Resistance State: California in the Age of Trump

Between Sacramento and Washington D.C. sits the rest of the country, and a chasm. On immigration and taxes, guns and healthcare, cannabis and climate change, California is the federal government’s equal and opposite reaction. One year into President Trump’s first term, the push and pull continues—playing out under the Capitol dome, in the courts and on Twitter.

Ready for another year? Follow along here.

How California policy affects you, straight to your inbox

Resistance State

Sept. 27, 2017 5:45 pm

Trump reveals tax plan—but it could take a special toll on Californians


President Trump today unveiled his proposal to revamp the federal tax code, and state Democrats swiftly pointed out that it could hit Californians particularly hard by revoking a deduction that disproportionately benefits the Golden State.

Short on detail, Trump’s framework calls for the elimination of “most itemized deductions” with the exception of the write-off on mortgage interest payments and charitable giving.

Getting rid of the deduction on state and local tax payments—a tax break that allows taxpayers to write off some of their non-federal taxes—would have little consequence for Red states that have low local taxes. But it would have a major impact on Californians, both because of our higher-than-average state and local tax rates and our sizable population of millionaires (lower earners tend not to take the standard deduction). In 2015, Californians used the deduction to write off nearly $113 billion in earnings.

How California policy affects you, straight to your inbox

Photo by Michael Vadon

“Elimination of the state and local tax deduction could lead to an economic downward spiral in California, including the loss of good-paying jobs and cuts to critical public safety and social service programs,” Democratic State Controller Betty Yee said in a statement.

State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León also chastised the president for possibly eliminating state and local deductions. “President Trump and Republicans in Congress again show where their true priorities lie: making the lives of the rich easier and the lives of working Americans dramatically tougher,” he said in his own statement.

Under Trump’s proposal, however, the standard deduction available to all taxpayers would be nearly doubled. The plan also envisions cutting income taxes on corporations and pass-through businesses, allowing more families to take advantage of the Child Tax Credit, and repealing both the Alternative Minimum Tax and the Estate tax.

That last proposal earned a special call out from Democratic State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco.

“California does not have to follow Washington down this foolish path” he said, “but instead we can enact our own estate tax.” Last year Wiener proposed putting a measure on the 2018 ballot that would amend the state constitution to allow a state tax on inheritances over a multimillion-dollar value.

For now, Trump’s proposal is just that—a proposal. Any reforms to the tax code will have to be voted into law by Congress.

Election Reporter
Resistance State

March 12, 2018 5:29 pm

Court orders Trump administration to comply with clean air laws

A court ruled today that the Environmental Protection Agency must identify regions of the country that exceed federal smog levels, giving another win to California and other states that sued to compel the regulator to enforce the Clean Air Act.

A federal court has ruled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must begin to identify regions where smog exceeds national standards.

The federal ruling came from a suit filed by 15 states after the federal EPA missed a deadline last year to designate “non-attainment” areas. The designation is critical because such a finding requires state and local authorities to take immediate action to improve air quality and comply with ozone standards.

“The stakes are high,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has brought multiple lawsuits against the Trump administration.  “The smog-reducing requirements at issue will save hundreds of lives and prevent 230,000 asthma attacks among children. That’s worth fighting for.”

How California policy affects you, straight to your inbox

The court ordered the EPA to comply by April 30, and the federal agency said it was moving forward on the work.

Environment Reporter
Resistance State

March 7, 2018 2:45 pm

Gov. Brown calls Trump administration lawsuit ‘war,’ insists it ‘will not stand’

A day after the Trump administration sued California over its new “sanctuary” laws, state officials pushed back hard, with Gov. Jerry Brown calling the move tantamount to “war.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the lawsuit, which he filed late Tuesday, at a police event near the Capitol today. He said California leaders were scoring political points on the backs of law enforcement with immigration policies that hinder federal agents’ ability to enforce U.S. law.

“We’re simply asking the state and other sanctuary jurisdictions to stop actively obstructing federal law enforcement,” Sessions said as hundreds of protesters shouted outside. “Stop treating immigration agents differently from everybody else for the purpose of eviscerating border and immigration laws, and advancing an open-borders philosophy shared by only a few, the most radical extremists.”

How California policy affects you, straight to your inbox

The attorney general accused local and state elected officials, including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, of promoting an extreme agenda to frustrate federal agents. Becerra, a Brown appointee, is running for election this year, as is Schaaf.

The attorney general accused local and state elected officials, including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, of promoting an extreme agenda to frustrate federal agents. Becerra, a Brown appointee, is running for election this year, as is Schaaf.

At a joint press conference with Becerra after Sessions’ announcement, Brown said he does not believe in “open borders.” The laws being challenged in the suit were carefully crafted, he said, to balance the state’s right to manage public safety with federal authority to oversee immigration. He termed Sessions’ appearance a stunt.

“This is completely unprecedented, for the chief of law enforcement in the United States to come out here and engage in a political stunt, make wild accusations, many of which are based on outright lies,” Brown said—unusually strong language for a governor who has largely been cautious in his criticism of the Trump administration. Read the full story:

Economy Reporter

March 6, 2018 8:43 pm

Trump administration sues California over ‘sanctuary’ laws

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Image by Gage Skidmore/Flickr

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has filed a lawsuit against California over immigrant-friendly laws that push back on immigration enforcement and detention by the federal government.

The lawsuit alleges that California is in violation of the U.S. Constitution because of three of its “sanctuary” laws, which it says obstruct enforcement of federal immigration law and impact public safety, according to national news sources.

Sessions is scheduled to announce the move Wednesday morning at a yearly state law-enforcement event.

How California policy affects you, straight to your inbox

The three laws the Department of Justice is asking the courts to strike down are AB 450, which requires employers to keep information about their employees private without a court order; AB 103, which mandates inspections for immigration detention facilities in the state, and SB 54, the law that limits interaction between local law enforcement and federal authorities. All took effect this year.

The best known of the three measures prohibits local law enforcers from questioning people about their immigration status during regular interactions and bans some detentions requested by federal authorities. It does allow state officials to cooperate with federal agents in situations where deportation is required for those who have committed up to 800 serious crimes.

On Tuesday evening, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra responded to the lawsuit, saying “state law is in concert with federal law.”

He pointed out that state officials do often work with federal law enforcers on drug, gang and human-trafficking crimes, and that will continue.

“What we won’t do is change from being focused on public safety,” he said. “We are in the business of public safety, not of deportation.”

He argues that state and local jurisdictions have a right to determine their own public-safety policies, and it works best when they are “focusing their time as law enforcement officials and their resources on combating dangerous criminals rather than on immigration enforcement.”

Becerra said he and his office will defend the state against the lawsuit, calling it a “B-movie” he has seen before.

“No matter what happens in Washington, California will stay the course and enforce all our laws and protect all our people. That’s how we keep our community safe here in California,” he said.

Governor Jerry Brown responded to reports of the lawsuit with a statement: “At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!”

When Brown signed SB 54 into law, he issued a statement that said, “This bill does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way. They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California.”

Health and Welfare Reporter

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest