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Workers Are Now Paying Higher Tax Rates Than Corporations



New Tax Code Leaves Workers Paying Higher Tax Rate than Corporations
General Motors is among 91 of the nation's largest companies that didn't pay any income taxes during the first year of President Trump's new tax law. (Adobe Stock)

A new report says 91 of the nation’s largest corporations didn’t pay any federal income taxes in 2018, the first year of the Trump administration’s new tax law.

The study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy says even though the corporate tax rate was lowered to 21%, legal loopholes allowed the corporations surveyed to pay, on average, just over 11% in taxes.

Report co-author Matthew Gardner, senior fellow at the institute, pointed out this kind of corporate tax avoidance is entirely within the law.

“There is no implication that any of this is illegal. By all accounts, these companies are simply using the legal tax breaks that they lobbied Congress to give them,” Gardner said.

The companies that paid zero taxes include Amazon, Netflix and DowDupont of Midland, Michigan. Detroit-based General Motors also didn’t contribute any taxes on more than $4 billion in profits. Supporters of the new Tax Code have argued that lowering corporate rates would lead to increased investments and higher wages.

But Gardner said most workers’ wages have remained stagnant, and many corporations used the extra money saved on taxes to buy back stock instead of investing in their companies. He called the report’s findings disturbing, especially for middle-class workers who now know they pay a much higher tax rate than many wealthy corporations.

“There is a problem of democratic distrust right now,” he said. “People do not trust their government, they don’t trust elected officials. And it’s precisely this sort of finding that reinforces that distrust.”

The authors suggest Congress should reinstate a strong corporate Alternative Minimum Tax to act as a backstop to ensure all profitable corporations pay a meaningful corporate income-tax bill each year.

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Equal Insurance HIV Act to End Discrimination Against HIV-Positive Patients



SACRAMENTO — Senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Long Beach), Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, and Equality California have announced the Equal Insurance HIV Act to stop insurance companies from denying life and disability income insurance coverage based solely on HIV status.

This bill proposal would enact anti-discrimination protections in life and disability income insurance products for those living with HIV by banning HIV discrimination to ensure they have equal access to the coverage they deserve.

“Everyone deserves access to life and disability income insurance, regardless of preexisting conditions,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez. “I am so proud that my first bill introduced in the legislature will ensure access to the coverage they deserve.

“Everyone deserves access to life and disability income insurance, regardless of preexisting conditions,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez. “I am so proud that my first bill introduced in the legislature will ensure access to these critical resources for residents who are HIV-positive. It is time that we end the practice of insurance companies refusing to provide services to those who need it most.”

This proposed bill overturns a law passed in 1989 when treatment for someone who tested HIV positive was extremely limited. Therapies were ineffective, highly expensive, and came with severe side effects causing many individuals who were HIV positive to bypass treatment.

Today, with the access to health care, advancement in HIV testing, and more effective treatment, a person who is HIV positive and undergoes and remains on treatment can live a long healthy life. HIV status is treated by medical professionals like any other treatable chronic condition.

“A person should not be defined by their HIV status and it should not be the only factor when determining their right to insurance protection,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “People living with HIV are raising families and seeing their children grow up just like anyone. This legislation is crucial to ensure they have equal access to the same kinds of insurance that helps us all plan for the future.”

With HIV positive people living longer healthy lives, their need for life and disability income insurance is imperative to protect themselves and their families. Current California law allows insurers to deny coverage for life or disability income insurance to HIV-positive individuals based on positive results of an ELISA test followed by a positive Western Blot Assay performed by or at the direction of the insurer – tests that are no longer commonly used today.

“Thanks to modern medicine, people living with HIV lead happy, healthy lives,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “It’s time for our laws to keep up with the science and protect Californians living with HIV from insurance discrimination. Our goal to end HIV by 2030 means ending all HIV transmissions, deaths and stigma. This bill is a critical step to getting there.”

A person’s HIV positive status should be treated in the same way as any other chronic condition in the writing of life and disability income insurance. This bill proposal will ensure that life and disability insurance companies can no longer use an outdated and discriminatory insurance underwriting law that allows insurers to refuse life and disability income insurance applications for HIV positive individuals based solely on a positive HIV test.

