AB 1776 defeated in committee hearing

Legislation sponsored by CNPA to repeal the sales tax on newspapers was held yesterday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on its suspense calendar, effectively killing the bill for this year. Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-Marin County) introduced AB 1776 on behalf of CNPA.

The bill was previously approved by the 11-member Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on a vote of 10-0.

AB 1776 was only with the Appropriations Committee, chaired by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), for two days. On Wednesday the bill went before the committee – a hearing on the bill was waived by the author, as is common with this committee – and directed by the committee to its suspense file. The suspense file is a place of limbo where all bills with significant fiscal impact are directed. AB 1776 and the sales tax on newspapers would reduce tax revenue to the state by $13.5 million a year. The suspense bills are all taken up at once so the committee can understand the totality of the bills’ impact on the general fund.

The fate of AB 1776 and hundreds of other bills are determined by some unknown process before the hearing, and each bill’s fate is announced by the committee chair – approved on an “A or B roll call” (one all Democrats, one both Dems and Republicans, or “held by the committee” – within seconds of one another, without explanation.

CNPA’s Governmental Affairs Committee will consider its next steps on this issue at CNPA’s June 27 quarterly meeting.