by Chris Reed | August 28, 2017 8:28 am
Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley is out as Assembly Republican leader, replaced last week by Assemblyman Brian Dahle of Bieber. But the fallout may continue over the decision of Mayes and six other GOP Assembly members to provide Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, with the votes necessary to save the state’s cap-and-trade program on July 17.
Mayes touted the GOP support as helpful in rebranding the party with young voters worried about climate change and emphasized the concession he won from Brown and Rendon, which could make it possible for the Legislature to effectively scrap the state’s troubled high-speed rail project in 2024. But the votes infuriated many Republicans for betraying the party’s core anti-tax, anti-regulation beliefs and for allowing a handful of Assembly Democrats in swing seats to avoid having to vote to extend cap and trade until 2030.
Under the program, businesses buy permits for emission rights. Because of fears that courts would find the permit fees were tantamount to taxes, Brown wanted two-thirds votes in the Legislature to ensure cap and trade’s extension would be on solid legal ground under Proposition 13. Thanks to the votes of Assembly Republicans Mayes, Catharine Baker of San Ramon, Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo, Heath Flora of Ripon, Devin Mathis of Visalia and Marc Steinorth of Rancho Cucamonga, Brown got 55 votes for the extension, one more than he needed.
Harmeet K. Dhillon, a San Francisco lawyer who is one of the state’s members on the Republican National Committee, told the Los Angeles Times that Mayes shouldn’t be the only one held accountable for preserving cap and trade.
“Now, given the fact that six of these [Republican lawmakers] did vote for a massive tax increase, Republicans are going to be very vigilant about these issues,” she said. The state GOP voted earlier this month to ask Mayes to step down at Dhillon’s behest.
Another RNC state delegate – former state GOP chair Shawn Steel – also blasted Republicans who sided with Brown on cap-and-trade.
Mayes, Baker, Chavez, Cunningham, Flora, Mathis, Steinorth and state Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto – the only GOP Senate vote to extend cap and trade – are likely to face heat from conservatives in their re-election bids or in seeking other elective posts. Conversely, they could also attract support from moderate and independent voters, given the popularity of environmental causes among state voters.
But new Assembly GOP leader Dahle – a 51-year-old seed business owner and farmer and former Lassen County supervisor – wants to the put the cap-and-trade flap behind.
“There are 24 other members of this caucus and they all have different views,” he told reporters Thursday after Mayes stepped down. “There are people in our caucus who voted their conscience for their district, and I support those who did that. In my case it didn’t work in my district, so I was opposed to that.”
Mayes, 40, was first elected to the Assembly in 2014 and began as GOP leader in January 2016. While now under fire from conservatives, he could someday be remembered as the man who killed the bullet train – the state project that’s as unpopular among California Republicans as cap and trade.
As part of the cap-and-trade deal, Mayes got Democrats to agree to put a constitutional amendment he wrote before state voters in June 2018. Under the unusual measure, if voters gave the go-ahead, there would be a vote in 2024 by the Legislature on whether to continue to allow cap-and-trade revenue to fund the $68 billion project – with two-thirds support necessary to continue funding.
Brown and bullet-train backers are counting on cap-and-trade fees to increase in coming years and to keep the project viable. So far, the California High-Speed Rail Agency has been unable to attract outside investors to help pay for a statewide system, and federal funding dried up after Republicans took control of the House in 2010.
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