At the Senate Judiciary Committee, I had the privilege of hearing the two witnesses in support of SB 6 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Senate Bill 6 — January 30, 2017 january 30, 2017 john moorlach).
The first was a young woman who shared her difficult experiences in trying to enter the United States by illegally crossing the border. She was successful on the third attempt and has settled in and now hopes to become a lawyer. The second witness needed the bill’s author to translate his testimony from Spanish to English. (I did not speak English when I arrived, but I learned it rather quickly, thanks to total immersion.) But, both sincerely felt they were entitled to legal assistance and that it should be provided by California’s tax dollars.
On Monday, I heard from several of my Jewish colleagues on the other side of the aisle that we should support Senate Resolution 16, but the seven countries mentioned in the Executive Order do not even recognize Israel as a nation (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Senate Resolution 16 — January 31, 2017 january 31, 2017 john moorlach).
The logic here in Sacramento is not making sense to me. And the rhetoric and justification of certain actions, including the riots on the Cal Berkeley campus yesterday evening, is confusing at best and sad at worst.
This morning, during the Senate Session, I had my fill of the rancor and let my colleagues know it. All the talk about the new President, while the Senate’s leadership has been bullying my Senate Resolution 8. If the Senate is to lead, it should lead by example, and not by using the same techniques they are complaining about (WATCH HERE or go to http://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/sen-moorlach-responds-legislatures-posturing-regarding-president-donald-trump).
I share this because this month has been surreal here in the Capitol. The brazen defiance and the angst displayed against a new President who is enforcing existing law and communicating strategies that are no different than those propagated by his predecessors, Presidents Clinton and Obama, has been a sight to behold.
California’s rush to become a "Sanctuary State" even made it to FOX News with Bret Baier. See http://insider.foxnews.com/2017/01/31/democrats-fast-track-bill-make-california-sanctuary-state.
It has certainly caught the attention of others in the media and now my quotes are reappearing. Western Journalism is the first piece below, New American, is the second, and Moral Low Ground is the third.
Market Watch has an editorial that has taken my warning and juxtaposed it as a threat and provides a counter-perspective. (Don’t tell me I don’t provide equal access.) It’s the fourth piece below.
In the fifth piece below, Real Clear Policy provides a different perspective on the Trump dilemma and weaves in the unfunded pension plan concerns that I’ve been addressing for some seventeen years (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Financially Unstable States — January 24, 2017 january 24, 2017 john moorlach).
For a little more fun on the pension topic, watch my interview with Brad Pomerance of California Channel News at http://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senator-moorlach-discusses-sb-32-pension-reform-charter-local-edition (see MOORLACH UPDATE — PEPRA 2 With SB 32 — January 15, 2017 january 15, 2017 john moorlach).
The sixth and final piece is an invitation in the OC Register to attend the Cypress Chamber of Commerce’s Networking Breakfast on Valentine’s Day to hear my Deputy Chief of Staff, David Mansdoerfer, speak on laws that have become effective this year.
California Seeks To Become Nation’s First ‘Sanctuary State’
"We will not stand by …"
by Jack Davis
Lawmakers Tuesday took their first step to make California a “sanctuary state” in which all levels of law enforcement would be banned from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
The bill passed the Democrat-majority Senate Public Safety Committee and heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee before it moves to consideration by the full Senate, which is also controlled by Democrats.
The measure, which comes on top of a similar measure passed in 2013, is being fast-tracked by Democrats anxious over any future actions that might be taken by President Donald Trump.
“We want to make sure that police officers don’t abandon their beat and go enforce immigration laws,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, who authored the proposal.
“We will not stand by and let the federal government use our state and local agencies to separate mothers from their children,” he added.
“We need to stand up for every man, woman and child who has contributed to our community,” said Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta. “That is under full-frontal attack by the federal administration now.”
The bill was opposed by many Republicans.
“I think this bill is making it that much more difficult for the federal authorities to get the most dangerous criminals that we want to deport to keep our communities safe,” said GOP Sen. Jeff Stone.
Some noted the fiscal implications. Trump has signed an executive order that could block federal funds to sanctuary cities.
“If we’re getting $100 billion in federal funding, $85 billion of which goes to local communities, who is Sacramento to jeopardize that funding for our local communities?” said Republican Sen. John Moorlach. “That’s playing chicken with somebody else’s money.”
