CSAC Advocacy Focuses on Key Bills Ahead of July Deadline
July 5, 2019
Next Friday, July 12, is the last day for policy committees to meet and report bills out of their committees. CSAC has been working closely with county affiliates, author offices, and bill sponsors on a number of measures as that deadline approaches. CSAC legislative staff have been hard at work moving supported and sponsored bills out of their respective policy committees; and confirming bill amendments to mitigate outstanding concerns. In light of the upcoming deadline, please see updates below regarding a number of bills that have been policy priorities.
Agriculture, Energy, and Natural Resources
AB 1080 (Gonzalez)/SB 54 (Allen): CSAC has a support position on these two companion bills. The measures would require the adoption of regulations requiring covered entities — including manufactures, importers, retailers or distributors — to reduce the waste associated with single use packaging and products 75 percent by 2030. The bill would help California transition away from single use plastic containers to reusable or compostable packaging, and promote the development of in-state manufacturing that uses recycled material. This is a marquee bill in the environmental policy arena this session and has support from dozens of pro-environmental groups. CSAC supports because this bill has the potential to reduce plastic waste at time when plastic waste is piling up at local landfills due to significant shifts in Chinese trade policy restricting the import of plastic. AB 1080 was amended and passed in Senate Environmental Quality Committee on July 3 and re-referred to Appropriations, while SB 54 is up in Assembly Natural Resources Committee on July 8.
SB 182 (Jackson): CSAC has a support position on SB 182. This bill would improve the local planning process and incorporates actionable data that can decrease fire risk to our communities. The bill would, among other things, impose new planning requirements on local governments and require cities and counties to make specified findings on fire standards prior to permitting development in very high risk fire areas. The bill would allow counties to use systems that are already in place to incorporate better information in the local planning process. CSAC appreciates the balanced approach this bill takes towards reducing future fire threats and maintaining local land use authority. SB 182 is double referred and passed the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on July 3 and is up for Assembly Local Government Committee on July 10.
SB 560 (McGuire): CSAC has a support position on SB 560. This bill would require investor owned utilities (IOUs) and publicly owned utilities (POUs) to include procedures for circuit by circuit level notification of a deenergization to first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure in wildfire mitigation plans. In addition, the bill would also require mobile telephone service providers to coordinate with appropriate community stakeholders in the event of a deenergization. In the face of historic levels of wildfire threat, utilities are increasing the use of the public safety power shutoffs (PSPS). Deenergizations can be used to prevent accidental ignition of major wildfires in the wildland urban interface, however they can also impact communities which must deal with a significant loss of power. SB 560 would require utilities to notify critical services ahead of a deenergization in order to minimize PSPS impacts to public safety and health services. CSAC supports a more detailed level of notification to first responders, health care facilities and telecommunication infrastructure as provided for in this bill. This bill is up in Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee on July 10.
Administration of Justice
SB 284 (Beall) would increase the annual rate which a county pays to the state for a person the county commits to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to $125,000 if the offense on which the commitment is based, had it been filed in a court of criminal jurisdiction at the time of adjudication, had a maximum aggregate sentence of fewer than 7 years or if the offense on which the commitment is based occurred when the person was 15 years of age or younger. CSAC and Chief Probation Officers of California are opposed to this measure as it will do little to prevent youth from being sent to DJJ, and instead result in significant financial impacts on counties, which will negatively impact counties and the progress we have made to enhance services and could put programming for youth in jeopardy. SB 284 is waiting to be heard on the Assembly Floor.
Government Finance and Administration
CSAC is pleased to add support for SB 5 (Beall), which would provide significant state funding support for local affordable housing, infrastructure, community planning, and efforts to protect against the effects of climate change. A committee consisting of state officials would be authorized to approve up to $200 million per year beginning in 2021, growing to a maximum of $2 billion per year by 2030. Twelve percent of the funding would be set aside for counties with a population of under 200,000. SB 5 passed the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on July 3, and will be heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee next Wednesday, July 10.
AB 418 (Kalra) would create an unprecedented expansion of the current evidentiary privilege against disclosure of communications—similar to the one required of doctors and lawyers—to also include union agent-represented worker communications. CSAC, along with a coalition of local government partners, has consistently opposed this bill, maintaining that evidentiary privilege is, by design, narrow in scope to protect the confidentiality and integrity of relationships, both professional and familiar in nature, where highly sensitive and deeply personal information is exchanged. Furthermore, the privilege that AB 418 would create is unique in that the privilege goes both ways, so a union representative could prevent the employee who confided in them from disclosing information. AB 418 creates legal and operational challenges for public agencies while establishing a new, one-sided level of evidentiary privilege for union employees, who are not subject to the same training and oversight as others who are subject to evidentiary privileges. AB 418 passed out of Senate Judiciary Committee on July 2, and now heads to Senate Committee on Appropriations.
