MOORLACH UPDATE — Financially Unstable States — January 24, 2017

Well, November 8 certainly will be a day that will be marked as an inflection point in our nation’s political history. And the first weekday after last week’s Presidential Inauguration, the fireworks have begun. Both in Washington, D.C. and in Sacramento.

The big question may be this one: which political party is out of step with its voters? Maybe the answer is: it depends. If you live in one of the seven most financially unstable states (Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Kentucky or California), then it is the Republican Party that may be out of step (and may also be why these states are so poorly managed). See the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center’s rankings of states at https://www.mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings.

If you live in the other 43 states, it would be the Democratic Party that is out of step.

But wait, on November 8th the state of Kentucky turned its state around and accomplished a historical trifecta in its politics. Kentucky’s Governor, Senate and House are now run by Republicans, a first in some 95 years. Maybe its residents have finally resolved to turn their financial house around and get out of the bottom seven?

Of these seven states, only one voted for Trump. It’s also Kentucky. I predict that Kentucky will now focus on its financial predicament, particularly in the area of reducing its unfunded pension liabilities, and move out of the bottom seven within the next four years. It will be replaced by the state of New York, which also did not vote for Trump.

So, I’ve still got the majority of some 43 fiscally stronger states that say Republicans can do a better job of running a large government.

So what does the state of California do? The equivalent of an in your face to the nation’s new President by appointing U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D – Los Angeles) as the next California State Attorney General (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Ready to Rumble — January 14, 2017 january 14, 2017 john moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Eric Holder — January 5, 2017 january 5, 2017 john moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Talking Pension Tax — January 4, 2017 january 4, 2017 john moorlach).

Congressman Becerra is an admitted and self-proclaimed Democratic firebrand who believes that all the Republican Presidential candidates were misguided (see MOORLACH UPDATE — CRP and SR 65 — May 2, 2016 may 2, 2016 john moorlach).

So we now get to watch a massive game of "Chicken" on a grand scale and it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Our new Attorney General will be sworn in this morning. One can only hope that our fiscal travails do not worsen. But, I’ve been in this industry long enough to know better. And I expressed my concerns about the "Art of the Deal" (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Stormy Weather — January 12, 2017 january 12, 2017 john moorlach).

The news of yesterday’s Senate Floor debate is provided below by The Associated Press, Reuters, The Sacramento Bee and the LA Times, respectively.

California lawmakers confirm Xavier Becerra as state attorney general

By Sophia Bollag, Associated Press

In their first official action since Donald Trump became president, California lawmakers on Monday confirmed a new attorney general who has vowed to defend the state’s liberal policies against the Trump administration and a Republican Congress.

Xavier Becerra easily cleared the final hurdle to become the state’s top law enforcement official, with a 26-9 vote along party lines in the Democratic-controlled state Senate. Becerra, who represented the Los Angeles area in the U.S. House for more than two decades, became the state’s first Latino attorney general.

He replaces Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November. Democrats said Becerra will fight to defend California’s protections for the gay and lesbian community, women and immigrants.

“He will be a very strong partner for our state to work with the federal government when we can and to resist when we must,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat.

Some Republicans said they voted against him because of his promise to challenge federal policies. Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa says he’s worried Becerra will jeopardize federal funding for California by antagonizing the Trump administration.

Many of California’s liberal policies face an uncertain future amid promises by Trump and Republican lawmakers to overhaul the nation’s health care, immigration and climate change laws.

“Our state has the law, the grit and the guts to fight for hardworking families,” Becerra told lawmakers at a hearing earlier this month, later adding, “I think the best defense is a good offense.”

The day of Trump’s inauguration, the White House was already at odds with the country’s most populous state over climate change policy. The White House website said Friday that Trump planned to stop former President Barack Obama’s climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The same day, California regulators plowed ahead with their own climate change goals, releasing a 157-page plan to reach a target of a 40 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has called Becerra “battle-tested” from his time in a polarized Congress and said his experience will serve him well in defending California’s policies.

Democrats in the Assembly approved Becerra’s confirmation earlier this month. Becerra worked as a deputy attorney general for three years before running for office.

California Senate confirms Democrat Becerra as attorney general

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – The California Senate on Monday confirmed U.S. Congressman Xavier Becerra as attorney general, positioning the majority-Democrat state to challenge conservative policies of new Republican President Donald Trump.

Becerra, who represented Los Angeles for 24 years in Congress, was approved by a party line votes of 26 to 9, with Democrats heavily in favor and Republicans arguing that the state should give the new administration a chance rather than picking fights. He will replace former California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November.

"It’s a role to defend the progress and the values of the people of California," Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon said of Becerra’s new job in an interview after the vote on Monday. "These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary actions."

Becerra, 58, was nominated for the position by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown shortly after Trump’s election.

A Stanford-trained attorney who was first elected to Congress in 1993, Becerra is viewed as a reliable progressive with the savvy to navigate the halls of Congress as well as the nation’s courtrooms.

"I couldn’t ask for a better job," said Becerra, to be sworn in by Brown on Tuesday. "It is humbling and exciting to assume responsibility for vigorously advancing the forward-leaning values that make California unique among the many states."

Becerra learned through his long Congressional career to work both sides of the aisle, and he made sure to meet with legislative Republicans before his confirmation hearings began this month.

