Update on Key Government Finance and Administration Bills
May 25, 2023
Last week marked the deadline for fiscal committees to hear and report bills introduced in their respective house to the floor. Over 1,100 bills were placed on the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committee’s Suspense File, with about 73.5 percent of those measures ultimately moving on to the next stage of the legislative process. The end of next week marks the house of origin deadline, with June 2nd identified as the last day for bills to be passed in their respective house. CSAC staff have been working with legislative staff and local government partners to help shape the bills that impact counties. Below is a summary of the Government Finance and Administration bills that we have been working on. CSAC will keep counties updated on the latest developments on these measures.
Passed by the First House
AB 557 (Hart) Open meetings: local agencies: teleconferences was passed by the Assembly on May 15, 2023, with a 78 to 0 vote and is currently in the Senate awaiting hearings by the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance and the Senate Judiciary Committee. AB 557 would eliminate the January 1, 2024, sunset on the current provision to allow remote meetings during a declared state of emergency, or in other situations related to public health, without complying with certain teleconferencing requirements. Additionally, AB 557 would adjust the required timeframe for resolutions passed to renew a local agency’s temporary transition to emergency remote meetings to 45 days from the previous timeline of 30 days. CSAC is delighted to co-sponsor AB 557, along with the California Special Districts Association, League of California Cities, and the California School Boards Association. AB 557 would preserve an effective tool for local agencies facing emergencies that would otherwise prevent them from conducting the people’s business during an emergency.
AB 965 (Carrillo, J.) Local government: broadband permit applications was passed by the Assembly and is awaiting referral to a Senate policy committee. AB 965 would require local agencies to batch and process broadband permits and approve wireless applications within 60 to 90 days or have those applications deemed approved, without compliance with general health and safety requirements, unless a written finding of specific adverse impact to public health can be made. CSAC, along with other local government advocates took an oppose unless amended position. After working with the Author’s office and sponsors, amendments were taken in policy committee narrowing the applicability of the shot clock provisions to only wireless facilities.
AB 1020 (Grayson) County Employees Retirement Law of 1937: disability retirement: medical conditions: employment-related presumption was passed by the Assembly and has been referred to the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee. AB 1020 would change the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 by expanding the scope of medical conditions and employment-related presumptions for a disability retirement for firefighters, members in active law enforcement, and public safety members who have completed five years or more of service and that arise out of and in the course of employment. CSAC and a coalition of county employer advocates are opposed to AB 1020 on the basis that it would add considerable new costs for public employers at a time when budgets are facing significant headwinds. While we recognize that our public safety members serve our state with distinction in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable, these employees are currently provided with fair access to the workers’ compensation system for injuries, and therefore, AB 1020 is unnecessary.
Awaiting Floor Action in First House
AB 452 (Addis) Childhood sexual assault: statute of limitations would eliminate the statute of limitations to bring a civil action against an employer, including school districts, public agencies, and others, where there has been a claim against an employee of that organization for alleged child sexual abuse. The current statute of limitations allows claims to be made either 22 years after the age of majority (i.e., 40 years old) or anytime thereafter within five years of discovering a related psychological injury for a plaintiff to bring a civil suit against the employer of the Accused. CSAC and a broad coalition comprised of school districts, public agencies, and others are committed to working diligently to enhance the safety of all children, but are regretfully opposed to this measure unless amendments are provided to ensure an appropriate level of accountability for claims that are decades old to: 1. Conform language to the recently enacted federal law by not applying vicarious liability or negligence claims against public organizations unless they aided and abetted the abuse; 2. Clearly define the standard of knowledge; 3. Consider a more comprehensive approach to ensure child safety and recovery which may include state created alternatives. Should this bill pass, funding will be needed as at least $1.4 billion has been paid out for related claims in the past few years.
