Consumer Watchdog collects millions, but does it lower your insurance rates?

By Jim Miller – January 13, 2017

Nearly 30 years ago, consumer activist Harvey Rosenfield wrote and helped qualify Proposition 103, the November 1988 ballot measure that overhauled state regulation of home and auto insurance rates.

The initiative, dubbed by supporters as the “Voter Revolt to Cut Insurance Rates,” also contained a provision that got little attention during one of the most expensive campaigns in state history: outsiders could challenge proposed insurance rates and get reimbursed for their costs.

The so-called intervenor process has become a significant source of revenue for the nonprofit founded by Rosenfield and its successor, Consumer Watchdog – and a major thorn in the insurance industry’s side.

More than three-quarters
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In California, the state insurance industry is run by commissar’s edict.

December 22, 2016

Critics of California’s business climate routinely complain about the state’s high tax rates, its large and costly government, its coddled and overpaid class of government workers, and its excessively burdensome level of regulation. It’s an old story — and you can even buy a People’s Republic of CaliforniaT-shirt (or move to Texas) if you want to express your displeasure at the continuing loss of entrepreneurial freedoms here.

The People’s Republic jibes are tongue-in-cheek, of course, but there is a large area of commercial life where this isn’t that much of an exaggeration. An ongoing court case over a regulatory edict illustrates how unfree parts of our economic life in this
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California threatens legal action against Uber unless it halts self-driving cars

California’s attorney general Kamala Harris on Friday threatened legal action against the ride-sharing tech company Uber unless it “immediately” removed its self-driving vehicles from the roads in San Francisco.

The threat from the office of the outgoing attorney general was contained in a letter released to the public Friday shortly after Uber declared it would defy state regulations, a move the company said was “an important issue of principle”.

Twenty companies have been approved to test self-driving cars in California, according to the department of motor vehicles (DMV). Uber is not one of them, and the company is refusing to abide by the same rules as its rivals –  Read the full article…

Political Road Map: There are more than 15 lobbyists for each lawmaker in Sacramento

The first week of December after every election sparks a policy and political awakening in California’s state Capitol for the three houses of the legislative branch of government. Yes, three.

Civics books list only the state Senate and Assembly, but then there are the professional lobbyists who cheekily refer to themselves as the “third house.”

 For newly elected members of the Legislature, it’s a welcoming party that can be intimidating: the official registry lists 1,871 professional lobbyists, more than 15 for every legislator.

All of that lobbying doesn’t come cheap. State records show $551.9 million in lobbyist expenditures for all but the final two months of the 2015-16 legislative session. Two decades ago, total state government lobbying cost
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‘Mod squad’ growth offsets Democratic supermajorities

Dan Walters: November 29, 2016

It became official this week when one state Senate race in Southern California was called: Democrats recaptured two-thirds legislative “supermajorities” in the Nov. 8 election.

Although it underscores California’s status as a political outlier as Republicans take full command of the federal government, it will probably mean little in practical terms.

Gov. Jerry Brown holds up four bills he signed related to climate change on Sept. 14, 2016, in downtown Fresno. One of the bills, AB 1613, directs $900 million in “cap-and-trade” auction funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs that benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems. However, Brown failed to persuade the Legislature to
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NICB Says Car Thieves Stay Busy Around the Holidays

News Release: November 22, 2016

ForeCASTSM Report: 2015 National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Holiday Vehicle Theft

DES PLAINES, Ill., Nov. 22, 2016 — When you’re making the rounds at the stores this holiday season, make sure your car isn’t on someone’s gift list. Unattended vehicles, especially those loaded with valuables, make attractive targets for thieves.

New data released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows a total of 9,600 vehicles were reported stolen in 2015 on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Holiday vehicle thieves had their busiest day in 2015 on Halloween, stealing 2,238 vehicles according to NICB’s 2015 Annual Holiday Vehicle Theft Report. Theft
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Political Road Map: This is why it takes so long to count votes in California

By John Myers: November 20, 2016

In an era when there’s almost nothing that can’t be found out quickly, the long wait for final results from an election in California feels interminable. And yet, there’s a pretty simple reason why it takes so long to count all the votes.

California is not just home to more voters than any other state in the U.S. But it also has more election laws designed to maximize a voter’s chances of casting a ballot.

“We don’t put up any of the barriers that you see in other states,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation.

Full California election results »

Lawmakers through the years have taken a decidedly pro-voter
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AB 60 driver licenses believed to cause 2015 bump in insured vehicles

News: 2016 Press Release

Department of Insurance sees unexplained increase of 200,000 insured vehicles in 2015.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced today that AB 60 (Alejo 2013), which provided California driver licenses to those who could not submit proof of legal presence in the United States, might have led to a modest decrease in the number of uninsured motorists in California.

According to a preliminary analysis by the California Department of Insurance, in 2015, the first year since the passage of AB 60, the number of insured vehicles increased by 200,000 more vehicles than would have been expected. In the previous three years, the percentage of insured vehicles increased
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Teachers union frets about rise of education change advocates: ‘It will have an impact’

BY JIM MILLER AND CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO

The Torlakson name has been a near-constant on the ballots of voters in the San Francisco East Bay, where state schools chief Tom Torlakson got his political start more than three decades ago. Last week, though, the remarkable string of Torlakson victories ended resoundingly.

Mae Cendaña Torlakson, his wife, was trounced by fellow Democrat Tim Grayson after a campaign that attracted more than $3.3 million in outside spending since March by EdVoice, a nonprofit that seeks changes to teacher tenure and other rules.

Grayson’s success was among several legislative victories by candidates who received heavy support from EdVoice and the California Charter Schools Association.

The organizations’ campaign arms,
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Antonio Villaraigosa jumps into 2018 California governor’s race

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday began his 2018 bid for governor with a a new website, confirming his entrance into what is expected to be a competitive race.

After a three-year hiatus from the political limelight, Villaraigosa joins a heady field of candidates that is expected to grow larger in the months ahead.

The Democrat’s decision comes after months of relatively quiet, subtle moves to drift back the conscious of the California electorate, including an extended “listening tour” through the drought-ravaged Central Valley.
Though Villaraigosa remains a familiar political figure in California, he will face tough competition among fellow Democrats.

Longtime political rival Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom,
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