Assemblyman Brian Jones was promoted from Assistant Republican Leader to Chair of the Assembly Republican Caucus last week, touted as a key role on the Assembly Republican leadership team.
"I am honored to have been appointed Caucus Chair by Republican Leader Conway to help advance the shared principles of our caucus – creating jobs, keeping taxes low and reforming a broken government," said Jones. "These are the principles that a majority of Californians share, especially among the East County constituents that I represent. I look forward to serving them in this new position."
The Caucus Chair assists the Leader in advancing the Republican policy agenda and regularly communicates with Republican leaders throughout California on key legislative issues and party matters. He is advancing up the ranks of the caucus, as he was just promoted to Assistant Republican Leader in March.
Assemblyman Jones represents parts of La Mesa in the 77th Assembly District, soon to become the 71st District after the November election where Jones faces Patrick Hurley. Jones is presently Vice Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, serves on the Assembly Legislative Ethics, Budget, Judiciary, and Water, Parks and Wildlife Committees, as well as the Select Committees on San Diego Trade, Tourism and Job Creation, and Job Creation for the New Economy. Before his election to the Assembly, he served as a Member of the Santee City Council.
"Brian Jones is a strong and principled leader for our Caucus. He has fought to advance our common-sense Republican solutions for true pension reform and balancing our budget while protecting our students, and will continue to serve our Caucus well in his new leadership position," said Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.
A press release from the office of Brian Jones contributed to this report.
In what was expected to be a run-of-the-mill informational legislative hearing on the budget, ideologies collided February 29 as lawmakers held a lively debate on the virtues of California's cap-and-trade program.
The purpose of the hearing held by Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation was to discuss cap-and-trade auctions and how the state is expected to utilize the revenue generated from the auctions.
As part of his 2012-13 state budget, Governor Jerry Brown assumes that the state will obtain $1 billion in cap-and-trade revenue, and he expects to use $500 million to offset existing general fund costs related to emissions reductions.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted cap-and-trade regulations in 2011 as part of its effort to implement AB 32, the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act. AB 32 called for CARB to develop "market mechanisms" to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
From the start of the hearing, members of the subcommittee offered differing philosophical perspectives on economics and cap-and-trade, in what Assemblyman Rich Gordon referred to as "good political discussion."
Assemblyman Brian Jones characterized cap-and-trade as an effort by the state to "create a market where essentially a market doesn't exist." He said the state hadn't gone as far as creating "command-and-control" regulations, which he said are often present in Marxist economic systems, but said that instead, through the creation of a new market via cap-and-trade, California was "setting up a socialist economic system."
Other committee members viewed cap-and-trade more favorably. Assemblyman Jared Huffman said cap-and-trade is a cost-effective alternative to heavy-handed "command-and-control" regulations. He recalled cap-and-trade being supported by members of the business community, because similar programs had been successful elsewhere.
Tiffany Roberts, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) adviser on air quality and climate-change issues, told the committee that the LAO believes revenue derived from cap-and-trade would fall under the Sinclair court decision, rather than the constitutional provisions created by Proposition 26, because cap-and-trade was authorized by a state statute before Proposition 26 took effect.
In Sinclair Paint Company v. State Board of Equalization, the California Supreme Court ruled that there are key differences between taxes and fees. The case involved fees authorized by 1991's AB 2038, which imposed a specific fee on manufacturers of lead-based products, with a detailed funding plan for mitigating childhood lead poisoning.
Recent LAO research has opined that a legitimate use of cap-and-trade revenue under Sinclair includes supplementing existing environmental-related program expenditures with cap-and-trade revenue, as the governor has proposed. The LAO believes that mitigation can be viewed broadly, and that nexus can be established with a wide array of climate change programs.
Others believe this interpretation is flawed, and would lead to legal challenges.
CARB established an advisory committee (the Economic Allocation and Advisory Committee, or EAAC), which did comment on how Sinclair might restrict using auction revenue. In a November 18, 2009 hearing, EAAC Chair Larry Goulder said that when making recommendations to CARB on how cap-and-trade revenue should be used, "I don't think we should be concerned with what the current legal restrictions are." He said that if legal problems exist, those problems can be remedied at a later date. (For a detailed explanation of EAAC's review of Sinclair, see the CalTaxletter of December 4, 2009.)
EAAC's final report, published March 2010, noted: "EAAC has formulated its policy recommendations without conducting detailed legal analysis under Sinclair, confident that the legal feasibility of these options as part of a future California cap-and-trade program will become clearer over time with further analysis by the ARB and its legal advisors, whether or not there are further actions by the Legislature or the courts relevant to the issue."
