CLSA Wire

2016 Local Election Roundup
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Nov. 10, 2016

CLSA is pleased to provide you with this exclusive 2016 local election update, and what these results mean for California’s life sciences sector. With this week’s elections, and looking forward to challenging legislative environments at all levels in 2017, CLSA has already begun the work necessary to ensure our continued success — not only with our returning allies and champions, but with the many newly elected public officials as well.

Below are a key jurisdictions and measures of interest at the local and regional levels for the life sciences sector.

Los Angeles Board of Supervisors

Two new members will be sworn into the Board in December. Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D) will take the seat currently held by Supervisor Don Knabe (R), and Kathryn Barger, the current Chief of Staff for outgoing Supervisor Mike Antonovich (R) will take over her boss’ position on the Board. With this, the dynamics of the Board change from three Democrats and two Republicans to a larger Democratic majority of four to one. Following the recent hearing by the Board of Supervisors castigating industry over drug disposal plans, and overall drug pricing issues, we can expect the new Board to revisit and pursue a mandatory County EPR ordinance on pharmaceuticals and sharps takeback.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

In San Francisco, all eleven members of the Board are Democrats—the internecine fights occur between differing factions called ‘moderates’ and ‘progressives.’ Currently, the Board of Supervisors has a one-vote advantage for the progressives while working with the more moderate Mayor. Three progressives were termed out and it looks as if they will continue to hold two of those seats, while one will be more moderate. This leads again to a relatively even split providing a one-vote difference between the two factions at the Board. While Supervisor Scott Wiener (from the moderate camp) has won his election to replace Senator Mark Leno in Sacramento, Mayor Lee will most likely appoint a moderate in his place, which should not further change the partisanship levels. Additionally, there were several measures on the ballot put on by progressives to take power away from the mayor that were all defeated.

Sonoma County Measure M

As noted in previous communications (GMO’s On the Ballot in Sonoma County), the Sonoma County Transgenic Contamination Prevention Ordinance (known as Measure M) went before voters. The measure to ban genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) in the County was supported by a group called the Citizens for Healthy Farms and Families and opposed by the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and a variety of agricultural life science technology companies, such as Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta and others. Measure M passed with 56% of the vote.

Transportation Measures on the Ballot Around the State

Given the growing challenges for our life science companies attracting and retaining quality talent within the state’s largest regions, the sector has taken a keen interest in regional transportation issues. The following are a few propositions on transportation in particular localities and regions.

  • Los Angeles Region

While Los Angeles is known as the home of highways and cars, there are County planners working on creating alternatives to the never-ending process of sitting in traffic. With the passage of Measure M the region will expand rail/subway/bus systems via the local transit system known as Metro. It will also work on other traffic improvement projects and retrofitting for earthquakes. Measure M was heavily supported by the business community in Los Angeles.

  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Regional

A key transportation resource in Northern California is the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. Covering several Counties around the Bay, the system is over 40 years old and an overall maintenance/infrastructure bond was placed on the ballot. Three Counties (San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa) collectively passed the bond by over 2/3rds.

  • Santa Clara County

The business community heavily pushed for the passage of Measure B covering San Jose and Silicon Valley and it passed overwhelmingly. This half-cent sales tax will raise up to $6.5 billion toward the County’s bus/transit system known as VTA, as well as provide funding for BART extensions reaching into the County. Historically, Santa Clara County was not part of the original BART system built 40 years ago. Measure B will also improve connections and safety via Caltrain which runs from San Jose to San Francisco along the peninsula.

  • San Francisco County

While Proposition J was passed overwhelmingly to support San Francisco’s transit system (MUNI), Proposition K did not pass. Proposition K would have raised the city sales tax to fund Proposition J. Hence, the funds are no longer available for the proposals in Proposition J, although there will undoubtedly be other possible budgetary discussions.

  • Alameda County

Voters in Alameda County passed Measure C1 by 81% which extends the local parcel tax funding the County’s bus system (AC Transit) for another 20 years.

  • Contra Costa County

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority District placed Measure X on the ballot to collect up to $2.9 billion for more BART cars, shuttles, and road repairs. However, it fell just slightly under the 2/3rds required to pass.

For questions on these, or other local/regional elections from throughout the state, please contact Reese Isbell, CLSA’s Director of Local Government and Community Relations at risbell@califesciences.org.