MOORLACH UPDATE — Opposition — April 22, 2016

It was another busy and win-some-lose-some week in Sacramento. Let’s start with a win.

SB 1273 went from successful passage in the Senate Committee on Health to the Senate Floor yesterday morning (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1142 and SB 1273 — April 16, 2016 april 16, 2016 john moorlach). There it passed without opposition, 38-0. I know it’s a little self-serving, but the Voice of OC and the Orange County Breeze provided our press release and is the first piece below. See my introduction of the bill on the Senate Floor HERE.

On Wednesday, SB 1141, the Caltrans Pilot Program, was heard by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SBs 1141 and 1253 — April 4, 2016 april 4, 2016 john moorlach). That morning, the OC Register provided the editorial in the second piece below.

Regretfully, after hearing testimony from two opposition witnesses who were representatives of public employee unions, the Committee voted against my bill. The major argument? What about the possibility of layoffs at these two counties? Really? Caltrans is already overstaffed, but 54 percent of its workforce is at or near retirement age. By the time this bill would be fully implemented, attrition would have already capture many of the extraneous employees near retirement without requiring a single lay-off.

Last Monday, the Public Employment and Retirement Committee voted against SB 1251 because they didn’t think that audited financial data exposing our massive costs and liabilities should be easily accessible, on the website of the non-partisan (and highly respected) Legislative Analyst Office. This is despite the information already appearing in reports on both the Governor’s and Controller’s websites, for which our data would be hyperlinked. Why is that a problem? Apparently, within our simplified website, there wouldn’t be enough context. Huh? The committee members did vote to allow for a reconsideration of the bill, which is a customary option when requested by the author (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1251 and SB 1140 — April 12, 2016 april 12, 2016 john moorlach). However, this bill was referred to 4 committees – a treatment reserved only for a few “select” bills every year – so despite my best efforts to take a few recommended clarifying amendments made by one of the members of the committee, it died. The LA Daily News and San Gabriel Valley News provide an editorial on the awkwardness of the votes in opposition in the third piece below.

Before Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, I pulled SB 1253, LLCs for Real Estate Brokers, (see the previous link above) from the agenda. I will resubmit this bill next year. Although there is opposition to this idea, there are many national firms that have the LLC status operating in California. Consequently, this topic needs a robust discussion.

SB 1248, CEQA lawsuit abuse, was killed in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. This bill was focused on making plaintiffs and their financial backers disclose themselves when a CEQA lawsuit is filed. Full disclosure is required in different areas of California law. And, knowing who your true accuser is would explain the nature of the case. The abuse? Unions filing CEQA lawsuits in order to have construction companies abide by project labor agreements (see MOORLACH UPDATE — PLA — October 29, 2009 october 29, 2009 john moorlach). The bill was considered "too dangerous" and lost along party lines. Read my press release and see the hearing video HERE.

Of course, I had my votes in opposition to bills. SB 1317 went before the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, on which I sit. The selected details are provided in the fourth piece below from the Daily Republic.

Next week I introduce SB 1142 to the Senate Judiciary Committee (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1142 and SB 1273 — April 16, 2016 april 16, 2016 john moorlach). The Daily Pilot provides the heads up in the selected portions in the fifth piece below.

The week included a funny diversion. The LA Times, in their piece titled "Lawmakers advance gun control measures in response to San Bernardino massacre," erroneously gave me credit for a quote from Sen. Jeff Stone. It was corrected online. I have not seen the correction in the dead tree version. For the fun, see

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-gun-control-bills-20160419-story.html. Errors like this have reverberations, as it gets duplicated elsewhere (see

http://bearingarms.com/california-lawmakers-push-gun-mageddon-citizens-buy-guns/).