To date, no document has been published by CARB or the Legislature fully analyzing how Sinclair interacts with cap-and-trade.
CalTax Research Analyst Robert Gutierrez told the subcommittee that taxpayers are hoping the Legislature fully vets all legal questions associated with Sinclair to ensure that cap-and-trade is a successful and viable program. "We urge the committee to carefully examine cap-and-trade budget proposals as it relates to Sinclair," Mr. Gutierrez said. "Taxes and fees have clear definitions – fees must be reasonable and fees must have significant nexus to the fee-payer. We also know from past court decisions that fees cannot be imposed for the primary purpose of raising revenue."
After presentations by LAO, Department of Finance, and CARB staff, the subcommittee's members expressed frustration with CARB's leadership and direction.
Assemblyman Gordon, who chairs the subcommittee, said he was "extremely disappointed" that CARB Chair Mary Nichols was unable to attend the hearing. He added: "This hearing has been scheduled for some time and it is the first time for the Legislature to look at this program following some of the initial regulations you've established. I would appreciate it if you would take back to your agency my extreme disappointment that Ms. Nichols was unable to join us today. It would have been very appropriate for her to be here – I think the Legislature expected that, as well as the stakeholders."
Assemblyman Brian Jones went further, stating: "It is my perception since I've been elected and serving here for 14 months that CARB is a rogue agency. I want to reaffirm and state emphatically that CARB's authority derives from this Legislature. It doesn't derive on its own. Your commissioners are not elected by the public or the voters of this state. We are elected by the voters of this state. And this Legislature has given over to CARB some authority that I believe CARB has run away with, and I am only hopeful that my colleagues in this committee and the rest of this Legislature will also come to the same conclusion that I've come to and soon realize that the authority of CARB comes from this Legislature, and we will start to rein that in and protect the voters and the public interest in this state."
Assemblyman Huffman disagreed, and said the Legislature has provided oversight to CARB and been involved in the implementation of AB 32. He said his colleague was using "soapbox moments" in an informational hearing, and added, "We should check ideology in at the door."
During the public testimony portion of the hearing, a number of individuals from the business community and various environmental groups presented their concerns with the governor's budget proposal.
Dorothy Rothrock, vice president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, said CARB's decision to use an auction for allowances, and not to allocate them freely, will be incredibly costly for businesses. "Companies are going to have up to 25 or even 50 percent [of the allowances] they need to operate withheld," she said. "There is no cost-effective or technologically feasible way for those companies to reduce emissions in order to avoid that cost – even CARB will admit that. So, this acts like a tax on those companies."
CalChamber said AB 32 does not provide for a revenue-raising auction. Marc Burgat, the chamber's vice president of government relations, said: "It's a little awkward to be talking about how we are going to spend the revenues from this when we question whether those revenues can be raised at all."
March 2, 2012
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California bill would let non-doctors perform most-common abortion technique to expand access 21 Charlie Neibergall Nurse practitioner Sharon Spiller, left, and physicians assistant Tiernie...Read more
Assemblyman Calls CARB Out
Assemblyman Brian Jones crisply expressed his frustration today at an Assembly Budget Committee hearing, when he called-out Mary Nichols for not attending the hearing.
Nichols is the California Air Resources Board Director.
“CARB is a rogue agency,” Jones, R-Santee, said, and told CARB’s Deputy Director Richard Corey, who attended the hearing in place of Nichols, that the agency exists because the Legislature allows it to.
Corey was a dreadful mouthpiece for CARB at today’s hearing. Instead of answering legislators questions with clear, concise answers, Corey used textbook bureaucrat-speak, which was unintelligible, and about as clear as mud.
Jones said after the hearing that CARB is out of control. “The Governor and the Legislature have wound them up and let them go. Unfortunately, I don’t think that any Democrats have the appetite to reign them in,” Jones added.
Apparently Nichols’ office sent a lame excuse to legislators for not attending the hearing, which Jones said had been on the agenda a long time. He said her agency said she had a previous engagement and was out of the state.
This isn’t the first time Nichols has pulled a disappearing act on the Legislature when tough questions are on the agenda. I have attended many hearings when Nichols should have been present, and instead sent other CARB officials to deal with legislators and obfuscate the issues.
Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, defended Nichols, and disputed Jones’ statements. Huffman said that Nichols has attended the many hearings the Legislature has held. “There is an awful lot of ideology brought into this hearing,” Huffman said. And then Huffman added that the people of California agree with what CARB is doing, because voters defeated Proposition 23.
“Voters were lied to with the opposition to Prop 23,” Jones said. “It’s all coming out now.”
UPDATE: Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, the author of Proposition 23, said that Prop 23 lost “because a wall street venture capitalist spent 40 million to defeat it.”
