<b>A $263 million gain</b>
The state Board of Equalization reported recently on sales tax revenue for the first year since Amazon.com and other etailers were required to collect the same levy as brick-and-mortar retailers.
The take: A cumulative $263 million for the state, cities, counties and special districts.
Add to that, thousands of new jobs. Amazon, which had stayed out of California as part of its efforts to avoid collecting sales taxes, opened three distribution centers in the Golden State over the past year. The Seattle-based company recently announced plans for a fourth distribution center and said it plans to spend $500 million on facilities and hire 10,000 people in California by December 2015.
<b>For whom the toll tolls</b>
Drivers are just getting accustomed to the all-electronic toll collection system on the Golden Gate Bridge, and bridge directors are talking about higher tolls for 2015.
The bridge toll is $6 with a $1 discount for Fastrak users. The discount was created as an incentive for drivers to use Fastrak, thereby reducing the slow down at the toll plaza. That no longer seems necessary with all-electronic tolling. Eliminating the discount would raise $16 million without raising tolls, according to the Marin Independent Journal. KTVU, meanwhile, reports that 224,000 people evaded tolls in the first 10 months of 2013 because they had no license plates or had untraceable license plates. There's another source of revenue to tap before raising tolls.
<b>A bag full of rules</b>
Sonoma County and its nine cities all seem to believe that banning plastic grocery bags and charging a nickel for paper bags would reduce litter and reduce the demand for petroleum products. Unfortunately, they were unable to agree on a single ordinance covering the entire county, an approach that apparently would have required some adjustments to the charter for an obscure agency responsible for recycling.
The upshot is that there could be separate rules in each of the 10 jurisdictions, which not only seems confusing, but it seems every bit as wasteful as tossing empty bags in the street. We encourage them to keep working on an approach that makes sense for consumers and retailers who must live with the laws.
<b>A Mendocino Coast monument</b>
It's a long drive on winding roads to the southern Mendocino Coast. But if you go, as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell did on Friday, you'll be rewarded by spectacular views from the bluffs, cypress groves, sand dunes, natural bridges, tide pools, sink holes and blow holes. A small island is accessible at low tide from a stretch of coast between Point Arena and Manchester Beach that locals want designated as a national monument. The House passed legislation this summer to include the area in the California Coast National Monument. A companion measure is still pending in the Senate. Jewell's boss, President Barack Obama, could speed up the process by using his authority under the Antiquities Act. Having seen it herself, we trust Jewell will encourage the Senate and the president to act.
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