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By Scott Kaufman, Legislative Director

Elections have consequences. And that’s good for us. The threat of the Newsom recall, a record-breaking budget surplus and an election year seem to have had a taming effect on the Legislature. Many of the worst bills died and they died early. As far as legislative sessions go for us here in California, it went well, and of the bills that made it to the governor’s desk, only a few are of concern to taxpayers.

So, how did we do? Well, our report card is designed to help Californians gauge how their state representatives are performing on taxpayer-related issues, including, but not limited to, tax increases, attempts to gut the recall and initiative process that gave us Proposition 13 and direct attacks on Prop. 13.

As with last year, we only considered floor votes. This allows all legislators to vote on a bill at the same time and removes the potential risk of grade inflation from committee votes on the same bills. We also gave bills that have made it through both chambers greater consideration in our scoring. Those are the bills that were most likely to hurt (or help) taxpayers. Abstention votes on legislation count as half credit.

Assembly Bill 1227. HJTA opposed AB 1227 because it would impose an excise tax in the amount of 10% of the gross receipts from the retail sale of a handgun and 11% of the gross receipts from the retail sale of a long gun, rifle, firearm precursor part, and ammunition. Taxing law-abiding gun owners who put safety first is not the way to address the problem of gun violence. Fortunately, this one died on the floor of the Senate. The rest in this list were signed into law by the governor.

Assembly Bill 257. HJTA opposed AB 257 because it imposes “sector-wide minimum standards” for wages, hours and working conditions at fast-food chains. While not a direct taxpayer issue, it is a government mandate that will significantly increase costs, and we know those costs will be passed onto the consumer like an indirect tax. The franchisees are collecting signatures to place a referendum on the ballot to overturn it.

Assembly Bill 1249. HJTA supported AB 1249 because it clarifies that victims of the Butte Fire, North Bay Fires and the Camp Fire are exempt from state gross income tax for amounts received from PG&E’s Fire Victims Trust.

Assembly Bill 2582. HJTA opposed AB 2582 because it requires a local recall election to include only the question of whether the elected officer should be removed from office, which will then either be filled by appointment or a special election. The former removes the right of the people to select a successor and the latter unnecessarily drives up recall election costs.

Assembly Bill 2584. HJTA opposed AB 2584 because, among other things, it eliminates the ability to have a stand-alone local special recall election and would allow special interest groups to litigate the statement of reasons given for the recall and to sue proponents for libel. Recalling elected officials requires sober consideration but is absolutely a legitimate tool in the arsenal of a functioning democratic republic.

Assembly Bill 2780. HJTA opposed AB 2780 because it authorizes the City of Selma to initiate, participate in, govern, or finance an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD). EIFDs do not require voter approval to form, and while General Obligation bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of a municipality’s General Fund, EIFD bonds have no such assurances. This creates a much greater risk for the bond holders and taxpayers, resulting in higher interest rates and thus less money for projects. This bill sets a bad precedent for other cities.

Senate Bill 54. HJTA opposed SB 54 because as consumers are already feeling pinched by inflation, the Legislature is placing an unnecessary fee on the production of single-use packaging and plastic single-use food service ware that are part of many Californians’ daily lives, and it will only exacerbate skyrocketing costs in this difficult economic climate.

Senate Bill 679. HJTA opposed SB 679 because it establishes the Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency and would authorize the agency to, among other things, raise and allocate taxes, incur and issue bonds and other indebtedness, and place tax measures on the ballot in Los Angeles County. While HJTA opposes the bill for all our usual reasons, it’s also completely unnecessary. As the Assembly’s own Committee on Appropriations staff report notes, “such powers and capacities already exist within the county government.”

Senate Bill 1246. HJTA supported SB 1246 because, like AB 1249, it provides a tax exemption from state gross income tax settlement awards from Southern California Edison for victims of the Woolsey and Thomas Fires in Southern California.

Senate Bill 1271. HJTA supported SB 1271 because it amends the public contract code to require no-bid contracts of $25 million or more entered on or after January 1, 2023, to be subject to the oversight hearing of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee prior to a renewal or extension of the contract.

We hope you find our Legislative Report Card to be a helpful guide to the votes of your own representatives in Sacramento. If you’d like to get in touch with them to discuss their votes or for any other reason, you can look up their names and contact information online at findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov or in the government pages of your local phone directory.