SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to end the sales tax on tampons and diapers and use revenue from legal marijuana sales toward enhancing child care programs.Those items are part of a “parents’ agenda” Newsom will announce Tuesday in a preview of the revised state budget he’ll present later this week.“As anyone who takes care of kids can tell you, these costs add up,” Newsom will say, according to excerpts of his remarks released by his office. “From diapers to child care, raising kids is expensive wherever you live. But when you factor in the cost of living here in California, it is close to impossible.”Cutting the diaper and tampon tax would eliminate about $55 million in revenue from the budget, according to legislative estimates. His child care proposals, meanwhile, would cost about $130 million, with about $80 million coming from taxes on legalized marijuana. Newsom also wants to give families with children under 6 a tax credit of $1,000, but his office did not say how much that would cost.Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who has proposed a bill to eliminate the tampon tax several times, praised Newsom for including it in his budget. She said her proposal is about creating “menstrual equity,” meaning that women don’t face taxes for products their biology requires them to buy.The proposal is about “having a tax code that’s gender neutral (and) a tax code that represents our values,” she said.Several other states including New York have already eliminated the tax on tampons. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown rebuffed eliminating the tax on menstrual products and diapers in 2016. He vetoed the proposals alongside five other tax-related bills, suggesting that such issues should be considered as part of the budget. But he included neither proposal in any of his future budgets.“Tax breaks are the same as new spending – they both cost the General Fund money,” he wrote in his veto message. “This is even more important when the state’s budget remains precariously balanced. Therefore, I cannot sign these measures.”Newsom has said he plans to maintain Brown’s reserved approach to budgeting by limiting new ongoing spending in favour of using extra money to pay down debts and bank away for the next recession. On Thursday, he’ll offer an updated budget that will show whether he’s maintaining that approach. He and lawmakers must agree on a one-year spending plan by June 30.In January, he proposed a $209 billion budget with a $21.5 billion surplus, the state’s largest in at least 20 years. His plan increased spending by about 4% but pledged more than $13 billion to build the state’s reserves and pay down debt. He proposed several billion dollars’ worth of new spending on child care, education and housing, and also called for a new tax to pay for improvements to drinking water.On child care, Newsom would spend an additional $54 million on county-run child care programs through CalWORKS, the state’s public assistance program. Newsom also wants to spend $80 million in tax revenue from legalized marijuana to pay for child care programs, though his staff didn’t offer specifics ahead of the press conference.Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A legal battle over Ontario’s licensing system for retail cannabis stores focused Wednesday on the steps taken by the province to contact a number of applicants who were later disqualified for failing to file documents by a certain date.The group of 11 applicants is challenging the rejection and disputing the fairness of the procedures involved in the lottery that has been used to grant all of Ontario’s pot shop licences.At a hearing in Toronto, the group’s lawyers argued Wednesday that under the rules set out by the provincial agency overseeing the process, those who win the chance to apply must submit certain documents within five business days once they are notified of their selection. ‘Procedurally unfair’: Disqualified cannabis lottery winners file legal challenge against AGCO ‘Violation of our rules’: AGCO disqualifies seven HighLife-linked cannabis lottery winners Why Ontario’s cannabis retail lottery winners seem familiar They said an email alerting their clients of the lottery’s outcome and the application timeline did not go through, and as such, the deadline should have been re-calculated based on when the message was actually delivered.The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario “just determined that the attempt-to-notify was sufficient” to trigger the countdown, which is unfair and unreasonable, attorney Michael Lacy told a three-judge panel.As a result, he argued, the commission was not entitled to disqualify the 11 applicants or to select a new slate of applicants to replace them.Lawyers representing the commission, however, said the eliminated applicants were to blame for the email bouncing back since they provided the address and chose that method of communication.What’s more, Judie Im argued, the commission then followed up with telephone calls, posted the list of lottery winners online and eventually sent letters by courier. Many of the calls failed to reach the applicants and three never picked up the packages, she said.When they did receive a letter notifying them of their selection, the applicants should have seen that it was dated Aug. 21 and laid out a deadline of Aug. 28, she added.“The fault lies with them and not the registrar,” Im said, noting none of the applicants sought to clarify the deadline or obtain an extension.The dispute largely revolves over what it means to be notified, and whether delivery or receipt of the message is required, Ontario Superior Court Justice David Corbett said.Earlier this month, Corbett paused the licensing process for the latest round of cannabis stores until the case is resolved.Lawyers representing the commission had contested the stay, saying it would interfere with the integrity of the lottery system. There was also opposition from lawyers representing the applicants selected to replace those eliminated.So far, there have been two rounds of the government lottery to determine who can apply to open cannabis stores. The first involved 25 spots and the second, 42.Lottery winners have five business days to turn in their application, along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit.The legal challenge may affect the government’s timeline to increase the number of legal pot shops in the province.