Timber Tax: Prop For 2014 Ballot Approved to Gather Signatures

Backers of an initiative to increase oversight of the timber industry received permission Friday from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin gathering signatures.

The initiative would impose a harvest tax on timber and other forest products taken from public lands at a rate of 33 percent of profits and 8 percent of profits on product from private lands. Forest products harvested on Native American lands and timber harvested from private lands solely for private noncommercial use would be exempted.

The initiative would establish a department to collect and allocate the tax and oversee timber harvesting and environmental protection and restoration. It would also transfer the timber harvest oversight responsibilities of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to the new department.

Valid signatures from 504,760 registered voters -- 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 general election -- must be submitted by Sept. 10 to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot.

Adult Entertainment Industry Asks Judge to Invalidate Condom Measure

Measure B, which was on the L.A. County November ballot, requires condoms to be used in adult movies. | Photo: Rosa Trieu for Neon Tommy/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Adult filmmakers and actors in Los Angeles are arguing that the county law requiring porn actors to wear condoms on film shoots is unconstitutional and should be invalidated, according to court papers obtained today.

Vivid Entertainment and porn actors Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce filed suit in January in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in an effort to overturn the county's Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act.

In new court filings, attorneys for Vivid argue that Measure B puts an "intolerable burden" on the right to free expression and is thus unconstitutional.

State of the City: Villaraigosa Disheartened by Mayoral Candidates' Education Vision

Villaraigosa at an event in 2012. | Photo: Cal EMA/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made "daring to dream" a theme for his final state of the city address, which he also used to challenge the candidates running to succeed him to focus more on education.

He summed up Angelenos as people who "think big" and "swing for the fences," saying he began his tenure as mayor in dramatic fashion, by shooting for the seemingly impossible.

"Eight years ago, we dared to dream," he said of his goals then to improve public safety, environmental sustainability, the city's transportation system, and students' academic performance. And in all those areas, he said, "we promised to deliver, and we did."

Villaraigosa, in a break from his prepared remarks, acknowledged there were"failures" during his time in office, but he said it was the result of taking risks.

"You fail sometimes when you dare to dream," Villaraigosa said at UCLA's Royce Hall. "You fail sometimes when you fight, even when you're fighting alone."

Villaraigosa admonished what he perceives as timidity on the part of Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel, the two mayoral candidates in the May 21 election.

Here are the Candidates: Ballot for L.A. May 2013 Election Finalized

L.A. City Hall, as seen from Walt Disney Concert Hall. | Photo: Slices of Light/Flickr/Creative Commons License

16 candidates for a variety of offices will appear on the May 21, 2013 general municipal ballot, Los Angeles City Clerk June Lagmay announced today. That's in addition to the six vying in the special primary election for the city's 6th City Council District, which has been open since earlier this year when Tony Cardenas went off to Congress.

Because this is election is a run-off, not all offices are up for grabs anymore. A number of candidates won seats outright during the primary election on March 5. Those include seats 2 and 4 for both the LAUSD and Community College boards and Council Districts 3, 5, 7, and 15.

A random alphabet drawing determined the order in which candidates are listed in each race.

Do Gifts from Lobbyists to Lawmakers Present a Problem?

Lobbyists, by definition, work to sway, influence, and/or inform lawmakers. As a result, gifts by lobbyists are often viewed as suspect. There seems to be nothing particularly odd about this. If your job is to influence a certain group of individuals, then part of the cost of doing business is often to get those individuals a present now and again. It is also not odd that those on the receiving end would feel thankful, and possibly indebted.

While not odd, this arrangement breeds numerous problems. Legislators, unlike private individuals, are public servants, and, by definition, should make decisions in the best interests of all of their constituents, as opposed to those who can give them gifts.

At the very least, legislators will be more attuned to the needs and desires of those represented by lobbyists. Again, there is nothing particularly earth shattering about this. All of us are more heavily influenced by those around us than by those with whom we rarely have contact. But what happens when that influence comes in the form of gifts?

Angelenos: United in Voter Apathy?

Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are now in the final stretch of their campaign to become the next mayor of Los Angeles. Following the March 5 election, both candidates will seek to motivate voters to go to the polls. But what voters? According to preliminary numbers, only 16 percent, yes that's right, only one out of six voters went to the polls or mailed in ballots. In a city divided over so many issues, it seems elections have managed to unite 84 percent of eligible Angelenos in laziness, boredom, apathy, or all of the above.

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