California Advances Bills to Become Sanctuary State
Written by Raven Clabough
One of Donald Trump’s first actions as president was to issue an executive order that targets sanctuary cities by directing local and state agencies to enforce existing immigration laws or face losing federal funds. In response, San Francisco is suing the Trump administration, claiming that the orders violate states’ rights provisions. And in flagrant disregard of Trump’s order, California is attempting to become the first-ever sanctuary state. Mercury News reports that Democrats in San Francisco are forging ahead with a legislative package aimed at expanding sanctuary status throughout the state of California in response to Trump’s order.
At the expense of California taxpayers, Democrats in the state Senate advanced bills to create statewide sanctuary for illegal immigrants, provide money to pay for immigration lawyers on behalf of immigrants facing deportation, and stop efforts to create a Muslim registry that senators believe will be on President Trump’s itinerary.
"We in California have a responsibility to say no and to be a counter balance of the nightmare coming out of Washington," San Francisco Democrat Scott Wiener insisted.
One of the bills in the package, SB 54, also known as the California Values Act, would prohibit state and local agencies from enforcing immigration laws or from working with immigration enforcement agencies. The legislation reads:
In no event shall state or local law enforcement agencies or school police or security departments transfer an individual to federal immigration authorities for purposes of immigration enforcement or detain an individual at the request of federal immigration authorities for purposes of immigration enforcement absent a judicial warrant….
The attorney general … shall publish model policies limiting immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law at public schools, health facilities operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state, courthouses, and shelters, to ensure that they remain safe and accessible to all California residents, regardless of immigration status.
The bill directs the same entities not to use money or equipment to “interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.”
According to Mercury News, the 2013 California Trust Act already restricts law enforcement’s abilities to detain someone for immigration authorities; however, the new measures take it a step further, preventing agencies from collecting information on legal statuses or cooperating with requests from federal agents.
Fox News adds, "Many of California’s largest cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, already have sanctuary policies that prohibit police from cooperating with immigration officials. The state is already home to an estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants. SB54 would extend those policies statewide, prohibiting police officers and jailers from arresting or detaining people solely for immigration violations unless a judge issues a warrant."
Democrats on the state Senate Public Safety Committee claim that SB 54 will ensure that police officers are not distracted from doing their jobs.
"We want to make sure that police officers don’t abandon their beat and go enforce immigration laws," stated Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, who authored the sanctuary measure.
But Republicans argue that the measure will make it harder for law-enforcement groups to do their job of fighting crime effectively.
State Senator Jeff Stone declared, "I think this bill is making it that much more difficult for the federal authorities to get the most dangerous criminals that we want to deport to keep our communities safe."
The sanctuary legislation now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Additionally, Assembly Bill 3, introduced by Assembly member Democrat Rob Bonta, would create state-funded centers to train defense attorneys on immigration law, while SB 6, introduced by Democratic Senator Ben Hueso, would create a state program to assist those who face deportation.
The Senate Public Safety Committee also passed a bill that prohibits state and local officials from participating in the creation of a possible Muslim registry. The bill’s author, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), said he was compelled to write the bill in response to statements made by Trump during his presidential campaign.
"In our country’s darkest moments, we have discriminated against whole groups of people," Lara stated.
Though California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has not commented on the bills, he has indicated that his administration’s interest is to protect and support immigrants.
“Let me be clear,” he said. “We will defend everybody — every man, woman and child — who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.”
While the state of California certainly has the right to nullify federal laws that it feels are unconstitutional by simply not enforcing them, the catch, of course, is that it risks losing federal funds. As the saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune. If Californians do not want to adhere to federal laws, they have the option to forego federal dollars. The problem is that California Democrats feel that American taxpayers should continue to fund their illegal actions, and therein lies the problem. Likewise, those who are protecting illegal immigrants are doing a disservice to California residents who don’t wish to provide sanctuary to violators of the law, but face the repercussions of the actions of the Senate Democrats.
Republican Senator Joel Anderson of San Diego said that the Senate Democrats are merely “step[ping] on cities that don’t want to be sanctuary cities.”
And Senator John Moorlach, a Republican representing Orange County, pointed out, “If we’re getting $100 billion in federal funding, $85 billion of which goes to local communities, who is Sacramento to jeopardize that funding for our local communities? That’s playing chicken with somebody else’s money.”
