With the legislative session now behind us, I took the opportunity to catalog what I thought to be the “Worst 16 Bills of 2016.” Unfortunately, this list is far from comprehensive, but it’s representative of today’s twisted, trivial, irrational and harmful legislative agenda. These bills attack our economy, our budget, our families and our Second Amendment rights. Below are “The Ugly 16” (in order of bill number):
Assembly Bill 1066 (Gonzalez-D) ― Creates mandatory overtime pay for farmworkers, adding unnecessary burden on the employers with unintended consequences on the employees and putting another huge burden on our farmers and ranchers, who are already struggling to get by because of the drought.
Assembly Bill 1550 (Gomez-D) ― Requires that 25% of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) monies are spent in low-income communities. This just proves once again that the GGRF long ago turned into a free-for-all cash grab and redistribution scheme that has little to do with greenhouse gas reductions.
Assembly Bill 1685 (Gomez-D) ― Creates civil penalties for car owners of Zero Emission Vehicles if they fail to meet the California standard. This could cause an unwitting buyer to be subject to these penalties if they bring a car into California which meets the federal standard but not California’s, and is just another example of California environmentalism running out of control.
Assembly Bill 1889 (Mullen-D) ― Allows proposition 1A funds to be more easily used for High Speed Rail Authority projects. High Speed Rail is to money wasting what the Grand Canyon is to ditches. California should not waste a single dollar on the worst project ever undertaken by the state.
Assembly Bill 2466 (Weber-D) ― Allows convicted felons serving their sentence in county jail to vote while incarcerated, rewarding lawbreakers and predators by giving them one of our most cherished rights.
Senate Bill 3 (Leno―D) ― Increases the minimum wage in California. This is a gigantic labor tax! It is like putting a $10,000 annual tax on any employer who wants to hire a low-skilled employee, and it all but guarantees that those people just starting out in the workforce will find the pool of jobs available to them all but disappearing. While a higher wage will help those who get it, it won’t help those who lose their jobs or can’t get any jobs in the first place.
Senate Bill 32 (Pavley-D) ― Adopts new Greenhouse Gas emissions targets for California though 2030, making businesses less competitive and slowing economic growth. This legislation elevates California’s quest to cut greenhouse gas above the welfare of employers and families and raises the cost of virtually every item produced or purchased in the state.
Senate Bill 450 (Allen-D)/Assembly Bill 1921 (Gonzalez-D) ― Authorizes counties to conduct all vote-by-mail ballot for any office by 2020, and limits the number of physical polling places in some counties. Allows anyone, including campaign workers and special interest groups, to harvest vote-by-mail ballots and turn in the ballots to the polls on behalf of voters, increasing voter fraud potential. It’s hard enough to ensure fair and impartial elections right now. This is another in a line of bills that together erode the integrity of elections and undermine faith in government.
Senate Bill 839 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) ― Significantly increases the costs of permitting aerospace, recycling, oil and gas, and other critical waste facilities. California’s stratospheric business costs are already driving companies out of the state or stopping them from expanding here. Is raising costs even higher somehow supposed to help?
Senate Bill 1107 (Allen-D) ― Amends the Political Reform Act without voter approval to allow state and local governments to adopt a system of taxpayer-funded election campaigns; and to require officeholders convicted of certain corruption-related crimes to forfeit any remaining campaign funds to the General Fund. This will force taxpayers to support political candidates they don’t believe in. That is the antithesis of freedom and is an injustice.
Senate Bill 1146 (Lara-D) ― Discriminates against religious-based universities and infringes their ability to ensure faith-based practices are upheld on campus, undermining the concrete right of religious freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment.
Senate Bill 1234 (de León-D) ― Forces private sector employers to enroll all employees into a state sponsored retirement savings program. Saving for retirement is good! But government mandates on employers are not, especially in a state that is suffocating under regulation. Also, there is no guarantee that this private-sector savings program will not someday be guaranteed by the state, putting taxpayers on hook for virtually endless expanse.
Assembly Bill 857 (Cooper-D) ― Requires a serial number from the Department of Justice for home-built firearms.
Assembly Bill 1135 (Levine-D)/Senate Bill 880 (Hall-D) ― Reclassifies hundreds of thousands of legally owned semi-automatic rifles as “assault weapons.”
Assembly Bill 1511 (Santiago-D) ― Prohibits the loaning of any firearm to anyone other than a family member or a person who is in the field hunting unless conducted through a dealer.
