Nothing is what it seems in CA politics

Aug. 24, 2012

Katy Grimes: Be sure to always watch both hands of California lawmakers, because as the right hand is patting your back, the left is picking your pocket.

Earlier this morning I wrote that lawmakers in the state Senate killed the much-needed California Environmental Quality Act reform bill co-authored by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Thousand Oaks.

Since I posted what I thought was a terribly news-worthy story, more information has come to light.

To reform, or not to reform?

The CEQA reform proposal, by the CEQA Working Group, a business-labor-government coalition, to reduce frivolous environmental litigation and duplicative government oversight, is apparently part of an unholy deal.

I should have seen this coming because I’ve seen this happen time and time again, under Democratic control: California Democrats would never make a deal to reform their precious CEQA unless they were getting a sweet deal in return.

“In return for Democrat votes to alter CEQA, three Republicans were expected to provide the necessary votes to enact a permanent billion-dollar annual tax increase on multistate businesses,” the Flash Report’s Jon Fleishman wrote today in the Orange County Register. “Never mind that it means that we will all pay more for everything from a cup of Starbucks coffee to our breakfast cereal.”

Fleishman warned that Republicans have given away votes in exchange for support for some supposedly bipartisan deal. But they’ve also been tricked by Democrats repeatedly, when Dems reneg on the deal, often within the year.

If Democrats are able to pick off a few Republican votes for passage of the billion dollar tax increase on businesses, and Democrats pass the CEQA reform bill, Democrats will reinstate CEQA during the next session.

Perez picked off Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, for passage of his “Middle Class Scholarship,” which is a $1 billion tax on businesses which operate in California, but are headquartered in other states.

Gorell’s support of the CEQA deal presents an important question, given the facts, and context. Can California Republicans legislate from the minority? Obviously some Republicans feels that they must make deals with Democrats to get anything done, but at what cost?

Without this CEQA reform bill, Democrats should not be able to get any more Republican votes on their tax increases.

As Fleishman notes, these are the final days of this legislative session, and the time when late night, back room deals and unholy alliances are forged, even if some are just trying to get something done.

Instead of falling prey to deals made with future ambitions in mind, or even just naively hoping to get much-needed reforms, Republican lawmakers need to hunker down. For the good of all Californians, the tax increase measures must be stopped–even if it appears that Republicans aren’t doing much.

Protecting liberty is a thankless job, and requires patience.

Related Articles

Anti-GMO group can’t get labeling bill introduced

The perception that California is a world leader in far-reaching environmental laws has never been true when it comes to

Redevelopment Partners In Slime

Katy Grimes: Trying to fill the thrice-vacant City Manager position, Sacramento’s City Council made a job offer to a candidate

When unions eat their own

Here’s a great story in the latest Sacramento News & Review about nasty infighting at the California Statewide Law Enforcement