CSAC Bulletin Article

GFA Requests Comments on Several Bills

February 18, 2021

The deadline to introduce most bills is this Friday, February 19. The Government, Finance and Administration Policy Team is working to complete an initial pass of the hundreds of new bills that have been, and continue to be, introduced. While team members will continue to review bills over the next week or two, we are seeking feedback on several bills.

Below, please find descriptions of each bill as well as our suggested questions. Please feel free to answer those you find most helpful and include any additional comments you may have. Please send your responses to Geoff Neill (gneill@counties.org) and Ada Waelder (awaelder@counties.org) at your earliest convenience.

 

AB 119 (Salas) – Public Disclosure of Direct Levies

This bill would require counties to publish on their website a range of possible charges for every direct levy charged by all taxing entities in the county. The information could be added to an existing publication, such as the one that currently lists contact information for all direct levies. The information required to be published would include special assessments, special taxes, parcel taxes, and Mello-Roos districts, among others. This bill is sponsored by the California Association of Realtors.

  1. Is any or all of this information already available for your county? If not, would this bill significantly increase workload?
  2. Do you feel this bill would help or provide greater transparency for prospective home buyers?

 

AB 339 (Lee) – Open Meeting Requirements: Electronic Access, Translation Services

This bill would require that all state and local government meetings subject to open meeting laws offer both call-in and internet-based public attendance and comment options, with closed captioning, in addition to in-person public comment, unless in-person gathering is prevented by a state of emergency. The bill would also require translation of all agendas and access instructions, and availability of in-meeting translation services, for any language that 5 percent of the constituency speaks.

  1. About how many meetings in your county would have been in compliance with the proposed phone and internet access rules before the COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. About how many meetings in your county would be in compliance with the proposed phone and internet access rules during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  3. Do you expect to continue to offer remote options for public attendance when in-person meeting attendance can resume?
  4. Does your county currently provide translation services at public meetings? If so, in which languages and for which meetings?
  5. Do you have any thoughts on how this bill walks the line between increasing the accessibility of government and creating excessive administrative burdens on local governments?

 

SB 49 (Umberg) – Prohibition of Some Business License Fees

This bill would prohibit state and local agencies from collecting any license fees imposed on businesses that have been closed due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders (specifically bars, restaurants, and salons). The bill would also establish a state tax credit for eligible businesses equal to the costs incurred for a permit, license, or other mandatory operating expense charged by a state or local agency. It is not clear whether this bill would apply only to business license fees or all fees charged to these businesses.

  1. Has your county waived fees or penalties, or deferred fees or penalties, for businesses affected by COVID-19 closures? If so, which fees?
  2. What state-mandated programs or services do these fees fund in your county?
  3. If passed, what would you expect the revenue impact of SB 49 to be in your county?

 

SB 286 (Min) – County Elections: Top Two Vote-Earners

This bill would change the current structure of elections for county offices. The bill would require the top two vote-earners in a Primary Election to advance to the General, even if one of the candidates received a majority of Primary votes.

  1. Do you believe this would regularly change the outcome of who is elected to office?
  2. What effects, if any, do you think the legislation would have in your county?
  3. If only two candidates filed for an office before the primary, do you think that decision should go before voters at the Primary or General Election?
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