22 June 2005

More on SB 4

Yesterday, CA SB 4 was approved in the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media (I'll call it AEST&IM for short) on a 7-2 vote, with 1 abstention. The one local committee member was District 24 Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn (Campbell), who was credited with the abstention.

The matter is being referred to the Assembly's Appropriations Committee, where local members include Leland Yee and Mark Leno of San Francisco, Joe Nation of Marin, and Johan Klehs of Castro Valley. From there, it's short trip to the Assembly Floor and then to the Governor's desk, since it's already passed the Senate. While the bill was in the Senate, it was approved by Don Perata (Oakland) on the floor and Elaine Alquist (San Jose) on the floor and in the Senate's Appropriations Committee.

Surprisingly, there's been little resistance to the bill, even though the ramifications are enormous. The Orange County Register is one of the few newspapers that offered an editorial on the bill. My read on it is that it gives this new Authority the power to use the state's credit rating and bonding ability without adding any liability to the state, which I find truly astonishing. If it passes, there will be a bread line at the Authority's door as every supporter for every conceivable stadium, arena, amphitheater, and concert hall project will be waiting with their hands out. Membership on the Authority's board will be one of the cushiest positions in the state, as members will be able to pick and choose which projects they'll support. I can't handicap the bill's likelihood of passage, but since the Governor is a pro-business guy with many links to the entertainment industry, I'd have to think there's a good chance he'll rubber stamp it. If the bill passes, there are some serious questions beyond the funding issue I brought up yesterday:

  • What rules will they draw up on how to solicit funds?
  • What criteria will they use to determine a project's worthiness?
  • Will they demand minimum amounts of private investment in projects?
  • What projects would be considered too small or large to fund?
  • At what point would the Authority use or threaten to use eminent domain?

Stay tuned for more on SB 4 as it works its way through Sacramento.