Following the conclusion of the 2017 legislative session, I wanted to highlight just a few of the ways the legislature voted to increase taxes and make California less affordable.
Gas Tax (Senate Bill 1)
The legislature passed and the Governor signed a transportation proposal that imposes $52 billion in permanent new gas taxes and user fees on motorists. Starting this fall, every motorist in California will pay an additional $0.12 per gallon of gasoline and $0.20 per gallon of diesel. That might not sound like much, but with this and the increase in annual vehicle registration fees by as much as $175 per vehicle, it adds up to an average of $350 per household over the course of a year. If you’re a commuter, live in the country, or own a business, the cost could be much higher.
Cap-and-Trade Extension (Assembly Bill 398)
The legislature passed and the Governor signed an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program. Fuels under the program already adds $0.11 to every gallon of gas. The new gas tax adds an additional $0.12 cents to every gallon (that number will go up every year after 2021), and the cap-and-trade extension could add another $0.73 cents to every gallon of gas on top of that. While the rest of the country is paying $2 a gallon for gas, we are going to be paying a dollar and a half a gallon just in taxes and climate fees. A large portion of the money collected through the cap-and-trade program has been allocated to fund high-speed rail.
Housing Package (Senate Bill 2)
Included in a package of housing bills was Senate Bill 2, which the legislature has approved and sent to the Governor for signature. The bill would impose a $75 to $225 “recording fee” on all real estate transactions. The fee would generate as much as $258 million per year. Instead of addressing the housing crisis by reducing the obstacles to housing development, legislators have chosen to put the cost on the backs of California taxpayers.
Legislative Democrats have touted this year as “one of the most productive sessions in California history.” I suppose this is accurate if you define “productive” as continuing to pile on taxes and make California increasingly unlivable for businesses and hardworking working families. I will not give up. I will continue to stand up for California taxpayers that are getting nickeled and dimed at every turn.
A Survey Is Coming!
Do you think California’s problems should be solved by raising taxes? I want to hear what you have to say. Next month’s newsletter will include an online survey on this issue so I can make sure your voice is heard and your ideas are understood. Your opinion is important and I appreciate your participation!
Welcoming Rock Climbing Superstar Alex Honnold
Senator Gaines presents Senate Resolution to world-famous rock climber, Alex Honnold.
It was such an honor to welcome Alex Honnold, a world-renowned professional rock climber, to the State Capitol last month. I presented him with a Senate Resolution in recognition of his remarkable climbing achievements. This summer, Alex became the first climber to free solo Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan wall.
Alex began climbing when he was 11 years old and has dedicated his life to audacious free-solo ascents of America’s biggest cliffs. He has an uncanny ability to control his fear while scaling cliffs of dizzyingly heights without a rope to protect him if he falls.
Alex’s most celebrated achievements include the first and only free-solos of the Moonlight Buttress (5.12d, 1,200 feet) in Zion National Park, Utah, and the Northwest Face (5.12a) of Half Dome (2,200 feet), Yosemite, California. In 2012 he achieved Yosemite’s first “Triple Solo”: climbing, in succession, the National Park’s three largest faces - Mt. Watkins, Half Dome and El Capitan - alone, and in under 24 hours.
In 2017, Alex completed the first and only free-solo of El Capitan’s “Freerider” route (5.13a, 3,000 feet), a historic accomplishment which has been hailed by many as one of the greatest sporting achievements of our time. Whether climbing with a rope or without, Alex believes climbing is a fantastic vehicle for adventure, an opportunity to seek out those high-test moments with uncertain outcomes in which you’re forced to push through to survive.
I wish Alex the best of luck as he continues his extraordinary climbing career.
Another Round With PRI
I recently joined the Pacific Research Institute’s (PRI) podcast, “Another Round,” where I discussed my legislative priorities and shared my thoughts on the highs and lows of the just-completed 2017 legislative session, including housing legislation, cap-and-trade, and more. I also discuss my favorite root beer recommendation, made locally in Sacramento! You can listen to the podcast episode here.
State Of Emergency Needed In Siskiyou County
Senator Gaines captured this aerial photo of illegal marijuana grows during a helicopter tour in Siskiyou County.
I sent the following letter to Governor Brown requesting that he declare a State of Emergency in Siskiyou County related to the rampant illegal marijuana grows.
