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Local Control over Joint Powers Authorities at Risk with AB 1217

June 29, 2015
Legislation currently moving through the Senate could endanger the ability of local governments to determine for themselves the governance structure of joint powers authorities.
 
AB 1217 (Daly) represents a very troubling precedent in using statewide legislation to alter the governance structure for a joint powers authority (JPA) that was established by participating local agencies.

Under current law, local public agencies can enter into a JPA at any time to jointly exercise any power common to the contracting parties for a mutually agreed upon purpose. These agreements are purely voluntary. The governance structure of a JPA is decided upon by the local agency participants at the time the JPA is formed. The very essence of such entities is local control. 
 
If disputes subsequently arise about the governance structure or any other aspect of the voluntary agreement that created the JPA, mechanisms are provided under existing law to resolve them at the local level. Moreover, there are also clear provisions in this and other instances for any of the cooperating parties to withdraw from such voluntary agreements if they disagree with the governance or any other aspect of the JPA agreement.
 
With current law providing a mechanism to make any necessary changes to a JPA’s governance or any other aspect of its operations, it begs the question why statewide legislation is necessary — particularly when that legislation is disturbingly precedent-setting in its interference in a matter that clearly falls within the scope of local control.
 
AB 1217 attempts to undermine existing law and unilaterally overrule a locally agreed upon governance structure that is part of the valid and voluntary formation agreement of a JPA — an entity that by definition has no relation to matters of statewide concern.  
 
Local governments throughout California should be concerned about this measure, and strongly consider opposing it. Whatever the motivation for introducing this legislation, it is an attempt to intervene in a local matter that is best resolved at the local government level.

Next steps
 
AB 1217 will next be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on July 8. Cities are encouraged to send letters of opposition. A sample letter, along with the League’s opposition letter, is available on the League’s website


 
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