CSAC is in strong support of SB 268 (Weiner), which would improve transparency for local tax measures, addressing recently enacted ballot label requirements that have proven problematic for bonds and tiered tax rate measures. Recently enacted law created significant voter confusion and threatens local governments’ ability to secure voter approval to meet the needs of California residents. This measure will protect the ability of local agencies and communities to support schools, roads, hospitals, flood protection, fire protection, and other vital public services, while ensuring accurate, clear cost information is provided to voters. This measure passed out of Senate Elections Committee on July 3.
AB 1544, by Assembly Member Gipson, would codify parts of the current community paramedicine and alternate destination pilot programs to safely transport some patients – including those who are not sober or experiencing a behavioral health crisis – to the appropriate facilities for their needs. While counties continue to strongly support these efforts, the bill contains several troublesome provisions that will weaken current local control of the EMS system and add unnecessary constraints to the two programs. CSAC, Urban Counties of California (UCC), Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), and the County Health Executives Association of California (CHEAC), have recently proposed several amendments to the current language; our position remains Oppose Unless Amended on AB 1544. The bill will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 9. View the joint county organization “Oppose Unless Amended” letter here for more details on our requested amendments.
SB 438, introduced by Senator Hertzberg, would place restrictions on contracting for emergency medical services secondary 9-1-1 dispatch duties and infringe on the medical control authority of local emergency medical service agencies (LEMSAs). Specifically, this bill restricts future contracting with a private entity for secondary medical 9-1-1 dispatch services unless a public agency consents to the contract. Further, SB 438 attempts to determine how calls are processed and administered, which is contrary to statute and case law surrounding the medical oversight of the EMS medical director. CSAC, along with, UCC, RCRC, CHEAC, the Emergency Medical Services Administrators Association of California, and the Emergency Medical Services Medical Directors Association of California, are all opposed to the measure. SB 438 will be heard on July 9in the Assembly Health Committee. View our joint “Oppose” letter here for more details regarding our opposition to SB 438.
CSAC, along with the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA), UCC, and RCRC, has been working closely with the author’s office and sponsors to address county concerns on AB 1403, authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo. This bill would require counties to alter their locally-established General Assistance (GA) or General Relief (GR) eligibility levels to provide additional county-funded assistance to certain parents who are no longer eligible for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. AB 1403 presents a significant infringement on counties’ statutory GA authority by imposing a statewide mandate for a specific population without identifying a source of funding for the requirement. CSAC and county affiliates are working with the author’s office and sponsor to properly define the target group of this bill and identify state funding. AB 1403 will be heard by Senate Human Services Committee on July 8t
AB 426, authored by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, will be heard by the Senate Human Services Committee on July 8. This bill would repeal the requirement that a prospective recipient of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) must obtain and submit a medical certification as the author and sponsors have concerns that this form can be a barrier to accessing services. Prior to the enactment of a standardized medical certification form, many counties had their own version of a medical necessity form. CSAC has concerns with eliminating the form as it could make it more difficult for counties to verify current and ongoing needs and accurately determine eligibility and assign hours of service to the growing number of IHSS recipients. CSAC and CWDA are working collaboratively with the author and sponsors on amendments that eliminate all concerns.
Housing, Land Use, and Transportation
CSAC is the sponsor of SB 137 (Dodd), which would allow the state and local agencies to reduce the cost of transportation projects and provide for more projects to be completed with the same amount of revenue by expanding the Match Exchange Program to other transportation programs with federal funds allocated to local agencies, specifically the Highway Safety Improvement Program and local bridge projects. Counties have estimated that going through federal aid process and the National Environmental Policy Act review, in addition to California’s robust processes, adds anywhere from fifteen to forty percent to the cost of a project; especially smaller projects. This bill would reduce duplicative federal transportation permitting and environmental review by authorizing the expansion of the State’s existing program to exchange federal surface transportation revenues for state transportation revenues. The bill passed out of Assembly Transportation Committee earlier this week.
SB 592 (Wiener) was recently gutted to make extensive changes to the Housing Accountability Act. CSAC currently holds an “oppose unless amended” position on the bill and has been working with other stakeholders, the author, and committees to address our concerns. The bill passed out of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee this week, where Senator Wiener accepted amendments to it at the request of the committee Chair. Some of the amendments that the author accepted address CSAC’s concerns. However, CSAC continues to be concerned with provisions of the bill or recent amendments that would:
- Apply the provisions of this bill to a housing development project regardless of whether the local agency’s review of the project is discretionary or ministerial.
- Require a local agency to provide a written document within 30 days with an explanation as to why the agency determined that an application revised after the initial denial is inconsistent, not in compliance, or not in conformity with applicable law.
- Authorize a project applicant to seek compensatory damages for a violation of the act. As counties recall, the Housing Accountability Act has already been recently amended to impose fines on cities or counties that deny zoning-consistent housing projects in bad faith.