Legislature Adjourns 2017-18 Session; Major Issues Awaiting Governor’s Action
Sept. 6, 2018
After a busy year including consideration of hundreds of bills impacting county services and governance, the Legislature adjourned late in the evening on Friday, August 31. CSAC staff advocated on behalf of counties up until the end on critical issues pertaining to wildfires, cannabis permitting, and the local emergency medical services system.
CSAC’s biggest end-of-session policy priority centered on wildfires and the legal liability of utility companies when their equipment causes a fire or otherwise damages property. CSAC worked successfully to prevent any changes to inverse condemnation. In addition, our advocacy shaped discussions and ensured votes for the passage of a comprehensive deal that includes sweeping forest management reforms, $1 billion in funding for forestry and fire prevention projects, Public Utility Commission reforms, and sound financial measures to keep California’s utility companies stable. The resulting package is a major step forward for California that will protect counties, fire victims, and utility ratepayers.
In total, 2018 proved to be another significant legislative year that illustrated integral role counties play in all California policy areas – from emergency disaster response to the homelessness crisis to workplace safety. CSAC successfully advocated on numerous county priorities from the first day of session in January to the closing floor debates late into tonight.
Major fiscal victories in 2018 included securing funding for locally-driven homelessness solutions, state mandate debt reimbursement, and county administrative costs for CalWORKs and In-Home Supportive Services. CSAC’s policy advocacy also upheld local control and protected county resources by shepherding the passage of several sponsored bills, stopping or amending misguided bills seeking to interfere with local land use policies, blocking AB 1250’s limitations on county service contracts, and halting a last-minute play by the real estate industry to change property tax law and risk millions in county revenues.
In addition to these year-long achievements, CSAC was actively engaged on several individual measures of note. Governor Brown now has until September 30 to sign or veto legislation in his possession on or after September 1. We encourage counties to join us in requesting the Governor’s signature or veto on the following measures:
Headed to the Governor – Signature Requested
AB 372 (M. Stone) Batterer’s Treatment Program – CSAC Sponsored
This measure authorizes a pilot program to allow the counties of Napa, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Yolo to offer an alternative to the batterer’s treatment program. The pilots would serve as the first step in assessing whether alternative approaches are more effective in addressing the criminogenic needs of batterers and reducing recidivism.
After years of efforts, CSAC, the Urban Counties of California (UCC), and the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) were successful in working with Assembly Member Berman to pass a CEQA exemption for infill multifamily or mixed use housing developments in unincorporated areas. A similar CEQA exemption has been available in cities for many years, and AB 1804 will help counties promote infill development in their jurisdictions if signed by the Governor.
This measure, sponsored by two CSAC affiliates –the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) and the County Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA)—establishes a Family Urgent Response System to provide immediate response to current or former foster youth and their caregivers in times of emotional crisis. CSAC was also supportive of an effort to fund this program in the 2018-19 state budget, which ultimately fell short. Having this program established in state law will help efforts to secure funding within the state budget in future years.
This measure remedies a number of concerns related to the new jail diversion program for those living with mental illness created under budget trailer bill AB 1810 (Chapter 34, Statutes of 2018). Specifically, the bill excludes certain violent offenses from the diversion program (including murder and sex offenses), preserves victim restitution, and allows the court to require the defendant to make a prima facie showing that the defendant will meet the minimum requirements of eligibility for diversion and that the defendant and the offense are suitable for diversion.
This measure focuses on youth homelessness by requiring the state to establish goals to prevent youth homelessness and improve the health and safety of youth experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
This measure establishes sexual harassment training requirements for non-supervisory positions to ensure safe workplaces and provide greater liability protection for employers. CSAC staff successfully negotiated extensive amendments to reduce the burden on local agencies to provide all employees with training opportunities and ensure protection against liability. Advocacy on this measure also helped block even more egregious training bills for sexual harassment prevention training.
SB 1459 (Cannella) Cannabis Permitting – CSAC Sponsored
This measure gives counties additional time to review pending commercial cannabis applications and complete the environmental review process. This will help counties get through the backlog of cannabis permit applications and prevent a market disruption.
Headed to the Governor – Veto Requested
CSAC opposed AB 3115 this week since it was gutted and amended last Friday into a Frankenstein of two failed community paramedicine pilot bills – AB 1795 (Gipson) and SB 944 (Hertzberg). AB 3115 includes several worrisome provisions related to unworkable standards for the community paramedicine pilots as well as changes to the composition of local medical committees and the state Emergency Medical Services Commission. Unfortunately, AB 3115 passed off the Assembly Floor and CSAC will continue to oppose the measure as it lands on the Governor’s desk. CSAC also encourages all counties that opposed to do the same.
This measure imposes a costly new mandate that requires non-charter counties with a population of 500,000 or greater to replace the Office of Coroner or Sheriff-Coroner with an Office of Medical Examiner by January 1, 2020. Alternatively, they may adopt a policy requiring referral of death investigations to a county that has implemented an Office of Medical Examiner. CSAC is strongly opposed to this erosion of local control and encourages counties who also oppose this bill to submit their own veto requests.