“The life expectancy of people who are HIV positive has dramatically changed in the last two decades thanks to highly effective HIV treatment regimen including new antiretroviral drugs and existing antiretroviral therapy,” said Dr. Tasnim Khan, Chief Medical Officer of One Community Health. “It is now time to acknowledge the advances in HIV care and prevention and how to work collaboratively with the insurance industry to review policies on life and disability income coverage to people living with HIV.”

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Drugs and Alcohol

CA’s Four U.S. Attorneys Agree to Permanent Ban on Fentanyl



SACRAMENTO — The following statement was issued by the four U.S. Attorneys who serve California: Nicola T. Hanna (Central District of California), David L. Anderson (Northern District of California), Robert S. Brewer (Southern District of California) and McGregor W. Scott (Eastern District of California)

To fight this epidemic, law enforcement must have all the necessary tools at their disposal. One such tool is the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 2018 order making all fentanyl-related drugs illegal in the United States.

Unfortunately, that order was temporary and will expire in less than two weeks. The Senate recently passed bipartisan legislation approving a 15-month extension of the temporary order. While this is a step in the right direction, and the House should pass the Senate’s bill, a longer term solution is needed. We need a permanent ban on all fentanyl-like drugs.

Illicit fentanyl is manufactured in labs in China and Mexico and smuggled into the United States. It is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. So powerful, in fact, that only a couple milligrams – the size of a few grains of salt – can kill the average person.

Fentanyl, however, is unique. Because it is made in labs using chemicals, its structure is easily manipulated. And the drug cartels that manufacture and traffic this synthetic poison into our neighborhoods understand American laws and know how to exploit them.

They know that by changing a single molecule in the chemical structure of fentanyl, they have essentially created a new drug. One that, unlike fentanyl, is not illegal in the United States. These drugs, known as “fentanyl analogues,” do as fentanyl does: create more addicts and kill more Americans. The analogues – which can be up to 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine – will become legal if Congress fails to act.

The DEA’s 2018 decision to temporarily schedule – that is, to make illegal – all fentanyl-related substances was a response to the extraordinary legal loophole exploited by drug traffickers. In April 2019, China also outlawed all fentanyl-related substances. This is extraordinary progress, with one caveat. Unlike China’s law, the United States’ has an expiration date.

On Feb. 6, 2020, the DEA’s temporary order expires, and all drugs seized by U.S. investigators over the past two years that have tested positive as fentanyl analogues will no longer be illegal. If Congress fails to pass the legislation it will have a dramatic impact not just on the prosecutors and law enforcement officers who spend their lives investigating and prosecuting drug dealers, but on communities already hard hit by the opioid epidemic, many of which are right here in California.

Despite the tireless efforts of law enforcement, California continues to be a main thoroughfare for fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs arriving from China and Mexico. In 2019, federal law enforcement agents seized approximately three-quarters of a ton of fentanyl at the six ports of entry we share with Mexico and in all places in between.

That’s 20 percent more than in 2018. And our federal resources are not infinite; we need all the help we can get. Passing this legislation would provide invaluable support to us as prosecutors and the entire law enforcement community as we continue to combat the opioid crisis in California and throughout America.

 A number of organizations have voiced opposition to the proposed legislation, arguing that the bill does not “embrace public health approaches to the overdose crisis.” We agree that a comprehensive approach to the crisis is needed, and a permanent fentanyl analogue ban should be viewed as part of a holistic effort.

But time is running out. There is no doubt that drug traffickers are eagerly awaiting the temporary order’s expiration to start flooding our communities with these dangerous drugs. The passage of this legislation is quite literally a matter of life and death.

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Proposal Banning Exotic Animals For Entertainment Moves Forward



Proposal Banning Use Of Exotic Animals For Entertainment Moves Forward

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A proposal that would ban the use of exotic animals for entertainment purposes advanced Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee.

“The issue of wild, exotic animals being abused came to my doorstep four years ago, when a baby giraffe and elephant were being marched up the Hollywood Hills for a house party,” said Councilman David Ryu, who authored the proposed ban.

Exotic animals including elephants, giraffes, and lions have been brought to lavish house parties in the Hollywood Hills for […]

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