New Bill Would Hamstring Ability for Counties to Freely Associate
July 11, 2019
Language that would severely limit the expenditure of funds by local government associations, including CSAC, was amended into a bill this week, AB 315, by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).
According to a press release, the member introduced the bill in response to a single incident that occurred in May 2019, where two city councilmembers engaged in physical altercation at a conference hosted by California Contract Cities Association, an association of cities that contract for municipal services. The bill is still in the Assembly, so it would not be eligible to move until 2020 without rule waivers.
The bill, as drafted, would prohibit CSAC from performing much of the work we have done on behalf of counties since we were created in 1894, creating punitive barriers for CSAC staff to provide resources and support to California’s 58 counties. It would restrict associations of local governments—but not of state, federal, trades, workers, for-profit corporations, or any other type of entity—from spending funds on anything other than lobbying the Legislature, lobbying Congress, or educational activities.
CSAC has proudly worked on behalf of California counties for more than 120 years. The primary purpose of CSAC is to represent county government before the California Legislature, the Governor’s Administration, administrative agencies, boards, and commissions, and the federal government, placing a strong emphasis on educating the public and public officials about the value and need for county programs and services.
CSAC’s long-term objective is to significantly improve the fiscal health of all California counties so they can adequately meet the demand for vital public programs and services, which CSAC also plays a key role in coordinating, facilitating, refining, and expanding. Our organization employs individuals to fill diverse roles, from lobbying, communications and outreach, to executive and administrative personnel. Absent this team, we would not be able accomplish many key services, including mobilizing and coordinating disaster relief for wide swaths of California counties.
AB 315 does not account for the diverse programs CSAC runs to serve our diverse members. Our Challenge Awards program, which seeks out and recognizes innovative county programs, would be affected by the bill, as would the Support Hub, which helps train counties to assess criminal justice-related best practices.
The bill would not allow for the association’s successful litigation program or advocacy work outside of the State and federal legislature, such as administrative agencies and the Governor’s office, nor does it recognize our work obtaining grants, helping coordinate communications during natural disasters, seeking feedback on policies and procedures, coordinating efforts between different counties, training internal staff, or anything else that isn’t lobbying or educational activities for our members. The language is silent even on administrative and overhead costs.
Since AB 315 is not eligible to move until next year, CSAC will continue to educate legislators and the Administration about the work done by our organization as well as the critically important role counties and county leaders play in the implementation of policies discussed in California’s Capitol.