The League’s eight standing policy committees
took up a number of issues, many as informational items as it is still early in the Legislative session. Each committee reviewed its 2014 work plan and set priorities for the coming year. Later in the legislative session committees will be asked to make recommendations to the League board of directors on bills for which the League does not currently have clear policy.
City officials attended a general session briefing prior to each committee meeting on the League’s multi-year advocacy strategy. They also received updates from League staff on issues of statewide importance including redevelopment dissolution litigation, the state budget, medical marijuana issues, proposed regulations to massage therapy establishments and the status of a state water bond.
The following summaries represent the topics each policy committee discussed. More detailed policy committee meeting highlights will be available on each policy committee web page at a later date.
Darren Chesin, Senate Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee, chief consultant, reported on upcoming election issues of importance to cities such as proposed constitutional amendments lowering local voter thresholds and special elections. Ethan Jones, chief consultant with the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee discussed a fledgling proposal to require all non-charter cities with populations more than 100,000 hold district at-large elections.
Toby Ewing, consultant for the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, transitioned the conversation focus to more local governance issues and spoke about issues related to a proposal requiring new financial reporting compliance measures. Angela Mapp, principal consultant with the Assembly Local Government Committee, updated members on the status of League-opposed AB 194 (Campos).
The committee’s final speaker, Paul Mitchell, partner, Redistricting Partners, focused primarily on the California Voting Rights Act and related legal issues facing cities. He spoke at length about the differences between California voting law and the federal Voting Rights Act.
Committee members received an informational update on efforts by the Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) Cities Campaign
from Kanat Tibet, director, HEAL Cities Campaign, California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA). HEAL is a partnership with the League and has begun expanding across the country.
Alan Milligan, for CalPERS chief actuary gave an informational presentation on several proposed changes the CalPERS board of directors is currently considering. Mr. Mulligian provided insight and agency reasoning to the committee about proposed changes regarding risk pooling structure and demographic and economic assumption changes in regards to the employer discount rate. Speaker John Bartel, president, Bartel Associates, followed up on Mr. Milligan’s presentation and provided additional information to officials on dealing with the proposed CalPERS changes.
Karon Green, chief consultant for the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee and Pam Schneider, executive staff director for the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee, gave the committee an update on legislative proposals developing in the Capitol and spoke about mounting concerns regarding the state’s unfunded retirement obligations.
Jason Schmelzer, California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation lobbyist and Jeremy Merz, lobbyist, California Chamber of Commerce, provided the committee with a status update on workers’ compensation reform and talked about what cities should expect as reforms are implemented. The committee’s final speaker, Gage Dungy, partner, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, took questions and discussed whether cities should pursue other retirement options for their employees.
The proposed 2014 water bond was the focus of discussion between committee members and speakers Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), chair, Senate Governance and Finance Committee; Alf Brandt, legislative director, Office of Assembly Member Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood); and Timothy Quinn, executive director, Association of California Water Agencies.
Yvonne Hunter, co-program director, Institute for Local Government (ILG), spoke to members about ILG’s several environmental quality programs and resources to support city sustainability.
Housing, Community & Economic Development
League Legislative Representative Kirstin Kolpitcke provided an update to members on proposed regulations relating to massage therapy establishments and League-support AB 1147 (Gomez). Committee members heard about actions several California cities have taken to combat the growing problems associated with the proliferation of massage therapy establishments and engaged in discussion about how to address such issues.
The committee heard an update from Diane Cummins with Department of Finance on the administration’s efforts regarding local public safety realignment. Following her presentation, League Legislative Representative Tim Cromartie gave a state and federal legislative update on proposed medical marijuana regulations and other public safety related legislation.
Revenue & Taxation
League Fiscal Policy Advisor Michael Coleman provided the committee with information on the FY 2014–15 state budget proposal relating to changes in local revenue tax structures and payments. Following the presentation, committee members heard and engaged in discussion with Sen. Lois Wolk. The committee’s discussion focused on the need for new water infrastructure, financing options for locals and the proposed state water bond.
Camille Wagner, Gov. Jerry Brown’s chief deputy legislative affairs secretary, discussed the Governor’s number one priority: the state budget. She also talked about the Governor’s “transitional focus” to local government and his proposal relating to local infrastructure financing districts.
The committee’s final speaker was Katie Kolitsos, special assistant to Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles). She talked about the Speaker’s plans for the FY 2014–15 budget and urged committee members provide her office with information about local access challenges to funding from the California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank
Transportation, Communications & Public Works
Committee members heard from Janet Dawson, chief consultant for the Assembly Transportation Committee and California Transportation Foundation (CTF) board member. She spoke to the committee about CTF and provided insight to the many programs and opportunities the foundation provides.
Will Kempton, executive director, Transportation California, and James Earp, executive director, California Alliance for Jobs, provided the committee with a status report on a proposed initiative sponsored by their respective organizations increasing vehicle registration fees for road improvements. As of this week, the proposal has been tabled for the 2014 election cycle.
The League board of directors will consider any recommendations from policy committees during its next meeting on Feb. 20–21 in San Francisco. The League’s next policy committee meetings will be held April 3–4 in Ontario.