“It takes San Francisco three years on average to fully approve new housing projects, the longest of any jurisdiction in California, according to an audit published by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in October.
The very predictable result is that the Golden State’s fourth-largest city is also one of the nation’s most expensive, with median one-bedroom rents above $2,000 and a median home value of $1.4 million.
That San Francisco is expensive because it takes forever to approve new housing isn’t a new finding. Whether the city will actually get rid of the regulations gumming up home construction is now coming to a head.”
“”Federal law is clear: patients have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live,” said Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Women should not have to be near death to get care.”
In July, HHS issued new guidance stating that EMTALA’s provision for stabilizing treatment includes a right to an abortion in some circumstances. “If a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the health or life of the pregnant person—or draws the exception more narrowly than EMTALA’s emergency medical condition definition—that state law is preempted,” the agency said.
No existing abortion ban lacks an exception for a mother’s life, but some do omit exceptions for women’s health. And determining whether something counts as a life-threatening emergency—as opposed to a mere health-threatening emergency—isn’t so clear-cut. Many pregnancy complications could become life-threatening while not being necessarily or immediately so. The HHS guidance attempts to provide clarity, stating that regardless of what a state law says, physicians must provide an abortion if one is necessary to address an emergency medical condition (including, but not limited to, ectopic pregnancy or severely high blood pressure).
Texas sued over the HHS directive. Joined by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) and the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA), the state sought to have the HHS “abortion mandate” declared “unlawful, unconstitutional and unenforceable” and for the court to issue a preliminary injunction on its enforcement.”
“These “get off my lawn” conservatives claim to be upholding the principle of local control by arguing that local government officials rather than bureaucrats in far-off Sacramento get to make development decisions. It sounds good in theory given the Jeffersonian concept that the government closest to the people governs best.
The better quotation (actually used by Henry David Thoreau but often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson) is “that government is best which governs the least.” The goal—for those of us who value freedom—isn’t to allow the right government functionary to control us, but to have less government control overall.
Local officials are easier to kick out of office than officials in Sacramento or Washington, D.C., but the locals can be extremely abusive. They know where we live, after all. I’ve reported extensively on California’s defunct redevelopment agencies, and local tyrants would routinely abuse eminent domain under the guise of local control.
“Under S.B. 9, cities are required to approve these lot splits ‘ministerially,’ without any reviews, hearings, conditions, fees or environmental impact reports,” complains my Southern California News Group colleague, Susan Shelley.
Conservatives have for decades complained about the subjective nature of bureaucratic and public reviews, the evils of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and excessive fees. Now there’s a law that fixes that, albeit in a limited manner, and they are grabbing their pitchforks.
S.B. 9 and S.B. 10 do not put Sacramento bureaucrats in charge of the locals. Instead, they deregulate certain development decisions, by requiring officials to approve a project “by right” provided it meets all the normal regulations. It eliminates subjectivity and defangs CEQA. Yet this greatly upsets them.”
“If conservatives seriously believe local control is the trump card, then they should lobby for the repeal of Proposition 13, which is a state-imposed restriction on local governments’ authority to raise property taxes. I find Prop. 13 to be one of the best laws ever passed in this state. They should also oppose Republican efforts at the federal level to limit the ability of blue states to regulate the heck out of us.”
“the U.S. Department of Labor has denied California $12 billion in transit funding, including grants from the recently signed infrastructure bill. The reason? A 1964 federal law requires the labor department to certify that the state agencies seeking any mass-transit grants are “protecting the interests of any affected employees,” The Fresno Bee reported.
So, the Biden administration is claiming that California—the state that provides its public employees with unparalleled pay and pension benefits, and provides collective-bargaining rights unheard of anywhere else—is being mean to its “affected” public employees because the state passed a 2013 law, authored by Democrats, that infinitesimally reined in pension benefits.
As SFist summarized, “Biden is withholding giant amounts of federal money from California public transit because the state’s public-employee pension system is apparently not paying people enough.””
“Now that President Joe Biden has signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the bipartisan infrastructure framework, or BIF) into law, the federal government faces a new challenge: getting the funds out to states and cities.
