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Political Advocacy News: Route 66 bill passes the House, why California offers no tax refunds

Thu, June 14, 2018 5:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Pasadena Star-News: Why it's important that a bill declaring Route 66 a National Historic Trail passed the House of Representatives

Route 66 is one step closer to National Historic Trail status thanks to a bill that passed the House of Representatives on June 5 by a unanimous vote, a month after it cleared the House Natural Resources subcommittee.

The potential status change carries tremendous significance for supporters, historians, cities and proprietors along the 2,400-mile roadway from Chicago to Los Angeles, dubbed the “Main Street of America.”

Gaining historic trail status would mark the first, full-length national designation of the road that passes through eight states, and could open a permanent pathway to federal dollars for preservation, promotion and rehabilitation.

Co-authored by local Rep. Grace Napolitano, a Democrat from El Monte and Rep. Darin LaHood, a Republican from Illinois, the bipartisan bill  making Route 66 the nation’s 20th historical trail was introduced last year.

After advancing out of the House, the bill was referred to the U.S. Senate Transportation Committee and the subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Without the bill, the highway would lose funding from a temporary corridors preservation program funneled through the National Park Service that ends in September 2019, said Bill Thomas, chairman of an eight-state collaborative called the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership.

Sacramento Bee: Why California won't refund billions in surplus taxes

California state government has so much money this year that it’s opening two new savings accounts so it can keep socking away even more cash for the rainy day that Gov. Jerry Brown says is just over the horizon.

That tactic — setting a course to pile up $16 billion in savings over the next 12 months — should reassure taxpayers that cuts to government services won’t be as severe as they were a decade ago when the state’s economy plummeted into the Great Recession.

But the money is inviting a different kind ofpolitical problem for majority Democrats. It could be used to fuel the campaign that would repeal the 12-cents-a-gallon gas tax that they and Brown championed last year to lock in $52 billion in road repair funding for the next decade.

Washington Post: House to vote next week on two competing immigration after negotiations fall short

The House will vote next week on competing immigration bills that deal with the fate of young undocumented immigrants with no guarantee that either will pass and resolve the divisive issue.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) made the announcement late Tuesday after a group of renegade Republican moderates failed to gather enough support to force votes on far-reaching protections for “dreamers” — including on bipartisan bills that could easily pass.

“Members across the Republican Conference have negotiated directly and in good faith with each other for several weeks, and as a result, the House will consider two bills next week,” said AshLee Strong, an aide to Ryan.

In a severe blow to the moderates’ hope of forcing action on an issue that has long bedeviled the GOP, the House adjourned Tuesday with the rebels two signatures short of completing a petition that would set up debate on legislation to shield dreamers from deportation.

Instead, the House will consider a conservative bill, tilted toward hard-line positions that offers a limited path to permanent legal status for young undocumented immigrants. Another bill that has not been finalized would offer that status, and an eventual path to citizenship, but it remains unclear whether it could pass the House.

Capital Public Radio: This Tax Increase Could Be A Major Issue in California's General Election

California political campaigns are preparing for the increase of the gas tax to be this fall’s pre-eminent campaign issue, after Republicans focused on the issue during the successful recall of a state Senator.

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox jumped on the gas tax issue immediately after his primary win last week.

“It wasn’t Donald Trump who gave us that gas tax,” he said in his victory speech on Tuesday night. “It was Gavin Newsom, and we’re going to repeal that tax in November!”

Jen Jacobs, a Republican strategist based in Southern California — where several long-held GOP Congressional districts are considered potentially vulnerable — also says the gas tax will be a main message for the GOP, especially in swing districts. “They’re going after people who might be registered Democrat, but tend to be more conservative, or middle-of-the-road people who might have voted,” Jacobs said.

KQED News: Breaking Up is Hard to Do: What the Proposal to Split California Could Learn From the Past

With a complicated path to reality and the state's political and  business establishment lined up firmly against it, the proposal to split California into three separate states appears to be the longest of political longshots.

But the move would not be completely unprecedented.

