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Tempers rise over gas tax suspension bill + Reports look at long-term impacts + 'Job killer' list released

Sacramento Bee logo Sacramento Bee 3/29/2022 Andrew Sheeler, The Sacramento Bee

Mar. 29—Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

GAS TAX SUSPENSION HEARD IN ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

Tempers rose in the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday, as lawmakers discussed Rocklin Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley's AB 1638, a bill to suspend the state gas tax, amounting to approximately 51 cents per gallon.

"This should not be a partisan issue," Kiley said in his opening remarks introducing the bill.

Oh, but it was.

After hearing from lengthy public comment — both for and against the bill — Assemblyman Alex Lee, D-San Jose, introduced a motion to gut and amend Kiley's bill, turning it instead into a vehicle fuel windfall profits tax on California refineries.

Lee later tweeted about his proposal, writing, "Fossil fuel corporations are reaping record profits & have continued to take advantage of global events to jack up prices. The windfall profits tax I introduced on fossil fuel corporations would return their excess profits back to hardworking Californians."

The committee then defeated a motion, by Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, to table Lee's motion, and then defeated a second motion to consider Kiley's bill as written.

Kiley, who tried to withdraw his bill, expressed disgust with the process.

"This is your government folks, right here. Absolutely disgraceful," he said.

He was joined by fellow Republicans Fong; Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel; and Janet Nguyen, R-Huntington Beach.

Republicans argued that Kiley's bill was being "hijacked."

"That is completely asinine," Fong said.

Davies said that she is "disgusted by this process," while Nguyen said she is "beyond shocked, offended and appalled."

Committee Chair Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, came out in fiery defense of Lee's amendment.

"I'm a little appalled and shocked that you all are appalled and shocked by this," Friedman said, adding that the committee was just following longstanding procedure in amending the legislation.

Friedman decried Kiley's bill as "trickle down politics," and said that nothing in the bill as originally written would guarantee even a penny of savings for gas consumers.

She also acknowledged that while the Democrat-controlled committee could simply vote the bill down as originally written, but added that the Democrats are trying to help make it a better bill.

Ultimately, the committee voted 8-4 on a party line vote to pass the bill as amended.

Kiley responded to the committee decision with a tweet, writing, "The Supermajority just rejected my gas tax suspension bill and instead passed a tax —increase— so bad no one would put their name on it. I wish I were making this up."


Video: CBS13 Investigates: Gas Tax Battle (CBS Sacramento)

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NEW REPORTS LOOK AT LONG-TERM CALIFORNIA SCENARIOS

California 100, a new policy and research initiative based out of the University of California and Stanford, on Tuesday released its first four policy and future scenario reports, the first batch of ultimately 13 total reports that will be released by the group over the next few months.

The first four reports are titled:

The Future of Housing and Community Development in California

The Future of Transportation and Urban Planning in California

The Future of Advanced Technology in California

The Future of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources in California

The initiative will be hosting a panel discussion on the reports at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the California Museum.

"Unlike the short-termism that dominates California government and politics today with term limits and election cycles, California 100 seeks to plan for the long-term by engaging researchers, academics, young people, and those working in and around government on policy solutions for the long haul," according to a statement released announcing the event.

More information about California 100 can be found here.

CALCHAMBER RELEASES ITS 'JOB KILLER' LIST

The California Chamber of Commerce on Monday released its complete list of "job killer" bills, bills that the advocacy organization argues will be harmful to the state's economy if passed into law.

All told, 11 bills made the list, touching on everything from labor and employment to taxation to the California Environmental Quality Act to privacy and cybersecurity to workers' compensation to agriculture.

"California companies are the economic engine that drives innovation and job creation in our state and are responsible for the record revenues the state is currently experiencing," said CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera in a statement. "Yet, the bills on this year's job killer list reflect a lack of appreciation of the economic realities and regulatory challenges employers — and especially small business employers — face as they continue to emerge from the impacts of this pandemic. "

In 2021, CalChamber identified 25 so-called "job killers," according to a statement from the group. Of those, two bills made it to Gov. Gavin Newsom, of which only one was signed into law.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Florida just literally made it illegal to talk about LGBTQ people in school. People need to understand it's not safe to be an LGBTQ youth in this country. Actions like this have profound consequences. Never forget who did this & what else they're capable of doing to us." — Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, via Twitter.

Best of The Bee:

California tenants waiting on COVID-19 rent relief money could face eviction at the end of the month. Now lawmakers are considering extending protections for those who have submitted applications, via Lindsey Holden.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, acknowledging the severity of the drought, ordered California cities and other local water agencies Monday to reduce their water usage and tighten their conservation rules, via Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow.

Will Californians get $100 a month in gasoline rebates from Washington in addition to the gas relief money state officials want to send to consumers? Via David Lightman.

(c)2022 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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