Tag Archives: Bill Monning

Sugary Beverage Warning Law Lands in the Suspense File

Sugary beverage warning stalled over $400,000 bill

by Brian Leubitz

That number you read above is not missing any zeros. Apparently the policy decision to help reduce diabetes fell to a bill of less than half a million dollars, which in the grand scheme of obesity costs, is quite small.

A state bill that would require health-warning labels on sugar-added drinks and sodas in California was sidelined Monday for further review of its enforcement costs even though its author argued that it would cut costs to taxpayers in the long term by reducing diabetes and other obesity-related diseases.

The Senate Appropriations Committee moved SB 1000 to the suspense file. Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) said he will work to reduce the $390,000 in immediate costs of enforcement for his measure so it can be revived for a floor vote. (LA Times)

Can it be really argued that the net expense of this will be positive for the state? Dialysis and other diabetes care is rapidly becoming one of the biggest expenses to our health care system. A single patient on dialysis can cost around $75,000 per year. $390,000 vs even a small handful of reduced diabetes cases would be a huge savings to the state. Expand that out to the entire state, and we could see significants savings.

Yet the beverage companies, specifically the two large soda companies, are in no mood to see such regulation. They don’t want to break the myth of having a good time with a refreshing beverage, or “quenching your thirst” with a “sports drink.” But with the threat of a soda tax in San Francisco, any small crack in the armor is not something that the beverage industry can tolerate. All this despite the fact that big majorities of likely voters favor the warnings.

Even if it would save lives, in today’s climate, the corporate bottom line takes priority.  

One Step Closer to An Environmental Majority

Cross-posted from the CA League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) blog, Groundswell

By Mike Young and Beth Gunston

Late Wednesday, CLCV-endorsed candidate Assemblymember Bill Monning was greeted with some fantastic news: Senator Sam Blakeslee announced that he will not seek re-election. Despite being the incumbent, Blakeslee decided that defending his seat would not be worth the effort since decennial redistricting shifted this coastal district to a new 16% Democratic registration advantage. If that were not insurmountable enough, much of the new district that stretches from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obespo overlaps areas that Monning currently represents in the Assembly.  

In 2010, it was largely argued that Blakeslee only won his race against Democrat candidate and environmental champion John Laird because then-Governor Schwarzenegger made that contest a special election where Democratic voters tend to have extremely low turnout. Whether that's true or not, Blakeslee felt he had no viable chance this time around. Without a serious primary challenger and with the incumbent ducking out, Monning is in a great position to essentially walk into the seat. This will be a big pick-up for the environment. Monning (100% CLCV score) will be a much needed breath of fresh air from Blakeslee (21% CLCV score), especially in the Senate where environmental priorities have had a much more difficult time passing.  Monning is well regarded for his environmental health work around toxics and pesticides, and has been specifically outspoken about the recent introduction of methyl iodide in the state.

But while Monning’s expected win is a great for the environment, it's time to look this gift horse in the mouth. With little hope of a contender to pit against Monning, the polluter interests that helped Blakeslee win in 2010 will likely now spend their money to defeat a more vulnerable target: state Senator Fran Pavley. Pavley, an environmental leader who authored California's landmark global warming laws, has a much more difficult race this year as redistricting has put her in a Senate seat against Tony Strickland with a very narrow registration advantage. In 2008, despite his 2% record on the environment including countless votes against bills to increase renewable energy, Strickland reinvented himself as a renewable energy expert and narrowly won his current Senate seat. With environmental advocates just one seat away from a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate and environmental champion Fran Pavley potentially being ousted, you can bet big polluters will spend more heavily on this race than any others.

So while the prospects for Bill Monning look fantastic, the consequence may be that we will need to work even harder to protect Fran Pavley. Still, much can change between now and Election Day, and nobody quite knows how the top two primary system will change the political landscape. All we know for sure is that in 2012 we must remain vigilant and work towards electing an environmental majority in the Senate. That way we’ll be more likely to pass bold environmental laws along with a balanced budget, taxes, and fees to keep our state moving forward in the years to come.

SD-15 Candidate Field Shaping Up

Darrell Steinberg may no longer want a 2/3 majority, but Central Coast Democrats do, and we’re already starting to get organized for the coming battle to win SD-15. So too are the potential candidates, as the Santa Cruz Sentinel explains:

Former state Assemblyman John Laird of Santa Cruz and current Assemblyman Bill Monning of Carmel, both Democrats, say they would consider running for Maldonado’s seat. On the Republican side, Assembly Minority Leader Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo has expressed interest….

