Sacramento Report: The Chamber's Capitol Wish List

Government UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Sacramento Report: The Chamber's Capitol Wish List

The Chamber’s uneventful showdown with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the latest effort to boost voter turnout and more in our weekly Sacramento roundup.

A delegation from the San Diego Chamber of Commerce visited Sacramento this week, a group of more than 40 people that included reps for SANDAG, the Airport Authority, water officials, business leaders and Councilman David Alvarez.

Ahead of the trip the group released a survey about what its members believe are the top issues state legislators should be addressing.

Topping the list was providing a reliable water source. The others:

21 percent: controlling health care costs for employers

18 percent: preventing another increase in the state’s minimum wage

8 percent: controlling energy costs

7 percent: addressing the cost of housing

5 percent: reforming the CEQA process

2 percent: creating a state trade office in Mexico

Indeed, businesses in San Diego pay more for energy than their counterparts around the state. And while the drumbeat for CEQA reform has been ongoing, the outlook isn’t so hot.

Chamber folks did meet with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, as well as other local and statewide legislators. Chamber CEO Jerry Sanders wrote an op-ed for VOSD earlier this week knocking a bill written by Gonzalez that would limit the decision-making authority of Civic San Diego.

It sounds like the showdown over the issue was a wee anticlimactic.

“It was discussed briefly with the understanding that the Chamber and she don’t agree on the issue,” said Chamber spokeswoman Alison Phillips. Philips said the group talked more with Gonzalez about bills the assemblywoman has introduced to eliminate sales tax on diapers and to recognize cheerleading as an official high school sport.

There sure doesn’t seem to be any love lost between Gonzalez and the Chamber, though. On Wednesday, the assemblywoman announced that her bill requiring employers to pay more to employees forced to work holidays had passed the Assembly’s labor committee. She made it pretty clear that the feat happened without any help from the Chamber.

Turnout for What

 TURN OUT FOR WHAT

A lot of the state-level election reforms that make the news come from the South, and they often are measures aimed at curbing minority turnout.

But we live on the Best Coast, where election reforms aim to get more people to the polls. One of them was proposed this week by San Diego state Sen. Ben Hueso. His measure would “prohibit a political subdivision from holding an election on a date other than the date of a statewide direct primary election or statewide general election if doing so would result in a significant decrease in voter turnout as compared to the voter turnout at a statewide election.”

Essentially, he wants to consolidate local elections with statewide races to avoid situations like Los Angeles’ recent affair, where basically no one came out to vote.  Last year, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez passed the VOTE Act, which was also aimed at bolstering turnout in special elections. KQED has more on other measures aimed at getting more Californians to the polls.

Then there’s Oregon, which just took its turnout game to the next level.

Golden State News

George Skelton says the California GOP is like a recovering alcoholic, no longer addicted “to gay bashing and gun worshiping, to feeding off anti-abortion and illegal immigration causes.” The party will soon be led by two women, and it has made progress on its treatment of gays. (L.A. Times)

California’s Public Records Act is weak, and can’t help the public when it’s needed the most – when officials have something to hide. Featuring a cameo from our Liam Dillon. (Redlands Daily Facts)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein backs a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in California. (California Healthline)

California’s snooze of an election cycle at least benefited someone: political operatives, who “collectively netted almost $300 million from campaign committees for state offices and initiatives, according to a Sacramento Bee review.” Check out the interactive to see which San Diego-area companies cashed in.

The state yanked Blue Shield of California’s tax-exempt status after its latest rate hikes. You read that right: Until recently, a company that raked in $13.6 billion in revenue last year was considered a nonprofit. (L.A. Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators unveiled a $1 billion emergency drought relief bill. (San Francisco Chronicle)

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