Loose Ends (11)

The fracks of life? The surprising news story of the day comes out of Colorado, where two initiatives to restrict hydraulic fracturing production of oil and natural gas have failed to qualify for the November ballot. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Supporters of the measures, which could have severely limited oil-and-gas production in the energy-rich state, fell short of gathering the nearly 98,500 signatures each initiative needed to get on the ballot, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Monday. Officials said they were able to validate fewer than 80,000 signatures for each ballot proposal, based on a random 5% sample of all the signatures submitted.

This is an extremely surprising outcome, as the environmental activist groups are quite competent at these ballot drills, and do not lack for funds. There’s perhaps a clue as to what happened further down in the WSJ story:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, had predicted the measures would fall short of the needed signatures last week at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual conference in Denver, calling it the best outcome for the state.

I wonder how he knew to make this prediction? Did Hickenlooper and other pillars of the Democratic Party establishment work behind the scenes to quash this initiative drive? Maybe the fix was in with key donors and Democratic activists to allow the petition drive to go forward to appease the deranged Front Range activists? Gov. Hickenlooper, unlike Gov. Cuomo in New York, has been pro-fracking and pro-energy production, much to the annoyance of the deep greens in the state, because he’s not an idiot, and knows the importance of the conventional energy sector to Colorado’s economy. Maybe this item should be filed under our “Civil War on the Left” series instead.

Meanwhile, out here in the once Golden State of California, I have taken my first notice of Proposition 55, which would extend the “temporary” income tax surcharge on high incomes that voters passed narrowly in 2012. That “temporary” tax was only supposed to last six years, but Prop. 55 will extend it for another 12 years—in other words, forever. As recently as 2014 Gov. Jerry Brown was still claiming, “That’s a temporary tax and, to the extent that I have anything to do with it, will remain temporary.” And you wonder why people don’t believe politicians?

That “temporary” increase moved California’s top personal income tax rate to 13.3 percent, starting at $250,000 for individuals, and $500,000 for married couples. The Legislative Analyst’s Office assessment of the tax reveals how skewed and unstable California’s revenue system is: “Increased state revenues ranging from $4 billion to $9 billion each year (in today’s dollars) from 2019 through 2030, depending on the economy and the stock market.” It has been well-understood for 20 years now that every time the stock market swoons, California’s revenue goes off a cliff. This shows how dependent California is on wealthy people, which is no way to run a state.

Early polls show Prop. 55 leading handily. The super-rich of Silicon Valley don’t care about their tax rates, and everyone else who does has left the state. Why not? If a handful of rich people are going to pay half the revenue for the state, why not vote to pile on more?

Fortunately for California voters, we’ll also get to decide by ballot initiative several other important matters of public policy, including especially Proposition 60, whose ballot title is as follows: “Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.” But that’s all I can say, as I’ve already used up my NC-17 content allowance for this week. But let’s just say that if Prop. 60 had been in effect during the making of the films referenced in yesterday’s item, those academics would have had a difficult time making their estimations.

Okay, I lied. Can’t resist a little more on this item. The official title and summary includes the following items:

  • Requires producers of adult films to obtain state health license, and to post condom requirement at film sites. . .

Licensing! Posting a flyer on condom requirements! I’m sure that will do the trick. More:

  • Permits state, performers, or any state resident to enforce violations.

So a new private citizen-lawsuit provision, eh? This all sounds like a backdoor subsidy scheme for condom makers and porn film producers. After all, if citizens are going to bring enforcement actions, won’t there need to be a lot more porn viewing? And has anyone told California’s do-gooders that condoms are manufactured with petrochemicals. i.e., with oil from fracking? This is what makes live worth living in Krazy Kalifornia.

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