Governor Takes Action on Government, Finance, and Administration Bills
October 14, 2021
Governor Newsom had until October 10, 2021 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature last month. Following is an update on major bills of interest or concern for the Government, Finance, and Administration policy area, including victories broadband access and public meeting requirements. For additional questions, please contact Geoff Neill, Ryan Souza, or Danielle Bradley.
AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry): This bill extends the sunset on the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) surcharge from the end of 2022 to the end of 2032 and closes a loophole that allows VoIP providers to avoid the charge, ensuring the burden is not unfairly shifted to other telecom customers. CSAC strongly supported this bill, which Governor Newsom signed on October 8.
SB 4 (Gonzalez): This bill extends the operation of CASF through the end of 2032, increases the annual limit on funds CASF can collect from $66 million to $150 million, and removes the cumulative cap of the Fund. It also includes language to improve permit streamlining. CSAC strongly supported this bill, which was signed by Governor Newsom on October 8.
SB 28 (Caballero): This bill expands the authority of the CPUC to collect granular data about digital video and broadband networks in the state and authorizes the CPUC to set customer services requirements for cable providers. Despite amendments in the Assembly Appropriations Committee that removed provisions that would have strengthened DIVCA and compiled a list of state properties that could help deploy broadband, CSAC remained in support of the bill because it takes a step in the right direction by ensuring the CPUC has additional data to enforce its cable franchise oversight powers. SB 28 was signed by Governor Newsom on October 8.
AB 339 (Lee): This bill would have required Boards of Supervisors and City Councils in jurisdictions with 250,000 residents or more to offer a two-way telephonic or internet-based service for the public to view and participate in meetings. CSAC successfully advocated for the removal of overly burdensome translation and other requirements. However, CSAC remained opposed to the measure, which lacked flexibility for local governments to conduct Brown Act-compliant meetings in the event of technological failure or public disruption, or to manage comments in a way that allows ensures officials can come to a decision on the matters being considered in a reasonable time. It also explicitly required an in-person location for the public, even during states of emergency, requiring employees to staff that location even in unsafe circumstances. Governor Newsom vetoed AB 339 on October 7, citing increased costs and lack of local flexibility.
AB 361 (R. Rivas): This bill provides, for a limited time, exemptions to teleconferenced public meeting requirements for local legislative bodies and certain state bodies during states of emergency that make it unsafe to meet in person. CSAC strongly supported this measure, as it provides counties with the opportunity to continue holding public meetings remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact local agencies’ ability to meet safely in person. AB 361 was signed by Governor Newsom on September 16 and took effect immediately. However, Governor Newsom quickly issued an Executive Order suspending the application of AB 361 until October 1, 2021, when a previous Brown Act Executive Order expired.
AB 428 (Mayes): This bill will ensure that any future changes to County Board of Supervisor term limits allow for at least two terms. It also clarifies the constitutional provision that boards of supervisors are responsible for prescribing compensation for all county officers, including the board themselves. CSAC supported AB 428, believing that a single term allows neither for the development of expertise nor for the kind of accountability reelection provides. The Governor signed AB 428 on October 4.
AB 473 and AB 474 (Chau): These bills together completely recast and renumber the provisions of the California Public Records Act, implementing a report from the California Law Revision Commission. The goal of the change is to make the law clearer and simpler to follow while making no substantive changes to its application. The Governor signed the bills on October 7.
Labor and Pensions:
SB 270 (Durazo): This bill allows public employee unions to file an unfair labor practice charge before the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) against public employers that fail to fully or accurately disclose employee information to public employee unions. The bill also contains the ability for agencies to cure violations three times in a 12-month period. Although CSAC does not expect this bill to create significant problems locally based upon historical bargaining unit submissions, counties should be aware of this legislation and the right to cure periods. SB 270 was signed by Governor Newsom on September 27.
SB 278 (Leyva): This bill requires public employers to reimburse CalPERS and pay a substantial penalty when CalPERS deems part of a pension benefit to be unlawful after a member has retired, even if CalPERS had previously approved of the benefit during an audit or MOU review. CSAC opposed SB 278 as it creates an unfair financial burden on local agencies and insinuates employers are solely at fault for a collaborative process that includes labor, management, and CalPERS. SB 278 was signed by Governor Newsom on September 27, and CSAC staff will now work to assist counties to prevent financial penalties.
SB 606 (Gonzalez): This bill broadens Cal/OSHA’s enforcement authority by establishing a rebuttable presumption that an employer’s written policy that violates specified health and safety regulations exists at all an employer’s worksites if certain conditions are met. Additionally, the bill adds the definition of an “egregious violation” that, if met, carries specified additional penalties for employees. CSAC championed many amendments over the legislative session to reduce the harmful impacts of the measure. Counties should take time to review the details of this legislation in order to mitigate the potential for enforcement penalties. SB 606 was signed by Governor Newsom on September 27.