AB 504 (Reyes) State and local employees: labor relations: disputes would declare the acts of sympathy striking and honoring a picket line a human right. AB 504 would also void provisions in public employer policies or collective bargaining agreements limiting or preventing an employee’s right to sympathy strike. CSAC and a broad coalition of public employer advocates are opposed on the basis that “no strike provisions” in local contracts have been agreed to by both parties in good faith often due to the critical nature of the employees’ job duty. By overriding local memorandums of understanding (MOUs), this bill would grant sympathy strikers greater rights than the employees engaged in a primary strike. Under current law, both primary and sympathy strikes may be precluded by an appropriate no-strike clause in the MOU, which this bill proposes to override only for sympathy strikes.
AB 764 (Bryan) Local redistricting would require counties and other local governments to comply with uniform requirements related to redistricting. This bill would require local governments to adopt district boundaries, using specified criteria, following the decision to establish district-based elections and following each federal decennial census. CSAC and other county advocates are opposed to AB 764 unless amended to ameliorate the burdensome reporting requirements that make compliance a challenge, mitigate the additional requirements for public hearings that are costly and impractical, and remove a costly private right to action that would create significant uncertainty and costs.
AB 1248 (Bryan) Local redistricting: independent redistricting commissions would require counties with populations of 300,000 or above to create an independent redistricting commission for the 2030 redistricting process. CSAC and other county advocates are opposed to AB 1248 unless amended to ensure that counties are fully reimbursed for costs and to incorporate more robust statutory and technical assistance provisions to ensure that local agencies are able to effectively deliver on the promise of independent redistricting.
AB 1484 (Zbur) Temporary public employees would require inclusion of temporary workers in the same bargaining unit as permanent employees upon the request of the recognized employer organization. CSAC and a broad coalition of public employers are opposed to AB 1484 on the basis of that it reduces employer flexibility regarding mandatory subjects of collective bargaining (i.e., wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment), and intrudes upon the “community of interest” provisions under existing law regarding bargaining unit determinations. Notably, temporary employment fills critical needs during seasonal surges, particularly in public health and healthcare, elections, agriculture, parks and recreations staff, and lifeguards, and to backfill permanent positions that have not yet been filled.
AB 1637 (Irwin) Local government: internet websites and email addresses would require cities and counties, by January 1, 2027, that maintain an Internet website for use by the public to ensure that the Internet website utilizes a “.gov” top-level domain or a “.ca.gov” second-level domain, and would also require a local agency to ensure that each email address provided to its employees utilizes a “.gov” domain name or a “.ca.gov” domain name. CSAC and a broad coalition of local governments are opposed unless amended to this measure on the basis that it creates considerable programmatic and fiscal impacts on local governments. Cumulative costs to counties are likely in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars and staff resources. The requirements to change the domain names would have downstream consequences at a time when counties are continuing to provide emergency services on behalf of the state and while dealing with wildfires, snowstorms, and severe flooding.
AB 1713 (Gipson) State and local agencies: federal funds: reports would require a state or local agency that receives federal funds subject to an expiration date to submit a written report to the Legislature or the local agency’s legislative body, respectively, with a summary on the status of expenditure of those funds if at least 50% of those funds remain unspent. CSAC and other local government advocates are opposed to this measure on the basis that it would require local governments to be in a state of perpetual reporting or – in most instances – require duplicative reporting. The level of oversight and reporting mandates proposed by AB 1713 would add considerable staffing costs for all local governments. Local agencies would likely be required to hire additional budgetary staff to track and report this information to their own legislative bodies. Extrapolated statewide, these costs could range in the millions to tens of millions of dollars annually, while doing nothing to address real challenges with timely expenditure.