In the coming months — and years — federal agencies will distribute billions of dollars for everything from bridge repairs to public transit expansions to bike paths. Most of this money will go directly to state governments, which will have significant discretion over which projects they’d like to fund.”
“One of Sessions’ final moves in office was to sharply limit when the Justice Department could enter into consent decrees. Vanita Gupta, who ran the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, called that policy “a slap in the face to the dedicated career staff of the department who work tirelessly to enforce our nation’s civil rights laws.” The Biden administration rolled back Sessions’ directive, and Gupta is now back at the Justice Department as an associate attorney general.
Sessions was correct that consent decrees should be used judiciously. Justice Department investigations and settlements are a heavy-handed imposition of federal authority. But they can also provide recourse for citizens who have been betrayed by rotten police departments and indifferent local governments.”
“Contrary to what the Times reported, that policy is not “legally shaky.” It relies on the well-established anti-commandeering doctrine, which says the federal government cannot compel state and local officials to enforce its criminal laws or regulatory schemes.
That doctrine is rooted in the basic design of our government, which limits Congress to a short list of specifically enumerated powers and leaves the rest to the states or the people, as the 10th Amendment makes clear. That division of powers gives states wide discretion to experiment with different policies, some of which are bound to offend the Times.
The paper suggests that defending state autonomy is disreputable, because that argument was “deployed in the past in the South to resist antislavery and civil rights laws.” But federalism does not give states a license to violate rights guaranteed by the Constitution or to flout laws authorized by it.
Although the Times tries to tar the anti-commandeering principle as racist, the same basic idea was a crucial weapon for Northern states that refused to help the federal government enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Today that principle likewise means that state and local officials have no obligation to participate in the “deportation crackdowns” that the Times decries.
Similarly, the ongoing collapse of marijuana prohibition—a development the Times welcomes—would be impossible if states were obligated to participate in the federal war on weed. While both progressives and conservatives might wish that federalism could be limited to achieving results they like, that is not how constitutional principles work.”
“A report from the National League of Cities in May revealed that the states weren’t very good at getting the money to local governments. Also, a new dataset collected by the Department of the Treasury Office of Inspector General that looks at how much the state and local governments have spent of their coronavirus relief bill funds as of June 30 shows that they have spent much less than you might think.
Some states have spent virtually none of the money allocated by Uncle Sam.
South Carolina, for example, has yet to use its $2 billion in relief. Michigan, which is asking for a bailout, spent only 3 percent of the more than $3 billion it received. New Jersey is also asking for a bailout, yet it has distributed a measly 2.1 percent of its federal funds so far.
The states demanding bailouts may likely argue that what they really need is more flexibility in order to be able to use federal funds to address their revenue shortfalls. As matters stand right now, states must use the bailout money on coronavirus-related expenditures. So, when those actual expenditures are lower than the allocated funds, they can’t spend them.
The flexibility argument doesn’t hold water, in my opinion. It’s one thing for state and local governments to ask the federal government for help to cover expenditures they couldn’t foresee, such as those related to the pandemic. But they shouldn’t be asking federal taxpayers to pay for their routine expenditures, especially when these governments have failed to plan appropriately for revenue shortfalls that inevitably occur, as they’re bound to encounter emergencies. Governments should prepare for them. They should cut spending and, if that’s not enough, they should turn to their own citizens for the funds needed to cover non-coronavirus expenditures. Those funds could be obtained through higher taxes or spending cuts elsewhere. Their routine spending should come from their taxes.
State and local governments are always eager to have the federal government solve their financial problems for them. But they will continue to have financial difficulties as long as Uncle Sam continues to cave. The first step toward having healthier and more responsible state and local governments would be no bailout.”
“Historically, the federal government has been fairly cautious in writing public health laws not to exceed its authority under the Constitution. The federal law and regulations dealing with quarantines, for example, does not claim the power to impose a quarantine on any American anywhere in the nation. Rather, they permit quarantines of individuals entering the country or crossing state borders, while leaving the question of whether to quarantine individuals within a state’s borders to the state itself.
Similarly, the raft of stay-at-home and business closure orders imposed on many Americans, as well as various orders closing public schools, have typically come from state or local officials. And, in many cases, these officials have already signaled that they plan to keep these orders in place well beyond Trump’s May 1 deadline.”