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Capitol Roundup: Smart Phone, Corporate CEO, Community College Bills


Bill To Tackle CEO To Worker Pay Gap Clears Committee

Max Pringle / Capital Public Radio

Under a bill that cleared a California legislative committee Thursday, companies with lower CEO-to-average-worker pay ratios would get a state tax break. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports.

Under the bill, companies with CEO-to-worker pay ratios greater than 100 to one would pay higher corporate taxes. Companies with smaller gaps would pay lower taxes. The ratio now is 350 to one. The AFL-CIO says 30 years ago, the ratio was 40 to 1. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich says income inequality damages the economy.

“Customers create jobs. The more money that the middle class has – that’s average working people – the more they’re going to spend and that means more jobs.”

Gina Rodriguez with the California Taxpayers Association says raising corporate taxes would cost jobs.

“The biggest thing to do to help the economy, in our opion on the tax side of things, is to help it grow. And to help it grow we need to keep taxes down not increase them.”

The bill’s next stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Smart Phone "Kill Switch" Bill Stalls in Senate

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A hard-fought battle between California law enforcement groups and smart phone manufacturers and carriers has ended in a victory for the tech groups – at least for now.

Democratic state Senator Mark Leno’s bill that would require all smart phones and tablets sold in California to be manufactured with a “kill switch” fell two votes short of Senate approval today. A kill switch allows the owner of a device to disable it from afar if it’s been stolen. The measure would fine companies that violate the law.

Opponents argued that the California tech industry would take an economic hit from having to manufacture separate devices for in-state and out-of-state consumers. But manufacturers are promising to allow Americans to “opt-in” to having kill switches on their devices after July of next year.

Leno plans to bring the bill back for a second and final try on the Senate floor in the next few weeks.

“That’s the purpose of the bill – to deter the crime; that the criminal knows that this is not worth his time or his effort or his risk, because the phones will not have value.”


Four-Year Community College Degree Pilot Moves Forward

Max Pringle / Capital Public Radio

A bill that would allow some California community colleges to offer four year degrees has passed the State Senate Education Committee. The change would apply to areas that have a shortage of workers with specific technical skills.

Senator Marty Block says fields like automotive technology, veterinary technology and some areas of health care are becoming too technical for two-year certificates. But he says four-year colleges aren’t offering degrees in those areas.

“So my bill would be permissive," says Block. "It allows the community colleges, if they choose, to offer four year degrees in these fields that don’t duplicate anything offered by the CSU or UC.”

The bill would be a pilot program starting next year and ending in 2023.


Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

Max Pringle

State Government Reporter

Max covers the state capital, bringing more than a decade of experience in print and public radio, including reporting for KPFA, KQED and KALW. He traces his news roots to working on his his high school newspaper.   Read Full Bio 

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