ABC 10 local news notes that all bills will face more hearings, but supporters are hoping to enact SB 54 and SB 6 as urgency measures, which require two-thirds votes in both the Senate and Assembly before being signed into law.
However, critics are hoping to mount enough opposition against the two measures to stop them in their tracks. We the People Rising, an advocacy group that supports strict immigration enforcement, announced that it will be actively oppose the bills. The group’s Executive Director Robin Hvidston notes, “It actually puts the nation at risk when our state is crafting bills that do not uphold or respect the federal law.”
California Lawmakers Defiantly Advance Sanctuary State Legislation
by BRETT WILKINS
As President Donald Trump threatens to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, Democratic lawmakers in California are defiantly advancing legislation that would create a statewide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.
The San Jose Mercury News reports one bill would bar police officers from gathering information on a person’s immigration status or even responding to certain requests from the federal government. Other measures would hire attorneys to defend immigrants facing deportation and block efforts to create a Muslim registry, which President Donald Trump has promised to implement.
Senate Bill 54, introduced by state Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would prohibit local law enforcement agencies “from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, report, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.”
“We need to stand up for every man, woman and child who has contributed to our community,” Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), who introduced one of the bills and is co-sponsoring another, told the Mercury News. “That is under full-frontal attack by the federal administration now.”
Republican state lawmakers and law enforcement groups argued against the bills, saying they would make it harder to fight crime in the state. “I think this bill is making it that much more difficult for the federal authorities to get the most dangerous criminals that we want to deport to keep our communities safe,” Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) told the San Francisco Chronicle.
However, studies show undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be incarcerated than the general population. Many of the safest cities in the nation are also located on or near the Mexican border — including El Paso, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin and Tucson, a fact acknowledged by even some leading conservative voices. The American Immigration Council, a pro-immigrant nonprofit, noted in a recent study that the decades of increased immigration into the US spanning the 1990s through the 2010s also saw a dramatic decrease in crime across America.
Trump vowed throughout his presidential campaign to crack down on sanctuary cities by stripping their federal funding and stepping up immigration enforcement. He repeatedly cited the case of Kate Steinle, a young woman allegedly shot dead on a San Francisco pier in July 2015 by a Mexican immigrant who entered the country illegally five times, as evidence that the nation’s immigration system is broken. Last week, the president moved to fulfill his campaign promises on immigration by signing executive orders authorizing construction of a wall along the US-Mexican border and calling for the suspension of federal funding for sanctuary cities.
Some California Republicans warned against picking a fight with the Trump administration. “If we’re getting $100 billion in federal funding, $85 billion of which goes to local communities, who is Sacramento to jeopardize that funding for our local communities?” Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) asked the Mercury News. “That’s playing chicken with somebody else’s money.”
Sanctuary cities are municipalities that welcome and protect undocumented immigrants, in many cases refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officials. According to the National Immigration Law Center, an advocacy group, around a dozen California cities have enacted formal sanctuary policies, and none of the state’s 58 counties “complies with detainer requests by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” Some of the state’s largest cities, including Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Long Beach, Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Ana and Berkeley, have officially declared sanctuary policies. Many other municipalities have partially adopted sanctuary policies.
Many of these cities have vowed to resist policies many residents view as racist, xenophobic and contrary to American values of inclusion and religious tolerance. On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first city to sue the Trump administration over what it called an “unconstitutional” executive order seeking to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities. “Not only is it unconstitutional, it’s un-American,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “It is necessary to defend the people of this city, this state and this country from the wild overreach of a president whose words and actions have thus far shown little respect for our Constitution or the rule of law.”
An estimated 2.5 million undocumented immigrants live in California, out of a total state population of about 39 million.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) did not comment on any of the pending bills, but he did speak forcefully about the need to protect all immigrants during last week’s annual State of the State address. “Let me be clear,” said Brown. “We will defend everybody — every man, woman and child — who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.”
Opinion: California leads states’ fight to break Trump’s authoritarian wave
By Chris Edelson
Not yet two weeks into office, Donald Trump is raising grave concerns about his administration’s authoritarian ambitions.