Dear Governor Brown:
I am writing to urge you to declare a State of Emergency in Siskiyou County to address the public health and public safety consequences resulting from the proliferation of illegal marijuana cultivation in the county.
All laws regarding legal marijuana cultivation are being ignored by individual criminals, crime syndicates and drug cartels, who are treating the public and private lands of Siskiyou County as their own illicit greenhouse, harming citizens, law enforcement personnel, and the agricultural community.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, despite outstanding leadership, has simply too few officers to effectively police such a vast geographic area on its own and is in desperate need of any and all assistance the state could provide, including deployment of California National Guard personnel to assist them in their mission to stamp out illegal grows.
The illegal grows are also notorious polluters and are doing grave damage to California’s environment, with indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides and rodenticides that are not monitored by California’s regulatory authorities. This unchecked use of dangerous chemicals is corrupting our soil and water, in addition to poisoning animals in and around the illegal grow sites.
A recent study estimated that illegal grows on National Forest lands statewide (not exclusively Siskiyou County) contain “731,000 pounds of solid fertilizer, 491,000 ounces of concentrated liquid fertilizer and 200,000 ounces of toxic pesticides.” The waste is so concentrated that numerous law enforcement personnel have been hospitalized through exposure.
Workers at the illegal grows are also exposed to unhealthy levels of toxic chemicals and may suffer adverse health consequences as a result.
Siskiyou County ranchers are imperiled by the polluted water resulting from illegal grows and are also victimized by marijuana growers’ water theft. This illegitimate industry is now threatening a legal industry that has been operating in the area for more than a century.
I recently took a helicopter tour to view illegal marijuana grows in Siskiyou County and was shocked by the scale of the activity. The grows are vast and numerous, and it’s indicative of a community that is overrun by unlawful behavior, and of a criminal class that is in complete contempt of the law.
That is both sad and dangerous, and if left unchecked the explosion of illegal grows will continue to exhaust local law enforcement, threaten agriculture, and destroy communities.
The county has suffered under a rapidly accelerating spread of criminal marijuana growing operations. It is incumbent on state government to address this issue that has overwhelmed local government resources. I look forward to your prompt action on this matter.
Senator, 1st District
cc: Major General David S. Baldwin, the Adjunct General of the California Military Department
Secretary John Laird, California Resources Agency
Secretary Matthew Rodriquez, California Environmental Protection Agency
Welcoming Gymnast Riley Loos
Senator Gaines congratulates gymnast, Riley Loos and his family on the Senate Floor.
It was my honor to invite Riley Loos and his family to the State Capitol. Riley is an amazing gymnast, and he recently competed in the exclusive P&G National Gymnastics Meet. This event is a top shelf competition featuring the nation’s best gymnasts. Riley finished 3rd in all-Around; 2nd in Floor Exercise; and 1st overall on Vault, making him a national champion! Riley also qualified for the USA Junior National Team, and soon he will begin attending training camps at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He hopes to start representing the United States in international competitions soon and I’m sure an Olympic gold medal is in his future. Good luck, Riley!
Seeking Student Video Contest Entries!
I am excited to announce that I’m hosting a video contest this fall and am seeking entries from high school students and college undergraduates that reside in the 1st Senate District. The short, entertaining and creative videos will focus on the theme “The Bill of Rights & You.”
This is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate their video directing and producing skills and have their work displayed on my website. This contest celebrates the creativity and originality of our future leaders and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.
Participants must choose a Constitutional Amendment within the Bill of Rights and create a two-to five-minute video illustrating how it’s benefitted them. The videos can feature live people, stills, animation – whatever best conveys the message.
Videos can be submitted now through November 20, 2017. Two winners — one high school and one college — living in or attending school within the 1st Senate District will be selected by Senator Gaines and will each receive a $300 cash prize and be invited to the State Capitol in Sacramento for a meeting with Senator Gaines and a VIP tour of the historic building. The winning videos will also be posted to Senator Gaines’ website.
All details about the contest, including the rules and entry form are available here.
Inter-Mountain Fair Pumpkins
Tis’ the season for all things pumpkin and these amazing, giant pumpkins did not disappoint! They were on display at the 99th Inter-Mountain Fair in Shasta County.
Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook! It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on my activities at the Capitol and around the First Senate District.