This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
Its proposed measure having failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, a student-led group calling for California to implement an oil-extraction tax will try its fortunes with the Legislature again.
Californians for Responsible Economic Development will change its name to Students' Voice Now and will soon announce a partnership with two state senators to get a bill or legislatively referred initiative passed in the Legislature next year, spokesman Kevin Singer said.
"The framework of the bill is expected to include an endowment for education, but also may include subsidies for families and businesses to switch to cleaner forms of energy, a rollback of the gas tax, and/or immediate revenue for the specific purpose of decreasing college tuition across California," Singer wrote in an email.
Singer said that starting in January, as part of pushing for the bill, they'll keep networking across California's college campuses and "continue to build relationships with other interest groups, PACs and legislators who believe that whether oil is drilled or fracked from our soil, Big Oil needs to pay its fair share."
California is the only oil-producing state that doesn't have a specific oil-extraction tax, and the proponents estimated the tax contemplated by their now-dead proposed ballot measure would've raised $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year.
But any such legislation probably faces a tough road ahead in the Legislature. State Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, this year carried SB 241 to establish an oil-extraction tax, but the bill never made it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Gov. Jerry Brown has pledged not to raise or create any taxes without voter approval, and so might push hard against any efforts to create this tax by legislation alone. And he probably won't want a legislatively directed tax hike on the same ballot on which he's (presumably) running for re-election in 2014.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer is sparring with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over congressional access to the agency's information.
Boxer, D-Calif., wrote a letter to NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane on Tuesday, urging her to withdraw a new policy that the senator says will inhibit congressional oversight.
"As an 'independent agency,' the NRC is independent from the Executive Branch -- not from congressional oversight," Boxer wrote. "It is the NRC's responsibility to keep Congress apprised of its activities, as well as to follow the law and use its authorities responsibly and in the public's interest."
Yet the NRC "unilaterally devised a drastic change of policy behind closed doors" without notifying her committee and implemented it without consulting Congress or the public, Boxer wrote.
"This policy is a radical departure from previous NRC document policies and creates significant hurdles and delays that can be used to withhold information entirely from the chairs and ranking members of oversight committees," Boxer wrote. "It also allows the NRC to broadly deny information to individual members of Congress, even when the information is related to matters affecting their home states."
The NRC's claims that the new policy is justified by the agency's need to protect against public release of sensitive materials isn't supported by case law or by Justice Department guidelines, the senator wrote.
"I call on the NRC to cease its efforts to circumvent Congress' oversight authority and create a policy that is a model of transparency and respects Congress' responsibility to oversee the NRC," Boxer wrote.