Government Finance and Administration Legislative Spotlight
April 20, 2023
With the return of the Legislature last week from Spring Recess, the 2023-24 Legislative Session continues in earnest. The end of next week, April 28, 2023, marks the deadline for policy committees to hear and report fiscal bills introduced in their house to their respective fiscal committees. The deadline for nonfiscal bills to be heard by policy committees is the subsequent week.
Our CSAC Government Finance and Administration (GFA) policy team is responsible for all issues relating to finance, general government operations, and employee relations. This includes a broad array of issues including revenue and taxation, personnel, labor and collective bargaining, the state budget, economic development, retirement systems, workers’ compensation, state mandates, veterans’ issues, the Brown Act, elections, broadband and telecommunications. While the GFA policy team is tracking almost 300 bills, the following highlights several measures we are prioritizing.
AB 557 (Hart) Open meetings: local agencies: teleconferences would eliminate the January 1, 2024, sunset on the provision to allow remote meetings during a declared state of emergency, or in other situations related to public health, without complying with certain teleconferencing requirements. Additionally, AB 557 would adjust the required timeframe for resolutions passed to renew a local agency’s temporary transition to emergency remote meetings to 45 days from the previous timeline of 30 days. CSAC is delighted to co-sponsor AB 557, along with the California Special Districts Association and League of California Cities. AB 557 would preserve an effective tool for local agencies facing emergencies that would otherwise prevent them from conducting the people’s business during an emergency.
AB 817 (Pacheco) Open meetings: teleconferencing: subsidiary body would provide a narrow exemption under the Ralph M. Brown Act for non-decision-making legislative bodies that do not take final action on any legislation, regulations, contracts, licenses, permits, or other entitlements, to use alternative teleconferencing provisions similar to the COVID-19 emergency provisions indefinitely and without regard to a state of emergency. In order to use teleconferencing pursuant to this act, the bill would require the legislative body that established the subsidiary body to make specified findings by majority vote, before the subsidiary body uses teleconferencing for the first time and every 12 months thereafter. CSAC is thrilled to be part of a broad local government coalition co-sponsoring AB 817,which would increase civic engagement by allowing members of non-decision-making legislative bodies that do not have the ability to take final action to participate in two-way virtual teleconferencing without posting their personal addresses while teleconferencing. Counties and other local governments have faced an ongoing challenge to recruit and retain members of the public on advisory bodies, boards, and commissions. Challenges associated with recruitment have been attributed to participation time commitments, time and location of meetings, physical limitation, conflicts with childcare, and work obligations, to name just a few.
AB 24 (Haney) Emergency response: opioid antagonist kits requires a person or entity that owns or is responsible for a specified designated facility, including public libraries, in a county that is experiencing an opioid overdose crisis, to acquire an opioid antagonist kit, including instructional material and opioid antagonist nasal spray, in areas that are readily accessible only by employees, and to restock the kit after each use or upon expiration. CSAC submitted a letter opposing AB 24 unless it was amended to exclude public libraries from civil penalties and to provide appropriate liability protections. CSAC anticipates that it will remove its opposition from this measure in light of recent amendments that removed public entities and public employees from incurring a civil penalty and the inclusion of provisions limiting liability.
AB 78 (Ward) Grand juries would increase the compensation for individuals selected to serve as grand jurors and require demographic data to be collected during the jury selection process. Existing law requires the fees for grand jurors to be $15 for each day’s attendance as a grand juror. AB 78 would require the fee to be equal to 70 percent of the county median daily income for each day’s attendance. CSAC is opposing this measure unless amended to specify that the increased compensation would only apply in years that the state budget has provided a sufficient appropriation to cover the increased fees paid to grand jurors.
AB 452 (Addis) Childhood sexual assault: statute of limitations would eliminate the statute of limitations to bring a civil action against an employer, including school districts, public agencies, and others, where there has been a claim against an employee of that organization for alleged child sexual abuse. The current statute of limitations allows claims to be made either 22 years after the age of majority (i.e., 40 years old) or anytime thereafter within five years of discovering a related psychological injury for a plaintiff to bring a civil suit against the employer of the Accused. CSAC and a broad coalition comprised of school districts, public agencies, and others are committed to working diligently to enhance the safety of all children, but are regretfully opposed to this measure unless amendments are provided to ensure an appropriate level of accountability for claims that are decades old to: 1. Conform language to the recently enacted federal law by not applying vicarious liability or negligence claims against public organizations unless they aided and abetted the abuse; 2. Clearly define the standard of knowledge; 3. Consider a more comprehensive approach to ensure child safety and recovery which may include state created alternatives.
