Government Finance and Operations update 2/21/2014
AB 1873 (Gonzalez) – Support
As Introduced on February 19, 2014
Assembly Bill 1873, by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, would allow counties to conduct local elections and vacancy elections entirely by mail, and require them to prepay the return postage for those elections.
Counties have long supported the authority for mail-ballot elections, especially for local elections and for special elections held to fill legislative or congressional vacancies. The turnout for these elections is miserable, but counties are still saddled with the expense of providing just as many polling places as for statewide general elections.
AB 1873, which is sponsored by San Diego County, would allow a county to hold these elections entirely by mail. Though it would require counties to pay the return postage, the savings would far outpace that expense. These kinds of savings are especially important in light of the fact that the state has cut election funding by tens of millions of dollars over the past few years by suspending election-related mandates.
CSAC supports AB 1873, as well as efforts to restore funding for the election mandates. This bill will be eligible for hearing 30 days after its introduction.
SB 1062 (Block) – Support if Amended
As Introduced on February 18, 2014
SB 1062, by Senator Marty Block, would require counties to prepay postage for all vote-by-mail ballots. This would impose a mandate on counties on the order of $5 million to $7.5 million for a single general election.
CSAC supports efforts to increase voter participation, but we believe it is inappropriate for the state to decide how counties should spend their money. If the state wants every voter to be able to return the mail ballot without a stamp, they should either provide an appropriation or, even more simply, require the Secretary of State’s office to use their Business Reply Mail account for this purpose, thus requiring no reimbursement.
AB 1062 will be eligible for hearing 30 days after its introduction.
AB 2114 (Garcia) – Oppose Unless Amended
As Introduced on February 20, 2014
Assembly Bill 2114, by Assembly Member Cristina Garcia, would impose a state tax on the renting of heavy equipment in lieu of the local personal property tax. It would then reimburse counties and other local agencies for their lost personal property taxes out of ERAF.
The heavy equipment operators have been pursuing this policy change for a couple years now, arguing that the current system of taxing rented heavy equipment as personal property is complex and time-consuming.
However, some counties have already run out of ERAF for the purposes of funding the VLF Swap and the Triple Flip. Unless the bill’s proponents are able to solve this issue, for instance by allowing county auditors to fund reimbursements out of all school districts’ property taxes, instead of only some, CSAC will remain opposed.
The bill will be eligible for hearing 30 days after its introduction.