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June 2014 Policy Committee Summary

July 7, 2014
The League’s eight standing policy committees met last month in Sacramento.
 
The League’s policy making process relies on the participation of a diverse group of city officials from across the state and is an integral part of shaping the League’s priorities.

City officials were briefed during a general session prior to each committee meeting on issues of statewide importance. Participants were updated on the recently adopted FY 2014-15 State Budget with an emphasis on local government issues and expanded funding available to local governments for affordable housing, transit and disadvantaged communities under the $872 million Cap-and-Trade program. League Legislative Director Dan Carrigg, along with the League’s lobbying team, provided an update focused on legislation of priority interest to California cities.
 
After the general session, each committee met and took up a number of issues, both information items and formal recommendations to the League board of directors. All bills referenced in this summary can be searched on the League’s website at www.cacities.org/billsearch by typing the bill number into the search box. Full committee agendas and highlights are available on the League’s Policy Development web page.
 
Meeting Summaries
 
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.
 
Administrative Services
 
The committee heard from proponents and opponents of The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act of 2014 and made a recommendation on the measure. The ballot measure recently qualified for the 2014 November general election ballot and seeks to:
  • Remove/increase the cap on noneconomic damages for medical negligence lawsuits;
  • Require reporting of suspected physician drug or alcohol impairment or failure to follow appropriate standard of care;
  • Require hospitals to conduct alcohol and drug testing on physicians; and
  • Require health care practitioners and pharmacists to consult the Controlled Substance Utilization and Review Evaluation System (CURES).
League Executive Director Chris McKenzie briefed the committee on the legal status of the Stockton bankruptcy case and other municipal bankruptcies. He spoke about how cities need to be cognizant of the fiscal health of neighboring cities given the impacts bankruptcies have on cities statewide. League General Counsel Patrick Whitnell provided an overview of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), and updated members on the charter city of Palmdale’s recent CVRA court appeal. The committee also heard a presentation from Christal Lazard from the Institute for Local Government (ILG) about best practices and suggestions for use of technology during council meetings.
 
The committee reviewed and made a recommendation on the following legislation:  
  • SB 1365 (Padilla), which expands the application of CVRA to district-based elections and potentially opens up cities to increased costly litigation, and voted to take a position on the bill.
Committee members also received a legislative update on legislation related to administrative services issues.   
 
Community Services
 
Randi Kay Stephens from ILG and Patrice Chamberlain, California Summer Meal Coalition, briefed committee members on local opportunities relating to summer food programs and library partnerships. Chuck Mills, program manager, California ReLeaf, and Glen Flamik, regional urban forester of Northern Region, CAL FIRE, talked about the big impacts and community benefits of urban forestry. The committee also received a FY 2014-15 State Budget briefing focused on community services related issues.
 
The committee reviewed and made recommendations on the following measures:
  • AB 2218 (Bradford), which requires electrical and gas corporations to develop and implement a program of rate assistance to eligible food banks, subject to discretion and supervision by the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC); and
  • AB 2413 (Perez), which creates the Office of Farm to Fork within the California Department of Food and Agriculture to work with various groups and organizations involved in promoting food access, to increase the amount of agricultural products available to schools and underserved communities in the state.
Committee members also received a legislative update on legislation related to community services issues.     
 
Environmental Quality
 
Janelle Beland, undersecretary, California Natural Resources Agency, and Gordon Burns, undersecretary, CalEPA, briefed members on the California Water Action Plan and current water conservation/efficiency efforts. David Mallory, California Air Resources Board, spoke about recent updates to the AB 32 Scoping Plan and related agency efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions aligned with the goal of reducing GHG emission to 1990 levels by 2020. The committee also received a briefing from Jason Rhine, League legislative representative, on the status of current legislative water bond proposals and related League priorities.
 
The committee reviewed and made a recommendation on the following legislation:
  • AB 2417 (Nazarian), which would, until Jan. 1, 2018, exempt from California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) a project for the construction and installation of a new pipeline or the maintenance, repaid, restoration, reconditioning, relocation, replacement, removal, or demolition of an existing pipeline, not exceeding eight miles in length, for the distribution of recycled water within a public street, highway, or right-of-way.
Committee members also received a legislative update on legislation related to environmental quality issues.
 
Employee Relations
 
The committee heard from League Consultant Ellen Powell regarding updating existing employee relations policies. The committee unanimously approved the proposed two-stage policy review process where existing policies would be reviewed and assessed by an initial subgroup followed by a larger group review of subgroup recommendations and crafting new/updated policies. The committee also recognized and thanked former chair Bob Johnson for his work with the committee last year.
 
Pamela Schneider, chief consultant, Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee (PERS), and Karon Green, chief consultant, Assembly PERS Committee briefed the committee on pending legislation dealing with updates to the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA). Gage Dungy, attorney, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, gave a presentation on League-opposed AB 2126 (Bonta), which removes balance points in the existing collective bargaining process to provides preferential treatment, leverage and delay mechanisms to public employee organizations to the detriment of public employers and their responsibility to make responsible decisions for local taxpayers, and discussed efforts to amend problematic provisions of the bill.   
 
