LA City Council Passes $9.9 Billion Budget for 2018-2019

The Los Angeles City Council approved a $9.9 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year recently, boosting contributions to the city’s cash reserves and funding for housing projects for the homeless. In a 15-0 vote, the City Council approved a budget that will, among other things, increase staff at the 311 call center, spend over $260 million on repairs for the city’s most damaged streets and sidewalks, add 70 beds to domestic violence shelters, and fund Census 2020 outreach and educational efforts. City lawmakers also approved a series of motions Monday to boost the budget stabilization fund to $107 million – above the $104 million proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti – and the reserve fund to $351 million, $8 million above what the mayor requested. An additional $6 million was approved by the council for a mid-year budget fund to make up for any potential shortfalls. Garcetti’s proposed budget, unveiled on April 19, relies on a projected 5.6 percent increase in revenues from property, sales and hotel taxes. Meanwhile, cannabis shops are expected to pump $10 million in additional revenue according to a May 15 report by the city’s chief legislative analyst. Total revenue from legal pot is less that what the city estimated, however: In June 2017, City Controller Ron Galperin estimated the city could see $50 million in taxes from marijuana in 2018. The proposed budget includes $2.3 million for staff to enforce laws against unlicensed cannabis businesses. It includes $91 million for Vision Zero, a project to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2025, and other traffic and pedestrian safety projects. The budget also commits $10...

As locals rung in 2019, police warned about dangers of driving while intoxicated.

Police want to make sure everyone is staying safe. We attended a big New Year’s Eve party at the Century Center. People said goodbye to 2018 and hello 2019. Police say it’s okay to have a few drinks, but they just don’t want you driving afterwards. The booze and the beer is flowing at O’Rourke’s Public House at Eddy Street Commons in South Bend. Hundreds spent New year’s Eve in South Bend for the NHL Winter Classic between the Bruins and the Blackhawks — and this rivalry runs deep. These fans are sworn enemies, but there is one thing they can agree on. “Never drive drunk, never, there’s no reason.” “Don’t drive, don’t drink and drive for sure, don’t do that.” It happens every year, and police are cracking down. Agencies throughout St. Joseph County and the Michiana area have had extra officers on hand looking for impaired and dangerous drivers. “Bottom line is if we catch you, if you’re driving impaired, you’re going to go to jail,” said Lt. Williams, Mishawaka police. Last year during the new year holiday, the St. Joseph County Traffic Safety Partnership reported 10 DUI arrests and NO fatal or alcohol-related crashes. They are hoping to keep those numbers the same. “Victims that you leave behind are your family and friends, because if you’re the one that died in that crash we’re going to notify them that you died and the reason why you died,” said Williams. And if you head out and have a drink or two the Bruins and Blackhawks fans have a suggestion for how to get home. “Uber, absolutely Uber,”...

2019 California Law looks to deter drunk driving

A California DUI prevention law went into effect on January 1st, 2019. “The DMV has put together a law related to the new interlock device, and we will be enforcing that,” said Lt. Greg Klingenberg, of the California Highway Patrol. In 2019, repeat offenders will be required to connect a breathalyzer to their vehicles. The device will prevent the ignition from starting unless they’re sober. “Don’t drink and drive,” Klingenberg reiterated. Convicted drunk drivers in California will also be responsible for the cost of the interlock device –about $3 a day. They’ll be required to use it for a period of 12 to 48 months. First offenders who don’t cause any injuries can choose to install the breathalyzer for six months, or have a restricted license for one year. Lt. Klingenberg explained other state DUI regulations remain the same. “The law hasn’t changed related to what the level is. Anything over 0.08 is driving under the influence of alcohol. I’m aware that there are other states, like Utah, that has lowered their level to 0.05. But that hasn’t changed for California.” The CHP spokesperson reminded residents his agency had been on the look out for drunk drivers on New Year’s Eve. “We’ll have every available officer out enforcing all the laws to include DUI, and obviously there’s a special focus on that just because of the New Year’s Eve...

