Definition of “Mandate” Could Expand
September 29, 2016
A groundbreaking expansion of what constitutes a reimbursable mandate took stage as the CSAC Mandate Services Committee met last week. This group meets regularly to determine potential reimbursement opportunities and to navigate the Commission of State Mandates (CSM) process and includes county, city, and special district representatives.
The expansion comes from a recently released California Supreme Court opinion, which found that when the state chooses to add requirements to federal laws, those additions over and above the federal standards are considered reimbursable mandates. The specific court case relates to the federal Clean Water Act and additional requirements imposed that were not mandated by the federal law. A recent CSAC Bulletin article has additional details. The decision will likely have far-reaching implications for past, present, and future mandate determinations.
The Committee also discussed an active test claim related to impasse procedures. The claim, related to 2011’s AB 646 (Atkins), adds duties related to collective bargaining activities. New requirements include a factfinding panel with broad authority to make findings and recommend terms of a settlement in certain cases. The mandatory factfinding procedures come with significant costs to local governments that experience an impasse. The test claim, filed by the City of Glendora, has been challenged by the Department of Finance and the City recently filed a rebuttal. Nichols Consulting also filed a rebuttal as an interested party.
CSAC welcomes county officials from all departments to participate. Mandate Service Committee meetings are scheduled for the day prior to the Commission on State Mandates hearings (schedule available here); attendees have the option of calling in to the meeting or attending in person at the CSAC offices. Interested parties should contact Betsy Hammer (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive updates and join the committee for future meetings.