The panel for A Crisis in Local News. Shown right to left, are Danielle Bergstrom (Fresnoland), Colleen McCain-Nelson (Sacramento Bee), Christa Scharfenberg (California Local News Fellowship Program-UC Berekely), and former television broadcast journalist Pamela Wu (News and Media Relations-UC Davis). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

Sen. Steve Glazer Vows Redo After Journalism Tax Bill Placed on Hold

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa County) shared his thoughts expressed his views about Senate Bill (SB) 1327 at Capitol Weekly’s “Covering California: The Future of Journalism in the Golden State” conference, which was held in Sacramento on May 30.

During his keynote speech message at the one-day event, Glazer said admitted he couldn’t get the votes he needed to pass the bill SB 1327 that proposes imposing a “mitigation fee” on major digital technology companies to fund journalism jobs.  

Despite the challenges, the Senator vows to keep the Legislation alive.

“We have had setbacks, and we have a lot of work to do to fix this, but I certainly am not giving up,” Glazer said at the event near the State Capitol. Glazer is chairperson of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) was the keynote speaker at Capitol Weekly’s Covering California: The Future of Journalism In the Golden State event held in Sacramento on May 30. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

In addition to Glazer’s address, Capitol Weekly organized a probing conference that examined three of the most pressing issues facing California reporters.  

Media experts, publishers, communications specialists, and political reporters assembled to discuss the preservation of fair, balanced, and accurate journalism. The need for media outlets to deliver high-quality news coverage that bolsters government, the assessment of new business models; and coverage of the State Capitol dominated the 5-hour event.

“It is nothing short of tragic I would say to see what is happening to the journalism industry,” said Tim Foster, Capitol Weekly’s Executive Director. “I’ve been in and around journalism since 1995 and what we are seeing today with the closing of the journalism industry is unprecedented in my lifetime.”

Glazer spoke for 45 minutes about the future of democracy and the role journalism plays in it. However, the Legislature’s failure to advance SB 1327 and why he pulled the bill was the main subject.

If SB 1327 should reemerge and be passed as law, fees collected would provide $500 million in employment tax credits to news organizations across California. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to pass the bill with a 4-2 vote on May 16, but Glazer still needed a pathway for two-thirds of the votes required to make it off the Senate floor.

Glazer cited several reasons for why SB 1327 is facing opposition from digital tech giants like Google, Meta, Amazon, and publishers. These include concerns about increased advertising, the perceived threat of government influence, discrimination against larger publishers, a fear that the mitigation fee could trickle down to smaller news outlets as they expand, and nonprofit newsrooms that don’t pay taxes getting a share.

“Opponents will always sell the ghost in the closet,” Glazers said of entities that oppose the bill. “The news business is facing an existential threat, and they are fighting with each other over who will be the last passenger on the Death Star.”

Glazer shared that Google, Meta, and Amazon “fiercely” oppose SB 1327 but “don’t have a problem with helping news media. In conversations with the big tech giants, they prefer the state to pick up the tab.

“I tried to point out to them that their conduct and work ethic has contributed to the hollow out of news in California,” Glazer said. “They have an obligation to help mitigate the damage they have caused.”

California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) vice chair Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) said on May 16 at the State Capitol that his biggest concern about SB 1327 was whether it would benefit Ethnic Media, including Black media platforms. “They’re usually left and still need more assistance,” Bradford said.

The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) put SB 1327 on its “job killer” list of bills.  CalChamber releases a list of job killer bills to identify legislation that it “claims “decimate economic and job growth” in the state.

On CalChamber’s website, it says that SB 1327 “implements a discriminatory” 7.25% tax on the revenue generated from the sale of digital advertising. Companies that make an excess of $2.5 billion would be responsible for the mitigation fee.

“About 65% of journalists have lost their jobs since 2005,” Glazer said. It’s quite ironic that the state Chamber of Commerce labeled the bill a ‘job killer.’ I tell my staff when we debate many issues it is all about definition and job killer isn’t always about people, certainly not in this case. In this case is all about profits.”


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