In 2019, Federal Judiciary Seeks Funding and Cost-Saving Successes.

Representatives of the Federal Judiciary recently asked Congress to provide $7.22 billion in 2019 to fund continued operations of the judicial branch. The request includes funding to sustain cybersecurity initiatives and ensure sufficient security at federal courthouses. “We ask that you consider the Judiciary’s unique constitutional role in our system of government,” said Judge John W. Lungstrum, chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Budget. “In return, we commit to you that we will continue to be good fiscal stewards, cutting costs where possible, spending each dollar wisely, and making smart investments to achieve long-term savings.” Lungstrum testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. He was joined by James C. Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. They presented the Judiciary’s budget request for fiscal year 2019, which starts October 1, 2018. “I would like to acknowledge the subcommittee for its generous and consistent support of the Judiciary’s needs,” Duff said. “We hope to maintain your confidence and support through another year of successful performance of our constitutional and statutory duties and efficient stewardship of taxpayer resources through the continuation of our longstanding cost containment program.” The fiscal year 2019 budget request reflects an overall increase of 3.2 percent to maintain current services and to fund priority initiatives. Lungstrum said the Judiciary is requesting $95 million for cybersecurity, saying that the Judiciary has moved aggressively to upgrade IT protections since 2015 cyber attacks compromised Office of Personnel Management records. “Inevitably, Judiciary systems have and will continue to be targeted, like numerous government and commercial entities worldwide,” Lungstrum said. The Judiciary also...

Couples seeking divorce amid changing laws in 2019

Droves of couples seeking divorce are flooding courthouses across the country, apparently agreeing on one thing: Make it official by the end of the year. Divorce attorneys are reporting that their workloads have increased four-fold, all to help their clients end their marriage by 2019 when changes from President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be felt. The new law makes significant changes to the that alimony payments are taxed, reducing tax savings by eliminating deductions. One Florida Judge is even adding extra court time, citing the change in tax law as the reason, and is making herself available on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, days when the court would otherwise typically be closed, CBS MoneyWatch reported. IRS data shows that about 586,000 filers claimed alimony deduction for the 2016 tax year, and the move is estimated to bring in $6.9 billion over the course of nine years, The Hill reports. By the end of the year, divorce filings may be up as much as 20 percent over 2017, President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Peter M. Walzer told CBS MoneyWatch. A majority of matrimonial lawyers believe that the changes to the law would lead to more contentious settlement negotiations. However, the new tax code may affect fewer people, as divorce rates overall have fallen over the past several...

New Year’s Eve 2019: Free rides and other ways home safely

Austin’s New Year’s Eve 2019 offered free rides and other ways to get home in safety. As we all know, drunken driving at any level is illegal, reprehensible, dangerous, and just plain bad form. That’s a fact the Austin Police Department will bring home for you at all times, but especially on New Year’s Eve, when it’s an unfortunately common occurrence. The department’s “no refusal” period for the holiday ran from 9 p.m. every night through 5 a.m. every morning, ending on New Year’s Day. If you are suspected of driving while intoxicated during the period, officers will have more legal resources for obtaining a blood alcohol sample, even if you refuse to submit one. That’s not to mention the life- and injury-threatening position you put yourself, your passengers, and others in when you attempt to drive while drunk. Fortunately, there are many options—including free or reduced ride-hailing prices and other ways to get to your destination—for Austinites to ring in the new year without all that danger. Here are a few of them. Free public transportation Austin’s Capital Metro extended its MetroRail and MetroRapid service until 2:30 a.m. New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day as well as offering free rides on New Year’s Eve from 5 p.m. until the end of service. MetroBus lines are included in the free fares and operated on their regular weekday-service schedule. Ride-hailing RideAustin (a locally owned, nonprofit business), Lyft, and Uber currently operate in Austin. From 8 a.m., Dec. 31, through 4 a.m., Jan. 1, Lyft riders got $5 off all rides in Texas. “NYEPLAN18” in the Lyft app. The Lyft discount was...