California lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to bypass a key state environmental law that would dramatically ease the construction of rail, bus and other transit projects connected to Los Angeles’ bid to host the Olympic Games in 2028. Under the bill, any public transportation effort related to the city’s Olympics bid would be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, the state’s primary environmental law governing development. The law, known as CEQA, requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment, often a time-consuming and costly process that involves litigation. The measure, Senate Bill 789, also provides major CEQA relief to help the construction of an NBA arena for the Los Angeles Clippers in nearby Inglewood.
Double-digit inflation in the late 1970s pushed American families into ever-higher tax brackets (there were 15 at the time). This process, called “bracket creep,” drove up taxes almost 50% faster than inflation, enriching the government while impoverishing workers. Thus even though the 1970s were the postwar era’s weakest decade of economic growth up to that point, federal revenue doubled between 1976 and 1981. Inflation averaged 9.7% during the economic malaise of 1977-80, while government revenue grew by an astonishing 14.8% a year, even as economic growth rates fell steadily and turned negative in 1980. . . . The Reagan tax cuts laid the foundation for a quarter-century of strong, noninflationary growth, which, despite three subsequent recessions, averaged 3.4% until the beginning of the Obama administration. And tax revenue was generated by an expanding economy rather than pilfered through bracket creep.
Soda sales in Philadelphia have also declined since the tax went into effect at the beginning of 2017, threatening the long-run sustainability of the tax. According to some local distributors and retailers, sales have declined by nearly 50 percent. This is likely primarily due to higher prices, which discourage purchasing beverages in the city. Some Philadelphia taxpayers took to Twitter as the tax took effect, noting their plans to shop for groceries outside the city. This kind of tax avoidance is only feasible for consumers with means of transportation, making the tax even more regressive. Purchases of beer are also now less expensive than nonalcoholic beverages subject to the tax in the city. Empirical evidence from a 2012 journal article suggests that soda taxes can push consumers to alcohol, meaning it is likely the case that consumers are switching to alcoholic beverages as a result of the tax. The paper, aptly titled From Coke to Coors, further shows that switching from soda to beer increases total caloric intake, even as soda taxes are generally aimed at caloric reduction.
nsurance premiums for health plans on Covered California’s small business exchange will rise 5.6 percent in 2018, Covered California announced Thursday. Nearly 36,000 Californians receive health insurance through the small business exchange, where companies with 100 or fewer employees can purchase health plans for their workers. The small business exchange is not as widely used as Covered California’s more well-known exchange for individuals, through which 1.2 million people buy health insurance. Premium rates for the individual exchange are slated to rise 12.5 percent in 2018.
A powerful California water agency is poised to adopt its own regulations that could protect more of the state’s wetlands from being plowed, paved over or otherwise damaged. Environmental groups are pressuring the State Water Resources Control Board to push back against Trump’s decision and adopt a wetlands policy that’s even stricter than former President Barack Obama’s. “The state board should be adopting a policy that is even more protective of California’s wetlands,” said Rachel Zwillinger, water policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife. “This (proposed) policy is a critical opportunity for the state to step up and protect its own resources.” A fight over the proposed rules has been brewing for years and is about to come to a head. A year ago, a broad coalition of developers, homebuilders, farmers and other business groups submitted testimony against the regulations, saying they would create more red tape, higher costs and fewer rights for landowners.