Government Finance and Operations update 2/14/2014
SB 942 (Vidak) – Support
As Introduced on February 4, 2014
Senate Bill 942, by Senator Andy Vidak, would put a provision in statute that the state would pay the costs of legislative and Congressional vacancy elections incurred between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2014.
Alert readers will note that this complements, and slightly overlaps, SB 963 (Torres), which has the same provisions but with a begin date of January 1, 2013, and no end date.
Between 1993 and 2007, California law called for reimbursing counties for the costs necessarily incurred from holding special elections proclaimed by the Governor. This prior legislation recognized the difficulty counties face when trying to fund unanticipated special elections, and sought to provide relief to counties and local government service programs. That section of law, however, was repealed January 1, 2008.
This loss of funding is compounded by the even more recent loss of state reimbursements for mandated election programs. The most important of these programs is the one that allows any voter to sign up for permanent absentee voter status. Because the state has decided to stop funding that program, it is now technically optional. However, if some counties stopped providing it, the next statewide election would be held with voters in different counties having significantly different access to the ballot, raising serious constitutional issues.
CSAC supports SB 942, as well as efforts to restore funding for the election mandates. This bill will be eligible for hearing 30 days after its introduction.
Utility User Taxes
AB 1717 (Perea) – Support
As Introduced on February 13, 2014
Assembly Bill 1717, by Assembly Member Henry Perea, is a
reintroduction of last year’s AB 300. It would establish a system
for collecting state and local taxes and fees on prepaid wireless
products at retail.
As the Governor noted in his AB 300 veto message, “[t]here is no question
that the state needs an effective system for capturing local taxes related to the sale of prepaid phones.” These taxes currently go uncollected, and AB 1717 would provide a mechanism for consumers to pay them. However, to gain the Governor’s signature this year, Assembly Member Perea will need to find a way to reduce the associated costs.