CPF District 3 represents the counties of Del Norte, Siskiyou, Modoc, Humboldt, Trinity, Shasta, Lassen, Mendocino, Tehama, Plumas, Lake, Glenn, Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Yolo, Placer, Sacramento, El Dorado, San Joaquin, Amador, Calaveras, Alpine, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mono, Merced, Mariposa, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Nevada, Tulare and Inyo.

Merced Firefighters Get Behind Marijuana Tax

Photo by Daniel Piedlow

Roughly $1 million in tax revenue might be up for grabs if a proposed cannabis “sin tax” measure is approved by voters in the city of Merced, and local firefighters are working to ensure that funding for vital public safety services doesn’t get left out of the potential windfall. 

The measure, which was placed on the June ballot following a vote of the Merced City Council, would tax recreational marijuana businesses at a rate of 3 to 4 percent annually, and includes the option to races the tax up to 10 percent in the future. Early polling suggests that the measure is largely supported by Merced voters. 

“It looks like the community is behind this,” said Chad Englert, president of Merced City Firefighters, Local 1479. “If the people are in favor of it, it only makes sense that we would want to go out and get a part of it.”

 As a special tax, the revenues generated from the measure would be dedicated to police, fire and parks and recreation, with each entity receiving no less than 20 percent of the total. The remaining 40 percent would then be split up between the three entities at the discretion of the City Council, creating a potential for additional funding on top of the 20 percent that is already ear marked for the city’s fire department. 

Englert notes that recreational marijuana use has the potential to increase the demand for public safety services in the city of Merced, so directing funding to the entities that provide those services seems like a natural fit. 

“Framing this measure as a sin tax, the council is making it clear that this has to the potential to impact public safety,” Englert said. “If something is going to have a significant impact on police and fire, and is going to create an additional need for us to respond, there needs to be way of covering the cost of providing those services.”

The fate of Merced’s cannabis tax will be decided by the voters on June 5th.

Turlock Firefighters Enter Election Season Riding High

For the past two years, Turlock Firefighters, Local 2434 has been on a bit of a hot streak, one they hope to preserve through aggressive political advocacy in the upcoming election year. 

In the past two years, Local 2434 has had a hand in the department’s transitioning away from an anti-labor fire chief to a much more labor friendly administration, a move that has seen hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional funding committed to training and other sorely needed resources. 

“A lot of good has come in the past two years,” said Paul Arai, president of Turlock Firefighters, Local 2434. 

Arai attributes many of these positive changes to the aggressive political advocacy shown by Local 2434 members, who previously helped elect Turlock’s current mayor. That positive relationship with City Hall translates to stronger ties with management when, following the retirement of Turlock’s past fire chief, Arai was a give a seat on the four-person hiring panel responsible for selecting the next fire chief. 

“Labor-management relations are definitely at a high,” Arai said. “All of that is a part of us being involved, and strong with our council. These relationships have allowed us to finally overcome what could be summed up as a previous lack of leadership at the top of our department.”

Having seen the value of past advocacy, Local 2434 are now looking to continue the win streak through a contentious mayoral race in 2018. 

In that contest, current Mayor Gary Soiseth will be facing off against Councilmember Brad Bates. Local 2434 had endorsed both candidates in their most recent bids for office. Local 2434 will be selecting its endorsed candidate for the latest contest following the June primary.

“It’s a very contentious race,” Arai said. “Our members will be involved, as we have been in past cycles, to ensure that public safety remains a top priority for our elected leaders.”