SCGA Public Affairs

ELECTION AND FEDERAL WATCH

Monday, October 31, 2022

ELECTION WATCH


We haven’t reported much if at all on the following subject, but there is more at stake in California’s 2022 election than most have been led to believe. Not in terms of continued Democratic domination of statewide offices and both Houses of the Legislature, but in terms of whether Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) continues as Speaker of the Assembly or Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) displaces him.

We did report briefly on Rivas’ failed attempt to oust Rendon over the summer, but we didn’t report on why we found that to be potentially troublesome – “potentially” because it wasn’t certainly problematic then, and it may not prove problematic should a Rivas Speakership come to pass in the 2023 session.

We should know who the 2023 Speaker will be immediately after the results of the November election are tallied. Thirty (30) of the Assembly’s 80 members will be new members, and the composition of this huge freshman class will be the dispositive factor. Like so many matters in California, virtually all of the political action is not between the two major parties, but rather within the one party that dominates the California body politic, something we discovered writ large during last year’s AB 1910 exercise, where it was golf’s support among legislators representing politically similar (and often contiguous) districts to AB 1910 author Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) that spelled the difference – that and certain Committee Chairs mostly from Southern California.

Speaker Rendon has differed from many of his predecessors in giving great leeway to those he appoints Committee Chairs, and with Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Oceanside) chairing Appropriations, Budget, and Sports/Entertainment respectively, golf was well positioned to get a fair and complete hearing re AB 1910, which was all golf needed to make its case that while housing is indeed a critical need, Garcia’s bill was a particularly bad and ineffective way of mitigating it let alone meeting it. Add to that the hard truth that organized golf has been working hand in glove with municipal golf systems in Southern California for years, and it is easy to understand why golf would be concerned that a shift of the Speakership northward along with a more northern tinge to certain committee chairpersonships could represent a loss of traction to the degree to which bills like AB 1910 might crop up in future sessions. “Could” is not “would,” and fears are often discovered to have been unfounded. Time may or may not tell, but whatever it tells us, golf won’t hesitate to positively engage.

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Those who read these “updates” know that we put much greater stock on tracking public opinion than we do specific legislation or regulation. The latter follows the former. And for that reason, we are paying close heed to certain local elections in Los Angeles County – three (3) in the City of Los Angeles and one in a County Board District that is dominated by the City of Los Angeles (3rd District). In all four (4) cases we hope to find out whether a trend that began a couple of years ago in which traditional labor/liberal Democrats lose out to what we’ll term for the purposes of this communication younger/more activist/more “progressive” Democrats continues. Why? Because the former generally find municipal golf courses and the green/recreational spaces they provide to be beneficial land uses for the communities they represent, while the latter often find bills like AB 1910 attractive. However, this is not to suggest that with outreach, education, and direct experience with the golf courses in the districts they find themselves representing, these more “progressive” newcomers won’t come to the same conclusion about the social and environmental benefits of golf to their constituents.

Indeed, if organized golf had ever paid the slightest attention to the history of municipal golf’s great expansion in 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s California, it might understand that it was precisely a previous generation of traditional “labor/liberal Democrats” that was largely responsible for building and buying golf properties in California’s urban cores and operating them as affordable, accessible municipal golf courses – in the specific case of Los Angeles, the 2nd largest city and largest golf market in the United States, the ONLY public golf courses still in existence. The daily fee facilities that once dotted that city have all given way to the “creative destruction” that is the hallmark of all market economies.

Golf would be well pressed to begin appreciating that record of support while at the same time reaching out and developing relationships with those whose views about the social utility of golf in urban environments may not be positive but are not fixed in cement either.

FEDERAL WATCH

Most of what happens at the federal level both in terms of legislation and regulation matters little in California – with respect to the golf community, that is. The same goes for the most part with respect to the Biden Administration’s recent directive to the Department of Labor (DOL) to reverse the previous administration’s Rule regarding independent contracting. It’s a directive that presages a much more restrictive test to distinguish employment from independent contracting – restrictive in terms of creating a much stronger preference for employment over independent contracting. But it’s also a directive that emphatically rejects California’s ABC test in California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision and the legislative codification thereof (AB 5 / AB 2257), and this could provide the opening many sectors can use to add more exceptions and exemptions to AB 2257.

Golf doesn’t need the opening to add or create exceptions. The game did very well for itself with a “business to business for professional services exception” that provides a clear roadmap for PGA golf professionals to ply their trade as independent contractors and a generic exception for all “youth sports coaches” that accommodates the business model of most junior golf programs. A semblance of independent caddying survived due to an anomaly in California’s Unemployment Insurance Code regarding unemployment compensation.

However, to the degree to which one of the 12 prongs of the test in that “business to business for professional services exception” is too ambiguous for golf’s comfort, the Biden Administration’s categorical rejection of California’s ABC Test may have given the California Alliance for Golf (CAG) an opening to refine it. This has been a goal of the Alliance since AB 2257 was passed, and maybe now with COVID and AB 672/1910 behind us, the game can take the effort up in 2023.

Archived Updates

Opposition to Assembly Bill 1910

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CGCOA Golf is Good Ambassador Program

Are you interested in becoming an advocate for golf in California? The CGCOA is seeking amateur golfers who are passionate about protecting the game of golf and promoting public policies that enable golf to flourish in California. Take the next step to becoming an advocate for golf by completing the attached Golf is Good Ambassador Application.

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FORE - Public Affairs

FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Public Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.

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MUNICIPAL TEE TIME BROKERING

Four Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion yesterday that seeks to crack down on what the motion describes as “black-market tee time brokers” who book and resell city golf course tee times for profit.

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GOLF’S STOCK CONTINUES TO RISE IN SACRAMENTO

When introduced by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) February 16, AB 3192 contained a provision that would have banned the use of all nonorganic pesticides and fertilizers on golf resorts in California’s Coastal Zone.

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IT’S STILL THE LAND, STUPID

A cautionary tale from semi-rural Santa Barbara County to remind you that the pressure to repurpose golf courses is not just a phenomenon in California’s densely packed urban cores.

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TEE TIME BROKERS

The National Golf Course Owners Association’s (NGCOA) Harvey Silverman may have characterized the City of Los Angeles’ uncommonly quick reaction to intense media scrutiny (five separate Los Angeles Times stories including a Sunday lead editorial) of the depredations of tee time brokering with his quip in the organization’s “Golf Business Weekly” about the city having reacted “faster than fixing potholes.”

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NEWS BRIEFS

Every year there seems to be one bill filed in one house of the California Legislature that keeps the California golf community up at night.

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TEE TIME BROKERS: THERE’S MORE

Here's the difference this last week made, and it’s a difference not just in terms of the alacrity with which we can expect the major municipal golf systems to begin implementing mitigations, but also in terms of what the week means in terms of disabusing all notions of golf somehow being underutilized and golfers not as passionate about the object of their affection as others are about theirs.

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TEE TIME BROKERS

With respect to the furor over tee time brokers making it nearly impossible for Los Angeles Basin’s public golfers to secure tee times at almost any time of the day or week, let’s just say that we’ve seen this picture before.

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