But while the legislature’s minority GOP members made a point to say they liked and respected Becerra, most spoke against his nomination.

"Instead of acting like we’re going to be defiant, I’d like to see us extending an olive branch" to the new administration, said state Senator John Moorlach, a Republican who represents part of Orange County south of Los Angeles.

In addition to naming Becerra attorney general, the legislature also hired the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, an Obama appointee, to represent them in cases and negotiations involving the new administration and Republican-controlled Congress.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Andrew Hay and David Gregorio)

Becerra on his way to becoming first Latino California attorney general

BY ANGELA HART

ahart

Rep. Xavier Becerra, a longtime Democratic congressman from Los Angeles, coasted through his final confirmation hearing Monday on his way to becoming California’s attorney general, a high-profile post in which he is expected to lead the state’s resistance to President Donald Trump.

“I will make sure no headwinds from outside our state can knock us down,” Becerra said in a statement following his confirmation in the California Senate on Monday.

In a 26-9 vote along party lines, the state Senate voiced strong support for Becerra, and called on him to take on the federal government in court should proposals by Trump or his administration hamstring key state initiatives that seek to combat climate change, protect the rights of undocumented immigrants and expand access to health care for millions of Californians.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article128324694.html#storylink=cpy

He is expected to be sworn in Tuesday by Brown at the annual State of the State address in Sacramento.

In urging his colleagues to approve Becerra’s confirmation, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, referred to Becerra as a friend, touted his experience in Washington and said he “is an excellent embodiment of the American dream.”

“There is no question he is qualified, capable and ready to take on this challenge on behalf of the people of California,” de León said. “He will be a strong partner for our state to help us work with the federal government when we can, and to resist when we must.”

Becerra, Gov. Jerry Brown’s pick to replace newly elected U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as the state’s top cop, has faced little opposition. Republican lawmakers who voted against his confirmation, however, denounced his appointment and called on Democrats to soften their antagonism toward Trump.

Trump has threatened to penalize states that declare themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, for example, by withholding federal funding.

“I’m a little concerned, colleagues, about the tone,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. “I don’t want to jeopardize those funds. So, I believe that instead of making it sound like we’re being defiant, I’d prefer that we are looking at offering an olive branch and that we’re at the table, that we’re working together.”

Becerra, 58, who is stepping down from Congress after being re-elected in November to his 13th consecutive term, is the state’s first Latino attorney general, the son of Mexican immigrants and a former California deputy attorney general. His approval comes a week after a lengthy and sometimes heated Senate Rules Committee hearing at which he faced fiery questioning about concerns among some in the Legislature that he would seek alternate elected office or serve in the position temporarily.

“I’m not looking to be a caretaker of this position,” Becerra told de León last week. “This decision is not an easy one because it impacts more than just me. It is my full intent to serve in this position … far more than two years.”

He takes over the same month the state Legislature hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his Washington, D.C.-based firm Covington & Burling, to assist with legal challenges posed by policy conflicts with the Trump administration.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article128324694.html#storylink=cpy

State Senate votes for final confirmation of Xavier Becerra as state attorney general

By Patrick McGreevy

The state Senate on Monday voted 26-9 in favor of final confirmation of Rep. Xavier Becerra as California’s attorney general, putting on watch a veteran politician who has promised to block efforts by President Trump to roll back state policies on immigration, civil rights and the environment.

Becerra, a Los Angeles Democrat and 12-term congressman, is set to take the oath of office on Tuesday before Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address.

"As Attorney General, Xavier will be a champion for all Californians," Brown said in a statement after the party-line vote.

Brown appointed Becerra as the state’s first Latino attorney general to fill the vacancy left when former state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said Becerra will be an effective counter force to Trump, who has threatened mass deportations and the repeal of some environmental laws.

"Many of us know him personally and can attest to his character, to his integrity and to his qualifications," De León said of Becerra. "He will be a strong partner for our state to help us work with the federal government when we can and to resist when we must."

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said Becerra understands the challenges ahead.

“He will indeed vigorously defend the values of our state by taking the fight to the federal government when necessary,” said Jackson, who chairs the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

Becerra, 58, said during two weeks of confirmation hearings that he would also fight any attempt to weaken environmental protections or adopt stop-and-frisk police policies that allow officers to search anyone on the street.

All Republican senators voted against Becerra or withheld their vote.

"I think when you are the top cop you have to enforce the law to the fullest extent," said state Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) before he voted against Becerra.

Opponents cited Becerra’s support for sanctuary cities that refuse to have their officers help enforce immigration laws.

San Francisco prohibits local authorities from holding immigrants for immigration officials if they have no violent felonies on their records and do not currently face charges.

Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities.

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) also opposed Becerra, saying he is worried that the antagonistic tone being set by Democratic lawmakers with Becerra could put at risk the $86 billion the state and its cities gets annually from the federal government.

“I don’t want to jeopardize those funds,” Moorlach said.

Becerra said he was humbled by the vote and ready to get working.He plans to meet soon with county sheriffs to discuss local law enforcement issues.

"As I embark on this new journey, my compass will be the experiences of hard-working families like the one I grew up in," Becerra said. "As the son of immigrants, I know how important it is to protect the rights and dreams of every aspiring American. I will make sure no headwinds from outside our state can knock us down."

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