SB 525 (Durazo) Minimum wage: health care workers would increase the health care minimum wage broadly across the health sector to $25 per hour, including for employees working in county agencies, such as county health care and behavioral health departments, county correctional health care settings, county hospitals, and county owned and operated clinics. In addition, SB 525 would require salaried employees to be paid twice the proposed $25 per hour minimum wage, creating a new salary base of $104,000 per year. SB 525 includes a number of additional provisions such as requiring the $25 per hour minimum wage to increase by 3.5 percent annually, or in accordance with inflationary pressures based on the national consumer price index. CSAC is opposed to this measure on the basis that it circumvents the local collective bargaining process, would impact the wages of employees and contracted services in other sectors of county government, and is anticipated to result in costs to counties in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. These numbers increase when factoring in other compensation such as pension, as well as wage compression for also needing to increase wages for similarly classified workers and supervisors. With the uncertain state of the economy and anticipated state budget deficit, SB 525 would dramatically and significantly affect county budgets at precisely the time when they are least able to afford it.
Bills held on Suspense and no longer active
AB 24 (Haney) Emergency response: opioid antagonist kits was held on suspense by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and would have required specified locations, including public libraries, that receive an opioid antagonists kits from the California Department of Public Health to place the kit in an area of the facility that is readily accessible only by employees and restock the kit as needed. CSAC and a coalition of county government advocates ultimately removed opposition from this bill after working with the Author’s office and committees to make amendments providing that the bill does not establish a special relationship or duty to render emergency treatment between a designated facility or any employee thereof and any person experiencing an opioid overdose or suspected opioid overdose, that does not exist under current law.
AB 78 (Ward) Grand juries was also held on suspense by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Held This bill would increase the compensation for individuals selected to serve as grand jurors and require demographic data to be collected during the jury selection process. Existing law requires the fees for grand jurors to be $15 for each day’s attendance as a grand juror. AB 78 would require the fee to be equal to 70 percent of the county median daily income for each day’s attendance. In CSAC’s letter opposing AB 78 unless amended, we requested amendments to specify that the increased compensation would only apply in years that the state budget has provided a sufficient appropriation to cover the increased fees paid to grand jurors.
Status of additional bills GFA has taken a position on:
AB 286 (Wood) Broadband infrastructure: mapping – Support; passed out of the Assembly, awaiting Senate committee referral
AB 321 (Wilson) Sales and Use Tax: exemptions: zero-emission public transportation ferries – Support; held on Appropriations Suspense
AB 415 (Ta) Emergency Fairgrounds Communications Grant Act - Support; made into a two-year bill in Appropriations
AB 537 (Berman) Short-term lodging: advertising: rates - Support; awaiting Assembly Floor vote
AB 597 (Rodriguez) Workers’ compensation: first responders: post-traumatic stress – Oppose; made into a two-year bill by Author
AB 684 (Ta) County veterans service officers: additional resources – Support; held on Appropriations Suspense
AB 735 (Berman) Workforce development: utility careers - Support; held on Appropriations Suspense
AB 817 (Pacheco) Open meetings: teleconferencing: subsidiary body – Sponsor; made into a two-year bill by Author
AB 1156 (Bonta) Workers’ compensation: hospital employees - Oppose; made into a two-year bill by Author
AB 1213 (Ortega) Workers’ compensation: aggregate disability payments – Oppose; awaiting Assembly Floor vote
SB 16 (Smallwood-Cuevas) Civil rights: discrimination: enforcement – Support; awaiting Floor vote
SB 375 (Alvarado-Gil) Employment: employer contributions: employee withholdings: COVID-19 regulatory compliance credit – Support; held on Appropriations Suspense
SB 428 (Blakespear) Temporary restraining orders and protective orders: employee harassment – Support; awaiting Floor vote
SB 532 (Wiener) Ballot measures: local taxes – Support; awaiting Floor vote
SB 548 (Niello) Public employees’ retirement: joint county and trial court contracts – Support; awaiting Floor vote
SB 623 (Laird) Workers’ compensation: post-traumatic stress disorder – Oppose; passed out of the Senate, awaiting Assembly committee referral
SB 878 (Senate Governance and Finance Committee) Validations – Support; referred to Assembly Local Government Committee
SB 879 (Senate Governance and Finance) Validations – Support; referred to Assembly Local Government Committee
SB 880 (Senate Governance and Finance) Validations – Support; referred to Assembly Local Government Committee