Logue described California residents as “economic hostages, whose electric and energy and gas bills will go through the ceiling so that Wall Street venture capitalists can be guaranteed profits.”
“Backers (of Prop 23) were steamrolled by a $31.2 million campaign funded by such wealthy philanthropists as San Francisco hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, such big environmental groups as the National Wildlife Federation and the ClimateWorks Foundation, and such Silicon Valley green-tech moguls as John Doerr and Vinod Khosla,” the Los Angeles Times reported in November 201o, after the measure failed.
Logue said that “green” businesses like Solylendra, which cost taxpayers one half of a billion dollars, will continue to drive more and more businesses out of California, while the rest of the country watches with amazement.
FEB. 29, 2012
ONTARIO - Under California law, Mag Instrument's nine-building campus where Maglite flashlights are designed and manufactured is not good enough for the company's products to be made in the United States.
Why? Company founder Anthony Maglica and Robert C. Weiss, an attorney who represents the company, say an O-ring - and state law are to blame.
They are, however, supporting an effort to change California law and bring the state's labeling rules in line with federal practice.
"It wouldn't benefit me. It would be a benefit to the employees down here because people look at buying in America," Maglica said.
State Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, has introduced a bill that would amend California law to mirror federal rules.
Jones toured the facility Friday. Mag Instruments is also attempting to gain support for the bill from members of the Inland Empire delegation to the Legislature.
"I think I have a greater understanding of my own bill after being here today," Jones said after seeing Maglites at various stages of the production process during his tour.
Jones' bill, A.B. 858, passed the Assembly on a 68-0 vote in April. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Federal Trade Commission guidelines require "all or virtually all" of a product's components to be made domestically to allow a "Made in the USA" label. California statute, however, requires all parts of any merchandise be made in the United States to bear such a label.
Mag Instruments uses an O-ring in the production of its flashlights that is significantly cheaper to purchase if imported from China than if produced domestically.
That imported O-ring means it is not enough for Mag Technology's products to be labeled as "Made in the USA" despite being designed, machined and assembled in Ontario.
Laser engraving machines at the company's plant burn the words "Ontario, California, USA" into the company's products, but they can't tell customers that Ontario is where the flashlights are made, and not just where the company maintains its executive offices.
And that leaves Mag Instrument at a disadvantage to manufacturers who outsource all or most production work overseas, Weiss argued.
"While they can't say their product is `Made in the USA,' neither can we, and we feel that we should be entitled to that competitive advantage," he said.
As a practical matter, Mag Instrument cannot label its products as "Made in the USA" even if they are destined for other states. A shipping error or a distributor's need to sell surplus merchandise could send Maglites back to the Golden State, putting the company in violation of the law.
Mag Instrument has already had to defend itself against two lawsuits filed according to the labeling law, Weiss said. The company did not have to pay any damages, but did incur the costs of its legal defense.
After the first case, which happened around 2005, the company had to destroy all packaging that said its products were manufactured in the United States.
"I had to take the stuff to shred for six months," Maglica said. "I had hundreds and hundreds of pallets of packaging we had to destroy."
Posted: Monday, December 12, 2011 3:16 pm
SACRAMENTO - Demonstrating his commitment to make job creation a top priority in his East County district, Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) recently hosted a business roundtable in Santee that resulted in successful networking opportunities for job seekers and businesses.
"With San Diego County's 9.7% unemployment rate above the national average of 8.6%, we must work extra hard to create jobs in our region," said Jones. "That's why I organized a roundtable to hear directly from local manufacturers about how they can more effectively create jobs. As a result, we created important partnerships to fight for job-friendly policies in Sacramento and to connect their businesses with local career centers to help people find jobs."
After Jones' November 9th roundtable at Quality Controlled Manufacturing Inc. (QCMI) to discuss California's economic climate, participants networked with each other to help create more economic opportunities. In one example, a QCMI official met with a representative of the East County Career Center to discuss how it could match job seekers with manufacturing opportunities. QCMI subsequently hired one of the Career Center's clients as a result of the business roundtable. The new hire started work on December 5th.
"Thanks to Assemblyman Jones' efforts to reach out to the business community, we were able to help someone find a rewarding manufacturing career," said Susan Roberts-Egley, the Business Services Coordinator of the East County Career Center. "The businesses that we work with at the center greatly value the Assemblyman's efforts and we look forward to working with him to help create more jobs through future networking events and business roundtables."
Jones said the concerns that were expressed by the manufacturers will help his efforts to streamline the state's burdensome regulatory climate. He said he will relay their concerns to his colleagues when the Legislature reconvenes in January.