While Laird said it was too early to decide on a Senate run, he said he would consider it should Maldonado become lieutenant governor. His bid would require him to move from his current home on Santa Cruz’s Westside, since he now lives in Sen. Joe Simitian’s district, to nearby Scotts Valley or points south, something Laird said he is willing to do.

“I represented a significant amount of that district when I was in the Assembly: Santa Cruz County, Santa Clara County, Monterey County,” he said.

Monning, who replaced Laird in the Assembly last year, said Tuesday he would also weigh a run for the Senate.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Blakeslee, considered the Republican front-runner for Maldonado’s seat, has already raised more than a quarter million dollars to seek that office in 2012, according to filings with the Secretary of State. Blakeslee’s office, reached by phone Tuesday, declined to comment.

This all jibes with what I’m hearing on the ground here in Monterey County. It’s a certainty that Blakeslee would run in the special election on the Republican side, and he will likely have a clear field.

On the Democratic side, either Laird or Monning would be strong candidates. Both hail from the northern half of the district, so they’d have to run a strong campaign in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Maria, where Blakeslee currently represents. But given that SD-15 has a 6.5 point Democratic registration advantage, and given that we in SD-15 voted for Obama by a 20-point margin, there’s every reason to believe either Laird or Monning would be able to do well in the southern half of the seat. Plus, it’s not exactly going to be hard to entice Southern California progressive activists to make the trek to that part of the beautiful Central Coast in the spring to help organize in SLO and Santa Maria.

It is also unlikely that Laird and Monning would face off against each other. Instead they would almost certainly find some way to work it out and ensure that only one of them runs for the seat.

The race between Laird/Monning and Blakeslee would be a battle over California’s future. We can expect Blakeslee to argue that a vote for his Democratic opponent is a vote for a certain tax increase, and that a vote for Blakeslee is the only way to stop Democrats from raising taxes. Laird or Monning would counter by pointing out that they’re going to save local K-12 schools and higher education (San Jose State, UC Santa Cruz, CSU Monterey Bay, and Cal Poly SLO have been hit hard by the budget cuts, as have the district’s community colleges), and provide for the economic growth and recovery that Blakeslee and the Republicans refuse to offer.

It is the kind of battle Democrats and progressives should wholly embrace. Laird and Monning are both deeply progressive people, the kind of Democrats we can get excited about putting in office. Central Coast Democrats aren’t just excited about winning the seat, but winning it with the kind of Democrat that we’re proud to work hard to elect, the kind of Democrat who knows the way forward for our failing state.

No matter which Democrat ultimately becomes the candidate in SD-15, we will have the strongest chance we’ve had in a very long time to finally win the 2/3 majority we so desperately need in order to finally solve California’s crisis. Bring it on!

Random Bill Blogging: Bill Monning’s AB 1279 Salmon Restoration

I haven’t done my random bill blogging for a while, so I fired up the ol’ (and by ol’, I mean circa 1996) Senate website.  I tried to be as random as I could be and chose 1279.  Of course, that was too high to get a Senate bill, so I was stuck with only one choice: AB 1279 by Assembly  member Bill Monning (D-Monterey).

AB 1279 is a short bill.  So short, in fact, that it is likely just a placeholder bill for a program to be later defined.  Here’s the entirety of it as it currently stands:


 SECTION 1.  It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would fund salmon restoration projects.

I suppose I agree with the merits of the sentence, despite any issues with the budget.  Both the environmental and financial impacts of the death of the salmon are enormous. So, go salmon restoration.

If anything, I suppose this can be a testament on some legislative principles. First, there’s the gut and amend process.  Basically this allows one house to pass an innocuous measure like this, and then either stick in a real bill in its place on the subject matter at hand or an entirely new bill. It’s not necessarily the most transparent process, and shouldn’t be used on a regular basis.  However, it can be used to help with some important legislation.  Marriage equality comes to mind.  When the Assembly did not have the votes to pass then Asm. Leno’s marriage equality bill, a bill passed by Asm. Yee was gutted on the Senate side and replaced with the civil marriage language.

While this could, in theory, be a holding bill for some legislation to be passed in the normal course of business, the bill deadline for all policy committees in the Legislature to pass out bills that will have a fiscal impact on the state is this Friday.  If Asm. Monning really wants to fund salmon restoration, he would need a real bill pronto.