The president’s aides preposterously speak of “alternative facts” as part of a broader effort to declare their authority to say what reality is, regardless of pesky objective facts that get in the way. The Trump administration has taken action to prevent federal agencies from communicating with the outside world, including members of Congress and the press. The head of one watchdog group described this as “the cloud of Mordor descending across the federal service.”
Experts on authoritarianism already see warning signs from the Trump administration’s actions. Professor Cas Mudde concludes that “There is no doubt [Donald Trump] is an authoritarian…He sees democracy as ‘I have won, so I can do whatever I want or whatever I think is best for the country and I’m allowed to do that because I’m the CEO of America, Inc.”
The United States is a constitutional democracy, not a corporation, and Trump exists within a constitutional system that, in theory, sets legal limits on his power. The problem, however, is that those limits show no sign of working right now. At the moment, the U.S. is experiencing a constitutional failure. As Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat puts it, “Formally, we have checks and balances [but] I’m of the school that those things are not going to stop [Trump].” At the federal level, Congress is best positioned to set limits on presidential power. However, Republicans in Congress show no appetite or desire to act. They look more like a rubber stamp than an effective check.
With checks and balances uncertain or even failing at the federal level, the states have an increasingly important role in setting limits on presidential power. Federalism assigns some power to the states and was designed, in part, as another check on the authority of the federal government. In the past, states have taken action to set limits on presidential power. One recent example is a successful lawsuit brought by states to block implementation of President Barack Obama’s efforts to temporarily remove the threat of deportation for some undocumented immigrants.
Some states are standing up to Trump’s bullying, even as members of Congress lay down their arms. Washington, Massachusetts and New York are the first states to sue the Trump administration over the contentious executive order restricting refugees and immigration.
The biggest challenge to Trump comes from California, where Governor Jerry Brown has signaled his readiness to stand up to the administration, saying that California will defend its policies. If California were a country, it would have one of the largest economies in the world. There are nearly 40 million Californians, and they voted almost 2-1 against Trump last November, so Brown may well feel emboldened to act.
One area where California could be effective is with the environment and climate change. In response toTrump’s refusal to take climate change seriously, Brown “has doubled down on California’s efforts to negotiate carbon-reduction agreements with other states and countries.”
If Brown follows through on his promise, he and his state will be taking a risk: Trump and his Republican allies in Congress could retaliate. Earlier this month, California state senator John Moorlach warned that “if California decides to draw a line in the sand, Trump, the consummate businessman, might not view California as a very good investment.”
That is the kind of thinly veiled threat one might hear in a Hollywood movie about the mob, not the way we’d like to think elected officials would act. Trump,. however, has shown an appetite for vengeance and retaliation against opponents and critics. California will have to be ready to defend itself.
There are indications that Californians understand this. Earlier this month, Democratic leaders of the state legislature hired Eric Holder and his law firm as legal advisers to represent the state in possible legal clashes with the Trump administration. State Senate Leader Kevin De Leon said that bringing the former U.S. Attorney General on board “brings us a lot of firepower in order to prepare to safeguard the values of the people of California. This means we are very, very serious.”
De Leon described Trump as a “clear and present danger to the economic prosperity of California,” and mentioned immigration and criminal justice as other areas where the state may take on the White House. If Trump moves ahead with mass deportation, it will be very difficult to implement his plans without cooperation from California and other blue states or large cities: for example, the mayors of New York and Chicago have suggested they would not cooperate with deportation efforts. The Trump administration has threatened to withhold federal money if cities take this approach. Brown, in turn, has suggested that California could decide to stop sending federal tax dollars to Washington, D.C. (The state pays more in federal taxes than it receives in federal benefits.)
A key question may be whether California gains allies in its fight. Though it is a large state, standing up to the bully in the White House who has support from Congress will not be easy. Whether California succeeds or not will tell us a lot about whether meaningful limits can be set on presidential power.
Chris Edelson is an assistant professor of government in American University’s School of Public Affairs. His latest book, Power Without Constraint: The Post 9/11 Presidency and National Security , was published in May 2016 by the University of Wisconsin Press.
Public Pension Crisis Bodes Ill for Coastal Democrats
By Lewis M. Andrews
The upset election of Donald Trump and the ascendency of the Republican Party at all levels of government has led to an intense debate among Democrats about how to heal their split with middle- and working-class voters, especially in Michigan, Wisconsin, and other rust-belt states. But the Left’s complicity in the ever-growing debt for underfunded public pensions, which the Stanford Institute for Policy Research puts at $5.599 trillion, or $46,884 per household, only further enhances the GOP’s prospects, even in New England and on the West Coast.
