Orange County's Republican lawmakers have some pretty clear ideas about what they would do to change the state taxation system, given the opportunity.
Sen. John Seymour of Anaheim favors boiling down California income tax law to one calculation: Require everyone to pay to the state a fixed percentage of whatever he or she paid the federal government.
"If I had my way, the tax conformity bill (passed late in the 1987 session) would have said, 'Pay the state of California X percent of what you pay the feds.' Done. That's it. No more," Seymour said. "It would be that simple."
Assemblyman John Lewis of Orange would combine a proposal similar to Seymour's with a strong push for replacing the federal tax system with a flat tax, under which everyone would pay the same percentage of his or her income. Such a move would wipe out the income-tax bureaucracy in one step, Lewis argues.
Huntington Beach Assemblyman Nolan Frizzelle would scrap the state income tax and replace it with a higher sales tax, possibly doubled, a proposal he says would give consumers an option they don't now have: They could avoid paying taxes by spending less money and saving more.
Assemblyman Gil Ferguson of Newport Beach wants all taxes and fees to be felt by the consumer, who he believes ultimately pays them anyway. He argues, for example, that airport landing fees should be charged directly to the customer's plane ticket rather than levied on the airlines and then passed on to consumers as an invisible cost.
"I'm for making all taxes and every tax out front where the consumer sees it, where the taxpayer pays for it," Ferguson said.
Assemblyman Ross Johnson of La Habra favors updating Proposition 13 to eliminate provisions that result in higher taxes for anyone who bought a house after 1977. Under Johnson's proposal, property taxes could not go up more than 2% a year regardless of whether there was a change of ownership.
Rule of 'Less Is More' Has Some Exceptions
As a group, the 12 Republicans who represent parts of Orange County in the Legislature have a consistent outlook on government: Less is better.
But pull them aside individually, and you soon find that most have found an area or two they wouldn't mind regulating a little more.
Sen. John Seymour of Anaheim, for example, favors requiring local school districts to train their teachers in spotting "risk-taking" behavior in their students. Such a mandate is necessary because the schools find it too easy to concentrate on well-behaved students and shun those who act up, he said.
"There's an old adage that when you're up to your fanny in alligators, it's a little difficult to remember that your objective is to drain the swamp," Seymour said. "That's where you find local school districts today. It's just not high on their priority list."
Sen. William Campbell, who represents parts of central Orange County, has written legislation raising state licensing fees for accountants and proposing that auto dealers be required to post higher bonds with the state when they go into business.
Seeking to avoid head injuries that could force victims onto the public dole, Assemblywoman Doris Allen of Cypress would require that safety helmets be worn by anyone riding in an off-road vehicle.
And Assemblyman Gil Ferguson of Newport Beach, normally an impassioned advocate of private property rights, proposes that owners of mobile home parks be required to give tenants a month's notice before putting their park up for sale, rather than the 10-day notice required under current law.
He said such a law is necessary because local governments, by refusing to allow more mobile home parks, have created a "monopoly" for the current owners. Intervention is required to allow tenants who might be tossed out of a park the right to join forces and buy the land before it goes on the market, he said.
Quicker Punishment Seen as Key to Justice
Quicker punishment is the key to making California's criminal justice system more effective, most members of Orange County's delegation in the Legislature believe.
They say more judgeships should be created so criminal cases can be handled more quickly, more prisons should be built and the government's top priority should be keeping people safe from crime.
"In order to reduce crime you have to have apprehension followed by a speedy trial and justice meted out quickly," Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach) said. "Delayed justice isn't justice either for the victim or the person accused."
Sen. Edward R. Royce (R-Anaheim) is the author of a proposed ballot initiative that would grant victims a constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial, a tool Royce thinks is needed to give judges something to cite when they deny defense motions seeking delays. Royce's measure also would allow judges--rather than attorneys--to screen potential jurors, and it would require that California defendants be given no more and no fewer rights than they have under the U.S. Constitution.