on board,” he added. “As the fires continue to burn here in California, don’t wait for the smoke to clear. It’s time to act.”

Brown issued an executive order earlier this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America, and part of California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. Last month, he attended a Vatican symposium on climate change and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, both as part of his work to build cooperation between cities, states and provinces on climate-change pacts.

Posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 4 Comments »

Good news for California beer & spirits lovers

There’s good news from Sacramento this week for Californians who enjoy a sip of this or a shot of that.

beer tastingGov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed into law AB 774 by Assemblyman Marc Levine, which will allow limited beer tastings at certified farmers’ markets.

“This bill recognizes that at farmers’ markets brewers meet consumers face-to-face and build a relationship,” Levine, D-San Rafael. “AB 774 allows tastings where brewers are already selling their products at certified farmers’ markets.”

The new law, which also lets nonprofits receive donated beer as items for auction, will give farmers’ market managers full discretion on whether or not to allow beer tastings; limit tastings to one brewery per day per market; allow tastings only in a controlled, cordoned-off area; and limit tastings to eight ounces per adult customer.

Brown one year ago signed Levine’s similar bill to allow wine tastings at farmers’ markets.

Levine also made headway this week with his bill to create a new license for craft distillers so they can sell up to three bottles of distilled spirits per person per day at an instructional tasting; hold private events at the distillery; and have ownership in up to three restaurants. AB 1295 was approved Tuesday by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.

Current state law prevents distillers from selling their products directly to consumers.

“This historic legislation changes Prohibition-era laws for craft distillers to reflect the modern marketplace,” Levine said, letting craft distillers “operate in a similar manner as wineries and breweries under existing law. This bill helps craft distillers to be competitive with large out-of-state distillers. Growth of the craft distillery industry means jobs in our local communities.”

Bottoms up!

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
Under: Assembly, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Assemblyman called on carpet for hearing dustup

Things got so ugly at Wednesday’s Assembly Labor and Employment Committee hearing that a trip to the principal’s office was required.

During the hearing on SB 3, a bill to raise California’s minimum wage again, chairman Roger Hernández, D-Baldwin Hills, cut off a witness and then called for a vote despite vice chairman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, wishing to speak. As Harper continued to object, Hernández first switched off his microphone and then ordered a sergeant-at-arms to remove it.

Committee members Kansen Chu, D-San Jose; Evan Low, D-Campbell; Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento; and Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, didn’t intervene and voted to approve the bill.

“Blocking discussion in this manner is unfair, undemocratic and soils the decorum of the Assembly. I was sent here to represent the concerns of the voters of my district and chairman Hernández shut down my ability to speak for who I represent,” Harper said in a news release. “Our state’s underemployment rate is overwhelming and the bill being rammed through our committee would make it harder to hire. We are sent here to debate policy that impacts the lives of Californians, not shut down dissenting points of view.”

The Assembly Republican Caucus decried the incident as well, calling Hernández’s behavior “spastic”

“Assemblyman Hernández must have forgot that last session he voted in favor of Assembly Bill 2053, to mandate harassment training,” the caucus jabbed in its statement. “Californians elect their representatives to be their voice in Sacramento, and no other members should ever have the ability to strip them of that duty.”

Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, has met with Hernandez, Harper and the GOP leadership about the incident, spokesman John Casey said in an emailed statement Thursday.

“The Speaker believes that all members of the Assembly have the right to ask questions and voice their opinions on legislative matters while in committee and on the floor,” he wrote. “Mr. Hernández acknowledged his oversight to Mr. Harper and expressed regret. The Speaker doesn’t expect any similar incidents to occur going forward.”

Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2015
Under: Assembly, Toni Atkins | 1 Comment »