Business

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Big Oil Killed Fracking Ban

by Ari Nussbaum
Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 2:02 PM

A proposed ban on fracking failed to gain passage in the state Senate twice last week, disappointing environmental activists across the state. The bill, SB 1132, would have placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and acidization, which are well-stimulation techniques linked to air pollution, water contamination, and earthquakes. Environmental activists credit the bill’s failure to big oil’s aggressive lobbying; the coalition Californians Against Fracking estimated that groups such as the Western States Petroleum Association, which represents oil and natural gas interests, spent several million dollars lobbying against SB 1132 and previous moratorium proposals.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Must Reads: State Senate Votes to Raise Minimum Wage to $13 by 2017; Legislature Kills Fracking Ban and GMO Labeling

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The state Senate approved legislation that would raise the minimum wage in California from $8 an hour to $13 an hour by 2017, the LA Times$ reports. The bill, authored by Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, would increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour on January 1, 2015, and then to $12 an hour the following year, before rising to $13 on January 1, 2017. The minimum wage would then increase each year thereafter based on the cost of living. The legislation is now in the Assembly.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fracking Ban Legislation Headed for California Senate Floor Vote This Week

by Ari Nussbaum
Tue, May 27, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Late last week, the state Senate Appropriations committee approved a statewide moratorium on fracking, sending Senate Bill 1132 to the senate floor for a vote this week. The bill cleared the committee in a 4-2 vote just days after the estimate of extractable oil in the Monterey Shale was reduced by 96 percent from 13.7 billion barrels to 600 million.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Oakland Tax Revenues $30 Million Higher Than Expected; Lawmakers Shelve Plan to Insure Undocumented Immigrants

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 27, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Fueled by the real estate boom, the City of Oakland’s tax revenues are about $30 million higher than expected, the Trib$ reports. Mayor Jean Quan is proposing to use the extra funds to pay for two more police academies in the next year in an effort to boost the size of the city’s police force to more than 700 officers. Quan also is proposing to pay for sewer projects, a jobs resource center, and technology improvements — and she wants to increase the city's rainy-day reserve.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday Must Reads: LAO Says Brown Is Overestimating Costs, Too; Feds Say Most of California’s Shale Oil Reserves Area Not Recoverable Via Fracking

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Governor Jerry Brown’s administration is underestimating the costs of the Medi-Cal expansion under Obamacare by about $300 million, the LA Times$ reports. Late last week, the LAO also concluded that the governor is seriously underestimating tax revenues — by about $2.5 billion. The LAO came to a similar conclusion last year — and was proven right, while the governor’s projections turned out to be wrong. The LAO’s forecasts mean that the state has about $2.8 billion more funds available in its budget next year than the governor projects.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Report: When It Comes to Mortgage Loan Servicing, Banks Are Still Failing to Comply With the Law

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, May 20, 2014 at 10:56 AM

A new report by the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) and the legal advocacy group Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) shows that the nation's largest banks and mortgage servicing companies continue to violate standards and laws mandated by the National Mortgage Settlement, the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, and new federal mortgage servicing rules. The result is that many homeowners who qualify for loan modifications continue to be wrongfully foreclosed on, further damaging California's communities by displacing families, evaporating their savings, and depressing local tax revenues. The report, based on a survey of 66 HUD certified housing counselors who assist homeowners seeking loan modifications, asked whether new loan servicing rules are putting an end to illegal and sloppy practices that have led to an untold number of foreclosures.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Jack London Condo Towers Plan Goes to Planning Commission; Brown’s Rhetoric on Climate Change Heckled

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 20, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A proposal to build to two condo towers — one 26 stories tall, the other, 17 — in Oakland’s Jack London Square is scheduled to go before the city’s Planning Commission this week, the Trib$ reports. The plan, which would add 665 housing units to the area, appears to have widespread support in City Hall, but some local residents say the towers would be too tall and would block the waterfront. Under the proposal, Ellis Partners, a private developer that controls Jack London Square, would construct a 17-story tower at the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero, and a 26-story building near Harrison and Alice streets.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: California Targets Dark Money; Bay Area Home Prices Reach Pre-Recession Levels

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that targets so-called dark money political campaigns — shadowy nonprofits that engage in political activity and keep their donors secret. In recent years, dark money groups, especially those funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, have wielded an outsized-influence over US politics. Under the new law, all dark money nonprofits that spend at least $50,000 in a year on politics must publicly reveal their top ten donors, along with any contributor who donates more than $10,000, the LA Times$ reports. The new law takes effect July 1.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Must Reads: Governor Brown Unveils Centrist Budget; Obamacare Sign-Up Surge Increases Costs to the State

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 14, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown unveiled a decidedly centrist budget proposal yesterday, resisting calls from liberal Democrats to increase spending for social service safety net programs and instead saying that paying down teacher pension debt and creating a rainy day fund reserve were higher priorities. The Chron reports that Republicans immediately praised the governor’s plan, especially the proposal to pay off teacher pension costs. Liberal Democrats, however, criticized the budget proposal, saying it doesn’t go nearly far enough to help low-income residents in need.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Economic Recovery Skips Low- and Middle-Income Workers; Melting Antarctic Ice Sheet Can’t Be Stopped

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 13, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The economic recovery is largely bypassing low- and middle-income workers, whose wages remain well below what they were before the Great Recession, the Sacramento Business Journal$ reports, citing a new study from the California Budget Project (via Rough & Tumble): “The median hourly wage for a low-income worker in 2013 was $10.90, more than 5 percent below the inflation-adjusted, pre-recession level. The median wage for middle-income people, $19.10 an hour, is also just over 5 percent lower than the pre-recession level.” Wages for higher-income earners, by contrast, have returned to pre-crash levels.

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