Good morning, California.

“Spent part of the afternoon at the San Diego DMV talking to folks & passing out water. Long waits & 100 degree temps.” — John Cox, Republican running for governor, tweeting about the horrible wait times at Department of Motor Vehicle offices.

Realtors hedge their $5.5 million bet

Proposition 5 would grant homeowners 55 and older a new property tax break.

Realtors are funding an initiative on the November ballot that would give homeowners 55 and older a property tax break. Oddly, they’re already proposing a repeat for 2020.

The latest episode of CALmatters’ housing podcast, Gimme Shelter, explores the pros and cons of Proposition 5 on this November’s ballot and why supporters are hedging their bet by proposing a similar measure for the ballot two years from now.

Remind me: Proposition 5 would address a problem familiar to people of a certain age: you want to move from your empty nest, but don’t want the bigger property tax bill that comes with a new home.

Realtors’ fix: if Proposition 5 passes, those homeowners could sell their house, move to another place and keep their old lower property taxes.

The theory: More people would move, freeing up housing stock for younger families.

To Realtors’ dismay: The Legislative Analyst’s Office found that Proposition 5 would cost local governments and schools $2 billion a year. What’s more, baby boomers who would benefit likely would move anyway.

That analysis will be used in the campaign against Proposition 5 and could spell its demise.

Money matters: Realtors spent $5.5 million on writing the measure, polling on it, and gathering signatures to qualify it for the ballot. Teachers, law enforcement, and other public employee unions will lead the opposition because of the threat to local funds. They haven’t raised money yet.


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CALmatters’ new commentary forum

Today we are introducing a new forum for commentary at CALmatters. As a nonpartisan, statewide news organization, CALmatters is an appropriate place to host a conversation about the state’s major issues with some of its leading experts, community leaders and decision makers.

We will seek voices from across the political spectrum to help us understand where we have common ground and why we have differences. We will encourage writing that reflects the rich diversity of California’s population and its geography.

Our initial contributions include one by Water Foundation director Wade Crowfoot on one of the most pressing topics of the day, water; another by labor leader Dave Low about pension; and a leading expert’s thoughts about wildfires.


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Strategic. Persuasive. Effective. Working at the intersection of business, politics and policy.


Big-time lobbyist is a father first

Lobbyist Joe Lang with a photo of his daughter, Jordan, in his Sacramento office.

Lobbyist Joe Lang is the guy to see if you’re a billionaire wanting to build a basketball arena in Inglewood, or a weed start-up testing the boundaries of commercial cannabis, or a tobacco company with its many issues.

Lang also is Jordan’s dad. Upon learning that Jordan has a rare genetic mutation, Lang and his wife, Cynthia embarked on a quest that has engaged some of the nation’s top genetic researchers.

Now, that quest includes you. Here’s my piece detailing the story.

Testing GOP’s claims about the gas tax

California Republicans say that drivers can have smoother roads, more reliable public transit, and lower taxes without an increase in the gas tax.

Voters may test those claims if they reject Proposition 6, an initiative on the November ballot to repeal the 12-cent per gallon tax on gasoline to pay for road and bridge repair.

CALmatters’ Ben Christopher explores the GOP promises by asking one of the initiative’s main funders, Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox, for evidence that the state’s transportation budget is mismanaged.

Cox cited a report by the libertarian Reason Foundation that finds California spends $471,000 per mile to maintain roads, compared with the national average of $178,000.

Caltrans answers: More than 40 percent of the nation’s freight is trucked through California, adding to wear and tear on freeways. California wages and land values make everything cost more. California highways have an average width of over 3.4 lanes compared to a national average of 2.4.

Christopher: “In effect, the report treats a two-lane highway in Oklahoma the same as an equally long stretch of California’s I-405, all 14 lanes of it.”

Money matters: In June, Proposition 6’s campaign had $615,000 in unpaid bills. Road builders, businesses that rely on freeways and building trades unions opposing Proposition 6 had $9.6 million in the bank and have raised $9.1 million since July 1.

P.S.: Ever wonder where gas taxes you pay at the pump go? Christopher created this visualization to explain it.

Walters: Trump excels at pulling California’s chain

CALmatters commentator Dan Walters writes that Donald Trump excels at pulling the chains of California’s politicians. Most recently, the president moved to end California’s “waiver” that allows it to set its own rules to fight smog and climate change.

Walters: “The outcome could have a major impact on California’s very ambitious plans to curb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.”

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, dmorain@calmatters.org, 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.