Good morning, California.

“There’s a huge market of over-35s that’s not being addressed by the scooters.”—Tech entrepreneur Joshua Viner, who, with his brother Jonathan, has deposited 500 electric mini-bikes in the Gaslamp District of San Diego, and expects to move to other California cities soon, according to The San Diego Union Tribune and Forbes. “Wheels” bikes are free to unlock, unlike Uber’s Jump bikes. The Viners’ last venture was Wag, a dog-walking app.

 

Privacy fight is far from over

Silicon Valley wants to roll back privacy protections.

California’s internet privacy law is under assault by lobbyists here and in Washington, D.C., and its driving force has been working overtime in Sacramento to prevent it from being watered down.

  • Alastair Mactaggart was back in the Capitol Wednesday seeking to protect limits on the rights of tech companies to use and sell personal information.
  • The Piedmont advocate and real estate owner expects to be back many more times this year as Silicon Valley lobbyists seek to roll back some of the protections enacted in Assembly Bill 375, probably the most far-reaching privacy measure since voters approved a constitutional right to privacy in 1974.

Mactaggart believes he has an edge: Legislators rarely agree to roll back consumer protections once they’ve been granted. “I’d rather be us than the people who want to weaken the bill,” he told me this week. Lawmakers he’s visited lately seem to bear out that theory.

Democratic Assemblyman Mark Stone of Santa Cruz: “Fundamentally, it is a very solid framework and should be a platform from which we can learn and improve.”

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara: “Ultimately, there has to be more disclosure. If we do anything, it is my hope is we move it forward.”

The real fight likely will be in Washington, D.C., where tech firms seek to preempt states from imposing state-by-state restrictions on their business model.

  • Money matters: Tech firms disclosed their 2018 lobbying expenditures in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. Google spent $21.2 million, up from $18 million the year before. Facebook spent $12.6 million, up from $11.5 million in 2017.

Mactaggart expects to make more trips to D.C. He notes that California’s congressional delegation probably took notice that last year’s state legislation passed without a single no-vote.


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California looks to tap online retailers

Online sales could bring in more than $500 million a year in taxes.

California could collect more than $500 million a year in taxes on online sales under rules set to take effect April 1, the Bloomberg news service reports.

  • Bloomberg’s Laura Mahoney spotted the revenue estimate in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget, released earlier this month

California plans to implement a U.S. Supreme Court decision, South Dakota v. Wayfair, allowing states to collect taxes from online sellers such as Wayfair. That would generate $554 million in the coming fiscal year, from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

  • A bill to levy the tax on sellers whose annual revenue is $500,000 or more is being proposed by Los Angeles Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, a Democrat who chairs the Assembly tax committee.  

Online marketplace facilitators such as Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. would need to handle tax collections when they arrange sales and collect payments for third party sellers, according to Bloomberg. Hearings are the legislation have not been set.

How pollution undermines the CA Dream

Juan Pasillas, 18, avoiding the Imperial County air.

“You feel dizzy, everything starts getting like dark, the lights dim, the voices echo all around, you see everything in slow motion. When it’s really bad you can’t breathe, your heart feels like it’s going to pound out of your chest, your fingertips get really cold, you sweat a lot and your nails start getting really purple,” asthma sufferer Juan Pasillas, 18, tells CALmatters’ Elizabeth Aguilera.

Pasillas lives in Imperial County, a rural corner of the state that is steeped in some of the worst air in California. Among the pollutants: agricultural burning, the nearby drying Salton Sea and emissions from factories in its border neighbor Mexicali.

  • As part of the California Dream collaboration with public radio, Aguilera explores what local activists and the state are doing to help the Californians impacted by this severe pollution, most of them in low-income communities.

Jerry Brown is officially retired

Former Gov. Jerry Brown has begun collecting his state pension.

Gov. Jerry Brown has started drawing on a $120,000-a-year pension, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System tells CALmatters’ Judy Lin

  • Brown, 80, retired Jan. 7, the day he left office, and began drawing $9,994.29 a month, an amount that is modest by California standards.
  • His pension is based on 33.5 years of public service. Brown served as L.A. Community College board member, Secretary of State, governor, Oakland mayor, attorney general and governor again in a career that spanned five decades.

Brown pushed for rebalancing public employee pensions, a fight that is pending before the California Supreme Court. The court is expected to issue its decision in the coming weeks.

  • The case involves whether government can reduce pension benefits for prospective work. Brown’s pension would not be affected.

Speaking of e-commerce

A 33-inch-long paper CVS receipt.

Paper receipts can be a terrible waste, as anyone who makes a purchase at a CVS pharmacy can attest.

  • Now, having all but banned single use plastic grocery bags and restricted plastic straws, the California Legislature is taking aim at paper receipts.

A bill that would require businesses to provide email receipts unless the customer specifically asks for a paper one is being pushed by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco (a city that banned flavored tobacco and vaping products). 

Ting’s view: “It doesn’t make sense to kill so many trees and produce 12 billion pounds of carbon emissions, the equivalent of one million cars on the road, to make something we don’t often need.”

No hearing has been set for the bill.

Commentary at CALmatters

California must act on immigration, Peter Weber argues.

Peter Weber, California Forward: Imagine if California’s undocumented workers were to stop working. Unharvested crops would rot in the fields. The hospitality industry would shut down. Residential construction would plummet. It would be an economic catastrophe.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: California has its own version of Les Misérables in the quarter-century-long effort by California’s income tax system to collect millions in taxes from high-tech inventor Gilbert Hyatt. And it looks like Hyatt will finally prevail.

Please email or call with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected]org, 916.201.6281. Shawn Hubler, [email protected]edits WhatMatters. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.