AB 764 (Bryan) Local redistricting would require counties and other local governments to comply with uniform requirements related to redistricting. This bill would require local governments to adopt district boundaries, using specified criteria, following the decision to establish district-based elections and following each federal decennial census. CSAC is opposed to AB 764 unless amended to ameliorate the burdensome reporting requirements that make compliance a challenge, mitigate the additional requirements for public hearings that are costly and impractical, and remove a costly private right to action that would create significant uncertainty and costs.
AB 1248 (Bryan) Local redistricting: independent redistricting commissions would require counties with populations of 300,000 or above to create an independent redistricting commission for the 2030 redistricting process. CSAC and a coalition of local governments opposed AB 1248 unless amended to ensure that counties are fully reimbursed for costs and to incorporate more robust statutory and technical assistance provisions to ensure that local agencies are able to effectively deliver on the promise of independent redistricting.
AB 1484 (Zbur) Temporary public employees would require inclusion of temporary workers in the same bargaining unit as permanent employees upon the request of the recognized employer organization. CSAC and a broad coalition of public employers are opposed to AB 1484 on the basis of that it reduces employer flexibility regarding mandatory subjects of collective bargaining (i.e., wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment), and intrudes upon the “community of interest” provisions under existing law regarding bargaining unit determinations. Notably, temporary employment fills critical needs during seasonal surges, particularly in public health and healthcare, elections, agriculture, parks and recreations staff, and lifeguards, and to backfill permanent positions that have not yet been filled.
AB 1637 (Irwin) Local government: internet websites and email addresses would require local agencies, by January 1, 2026, that maintain an Internet website for use by the public to ensure that the Internet website utilizes a “.gov” top-level domain or a “.ca.gov” second-level domain, and would also require a local agency to ensure that each email address provided to its employees utilizes a “.gov” domain name or a “.ca.gov” domain name. CSAC and a broad coalition of local governments are opposed unless amended to this measure on the basis that it creates considerable programmatic and fiscal impacts on local governments, including counties. Cumulative costs to counties are likely in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars and the requirements to change the domain names would have downstream consequences at a time when counties are continuing to provide emergency services on behalf of the state and while dealing with wildfires, snowstorms, and severe flooding.
SB 525 (Durazo) Minimum wage: health care workers would increase the health care minimum wage broadly across the health sector to $25 per hour, including for employees working in county agencies, such as county health care and behavioral health departments, county correctional health care settings, county hospitals, and county owned and operated clinics. In addition, SB 525 would require salaried employees to be paid twice the proposed $25 per hour minimum wage, creating a new salary base of $104,000 per year. SB 525 includes a number of additional provisions such as requiring the $25 per hour minimum wage to increase by 3.5 percent annually, or in accordance with inflationary pressures based on the national consumer price index. CSAC is opposed to this measure on the basis that it circumvents the local collective bargaining process, would impact the wages of employees and contracted services in other sectors of county government, and is anticipated to result in costs in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. With the uncertain state of the economy and anticipated state budget deficit, SB 525 would dramatically and significantly affect county budgets at precisely the time when they are least able to afford it.
The following is a list of other measures that the GFA team has taken a position on:
- AB 286 (Wood) Broadband infrastructure: mapping – Support
- AB 321 (Wilson) Sales and Use Tax: exemptions: zero-emission public transportation ferries – Support
- AB 415 (Rodriguez) Emergency Fairgrounds Communications Grant Act – Support
- AB 504 (Reyes) State and local public employees: labor relations: disputes – Oppose
- AB 537 (Berman) Short-term lodging: advertising: rates – Support
- AB 597 (Rodriguez) Workers’ compensation: first responders: post-traumatic stress – Oppose
- AB 735 (Berman) Workforce development: utility careers – Support
- AB 1156 (Bonta) Workers’ compensation: hospital employees - Oppose
- AB 1213 (Ortega) Workers’ compensation: aggregate disability payments – Oppose
- SB 16 (Smallwood-Cuevas) Civil rights: discrimination: enforcement – Support
- SB 375 (Alvarado-Gil) Employment: employer contributions: employee withholdings: COVID-19 regulatory compliance credit – Support
- SB 525 (Durazo) Minimum wage: health care workers – Oppose
- SB 532 (Wiener) Ballot measures: local taxes – Support
- SB 548 (Niello) Public employees’ retirement: joint county and trial court contracts – Support
- SB 623 (Laird) Workers’ compensation: post-traumatic stress disorder – Oppose
- SB 878 (Committee on Governance and Finance) Validations – Support
- SB 879 (Committee on Governance and Finance) Validations – Support
- SB 880 (Committee on Governance and Finance) Validations – Support
FULL LIST OF GFA BILLS
Finally, the full list of measures tracked by the GFA policy area is available here.