Senate Bill 1235 (de León-D) ― Places unjustified and burdensome restrictions on the purchase of ammunition and would require the attorney general to keep records of purchases. This legislation would further require any online ammunition sales to be conducted through a licensed vendor.
I’ll deal with the gun bills all at once, since they are really just part of a single effort, and that effort is to eliminate gun ownership, period. If you think I’m overstating the case, ask yourself, “where does it stop?” Why is it that year after year the anti-2nd amendment crowd keeps introducing more and more bills that shave off just a little bit more freedom? This batch of bills will simply make it more difficult to own, use, afford and enjoy having a gun for any reason. Of course, criminals will ignore all of these laws and the rationale for these bills is bogus because of that. Again, it’s the honest, law-abiding citizen, the collector, the home defender, the hunter, who will be burdened by these requirements, and more come every year. These bills are a clear attack on the Constitution and set a terrible precedent for freedom. What rights will be under attack next?
Welcoming Indy 500 Winner Alexander Rossi
Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to INDY 500 winner Alexander Rossi at the State Capitol.
It was such an honor to welcome Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi to the State Capitol last month. I presented him with a Senate Resolution in recognition of his remarkable championship. Alexander is the first American-born rookie to win at Indianapolis since 1928 and is a native of Nevada City, within my Senate District. I wish him the best of luck as he continues his extraordinary racing career.
Transportation Survey Results
In my September newsletter, I shared a transportation-related survey I had distributed to my constituents and made available online through my website. I received thousands of responses and wanted to share some of the feedback from the questionnaire.
- 95-percent do not support a new and additional $65 charge every time they register their vehicle.
- 91-percent do not support a permanent gas tax increase of eight cents per gallon.
- 94-percent believe truck weight fees should be returned to road building before the state raises any new transportation funds.
- 91-percent believe CalTrans should adjust its staffing to save $500 million a year to invest in roads before the state raises any new transportation funds.
- 87-percent agree that the $9 billion in current High-Speed Rail bonds should be redirected to repairing California roads.
This overwhelming feedback comes as no surprise. California’s gas taxes are the fifth-highest in the nation. Our road conditions rank sixth-worst in the country. We are all being taken for a bumpy ride by a government that should be providing a world-class infrastructure for the money that drivers are already paying at the pump. I want you to know that I’m listening to your concerns and fighting everyday here at the Capitol for all of the over-burdened, over-taxed Californians who do not believe our transportation problems should be “solved” by raising taxes.
It’s not too late to make sure your voice is heard on this issue. Click here to take my transportation-related survey. If you have any questions or need additional information, please call one of my Constituent Service Centers in El Dorado Hills at (916) 933-7213 or in Redding at (530) 224-7001.
I appreciate your participation!
Senator Paul J. Lunardi Memorial Highway
Senator Gaines attends the roadside dedication, along with Senator Lunardi’s daughter, Nancy Lunardi (right), and Victoria Horton, President of the California Beer and Beverage Distributors (left).
During the 2014-2015 legislative session, I carried Senate Concurrent Resolution 23, which designated a portion of State Highway Route 267 as the “Senator Paul J. Lunardi Memorial Highway.” Last month, I attended the roadside dedication ceremony where the signage for the highway was unveiled.
Paul J. Lunardi dedicated eight years to serving in the California State Legislature. While he had many legislative accomplishments, his most notable was passing a bill that enabled Highway Route 267, which links Truckee to Kings Beach, to remain open year-round, enabling exponential growth in tourism and allowed for the development of Northstar Ski Resort.
Designating this part of Highway Route 267 was an appropriate tribute for this visionary leader who fought to develop this highway and I was honored to have played a role.
Earning “A” Grade For Gun Rights
This year, the Second Amendment has been under constant attack in California and I’m proud to report that I received an “A” grade from the Firearms Policy Coalition for my votes during the 2015-16 legislative session.
The Firearms Policy Coalition is a grassroots, non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on protecting and defending the Constitution and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.
The Firearms Policy Coalition’s annual legislative report card is designed to help Californians determine how state legislators act on legislation affecting Second Amendment rights. Grades were based on votes that legislators took on gun-related bills and the bills that they authored or coauthored.
Gun ownership is constitutional bedrock. We can’t smash the Second Amendment into a million little pieces and expect America to be as free and strong as it has always been. These bills are an attempt to strangle this fundamental right.
California already has hundreds of the toughest gun laws in the nation and I can’t imagine that adding ten more would solve any perceived problem, offer increased public safety or do anything other than unnecessarily burden the law abiding citizens who are already trying to do the right thing and exercise their rights.
