Good morning, California.

“If you care about this state, it’s time to sound the alarm about the crisis in media and what it means for the health of democracy in the world’s sixth largest economy.”–CALmatters

GOP’s gas-tax bank shot

California’s congressional Republicans are all in on an initiative to repeal the state’s 12-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax. As they see it, it could help them maintain control of the House of Representatives.

Jog my memory: Prodded by Gov. Jerry Brown, the Legislature last year approved the 12-cent tax to generate $5.2 billion a year to help repair freeways and bridges. The state gas tax hadn’t been raised since 1991, when there were 10 million fewer of us.

Before any asphalt could be poured, Republicans set out to repeal it.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is responsible for protecting Republican seats, donated $100,000 earlier this month to help pay for the signature-gathering drive to get the initiative on the November ballot, on top of $200,000 he gave previously.

Other congressional Republican members who have kicked in $100,000 or more include Ken Calvert of Corona, Devin Nunes of Tulare and Mimi Walters of Dana Point.

The politics: Sacramento campaign consultant Dave Gilliard, overseeing the campaign, said that with a repeal measure on the ballot, conservatives would have a reason to vote in November, especially if no Republican wins one of the top two spots for governor in the June 5 primary.

If Republicans come out to tank the gas tax, they probably will vote for Republicans running for Congress and the Legislature. Gilliard said the initiative also could “convince independents and some Democrats to vote for candidates who support repealing the gas tax.”

Bottom line: Gilliard said he is very close to amassing the 585,00 valid signatures needed to qualify the measure for November. Brown and Democrats will fight any repeal. But as pump prices rise, motorists will be looking for a break. And polls suggest they just might seize the opportunity.

A message from Lucas Public Affairs:
Strategic – Connected – Effective
Navigating the crossroads of policy, politics and communications.

For more information, visit Lucas Public Affairs

CALmatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and depends on the support of individual members, foundations and sponsors to produce the high-quality and in-depth journalism associated with our brand.


A driver of homelessness

CALmatters’ David Gorn explores Rehab Riviera, a strip of tony towns that house a large number of drug-rehabilitation facilities along the Orange County coast. Many of these homes are unlicensed, unsupervised and tough to regulate. Unfortunately, many residents are far from sober, end up on the streets and place a huge drain on city services. Former Costa Mesa City Planner Rick Francis estimated 200 sober-living home residents a year end up living on the city’s streets, homeless and addicted. This in a city of 113,000. Legislators are scrambling to somehow regulate the homes. That won’t be easy, given federal law.

Democrats’ enthusiasm issue

Democratic congressional candidate Katie Hill’s opening campaign ad shows her climbing a sheer cliff, telling viewers that rock climbing is hard but not as hard as running for Congress. The ad, which certainly stands out, didn’t come cheap. That’s the rub.

Hill is challenging incumbent Congressman Steve Knight, a Palmdale Republican who is being targeted by Democrats. In the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 7 percentage points in Knight’s district.

Hill has raised $1.13 million, competitive with Knight’s $1.26 million. But to face Knight, Hill must beat two other well-funded Democrats in the June primary, Bryan Caforio and Jess Phoenix. The same issue is happening across the state as enthusiastic Democratic candidates envision unseating Republicans.

Sacramento campaign consultant Matt Rexroad, who represents Knight, said that while Democrats “beat the tar out of themselves,” Knight will be sitting on a campaign account of $1 million-plus for the fall general election.

Bottom line: Merits of candidates aside, who wins or loses congressional races more often than not comes down to who has the most money.

A message from today’s sponsor, BizFed

Calling all business leaders: Share your voice in
less than 9 minutes on important economic issues
that matter to you!


Why more women don’t run

Laura Capps knows too much about life in Congress. Her mother Lois and father Walter represented Santa Barbara for decades. In an op-ed in Politico, Capps, the mother of a young child, writes that congressional members “lead a lousy lifestyle,” not conducive to families. It’s why she opted against running for Congress and instead won a seat on the Santa Barbara school board. “If serving in D.C. were not such an awful option for parents of young kids, perhaps even more women would run for federal office.” But it is, so they don’t.

Hypocrisy watch

In his commentary, CALmatters’ Dan Walters writes that organized labor gets much of what it wants from the Legislature. But though some Democratic lawmakers are former union members and labor organizers, Democrats have once again killed a bill that would have allowed legislative employees to unionize. Walters calls it another of the Capitol’s “hypocritical loopholes.”

Please sign up for WhatMatters and tell a friend.
Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow

We want to hear from you

Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact CalMatters with any commentary questions:

Dan Morain joined CalMatters in March 2018. He is the former editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee. Morain also spent 27 years at The Los Angeles Times, and has covered the Capitol since 1992.