Gmail is also getting touchy about my sending out e-mails to my subscribers. We tried a different service earlier in the week, with mixed results. Another service was tried later in the week and it failed completely. I’m hoping this catch-up e-mail will go out without a hiccup. If not, I’ll continue to look for an alternate transmission methodology.

unnamed-2FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Mental Health Bill to Make Funds More Flexible Passes With Unanimous Vote
Senate Bill 1273 Grants Greater Flexibility in Use of Mental Health Services Act Funds

(Sacramento) –Today, the Senate passed legislation by Senator Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa)Senate Bill 1273 – with a 38-0 vote that gives county personnel greater flexibility over the use of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds for outpatient crisis stabilization services. The bill is co-authored by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) and other legislators.

"I am greatly encouraged that the Senate recognized the importance and critical need for SB 1273 today. SB 1273 will empower and equip counties with another valuable tool to approach the mental health crisis we are facing," Moorlach said. "This bill benefits our police officers, first responders and our emergency rooms that have been over-burdened."

Currently, Orange County just has ten beds for emergency mental health crisis situations to serve the county’s 3.1 million residents. Consequently, public safety officers must, many times, take on the role of transporters rather than first responders. The simple clarification provided by SB 1273 provides not only Orange County, but other counties up and down the state, the flexibility to better fund outpatient care, as well as help ensure that patients in mental crisis can receive prompt, therapeutic care at proper facilities, rather than the hospital emergency room.

"I am honored to have so many wonderful health care providers and organizations in support, as well as the endorsement of former Senator Darrell Steinberg – the author of Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act and founder of the Steinberg Institute, as he understands the necessity," Moorlach said.

SB 1273 now goes to the Assembly. The bill is supported by the Steinberg Institute, County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, California Psychiatric Association, American College of Emergency Physicians-California Chapter, California Emergency Nurses Association, St. Joseph Hoag Health System, St. Joseph Hospital, Hoag Memorial Presbyterian, St. Jude Medical Center, Tenet Health, Orange County Medical Association, California State Association of Counties, Urban Counties of California, County of Orange, City of Newport Beach, League of California Cities-Orange County, California State Sheriff’s Association, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association and others.

For more information on SB 1273, CLICK HERE.

Voice of OC posts press releases to provide readers with information directly from organizations. We do not edit or rewrite press releases, and encourage readers to contact the originator of a given release for more information. To submit a press release email pressreleases

A better fix for fixing California’s roads

Last month, these pages discussed a State Auditor’s report that criticized the California Department of Transportation’s maintenance division for its “weak cost controls,” lack of financial planning, inefficient funding allocations and inability to track responses to service requests. Now a Legislative Analyst’s Office assessment of highway repair needs similarly decries a lack of accountability and performance measures.

The LAO’s analysis also acknowledges the persistent underfunding of the state’s road infrastructure. “We estimate that the state has ongoing highway repair needs of about $3.6 billion annually, as well as an existing backlog of needed repairs totaling roughly $12 billion,” the LAO concluded. “This is significantly higher than can be addressed through the existing funding of about $1.6 billion annually for these purposes.”

The immediate needs are even greater, as the LAO estimated the state would need to spend roughly $5.5 billion for highway repair programs in fiscal year 2016-17, including contributions to reduce the maintenance backlog.

Despite having among the highest gas taxes in the country, California’s highway system ranked 45th among the states in the Reason Foundation’s 2014 Annual Highway Report. According to the report, the state has the second-highest maintenance spending per mile of state-controlled roads and the fourth-highest administrative spending rate.

California’s transportation system, and particularly its roads, are consistently given short shrift in favor of fanciful environmental projects and other legislative pet projects and boondoggles like the high-speed rail project, which, incidentally, just won the Oakland-based Independent Institute’s first California Golden Fleece Award “for its lack of transparency and history of misleading the public about key details” of the project.

As with innumerable other services, privatizing the roads would be the best way to offer them the most cheaply and efficiently. We don’t expect the state to agree, but it should at least competitively bid highway maintenance to the private sector to save money, minimize bureaucratic bloat and maximize accountability. Barring this, Senate Bill 1141, by Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, creates a pilot program to allow two counties, selected later, to control road maintenance funds now handled by Caltrans. It would offer greater flexibility to local governments, who are more accountable to their citizens than far-removed state bureaucracies.

