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2019-02-12Feb 12, 2019

In 2014, I was elected to the State Board of Equalization, one of the two principal tax collection agencies in our state where cannabis dispensaries are supposed to collect and remit sales taxes. Duffel bags and sometimes suitcases of cash would arrive quarterly at some of our designated offices and some business owners had to drive 350 miles to pay their taxes. I asked how much we collected from the cannabis industry and my agency really didn’t know since tax revenues are “commingled” and deposited with other cash tax payments. 

 

2018-11-27Nov 27, 2018

The Supreme Court decision five years ago changed the lives of couples like Maben and Robert forever.  “Being allowed to marry and have that marriage recognized by the federal government was crucial for us,” says Maben.  “It’s all about securing the basic legal protections and rights every couple needs.”  Robert ads that while it has always been possible to create LGBT families, “it is important for people to understand it was challenging, costly and you felt inferior and less worthy. Not so now.”

2018-11-01Nov 1, 2018

As people begin to live longer, financial planning will become even more important. Many customers have told me that these home loans just aren’t right for them, but the reality is that they can be a major financial windfall for seniors in multiple situations.

2018-10-03Oct 3, 2018

It’s been a few years since I’ve monkeyed around with noise ordinances and the like, so perhaps now is a good time for a refresher.  It is a complicated issue—we must balance the inevitable noises in our surroundings with the interests to enact a law to define (and more importantly, enforce) acceptable noise standards. 

2018-10-01Oct 1, 2018

Sonoma County DRAFT Fire Recovery and Resiliency Plan - PUBLIC COMMENT DEADLINE: October 26, 2018. As we continue to recover and rebuild a year after the North Bay fires of October 2017, the DRAFT Recovery and Resiliency Framework just released by the Sonoma County Office of Recovery and Resiliency offers a pathway for starting to look forward.

2018-09-21Sep 21, 2018

As Sonoma County’s cannabis industry moves into the regulated commercial market, the County’s Code Enforcement staff has increased its efforts to halt unpermitted cannabis operations. The County delivers quick turnaround times to respond to cannabis complaints and bring these operations into compliance with County ordinances. Since January 2017, the County shut down more than 600 unpermitted cannabis operations, mandated environmental remediation, and billed over $435,797 in related fines.

2018-09-18Sep 18, 2018

At its Tuesday, Sept. 18 meeting, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors applied for a state grant to fund outreach and treatment for mentally ill homeless people, approved new usage rules for the county's veterans buildings and awarded a construction contract to build a tunnel connecting the jail with a new county courthouse.

2018-09-01Sep 1, 2018

The US Supreme Court has rejected Sonoma County’s last-ditch appeal to keep Sgt. Erick Gelhuas from facing trial. The Iraq war veteran has been charged with the 2013 wrongful shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez as the boy walked down a neighborhood street with a toy rifle. This is the fourth failed appeal, which has thus far cost the County some $4 million in taxpayer dollars.

2018-09-01Sep 1, 2018

Local environmental groups in the San Francisco Bay area and Sonoma County often point to the successes of this resident-led initiative as proof we in the North Bay are a “Green” community. As a matter of fact, many of the organizations promoting tourism to the North Bay and Sonoma County invoke the natural beauty and conservation as marketing tools to get the visitors to come to the “Sonoma County Wine Country”. Going green has become a profitable approach now.

2018-08-31Aug 31, 2018

Under Proposition 64, marijuana is now legal in California for those over 21 years old—at least under state law. However, cannabis use is still a crime under federal law and the potential penalties are severe for those who are not U.S. citizens.

2018-08-31Aug 31, 2018

Last month my family flew to Connecticut for a long-awaited vacation. Our connection time in Chicago was supposed to be 1 ½ hours, but due to “crew scheduling issues”, our flight was delayed an additional three hours. We did not arrive until 3 am (instead of 10 pm as scheduled). Do I have any “flight rights?”

2019-02-11Feb 11, 2019

Newly elected California State Treasurer Fiona Ma will speak on Capitol Hill regarding banking services and issues of access surrounding the cannabis industry on Wednesday. The hearing is the first of the new Congress to address federal cannabis banking policy. Congressional members will hear testimony from the California State Treasurer, a drug policy reform organization, a medical cannabis dispensary, as well as individuals representing financial institutions.

2018-08-28Aug 28, 2018

After a five-hour discussion about proposed changes to cannabis regulations earlier this month, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors quickly passed the regulatory amendments and appointed three new members to the Sonoma County Cannabis Advisory Group at its meeting on Tuesday morning.

2019-02-02Feb 2, 2019

By no stretch of the imagination could Lynda Hopkins be called a “pot politician,” but she’s the supervisor of the Fifth District, where more marijuana is cultivated than in any other district in Sonoma County. Geography, agriculture and politics have pushed her front and center where cannabis is concerned, not just locally but nationally.

2019-02-01Feb 1, 2019

All of us see the workers in the fields tending the vineyards throughout the year as we drive our beautiful Sonoma County roads. You may wonder: can a person working in those fields get a green card by way of their job at the winery? The answer might surprise you.

2019-01-21Jan 21, 2019
2018-12-30Dec 30, 2018

As part of my annual New Year tradition, I am highlighting some of the new California state laws (most of which are in effect as of January 1, 2019 unless expressed otherwise in the law). Keep in mind that during the 2018 Legislative Session, over one thousand Assembly Bills (AB) and Senate Bills (SB) collectively passed. Governor Jerry Brown signed 1,016 of the 1,217 that landed on his desk (he vetoed the rest).  New laws limiting plastic straws, increasing renewable sources for electricity, Gun control, protecting Net Neutrality and others.

 

2018-12-29Dec 29, 2018

In a significant victory for government transparency and accountability, the California Supreme Court today denied a police union’s last-minute effort to undermine the effectiveness of a new, landmark police transparency law, rejecting the union’s effort to make the law (SB 1421) apply only to records created after January 1, 2019.

2018-12-18Dec 18, 2018

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday that the Board of Supervisors had agreed to settle with the family of a 13-year-old boy, Andy Lopez, who was shot and killed by Sheriff Deputy Erick Gelhaus in October 2013.

2018-12-04Dec 4, 2018

California's utility regulatory body will hold one of two upcoming workshops on the practice of shutting off power at high wildfire risk times in Santa Rosa on Friday, December 14.

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