Published in the Kern County Valley Ag Voice – June 2017 Issue
Anyone who closely follows the goings-on at the State Capitol will see the evolution of Senate Bill 96 as no surprise.
Those of you who do not pay as much attention to state politics, the story of SB 96 will probably confirm that you are better off focusing on other things in life.
It all started with the recent hike in the gasoline tax hike which was passed back in April, with great promises of “all the money going to roads, highways” . . . blah, blah, blah.
In the history of California, the taxes we pay on gasoline have never completely gone to pay for what they are supposed to – roads and highways. These funds have been “borrowed,” “re-directed” and flat-out stolen by Governors and legislatures past and present to go to a litany of other non-transportation pet projects.
Anyway, I digress. The gas tax hike barely passed in the Senate with Democrat Senator Josh Newman of Orange County providing a key vote.
Many folks in Newman’s district are not happy with how he voted and have started circulating a petition to recall him. That is clearly their right as it is his right to defend himself. It is called democracy. All reports affirm that the signature gathering has been booming, with a recall election perhaps being set for sometime this fall.
Unfortunately, Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrat Leaders in Sacramento do not trust voters to make their own decisions in situations such as recalls.
You may remember them condemning the 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis who failed to protect Californians from predictable electricity shortages and rolling blackouts during his tenure.
Fearing that Newman may in fact be recalled for voting for the gas tax hike, Brown and his henchmen in the Legislature crafted SB 96 to rig the recall process.
Specifically, SB 96 will stall the recall of Newman in the following ways:
- will allow opponents of the recall to harass voters who signed the recall petition for 30 days after it is turned in and pressure those signers to request to remove their signatures;
- will allow the Democrat Secretary of State to delay verifying the signatures for 10 days for no real reason;
- will allow Democrat Jerry Brown’s Dept. of Finance to take as long as they want to estimate the cost of the recall election;
- will allow the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to review costs for 30 days;
- will apply retroactively so it will shield Newman even though his recall is underway already.
None of these things exist in law today but SB 96 would add all of these cumbersome new steps to the recall process.
The hope of Brown and his enforcers is that either the Newman recall will never get to the ballot or it will be stalled long enough that it loses steam.
SB 96 recently passed the Legislature and when signed into law, the only hope for the voters in Newman’s district would be if they go to court and get a judge to rule that this rigging of recalls in unconstitutional. A dice roll at best.
Arrogance of one-party rule. Pure and simple, but not surprising.