Initiatives target California unions + Lawmakers’ Portugal trip + Dahle blasts leaf blower ban

·5 min read

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

BALLOT INITIATIVE CAMPAIGNS GO AFTER THE UNIONS

Next November, public sector could be playing defense against at least two ballot initiatives that would weaken them in the capital.

Venture capitalist Timothy Draper is championing a ballot initiative that would put an end to public sector unions’ ability to bargain contracts. Draper, who once proposed splitting California into six states, contends public sector unions are too powerful, warping spending priorities among state lawmakers and local elected officials.

“After the Legislature authorized collective bargaining by public employee unions, public employment costs have exploded, including taxpayer funded pensions and lifetime health benefits not enjoyed by employees in the private sector. Worse yet, some public employee unions have used their money and power to protect bad employees engaged in unspeakable misconduct and others who have completely failed at their jobs,” the statement reads.

The other would create a “constitutional right to a high-quality public education.” EdSource reports that it’s supported by entrepreneur David Welch, who previously backed litigation that aimed to weaken teacher tenure.

Teachers also want to give students a “high-quality public education,” but the initiative seems to target employment protections they’ve negotiated over time.

It would prohibit state and local governments from denying a “high-quality public education” by any law, regulation, policy or official action. The measure would empower parents and guardians of public school students to “enforce the right to a high-quality public education.”

“Many of California’s education laws and policies do not put the interests of students first, such as: forcing children to attend low-quality public schools; redirecting funding to the education bureaucracy that was intended to benefit underserved students; creating school schedules and calendars that serve the interests of bureaucrats and special interests instead of students and their families; retaining consistently poor-performing employees; and adopting policies that protect abusive school employees or otherwise undermine school safety,” the measure reads.

And then there’s a measure, now circulating for signatures, that would give a shot in the arm to charter schools by establishing an educational savings account for every K-12 child in the state, which would be credited with the student’s share of Prop 98 funds. Former Trump administration Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell is behind the effort.

Those funds would be authorized to use at any participating public, charter, private or religious school in the state, with no curriculum or hiring requirements.

LAWMAKERS HEADING TO PORTUGAL

Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry is leading a bipartisan delegation of state lawmakers to Portugal, where they will learn about that country’s use of offshore wind energy, as well as its drug decriminalization program which has served as a model for similar efforts in the U.S.

“Portugal is a global leader in the deployment of floating offshore wind platforms and wind energy. This is an incredible opportunity for us to learn from their experience as this technology comes to California,” Aguiar-Curry said in a statement. “I look forward to learning how these projects are installed and operated in an environmentally responsible manner, and how they will lead to the creation of high paying local jobs in the construction, management and maintenance of these advanced facilities.”

The visit to Portugal is organized by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy. No taxpayer funds will be used to pay for the trip, the group noted in a statement.

“Portugal has cracked the code on harnessing offshore wind energy found far away from coastal shores,” CFEE President & CEO Jay Hansen said in a statement. “Offshore wind blows stronger and for longer periods of time. These immense reserves of abundant clean energy were once inaccessible. Now, California is primed to follow Portugal’s lead, install similar projects in our own deep ocean waters and tap into this powerful source of clean energy.”

DAHLE CONDEMNS GAS-POWERED LEAF BLOWER BAN

California is poised to ban the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers, but Northern California Republican Sen. Brian Dahle isn’t a fan.

To recap: AB 1346 directs the California Air Resources Board to ban the sale of gas-powered small off-road engines (like those used in chainsaws, generators, lawnmowers and, yes, the dreaded leaf blower) by as early as Jan. 1, 2024.

The law is intended to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Those little engines put out a lot of greenhouse gasses, as bill author Assemblyman Marc Berman will tell you. Berman cited a CARB statistic that an hour’s use of a small off-road engine is equivalent in emissions to driving from Los Angeles to Denver.

Dahle isn’t impressed.

In a statement released Friday, Dahle’s office said that “there was a collective sigh and eye rolls this week” after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law.

“Our communities are burning down, blackouts are becoming a way of life, and instead lawmakers want to regulate combustible engines. We are not a third-world economy, but it feels like we’re moving in that direction,” Dahle said in a statement. “At some point the public has to be made aware of the mismanagement of funds. We need to be accounting for the massive forest fires that are emitting more carbon annually than all sources combined.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It would be deeply ironic if Alma Hernandez, the SEIU official who led the union’s #SB10 anti-bail efforts, now asks the court to grant her bail.”

- Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, via Twitter.

Best of the Bee:

  • Exclusive: Fiona Ma asks taxpayers to cover her Sacramento lodging. Other officials don’t, via Sophia Bollag

  • The former executive director of California’s largest labor union and her husband were taken into custody Friday on charges including tax fraud, embezzlement, perjury and failure to pay unemployment insurance taxes, via Jeong Park.

  • The COVID-19 vaccination rate is lower among California state workers than among the state’s general population, according to data from the state Human Resources Department, via Wes Venteicher.

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