Road warriors

Jan 26, 2012

California's air-pollution regulators are expected to approve a landmark rule requiring 15 percent of new automobiles sold in California produce little or no smog, which means they will be powered by electricity, hydrogen or some other fuel that produces scant carbon emissions. The policy is likely to serve as a landmark template for the rest of the nation.


From the Mercury News' Paul Rogers: "The regulations by the California Air Resources Board, dubbed the "advanced clean car rules," would start in 2018, ramping up each year and ultimately resulting in 1.4 million "zero emission" vehicles on California roads by 2025. Today there are only about 10,000 such vehicles in the state. "This is a really large step. It's transformational," said Tom Cackette, an engineer and chief deputy director of the air board. "Ten years from now the market is going to look quite a bit different."


State Attorney General Kamala Harris says the proposed settlement with U.S. banks for financial abuses that occurred during the financial meltdown is inadequate and she has withdrawn California from participating in the agreement.


From Rick Daysog in the Sacramento Bee: "On Wednesday, Harris's office said the latest settlement plan still falls short of those goals. "Our state has been clear about what any multistate settlement must contain: transparency, relief going to the most distressed homeowners, and meaningful enforcement that ensures accountability," said spokesman Shum Preston."


Meanwhile, corporations that donate money to political campaigns would have to disclose their contributions if they have shareholders in California, reports Chase Davis of California Watch.


"The bill, introduced by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, would require corporations to publicly disclose a summary of their previous year's political spending and plans for future spending once each year. Similar legislation introduced in 2010 by then-Assemblyman Pedro Nava, a Santa Barbara Democrat, failed to gain traction and died in committee. Both bills were sponsored by the California Public Interest Research Group."


"Since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, campaign reform advocates often have worried aloud about the newfound ability of corporations to influence campaigns by spending unlimited amounts from their own treasuries in support of their favored candidates."


California's array of business, income and sales taxes puts it near the bottom of the list of states that are friendly to business, according to a conservative think tank.


From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "California placed 48th, ahead of only New York at 49th place and New Jersey at 50th, said a report released Wednesday by the Tax Foundation."


"The findings are likely to become an issue in a campaign by California Gov. Jerry Brown to put an initiative on the November ballot to temporarily raise the state sales tax and the individual income tax for people who make over $250,000 a year. Brown wants the money to pay down state debt, boost school spending and balance the budget."


The Tax Foundation may not like California's business, but the voters apparently like the idea of raising taxes to protect fundamental services, such as schools


From the LAT's George Skelton: "Brown's plan to wallop the well off — individuals earning $250,000, couples making $500,000 — pleases the middle class. Raising the sales tax, the governor hopes, will neutralize the business lobby, which mostly fears higher levies on specific industries, such as oil."

"Threatening schools with nearly $5 billion in cuts if the tax hike isn't approved — a threat that apparently isn't idle — seems to worry almost everyone."

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