The states proposed by Cal 3 proponent Timothy Draper (Northern California, Southern California, and California) would be the first states formed out of an existing state since West Virginia was carved out of Virginia in 1863. But Virginians didn't have complete say in that decision; the Commonwealth had seceded from the Union in 1861.

For a more apt example, you'd have to look back to 1820, when Maine was admitted to the union by splitting from Massachusetts, where the legislature approved of the move.

Maine's statehood lays bare two overwhelming hurdles to the Cal 3 proposal: meeting a legal standard for popular support, and gaining the required political support in Congress.

Those are far from the only roadblocks that the initiative faces. The idea would first have to be approved by voters in November, and potentially by the state Senate and Assembly, although the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized initiative votes as a constitutional substitute for the legislature.

O.C. Register: Joel Kotkin: Blue-collar blues in the Southern California job market

Every year over the past decade, in the Forbes’ annual “Best Places for Jobs” survey, we have been fortunate to assess Southern California’s economy and compare it to other large metropolitan areas. The results point to some strong points but also many long-term problems that regional leaders need to address.

Overall Southern California remains an economic powerhouse, with the nation’s largest collection of information workers, the third-largest business and professional sector and, remarkably, still the largest core of manufacturing employees. Our economic legacy remains strong, but the rest of the world is catching up on us, and fast.

Our rankings balance last year’s growth with short-term and medium-term trends, emphasizing momentum. This year Los Angeles ranked a mediocre 43rd out of the 71 largest metros; employment has grown by 5.7 percent over the decade. Contrast that with Dallas, which ranked No. 1 the last two years and has expanded employment at five times L.A.’s rate since 2006. The Big D replaced the dominant post-2010 economic behemoths to the north — San Francisco and Silicon Valley — but both are still solidly in the top 10, having enjoyed over 20 percent job growth over the past decade.

Within the region, job growth has been fastest the further you get from downtown. Orange County, for example, ranked 27th this year, enjoying a small edge over L.A. but the regional growth leader by far has been exurban Riverside-San Bernardino, which now ranks No. 10 on our overall list. Over the past decade, the region has enjoyed 15.3 percent job growth, which has actually accelerated from 2.6 percent in 2016 to a strong 3.8 percent rate last year.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Southern California’s economy is not a lack of jobs, but a shortage of those that pay higher wages to offset high housing costs. As Citylab recently reported, Los Angeles is now the most unaffordable place in the nation, in large part due to a relative dearth of higher-paying jobs.

City Journal: Joel Kotkin: In California, the "Jungle" is Predictable

One doesn’t expect the unexpected in California elections. A progressive Democrat will become governor; Dianne Feinstein will return to the Senate yet again; and so on. Nuances still matter, particularly at the congressional level, in part due to the “jungle primary” system, but nothing much has changed. Statewide, the ideological die, at least for now, is cast.

Perhaps the best news for Republicans, with the surprisingly strong showing of businessman John Cox, is that they will actually have a candidate on the November ballot for governor. Businessman Cox easily beat out the Democratic challengers to the front-running Democrat, former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Some conservatives, like Newt Gingrich, think that Cox has a serious shot at victory in November, but all GOP candidates combined pulled in barely 35 percent of the vote.

Here’s the reality: California Republicans, constituting barely a quarter of the electorate, now make up a smaller cohort than Independents. Combined with Independents who lean to the GOP, they perhaps could win 40 to 45 percent of the vote in November—still not good enough. The big money that once filled the coffers of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon now goes overwhelmingly to the other side: the top three Democratic gubernatorial candidates raised over $70 million, more than ten times what the GOP’s top candidate, the largely self-funded Cox, had drummed up by the end of last month.

Even more than money, the problem for Republicans is demographics, which suggest a continued decline of the state party. In the last decade, the state gained 2 million Hispanics and 1 million Asians—both groups now trending overwhelmingly Democratic—while losing almost 800,000 whites, the GOP’s vanishing base. Migration patterns show middle-aged, middle- and working-class families exiting a state increasingly dominated by the unmarried childless and older, affluent white voters, including many who have profited from the rise in housing prices and are the most bullish on the state’s future.

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