CSAC Government Finance and Administration Legislative Update
July 7, 2022
The start of July marked the end of policy committee hearings for legislative session before the Legislature adjourned for Summer Recess. As the Legislature breaks before returning August 1st to finish out the session, we want to update you on key legislation the Government Finance and Administration team is following that are of interest to counties:
AB 1951 (Grayson) — OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED. This bill would expand, for five years, the current partial sales and use tax (SUT) exemption for manufacturing and research and development equipment to include local SUT, including Bradley-Burns, Prop. 172, both realignments, transportation, and local add-ons. Current law applies this exemption only to the statewide 3.9375% SUT rate. Passed in the first house in mid-May, AB 1951 was subsequently passed by the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance in early June and was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Due to the substantial impact AB 1951 will have on county revenue, CSAC opposes this measure unless it is amended to apply only in years that an appropriation to backfill cities and counties for their anticipated sales and use tax losses is included in the Budget Bill.
SB 1100 (Cortese) — SUPPORT. This bill, which CSAC is a co-sponsoring with Urban Counties of California, would clearly state in statute that the presiding member of a legislative body can remove individuals who are disrupting a public meeting. Before removal, the presiding member would need to warn the disruptive individual and give the individual an opportunity to cease their disruptive behavior. SB 1100 is currently pending a vote on the Senate Floor. This measure was passed by the first house in early May and received technical amendments as it was approved by the applicable policy committees in the second house in June. SB 1100 was recently ordered for a third reading in the Assembly, meaning that a floor vote is expected when the Legislature returns from summer recess in August.
AB 1944 (Lee) — SUPPORT. This bill would have authorized members of legislative bodies to teleconference from a remote location without making the address of that location public, so long as the legislative body provides a video stream for members of the public and allows the public to provide public comment via telephone or videoconference. For those meetings, this bill would have also required at least a quorum of the legislative body to participate from a single, public location. While CSAC was supportive of this measure, it ultimately was not heard by the applicable policy committees in the second house and is not currently moving forward.
AB 2449 (Rubio) — SUPPORT. This bill, until January 1, 2026, would authorize members of a legislative body of a local agency to meet via teleconference without making the address of that location public provided at least a quorum of the members of the body participate, in person, at a singular physical location. In order to teleconference, this bill would require the legislative body to provide a two-way audio-visual platform or a two-way telephonic service and a live webcasting of the meeting by which the public may remotely hear and visually observe the meeting and also remotely address the legislative body. This bill includes a number of additional mandates on the legislative body seeking to use teleconferencing such as prohibiting any member of a legislative body from participating in meetings solely by teleconference from a remote location for a period of more than three consecutive months or 20 percent of the regular meetings within a calendar year, or more than two meetings if the legislative body regularly meets fewer than 10 times per calendar year. This bill was passed by the Sente Judiciary Committee last week and is currently pending a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 1972 (Ward) — OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED. This bill is intended to increase diversity in the demographic composition of grand juries, most notably by increasing grand juror per diem from $15 per day to 70 percent of the county daily median income, and various other changes such as requiring the demographic composition of grand juries to be reported and taken into account by the courts when making grand juror retention or recruitment decisions. While CSAC is supportive of efforts to increase diversity, it respectfully opposes this measure in its current form unless amendments are included to require that the increased compensation only applies in years that the state budget has provided a sufficient appropriation to cover the costs of the increased compensation. Doing so would appropriately align the cost with the level of government making the decision.
SB 1340 (Hertzberg) – CONCERNS. This bill would extend and modify property tax exclusions for newly constructed active solar energy systems. Accordingly, this measure would provide for a new assessment process for certain energy systems for purposes of calculating property tax revenues owed to schools, counties, cities, and special districts. With the current exclusion set to sunset in fiscal year 2023-24, it is imperative that a fair and equitable assessment process is provided that enables local assessors to appropriately value solar energy systems and requires system owners to contribute to their host communities. CSAC looks forward to continued dialogue with the author, the industry, and other stakeholders to ensure local agencies do not carry the burden of hosting such systems. Last week, SB 1340 was passed by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee and is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 3rd.
AB 2493 (Chen) – OPPOSE. This bill would require retirement systems established under the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL), upon determining that the compensation reported for a sworn peace officer or firefighter is disallowed compensation, to discontinue reporting the disallowed compensation. This measure would require the retirement system, for an active sworn peace officer or firefighter, to credit all contributions made on the disallowed compensation against future contributions to the benefit of the employer that reported the disallowed compensation, and return any contribution paid by, or on behalf of, that member, to the member by the employer that reported the disallowed compensation, except in certain circumstances in which a system has already began recalculating the compensation. The bill would require the system, for a retired sworn peace officer or firefighter, survivor, or beneficiary whose final compensation was predicated upon the disallowed compensation, to credit the contributions made on the disallowed compensation against future contributions, to the benefit of the employer that reported the disallowed compensation, and to permanently adjust the benefit of the affected retired member, survivor, or beneficiary to reflect the exclusion of the disallowed compensation. This bill would establish other conditions required to be satisfied with respect to a retired sworn peace officer or firefighter, survivor, or beneficiary, when final compensation was predicated upon disallowed compensation, including requiring counties and other agencies to pay the affected retired member, survivor, or beneficiary, as appropriate, 20 percent of the amount calculated by the system representing the actuarial equivalent present value of the difference between the monthly allowance that was predicated on the disallowed compensation and the adjusted monthly allowance for the duration the system projects to pay that allowance to the retired member, survivor, or beneficiary. CSAC opposes AB 2493 given that it unfairly places financial consequences on counties and other agencies by requiring CERL system employers to pay a 20 percent lump sum penalty. This will result in affected agencies owing millions of dollars. This measure would place a significant strain on general fund dollars, resulting in reductions to critical programs including public safety, transportation, and behavioral health. Last week, after substantial amendments, AB 2493 was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and was ordered for a third reading in the Senate. A floor vote is expected when the Legislature returns from summer recess.
SB 931 (Leyva) – OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED. This bill would require the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to impose civil penalties on public employers if it finds the employers deterred or discouraged employees from exercising collective bargaining rights. Additionally, the bill requires employers to pay attorney’s fees unless PERB finds the claim to be frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless. Although a recent amendment was taken to direct penalties to the general fund in lieu of PERB directly, CSAC remains in an “oppose unless amended” position on the bill, which is pending a hearing in Assembly Appropriations Committee. CSAC is still seeking amendments to (1) authorize attorney’s fees for any prevailing party and (2) lower the penalty violation from $100,000 to $10,000.
SB 1127 (Atkins) – OPPOSE. This bill reduces the timeframe for employers to investigate workers compensation claims, increases penalties on employers for “unreasonably” denying claims, and significantly increases the duration of temporary disability for cancer presumption claims. Although recent amendments to the bill lessen the reduction timeframe for employers to investigate workers’ compensation claims, CSAC, along with a large coalition of public and private employers remain opposed to SB 1127 due to the financial burden and liability it would place on counties. The bill was approved by the Assembly Insurance Committee and is currently pending in Assembly Appropriations.
SB 1313 (Hertzberg) – OPPOSE. This bill would prohibit the County of Los Angeles from providing an employee represented by an employee organization a health benefit plan that provides fewer benefits than health plans offered to employees not represented by an employee organization. CSAC, along with UCC and RCRC, has taken an oppose position, as this intends to supersede the local bargaining process and could set an extremely problematic precedent in all counties. SB 1313 was approved by Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee and is currently pending in Assembly Appropriations.