I opposed these bills for everyone who uses a gun for hunting, home protection, recreation, collecting, or any other legal reason. But I also opposed them for everyone who doesn’t own a gun but who values our freedom and constitutional rights.
To view a copy of the legislative report card, visit https://www.firearmspolicy.org/grades/ca2016/
2016 Gold Panning Championship
Senator Gaines joins Assembly members Beth Gaines and Frank Bigelow, along with gold panner extraordinaire Rich Mason (aka Uncle Fuzzy) at the Gold Panning World Championships.
This year, El Dorado County, in my Senate District, hosted the 2016 World Gold Panning Championship. The fairgrounds were transformed into a scene from the gold rush era that started in 1848 when James Marshall discovered gold in the tailraces of his lumber mill, just a few miles away in Coloma, along the South Fork of the American River. This discovery lead to the world migration to California of people seeking their fortunes. Gold panners from more than 20 countries competed to win a gold, silver or bronze medal. It was an exciting competition and an excellent way to preserve gold rush history for the next generation.
October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I was pleased to have Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 150 pass out of the legislature that encourages increased education and public awareness about domestic violence and the programs and services available to all victims.
Domestic violence programs in California provide essential, lifesaving services to nearly 6,000 victims and their children each day as they flee violence. Overall, state-funded domestic violence programs provide individual counseling to an average of nearly 34,000 victims each year.
All Californians can play a vital role in preventing, and one day ending, domestic violence. For information and resources, visit the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence at www.cpedv.org.
GoPro Karma Launch Event
Senator Gaines joins GoPro founder and CEO, Nick Woodman at the GoPro Karma Launch Event in Squaw Valley.
GoPro founder and CEO, Nick Woodman and his team held the unveiling of their GoPro Karma at Squaw Valley last month and I got to check out their first camera-ready drone. Thank you GoPro for choosing the 1st Senate District for the worldwide launch of your amazing new technology products!
Bill To Keep Drones Out Of Emergency Zones Signed By Governor
I am thrilled to announce that my Senate Bill 807, which would protect forests, property and the lives of citizens, firefighters and emergency personnel from drone interference, was signed by Governor Brown.
Wildfires continue to ravage our state and we can’t have drones or anything else getting in the way of the first-class emergency response we get from all of our firefighters and public safety officers. These are life-and-death situations where a single delay can lead to tragedy. Let’s keep drones away to protect people and property. I want to thank Governor Brown for signing this critical piece of legislation. He understands that these unauthorized drones are putting lives at risk and have no business in emergency areas.
Senate Bill 807 will grant civil immunity to an emergency responder who damages an unmanned aircraft in the course of firefighting, air ambulance, or search-and-rescue operations. The bill stems from alarming reports of private, unauthorized drones causing mission-critical aircraft to be grounded during firefighting and medical response operations, putting pilots, firefighters, civilians and property at unnecessary risk.
I believe drones hold great promise for wildfire suppression and other emergency services when used properly by public safety, but I do not want rogue drones to interfere with the most effective response to time-sensitive crises.
I want everyone to know that interfering with firefighting or other emergency activities is reckless and wrong. Let’s get the word out as far and wide as we can – immediately – to help keep our people and emergency personnel safe. This bill will help ensure our skies are protected. People can replace drones, but we can’t replace a life. Public safety should be our absolute number one priority.
Districts Make The Difference
The California Special Districts Association (CSDA) is hosting a video competition as part of its “Districts Make the Difference” public outreach campaign to increase the understanding and awareness of special districts.
High school and college students are encouraged to create and submit a 60 second video about special districts for a chance to win up to $2,000 in scholarships. Students may participate by submitting their application and a Dropbox link to their video via email to info@DistrictsMaketheDifference.org by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 31.
The top five videos will be selected by CSDA officials and finalist videos will be featured on the ”Districts Make the Difference” website. The public will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorite video and the top three winners will receive scholarship prizes. First place will receive $2,000, second $1,000, and third $500. Additional finalists will also receive a $100 gift card.
For additional information and official rules visit www.DistrictsMaketheDifference.org/contest.
Senator Gaines speaks at the 49th Annual Native American Day event at the State Capitol.
In 2014, Governor Brown signed legislation designating Native American Day on the fourth Friday of September, as an official state holiday. It is intended to celebrate the rich and diverse history of California Native American Tribal Nations. I had the honor of speaking at their event held at the State Capitol on September 23 and presented a Senate Resolution, which pays tribute and honors the contributions of Native Americans in California.