California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has been thwarted by the Democratic-dominated state legislature in his efforts to punish oil and gas companies for alleged fuel price gouging, and will now resort to executive action instead.
The change in strategy is a political failure for Newsom, whose party has an overwhelming majority in both houses of the state legislature and could theoretically push anything it wants without significant opposition.
Last year, amid soaring gas prices, Newsom and the legislature sent “inflation relief checks” to several California families to help pay the cost of fuel. (State Democrats have refused to give up a planned gas tax hike.) The checks, which some welcomed, were expected to cause further inflation. They were also exposed to fraud and may have mistakenly raised federal tax liabilities for the beneficiaries, since they were not an actual refund.
Newsom tried to blame oil and gas companies for the fuel price hike, and called the legislature into special session to pass laws to punish the industry. But he had to redefine his proposal as a “punishment” rather than a “tax” to avoid a rule in the California state constitution that requires tax increases to be passed by a two-thirds majority. It appears that lawmakers and legal experts have struggled to find legislative language that matches Newson’s proposal.
Now, following the first example set by President Barack Obama on immigration policy and gun control, Newsom is stepping out of the legislature and intending to take executive action to curb the profits of the oil and gas industry.
Associated Press reports:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday he wants state regulators to decide whether to impose the nation’s first penalty on oil companies for price gouging, which turned out after months of negotiations with legislative leaders failed to reach an agreement on the issue. A bill intended to rein in the notorious state. High gas prices.
Wednesday, the governor announced that he is changing course and will instead ask lawmakers to empower the California Energy Commission to decide whether such a penalty is necessary, and if so, how much it will be. The committee will be assisted by a new, independent agency made up of experts, economists and lawyers that will have subpoena power to monitor the gasoline market and make recommendations.
The oil industry has disputed Newsom’s accusations of price gouging, arguing that the country’s own policies are responsible for the price hike because it requires a unique blend of fuels to be sold, which only a few refineries produce; And because of California’s aggressive climate change policy, which imposes a cap-trade system on fuel and ultimately aims to end the production and sale of gas-powered vehicles within the state.
Joel Pollack is senior editor-at-large at Breitbart News and host Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 PM to 10 PM ET (4 PM to 7 PM PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: Comrade Cadali, you are out of order. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 US Presidential Election. He is the recipient of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @employee.
This article has been updated.
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