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No on SB 594 Coalition Denounces Bill at Capitol News Conference Wednesday

Cynical Measure Would Silence the Voice of Respected Organizations by Severely Restricting Ability of Local Government Nonprofits from Participating in State and Local Ballot Measures

August 28, 2013
A broad and growing coalition representing California’s school boards, school administrators, police chiefs, county sheriffs, fire districts, district attorneys, community colleges, cities, counties, special districts and business groups gathered today at a news conference outside the Capitol to denounce SB 594 (Hill) and to call on legislators to oppose SB 594 in Assembly Appropriations on Friday, Aug. 30.
SB 594 is a last minute gut-and-amend that greatly restricts 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.
“The League of California Cities and individual cities throughout the state strongly oppose SB 594 because it is a vast overreach that would shut out the representative voice of local governments in California,” said José Cisneros, elected treasurer, City/County of San Francisco, first vice president, League of California Cities. “Currently, nonprofit trade associations, like those standing here today who oppose SB 594, receive public funds — such as dues revenues from cities, counties or school districts — and those funds are not allowed to be used for campaign activities. Every single one of us takes great care and employs detailed accounting to ensure we never use public funds for campaign purposes. SB 594 redefines what constitutes public funds and makes off limits even the revenues we receive for goods and services we provide that aren’t public revenues. The end effect of this is to shut out our associations from the political process.”
Matt Cate, executive director, California State Association of Counties said, “Critical issues affecting counties are decided at the ballot, and it’s important for us to have a voice in these campaigns to educate the voters. SB 594 is designed to severely limit our voices. SB 594 is being promoted as offering more transparency, yet the bill does nothing to improve campaign reporting requirements. Worse, the gut and amend tactics employed to muscle this through the process prove SB 594 is about nothing more than gaining political advantage.”
“SB 594 will have the effect of silencing our voices and the voices of other trusted and respected organizations from the political process just to give a competitive advantage to some of California’s most powerful special interests,” said Nick Warner, policy director for the California State Sheriffs’ Association. “SB 594 is a last minute power play that should be killed in committee on Friday.”
“On issues that concern public safety and criminal justice, voters want to hear from law enforcement,” said Jan Scully, Sacramento County District Attorney, also representing California District Attorneys Association. “But SB 594 would restrict the ability of public safety organizations from participating in even basic campaign activities to educate the voters about our position on ballot issues that impact safety in California communities.”
“CSBA is strongly opposed to SB 594 and we are joined with our partners in the education community in urging legislators to oppose this bill in Assembly Appropriations on Friday,” said Brian Rivas, legislative advocate, California School Boards Association. “We all are deeply concerned that SB 594 shuts us out of participating in state and local ballot campaigns in any meaningful way. For example, we would be limited in our ability to dedicate staff time to participate in school bond campaigns, or to organize local news conferences and other events in support of a school bond measure. Voters deserve to hear from a variety of voices on ballot measure campaigns. Shutting out certain organizations like ours is bad for democracy and bad for voters.”

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