Steve Gedestad updated the committee on local implementation efforts/challenges and policy issues of the federal Affordable Care Act. Danny Brown, division chief, CalPERS, briefed the committee on the status of a proposal to divide the state into five health benefit regions based on health care costs. The committee discussed creating focus groups to review the proposal this summer and provide recommendations/input to the CalPERS board later this year. 
 
Committee members also received a legislative update on legislation related to employee and personnel issues.
 
Housing, Community and Economic Development
 
Marlies Perez, chief, Health and Human Services Agency, Substance Use Disorder Compliance Division, gave an informational presentation on agency efforts relating to sober living facilities. Janelle Beland, undersecretary, California Natural Resources Agency, and Gordon Burns, undersecretary, CalEPA, briefed members on the California Water Action Plan and current water conservation/efficiency efforts. Committee members were provided a handout about the Community Action to Restore Equity and Stability (CARES) program. The committee also received a briefing from Jason Rhine, League legislative representative, on the status of current legislative water bond proposals and related League priorities.
 
The committee reviewed and made a recommendation on the following measure:
  • AB 2417 (Nazarian), which would, until Jan. 1, 2018, exempt from CEQA a project for the construction and installation of a new pipeline or the maintenance, repair, restoration, reconditioning, relocation, replacement, removal, or demolition of an existing pipeline, not exceeding 8 miles in length, for the distribution of recycled water within a public street, highway, or right-of-way.
Committee members also received a legislative update on legislation related to housing, community and economic development issues.
 
Public Safety
 
A representative from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office provided committee members with a budget update focused on realignment and other local public safety funds. Committee members also engaged in discussion regarding the status of regulations for transportation network companies (TNCs) and a legal update on current concealed carry permit litigation.
 
The committee heard and made recommendations on the following public safety related measures:
  • SB 955 (Mitchell), regarding electronic monitoring for human trafficking cases;
  • SB 1151 (Cannella), that would increase traffic fines in school zones to fund Active Transportation Program (ATP) projects;
  • SB 1193 (Evans), regarding storage and sample-size requirements for marijuana seized by law enforcement agencies;
  • AB 1610 (Bonta), which allows for conditional examination of witnesses in human trafficking-related prosecutions;
  • AB 1775 (Melendez), which updates the definition of sexual exploitation in the mandated child abuse reporting laws; and
  • AB 2300 (Ridley-Thomas), regarding records in the Consolidated Firearms Information System being cross-referenced with the Armed Prohibited Persons System.
Revenue and Taxation
 
Dan Carrigg discussed  several legislative proposals of fiscal interest to local governments currently moving through the Legislature, including:
  • Governor Jerry Brown’s enhanced Infrastructure Financing District proposal;
  • Redevelopment cleanup bills;
  • Local economic development bills;
  • Key “tax increment” bills supported by the League; and
  • Restoration of VLF revenues to recent incorporations or inhabited annexations.  
The committee heard and made recommendations on the following revenue and taxation related measures:
  • ACA 1 X2 State Reserve Policy (Proposition 44), which establishes new state budget reserve fund requirements and policies; and
  • AB 2372 (Ammiano), which clarifies and expands the definition of "change in ownership" for property tax reassessment purposes to include occurrences when 90 percent or more of the ownership interests in a legal entity (defined to mean corporation, limited liability company, partnership), or other legal entity holding the property is sold or transferred in a single transaction or in multiple transactions occurring over a period of up to three years, except for publicly-traded companies.
The committee heard from proponents and opponents of The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act of 2014 and made a recommendation on the measure. The ballot measure recently qualified for the 2014 November general election ballot and seeks to:
  • Remove/increase the cap on noneconomic damages for medical negligence lawsuits;
  • Require reporting of suspected physician drug or alcohol impairment or failure to follow appropriate standard of care;
  • Require hospitals to conduct alcohol and drug testing on physicians; and,
  • Require health care practitioners and pharmacists to consult the Controlled Substance Utilization and Review Evaluation System (CURES).
Committee members were briefed on policy recommendations from the League’s Internal Sales Tax Working Group relating to sales tax agreements and sales tax allocation issues. The committee also received a briefing from Jason Rhine, League legislative representative, on the status of current legislative water bond proposals and related League priorities.
 
Transportation, Communications and Public Works
 
The committee reviewed and made recommendations on several measures including:
  • AB 2417 (Nazarian), regarding CEQA exemptions for recycled water pipelines;
  • SB 1064 (Hill), that establishes requirements for how PUC handles federal safety recommendations/advisories for rail; and
  • SB 1151 (Cannella), that would increase traffic fines in school zones to fund ATP projects. 
The committee also reviewed and took action on updated Telecommunications Policy for the League. In addition, the committee was briefed on federal transportation funding reauthorization efforts in Congress, efforts to pass a new state water bond, and a proposed PUC decision regarding Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (DIVCA) Franchise Renewals.  
 
Next Steps
 
The League board of directors will consider any recommendations from policy committees during its next meeting in July. The League’s next policy committee meetings will be held on an as needed basis during the League’s Annual Conference & Expo in Los Angeles on Sept. 3–5. Committee members will be notified prior to any meetings called.


 
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