Solar Water Heating a Possible State Environmental Boon

Posted on April 25th, 2007 — in Politics

According to a study by the Environment California Research and Policy Center, converting to solar hot water systems could save the state 1.2 billion therms of natural gas per year, or the equivalent of 24% of all current home natural gas use. Savings could represent 5% of the total reductions necessary to meet the state’s greenhouse gas emissions goals by 2020.

Solar Water Heating: How California Can Reduce Its Dependence on Natural Gas [Environment California Research and Policy Center]

Top Places to Do Business in California

Posted on April 23rd, 2007 — in Economy and Business :: Employment :: Growth, Development & Infrastructure

Six California cities and metropolitan areas wound up on this year’s Inc. Magazine‘s list of Top 100 places to do business, which the magazine says is based on “job-growth data, supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on 393 metropolitan statistical areas across the nation.”

According to the magazine, the rankings were based on “a normalized, weighted summary of: 1) recent growth trend: the current and prior year’s employment growth rates, with the current year emphasized (two points); 2) midterm growth: the average annual 2001-2006 growth rate (two points); 3) long-term trend: the sum of the 2001-2006 and 1995-2000 employment growth rates multiplied by the ratio of the 1995-2000 growth rate over the 2001-2006 growth rate (two points); and 4) current year growth (one point).”

The cities are: Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario (26), El Centro (34), Bakersfield (47), Madera (89), Hanford/Corcoran (93), and Chico (98).

Most of the top 20 places to do business were in Arizona, Florida, or Texas. Number one: St. George, Utah.

The Top Overall Cities for Doing Business [Inc. Magazine]

New Polls on Californians’ Perceptions of California

Posted on April 23rd, 2007 — in Economy and Business :: Polls and Surveys :: State of the State

Two new Field Polls released in the past few days seem to indicate that Californians view the rise in gasoline prices as a serious issue but that, in a reversal of a poll taken about two years ago, more Californians seem to think that the state is in good economic shape that think it is in bad shape, and almost half of Californians still view the state as one of the best places to live.


Renewal of Tribal Gaming Compacts and Their Potential Political Impact

Posted on April 20th, 2007 — in Politics :: Tribal Gaming

Several Indian gaming compacts negotiated by the governor’s office with six tribes were approved by the Senate yesterday. These are not new compacts; they are actually amendments to compacts that were originally negotiated and signed by the tribes in 1999 and which went into law in March 2000 after voters approved Proposition 1A.

The compacts still have to be approved by the Assembly, and furious lobbying is taking place on both sides of the issue. On one side are the tribes themselves, who wield a great deal of political clout. A recent California Research Bureau report describes the Indian casino business as a $7.2-billion-per-year industry. Some tribes poured a huge amount of money into the state controller’s race last autumn, making what was a non-controversial race a barnstormer. According to some political bloggers, some tribes are trying to use their leverage in getting the compacts renewed to position themselves with regard to supporting or opposing whatever term limits measure gets on the ballot in February.

On the other side are labor unions and activists, who have long complained about the lack of labor protections, competitive wages, and benefits for workers at Indian casinos.

Whatever happens with the Indian gaming compacts may have a significant impact well beyond the parameters of the casinos themselves.

California Tribal State Gaming Compacts, 1999-2006 [California Research Bureau]

Redistricting Measures Redux: SCA 9 and the Citizens Fair Districting Act

Posted on April 18th, 2007 — in Ballot Measures :: Politics :: Redistricting

In early March, the Citizens Fair Districting Act was added at the Attorney General’s Office as a pending initiative. According to an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, the measure “is expected to clear the secretary of state’s office and be ready for sponsors to gather signatures this week or next.”


New Field Polls on Illegal Immigration and Global Warming

Posted on April 13th, 2007 — in Immigration :: Polls and Surveys :: Resources and Environment

Two new Field Polls touch on issues at the fore of California politics these days — global warming (as witness the governor’s multiple media appearances and speeches on the subject this past week) and illegal immigration.


Update on Proposed Term Limits Ballot Measure

Posted on April 13th, 2007 — in Ballot Measures :: Politics

On Wednesday, the proposed term limits initiative was cleared by the Attorney General’s office for signature-gathering, a significant hurdle in its journey to appear on the ballot next February.

Several political bloggers point out that the language of the formal title and summary released by the Attorney General’s office — which is the only information many voters will ever read about the measure before they decide whether to vote for it — presents the ballot measure in the most positive possible light.

As we pointed out in a blog entry last week, recent polling data shows that voters’ opinions of the proposed term limits initiative seem to vary depending on whether they are informed that the initiative, if it passes, will allow a boatload of legislators currently on the brink of retirement from the statehouse to keep their jobs — at least for a while.

The language of the formal title and summary says nothing about that part of the proposed term limits reform.

On a related subject, the blog Political Muscle notes that campaign cash is already pouring in — to the tune of at least $200,000 — in support of the proposed measure.

The proposed term limits initiative has a signature collection deadline of September 10. It will qualify for the ballot if it gets roughly 694,500 signatures.

Limits on Legislators’ Terms in Office. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. (Official title and Voter Information Guide summary language) [California Secretary of State]

New Bill Would Set January 2008 Deadline for Delta Protection

Posted on April 10th, 2007 — in Growth, Development & Infrastructure :: Resources and Environment

A Public Policy Institute of California report in February detailed the ongoing collapse of the infrastructure of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. In addition to the unreliability of the Delta’s 1100 miles of aging levees, the report described other crises facing the region, including heavy seismic risk, increased land subsidence, declining freshwater fish populations, and a chronic lack of funding for CALFED, the state agency responsible for managing the Delta. “By several key criteria,” the report emphasized, “the Delta is now widely perceived to be in crisis.”


Voters Either Love Proposed Term Limits Reform or Hate It, Depending on the Poll

Posted on April 6th, 2007 — in Politics :: Polls and Surveys

Three recent surveys — by the Field Poll, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San José State University — confirm that Californians continue to support the idea of legislative term limits enforced by law, though they show varying levels of support for reforming term limits.


Economies of State’s Interior Counties Are Booming

Posted on April 6th, 2007 — in Demographics :: Economy and Business :: Employment

Another recent California Budget Project report points out that economic growth in the interior counties of the state was five times larger than that of the coastal counties during the period between 1990 and 2005, a finding which may be at odds with the conventional image of the inland counties as being economically stagnant.

Except for information, economic growth in the interior counties outshone coastal growth during this 15-year stretch in every sector (with information assumed to count also the motion picture and telecom industries).

Not only that, but the growth of jobs in the interior counties outpaced the growth of population in those counties during this same period by 8.1%. According to the CBP report, the fastest-growing counties during this period economically were Placer and El Dorado.

The report doesn’t go into the reasons for growth in individual counties, but both Placer and El Dorado, northeast of Sacramento County, are home to rapidly expanding suburban bedroom communities along the I-80 and I-50 corridors, including Roseville, Auburn, and Placerville, that are absorbing some of the population that Sacramento County itself can no longer successfully contain.

California Jobs Have Shifted Inland [California Budget Project]