Taxes, guns, endangered species, and sex

Good morning, California.

“We are united in our resolve to make sure the advisory committee draft is only that, a draft, that will be substantially amended. And let me also apologize on behalf of the state for the anxiety that this produced.”—Gov. Gavin Newsom, declaring to The Jewish Journal that a draft ethnic studies curriculum is being scrapped. 

Newsom embraces a Trump tax cut

Gov. Gavin Newsom

After rejecting numerous tax hikes this year, legislators will have a chance in the coming weeks to show whether they’re willing to cut taxes, specifically for developers. 

Embracing a tax cut championed by President Donald Trump, Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a $100-million-a-year tax break for investors, but with a California spin.

What it is: Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul created so-called opportunity zones, granting generous tax breaks to investors who put money into many types of developments in economically strapped areas .

After mentioning opportunity zones early in the year, the governor released details of his proposal late last week.

California has designated 879 opportunity zones in 57 counties, in such locales as Stockton, Fresno and Watts. 

California developers would get a break on state taxes so long as they invest in low-income housing or green tech within any of the 879 zones. Green tech would range from wind, solar or biomass plants to electric vehicle charging stations.

Pro: Lobbyist Chris Micheli, representing Cal OZ, a business group, called Newsom’s proposal “an important step forward in California embracing the potential of opportunity zones, particularly as a new pathway to grow our clean economy and expand housing options for low- and moderate-income Californians.”

Con: The California Tax Reform Association, which includes organized labor, said “it is clear that the vast majority of the tax benefits will be realized by wealthy investors—including those out of state.”

Feeding farm workers, quietly

Farmworkers and families wait in line at a monthly clandestine food distribution in Santa Cruz County.
Clandestine food distribution in Santa Cruz County. Photo by Bay Area News Group

Farm worker families afraid of going to food banks because of immigration raids are turning to clandestine food handouts in Santa Cruz County.

Erica Hellerstein of the Bay Area News Group reported on the secretive food banks as part of The California Divide, a CalMatters collaboration examining income inequity in California.

Organizers say farm workers’ fear has intensified after arrests at poultry operations in Mississippi earlier this month, and after the Trump administration’s proposed to deny green cards to immigrants who use public assistance.

Ann Lopez, of the Center for Farmworker Families and organizer of the operation: 

  • “They can’t afford to pay for the food that they harvest. They can’t afford a decent diet. This is the kind of life they live: impoverished, abused, living in constant fear. This is no way to treat essential workers that feed the country.”

Unwittingly, Trump helps out

A male Chinook salmon returns from the Pacific to spawn. Photo via California Sea Grant/Flickr
A male Chinook salmon returns to spawn. Photo via California Sea Grant/Flickr

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins couldn’t have orchestrated it better if she tried.

Her Senate Bill 1 is the year’s most far-reaching environmental legislation. It declares that the state would adhere to laws governing clean air, water, endangered species and labor that were in place in January 2017, when President Trump took office, and before he set about trying to unravel environmental law.

Farm groups mounted a major campaign to sway legislators to amend or kill the bill, and seemed to be gathering momentum.

Dave Puglia of the Western Growers Association: “We think there is a will and a way to reach agreement on a package of amendments.”

But Atkins cited “clear cut evidence that this administration will put political considerations before both science and the law.” 

  • Atkins: “The stakes are too high to ignore–the Endangered Species Act is credited with saving dozens of iconic species from extinction. If we can’t trust the administration to act in good faith to uphold perhaps our strongest environmental law, we must take steps to enforce the law ourselves.”

Translation: Look for Atkins’ bill to start moving this week.

Take a number: 290

Gun sales spiked in California after Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election.

In the 11 weeks following Barack Obama’s reelection and the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, Californians bought 55% more handguns than they ordinarily would have.

That spike translated into a 4% increase in firearm-related injuries and deaths, or 290 individuals, a UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program study released Sunday showed

Harsh realities about guns

Man holding a gun
Nearly half of guns used in Alameda County crimes in 2018 were not registered in California.

California Democrats made news last week by urging Nevada lawmakers to toughen that state’s gun restrictions, but Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley revealed some harsh realities about firearms used in crimes in our state.

O’Malley’s team looked at 862 guns used in crimes prosecuted by her office in 2018:

  • 66 were registered to the person arrested for the crime.
  • 432 were registered in California.
  • 430 were not registered in California.

Among her findings: The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms tracks guns used in crimes but doesn’t allow law enforcement who recover crime guns to record whether a gun used in a crime is stolen.

  • The report: “There was no ability for the Team to determine if any of the 862 firearms, or even the 432 firearms that were registered to an individual in California, were reported stolen or lost. This gap in data gathering and recordation is unacceptable.”

And there’s this loophole:

As it is, people convicted of crimes or who are found to be severely mentally ill must forfeit their guns.

As part of last year’s budget, however, legislators agreed that people who commit crimes and are deemed mentally ill can be diverted from the criminal justice system and into mental health care. 

Unintended consequence: That law does not require that those mentally ill individuals who have committed crimes turn in their guns.

Nevada politely declines

gilroy shooting
People hug after the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. Photo by Bay Area News Group.

Nevada lawmakers seem to have shrugged off 27 California legislators’ request that the two states convene a summit on gun violence.

California’s letter cites the 19-year-old man who used an AK-47 he bought in Nevada to kill three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last month.

Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel of Encino, as quoted in The L.A. Times: “This shooting in Gilroy was a reminder that lax gun laws in other states impact our safety here in California.”

The nonprofit Nevada Independent news organization summed up the Silver State’s reaction to the summit: “Nevada Democratic legislative leaders say they ‘welcome collaboration’ but are making no specific promises.”

The largest out-of-state sources of guns used in California crimes in 2017 were Arizona, at 2,185, and Nevada, at 1,554, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms reports.

In any summit, California would have some explaining to do. Tough though this state’s laws are, California is the largest source of out-of-state guns used in crimes in Nevada (319)  and Arizona (163).

That time in the Hyundai

Patsy’s Irish Pub in Mission Viejo, where 55 % of young adults in this part of Orange County live at home. Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG
Patsy’s Irish Pub in Mission Viejo. Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG

Drop a Jagerbomb somewhere inside Patsy’s Irish Pub in the wealthy Orange County suburb of Mission Viejo, and more likely than not the shrapnel will splash a millennial who still lives with mom and dad.

In this pricey part of Southern California, where the average home is valued at well over $700,000, roughly 55% of 18- to 34-year-olds live with their parents, as housing and data reporter Matt Levin writes.

  • Statewide, 37% of young adults still live at home. 

In maps, charts, and an anecdote about having sex in a Hyundai, Levin brings you everything you need to know about this frighteningly ubiquitous living arrangement.

Great read of the day

The New Yorker’s Nicola Twilley offers insights into how Californians will need to change their views about the nature of Sierra Forests.

Do yourself a favor and read it. But here’s the take-away:

  • “Californians will have to forge a new relationship with their forest, and see the Sierra more as its native inhabitants once did—as a landscape that should be tended like a garden rather than harvested as a crop or protected as a wilderness.”

Commentary at CalMatters

Darrell Steinberg and Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gov. Newsom’s homeless task force: Ours is a simple plea that the public policy of California clearly state that sleeping safely indoors is an essential first step to helping people and alleviating this ever-growing crisis.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: Redevelopment, a program supposedly meant to clean up urban blight but often misused, disappeared eight years ago, but a new bill would bring it back with a new name.

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

See you tomorrow.

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