How is knowing state debt totals bad for California voters?

What the voters don’t know can’t hurt them — that seems to be the attitude of public employee unions and Democrats in the Legislature when it comes to the state’s debt.

California has a red-ink problem — the “wall of debt,” Gov. Jerry Brown has called it, in justifying the fiscal constraint in the state budgets he presents. He deserves credit for making sure a small part of state revenue has gone to paying down debt the past couple of years, and for pushing through a rainy-day fund as a hedge against running up more debt in future downturns.

But public employee unions don’t like spending state money to pay down debt, because they’d rather it be spent to boost their salaries and already generous benefits and retirement plans.

That comes through loud and clear in their opposition to state Sen. John Moorlach’s Senate Bill 1251, the California Financial Transparency Act. It failed to clear its first committee last week — two Republicans voting for it and three Democrats against in the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee. The bill was granted reconsideration.

Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, is a former Orange County treasurer and supervisor, and the only certified public accountant in the Senate. He’s a numbers guy, and wants to share some of the state’s key fiscal numbers with voters before they go to the polls — where often they are confronted with voting for or against bond measures that would increase California’s indebtedness.

SB 1251 proposes printing, in each state voter information pamphlet and hyperlinked to the Legislative Analyst’s Office website, totals for the state’s revenues and expenditures in the previous fiscal year along with debt totals for unfunded pension liabilities, unfunded retiree medical benefit liabilities, the infrastructure deficit and the outstanding bond debt.

It would behoove a voter to be familiar with stats like those when weighing how to vote on some ballot initiatives, no?

No, according to the letters of opposition that SB 1251 has drawn from various unions and interest groups — among them the California Professional Firefighters, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, California School Employees Association and the Service Employees International Union.

Opponents wrote that the information proposed for inclusion in the voter guide would be “unnecessary and superfluous and creates yet another impediment to any Californians actually studying and then turning out to vote on the issues that appear on the ballot.” They say many measures in statewide elections “will not have any relationship to revenues, bond debt, or retiree medical benefit levels,” and that the numbers would “add confusion to voters … .”

That’s a pretty dim view of voters, to think that they will be confused and less likely to vote if confronted by basic financial information about state income, outgo and debt. Rather, voters would be better informed and empowered by these easily digestible numbers.

But we take the opponents’ point that many ballot measures have little to do with these financial facts.

So we suggest to the author a simple amendment to his bill: The list of stats should be printed not in the front of the voter pamphlet, but inside with the fiscal analysis of any ballot measure that proposes adding to the state’s debt tally or increasing state revenues.

Solano County

Groundwater regulatory bill advances

By Todd R. Hansen

FAIRFIELD — A Sen. Lois Wolk bill that faces opposition from the counties, the cities and agriculture passed the Finance and Governance Committee on a 5-2 vote this week.

The bill passed the committee Wednesday with Republican Sens. Janet Nguyen, the committee vice chairwoman, andJohn M. W. Moorlach dissenting. It had previously passed the Natural Resource and Water Committee on a 6-2 vote.

Trump to Moorlach aide: You’re hired

By Barbara Venezia

And in other Moorlach news, business owners around the state who have been subjected to attorneys bringing frivolous Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits against them, could see an end to this practice withMoorlach’s proposed Senate Bill 1142.

The bill will be heard April 26 in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will address these predatory lawsuit abuses, where attorneys target a business with even the slightest ADA violation and then basically shake it down for money.

Moorlach’s bill proposes allowing businesses 120 days to cure violations before any civil action can be filed.

The senator feels this would weed out "serial attorneys and plaintiffs, who are only bringing these claims for a quick payout," he told the Mercury News. "There is no point to these standards if a business is sued out of existence, if it could not abide by them."

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