Both parties have some responsibility for the unproductive work rules and overly generous benefits that have led to the funding crisis. But politicians in blue-state legislatures and cities dominated by Democratic Party machines have clearly been more willing to placate public workers in return for their unions’ support.
According to a 2016 analysis by The American Interest of Cook Political Report voting data, the 19 states ranking “strongly Republican” over the last two decades have per household pension debt of $33,800, while the figure for the nine states leaning “strongly Democratic” is almost twice that amount ($65,080). And of the 10 cities with the largest ratio of unfunded liabilities to revenue in the context of stricter rules from the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB), only Billings, Montana, has a Republican mayor.
The problem now for liberals is that, after years of papering over inadequate pension funding with wildly optimistic assumptions about investment returns on existing assets, the inevitable wave of tax increases and service cuts required to keep plans solvent is beginning to hit, especially in blue precincts.
Unsurprisingly, many of the hardest hit cities have been in California, where Democratic policies are almost indistinguishable from those of the teacher and other public employee unions. In Los Angeles, where between 2003 and 2012 pension costs grew 25 percent annually, the city has sought a series of supplemental levies for essential programs it can no longer afford. These include a $1.2 billion property tax increase to house the homeless and a half-cent sales tax to generate $860 million in transportation improvements.
And in San Diego, the percentage of teacher salaries that city schools must contribute to pensions is slated to go from 8.8 percent in the 2014–2015 school year to 19.1 percent in 2020–2021. As a result, the Unified School District is looking at $117 million in offsetting annual budget cuts, including for maintenance and supplies.
One could argue that there is nothing new about the problem of underfunded public pensions, which watchdog groups, such as the website pensiontsunami.com, have been warning about for more than a decade. But it is one thing for voters to contemplate the vague future consequences of an ever-postponed financial crisis and quite another to experience higher taxes or service cuts today.
Once reliably blue Connecticut saw massive ticket splitting last November in the wake of Democratic Governor Daniel Malloy’s effort to bail out the country’s second-least solvent state pension system with back-to-back income tax increases. “Local Democrat (candidates) were astonished by the level of hostility they got toward Governor Malloy,” notes Kevin Rennie, a long-time political reporter in the state. While Hillary Clinton easily beat Donald Trump in Connecticut with 13 percent more of the vote, Republicans managed a tie in the State Senate and left Democrats in the House with their smallest majority in three decades.
Until recently, many blue-state politicians have been able to forestall voter anger by pretending that higher taxes and fees were needed for new services or improvements, rather than to compensate for underfunded pensions. California Democrats, for instance, would have voters think “we are fixing roads,” says Republican State Sen. John Moorlach of a recent $10 car-registration increase. But, in reality, “that money is going to be diverted into pension plans.”
Yet the large sums required to bolster sagging funds will ultimately limit this tactic. When the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway sought voter approval last fall for $3.5 billion to improve service in San Francisco and its suburbs, East Bay Times editorials noted that the system was really seeking a disguised pension bailout. Although the referendum passed in November, a related transportation measure to increase sales taxes in BART’s Contra Costa region was defeated.
Conservative think tanks have also begun to highlight the various ways that government agencies quietly divert funds from their apparent purposes to prop up pensions. In October, for example, the Manhattan Institute ‘s Josh McGee published a national study of public education budgets. It showed that taxpayer contributions for government-worker retirement plans have nearly tripled since 2001, while per pupil spending on equipment, facilities, and property fell 26 percent.
The economic consequences of immigration and globalization seem be to what animated voters last November, especially in the Midwest. But the cost of bailing out the country’s pension mess, created by a decades’ old alliance between Democratic politicians and public-union bosses, may soon impact every voter without a government job.
Dr. Andrews was executive director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy from 1999 to 2009. He writes frequently on government reform.
Networking breakfast: David Mansdoerfer, deputy chief of staff for state Sen. John Moorlach, will be the featured speaker at the Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 14 at Residence Inn by Marriott, 4931 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos.
Cost is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Information: 714827-2430 or
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