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City Officials Urged to Take Action on Bill that Silences Political Voice of Local Governments

August 22, 2013
Opposition letters are urgently needed on SB 594 (Hill), a bill with broad language that vastly limits limit the ability of any nonprofit organization that receives any public funding from a local government from participating in state and local ballot campaigns.
 
A sample opposition letter is available for cities to use in communicating opposition to this terrible bill.
 
Here’s why a broad coalition is coming together to oppose SB 594:

SB 594 silences the voice of trusted organizations and would create an un-level playing field on important public policy issues.
  • SB 594 would inhibit the ability of nonprofit associations from actively supporting or opposing state and local ballot measures or contributing private, non-public funds to such measures – even when these measures have a direct impact on their members and the residents they’re entrusted to represent.
  • This measure would shut trusted organizations out of state and local ballot measures. Organizations impacted include the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the California Fire Chiefs Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California School Boards Association, Community College League of California, California State Association of Counties, League of California Cities, Association of California School Administrators, local chambers of commerce and thousands of others.
  • If these organizations are silenced from the political process, the voters of California will lose trusted voices that they turn to for sound advice on matters that impact their communities.
SB 594 is an egregious last-minute power play.
  • SB 594 is a cynical, last minute ploy by a few interests that seek to increase their influence by silencing respected organizations that may not always agree with their political positions.
  • SB 594 was gutted and amended on Aug. 7. Not only does this disrespect the legislative process and preclude members from fully digesting its far-reaching implications, but it also directly contradicts the proponents’ main argument that the bill is intended to increase transparency in the political process.
SB 594 is a solution in search of a problem. Public funds cannot be and are not used in political campaigns.
  • California already has strong laws on the books that prohibit the use of public funds in political campaigns, and the FPPC has jurisdiction to ensure compliance. These organizations never use public funds for political campaigns.
  • Further, SB 594 treats organizations that receive state funds differently than those that receive local funds - a clear signal of the proponents’ motive: To silence entities associated with local agencies.
SB 594 creates vast new responsibilities for the Attorney General to audit tens of thousands of nonprofit organizations – increasing state costs and overstepping the jurisdiction of the FPPC.
  • SB 594 outlines new disclosure requirements for nonprofits that receive more than 20 percent of their annual revenues from one or more local agencies. The Attorney General would have responsibility for auditing these organizations on a biennial basis, whether or not they have participated in campaign activities.
  • SB 594 could apply to tens of thousands of nonprofit organizations, creating a new and costly bureaucracy at the Attorney General’s office, as well as time-consuming and costly audits for nonprofit organizations.
Growing Opposition
 
The opposition coalition of local agencies, associations and other organizations is growing daily and includes:

CITIES

American Canyon
Cerritos
Benicia
Brea
Chula Vista
Claremont
Cloverdale
Coronado
Crescent City
Cypress
Diamond Bar
Downey
Eureka
Glendora
Hemet
Huron
Indian Wells
King City
La Mirada
Laguna Hills
Merced
Mountain View
Monrovia
Napa
Newport Beach
Norwalk
Ontario
Paramount
Pasadena
Placentia
Rancho Cucamonga
Riverside
Rosemead
San Gabriel
Scotts Valley
Selma
Taft
Torrance
Tulare
Upland
Whittier

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATIONS & OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

American Farmland Trust
Association of California Healthcare Districts
Association of California School Administrators
Associated Builders and Contractors of California (ABC California)
California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO)
California Association of Joint Powers Authorities
California Association of Recreation and Park Districts
California Council of Land Trusts
California Contract Cities Association
California District Attorneys Association
California Library Association
California Mental Health Directors Association
California Park & Recreation Society
California Peace Officers' Association
California Police Chiefs Association
California School Boards Association
California State Association of Counties
California Society of Association Executives
California Special Districts Association
California State Sheriffs Association
Chief Probation Officers of California
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
County Welfare Directors Association of California
Desert Valley Builders Association
El Segundo Chamber of Commerce
Goleta Sanitary District
Goleta West Sanitary District
Independent Cities Association
League of California Cites
League of California Cites, Los Angeles Division
Marin County Board of Supervisors
Napa County Resource Conservation District
Palos Verdes Library District
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST)
Placer Land Trust
Rural County Representatives Association
Sacramento County Board of Supervisors
School for Integrated Academics and Technologies
Stockton East Water District
Transition Habitat Conservancy
Trust for Public Land
Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce
Urban Counties Caucus


 
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