On this week's Capital Notes Podcast, we wax poetically about some of the latest poltical and policy news... including an insurance industry crackdown, grumbling among some legislative Democrats when it comes to party politics, and the latest news on the state's growing budget deficit.
Capitol Weekly editor Anthony York and I trek through the week's news with our usual repartee. Consider yourself warned.
"State Launches Unprecedented Review of HMO Coverage Cancellations," by John Howard & Anthony York of Capitol Weekly
"Perata's 'No Show' Letter to Staff Chiefs Fuels Capitol Anger," by Anthony York of Capitol Weekly
"Tax Blues... State Government Style," by John Myers at KQED Capital Notes
Where else would a headline like that be written than here at the state Capitol? A few items of note as the week begins...
A NEW TAXXX: Today was lobbying day for the adult entertainment industry, one of the more unusual annual rituals at a statehouse was unusual is the norm. The fully clothed ensemble that made their way to Sacramento had a particular gripe this time around: pending legislation to impose a new (and extra) 8% tax on adult DVD stores, theaters, and nightclubs. The money collected by the tax in Assemblymember Charles Calderon's bill, AB 2914, would create a new fund to supposedly mitigate the impact of such businesses on local communities.
Let's just answer that burning question now, shall we? Yes, adult film stars were in attendance. And no, I shouldn't have Googled them in advance when I didn't recognize the names listed on the press advisory (seriously, KQED, I was doing research).
Now that we have that out of the way... the industry representatives argued the tax would send many in the multi-billion dollar sex industry packing to other states. "You do not want this industry to relocate," said Jeffrey Douglas of the industry-sponsored Free Speech Coalition.
Of course, AB 2914 could pose an interesting dilemma for some legislators, namely Republicans. After all, if you're a social conservative you'd probably love nothing more than to see the XXX industry move out. But if you're a fiscal conservative, you're probably loathe to enact a new tax. Oh, the irony.
A FALL CLASSIC AT THE CAPITOL? Hundreds of college students from around the state descended on Sacramento this morning to protest Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed budget cuts, and the likely ensuing tuition hikes. Such a protest has become a predictable, though unfortunate, reality at the state Capitol in recent years. And among those speaking from the podium on the Capitol steps, Senate President pro Tem Don Perata... perhaps the best situated of any of the speakers to reject the governor's budget plan.
"We need to raise taxes in order to educate Californians," he told the crowd. And if that wasn't enough tough talk, Perata repeated his recent pledge to stay in session as long it takes to get the budget Democrats want. "If we have to watch the World Series from this building, we will do it."
SADDLED UP: Speaking of budget cuts, a smaller group of protesters was on the other side of the Capitol this morning to lament another part of the governor's spending plan. About two dozen folks had marched from the nearby Sutter's Fort to protest Schwarzenegger's proposed spending cuts for California state parks, many of them wearing clothes from the 1800's. Others made the journey on horseback and in vintage wagons... which led to a different kind of spectacle: one of the many hitched-up horses relieving himself on the street in front of the Capitol, just as a repulsed group of college students from the other event happened to stroll by.