The GOP wants you to choose between jobs and trees this year, and it's betting you'll vote for the paycheck.
Republican lawmakers are submitting a pack of "job-generating" bills in the Legislature, some of which would roll back regulation.
"It's easy to be green when you've got food on the table," GOP Assembly-man Bill Berryhill of Ceres said. "Most of these things were passed in the good times. We're in a different time now."
He took aim at California's landmark global warming law with a measure he co-wrote that would have prevented agencies from enforcing it until the state's unemployment rate drops to the halcyon level of 5.5 percent.
In today's climate, that sounds like a death sentence for restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.
His measure didn't make it out of the Assembly's Natural Resources Committee, where it failed on a 6-3 vote last month. It didn't have support from majority Democrats, or even Gov. Schwarzenegger.
Berryhill put it forward, anyway, touting it as a part of GOP jobs-first initiatives aimed at easing regulations on businesses.
"It's certainly a statement bill that I think most Californians would agree on," he said.
Democrats aren't about to concede that Assembly Bill 32, their 2006 effort to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels, is bad for business.
They point to a December study from Next 10, a nonpartisan think tank, that concluded green energy is a bright spot in today's bleak economy. It determined that the number of green jobs in the state grew by 36 percent from 1995 to 2008, while total jobs increased by 13 percent.
Next 10 also found that as the recession set in about 2007, California employment declined by 1 percent but jobs in the green sector grew by 5 percent.
Any effort to scale back the regulation, Democrats say, would scuttle that progress.
"Why would he, in the middle of this recession, send exactly the wrong signal to investors and pull the rug out from under a sector of the economy that's growing?" asked Berkeley Democrat Nancy Skinner, whose Natural Resources Committee turned down Berryhill's bill.
Expect more of the same to come. Republicans have put together some of their ideas at www.cajobsfirst.com.
Berryhill is trying to get fines from regulatory agencies delivered to the state general fund instead of agency accounts, a push that he says would ease the state deficit and take some heat off of private industry.
Former Modesto City Councilwoman Janice Keating is making her concerns with the global warming law a centerpiece of her bid for the Assembly this spring.
"Even if some of these dyed-in-the-wool environmental extremists continue to do everything they can to run our jobs, economy and proud agricultural industry into the ground, I remain optimistic that we can defeat them," she wrote in a recent commentary on the conservative Flash Report Web site.
WHERE'S HEIDI? Tuolumne County lawyer Heidi Fuller dived into the race for Modestan Dave Cogdill's Senate seat last winter when he supported a temporary tax increase for a state budget compromise.
His vote cost him his leadership post in the GOP and incensed Fuller enough to challenge the incumbent.
Fuller didn't change course when Cogdill opted not to run for re-election in November. She doesn't want to be ignored and yet can't help but see the GOP lining up behind Assemblyman Tom Berryhill of Modesto, who recently moved to Oakdale to run for Cogdill's seat.
A recent Stanislaus County Republican Central Committee newsletter forgot to mention her while it discussed Tom Berryhill's shot for Cogdill's district.
County GOP Chairman Jim DeMartini says it was just an oversight.
"We try to treat everybody fairly," he said.
Fuller has fired a shot across the bow on her Web site, www.heidi4Senate.com, calling Tom Berryhill a carpetbagger. She likens his move to Hillary Rodham Clinton taking up residence in New York to run for the U.S. Senate and, more surprising, President Barack Obama running for office in Illinois instead of his father's home country of Kenya.
Bee assistant city editor Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.