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Legislators Return for Final Month of Session

League Focused on Housing, Transportation and Employee Relations; On Watch for Amendments

July 29, 2016
Things promise to heat up in Sacramento when the Assembly and Senate resume for their final weeks of the 2015-16 legislative session.
 
Legislators must finish all business by midnight on Aug. 31. Gov. Jerry Brown then has 30 days to take action on legislation. The League has spent the legislative recess preparing for the hard work that must be accomplished on behalf of cities in the culmination of the session. Cities are urged to remain on alert for breaking news from the League and be ready to act.

The League will be monitoring legislative committees, testifying and engaging with stakeholders on legislative developments. Fiscal committees in both houses will hold hearings during the first two weeks of the month. Although technically only floor sessions may be held Aug. 15-31, rule waivers enable committees to convene until the very end to hear last minute amendments and the inevitable end of session gut-and-amends.
 
“The end of session is not the time to relax,” said Dan Carrigg, deputy executive director and legislative director. “Our lobbyists will be on constant lookout for bills or amendments that affect cities that can pop up with little notice.” 
 
Here are the official deadlines:
  • Aug. 12: Fiscal Committee Deadline. Last day for fiscal committees (Assembly or Senate Appropriations committees) to meet and report bills requesting legislative appropriations to the Assembly or Senate floor.   
  • Aug. 15 – 31: Floor Session Only. Legislative committees cannot meet for any purpose without a rule waiver. 
  • Aug. 19: Amendment Deadline. Last day to amend bills on the floor without a rule waiver. This deadline is often associated with the practice of “gut-and-amend” when amendments remove the entire contents of a bill and insert new provisions, unrelated to the bill’s original intent, because it is used frequently right before or on this date. Bills gut-and-amended around this time are able to bypass most of the legislative process and appropriate oversight.      
  • Aug. 31: Final Adjournment of the Regular Session. Last day for either house to pass bills. Final recess begins upon adjournment. 
  • Sept. 30: Governor Bill Signing Deadline. The Governor has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto bills in his possession passed by the Legislature by Aug. 31. 
The League’s recently updated Hot and Priority Bills List provides an effective way to understand the most pressing legislation lobbyists, the regional public affairs managers and cities will be focused on this month.
 
To access any bill on this list, the League’s position letter and sample letters, please go to www.cacities.org/billsearch and plug in the bill number into the search box. A full listing of Senate and Assembly hearings is available online. Hearing times are subject to change. Bill language and any available position letters on legislation can be found through the bill search function on the League’s website.
 
By Right Housing Proposal
 
The Governor’s By Right Housing proposal was not part of the final budget deal passed by legislators in mid-June. When the Governor signed the FY 2016-17 budget, it was understood that this issue would be brought back in the final weeks of the legislative session. More than 100 cities have officially opposed this proposal and city officials should be on high alert and ready to communicate their significant concerns when the Legislature takes up this debate in August.
 
This proposal would reduce perceived additional costs and delays associated with the approval of housing developments containing specified percentages of affordable housing by eliminating public input and project-level environmental analysis, restricting design review, and making approvals ministerial. This was tied to the approval of $400 million for affordable housing, a priority for the Assembly Democratic Caucus. If the Legislature does not act on the Governor’s proposal or something similar, the funds for affordable housing will not be appropriated. 
 
The League has argued from the start that eliminating opportunities for public review of major development projects goes against the principles of local democracy and public engagement.  While it may be frustrating for some developers to hear concerns about traffic, parking and other development impacts, those affected by such projects have a right to be heard. Not having such outlets will increase public distrust in government.
 
Transportation Funding
 
As legislators continue to debate transportation funding, road conditions continue to deteriorate. The 2014 Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment put the unmet funding need for local streets and roads at $78 billion over the next 10 years. Add to this the fact that in May, the California Transportation Commission formally adopted a five-year state transportation funding plan that cuts $754 million and delays another $755 million in highway, rail, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian transportation projects as a result of declining gas tax revenues.

The Fix Our Roads Coalition, of which the League is a founding partner, has been working over the recess. Look for new  #TranspoTues tweets and other social media posts focused on how California needs a solid transportation funding agreement that balances reforms, restores lost revenues and constitutionally dedicates new revenues to transportation. Cities are encouraged to take part in this effort by retweeting and posting messages.
 
This issue is expected to be negotiated in the special session, which does not face the same deadlines and could extend past the adjournment of the regular session. Recently League staff has seen more signs of progress in the Assembly and Senate. However, the issue continues to face an uphill battle and everyone — stakeholders, the Legislature, and the Governor — will need to stay focused to be successful.
 
Employee Relations, Negotiations
 
The League is focused on several employee relations bills at the end of session, including AB 2835 (Cooper) and SB 897 (Roth) which could increase costs and mandates on cities. AB 2835 would place numerous new requirements mandating specific types of labor union employee orientations. It would displace employees and threaten fundamental management rights. SB 897 expands 4850 time (workers compensation) by one additional year for police and firefighters in the event of a catastrophic injury at the hands of another while on duty.
 
Both bills have been moving smoothly through the legislature and are expected to be on the Governor’s desk for consideration shortly. Cities are encouraged to carefully review these bills and communicate their concerns to their legislators and the Governor. The League’s opposition letter and a sample letter are available at www.cacities.org/billsearch by plugging AB 2835 or SB 897 into the search bar.
 
Taking Action
 
The League uses a variety of tools to keep members up to date on breaking legislative developments. City officials should watch for urgent communication from their regional public affairs managers. They will be sending action alerts complete with sample letters, talking points and other important information.
 
One of the best ways to respond to urgent League action alerts is through the League’s advocacy app that enables city officials to take action on legislation anytime or anywhere. This tool is especially effective in the final days and nights of the session when legislative developments are late breaking and require immediate action.
 
The app pushes out action alerts and enables users to take direct action right from their mobile devices. Using it, city officials can easily and rapidly respond to action alerts from wherever a city official might be located by receiving an alert directly to their cell phone via text message or push notification.
 
While anyone in the public can download the League app, the League’s Legislative Advocacy section within the app is only available to city officials that volunteer and sign-up to be part of the League’s Advocacy Team.  
 
To learn more about this tool and become a part of the League’s Advocacy Team, please contact your regional public affairs manager.
 
Next Steps: Act and Be on Alert
 
As the final four weeks of session begins, cities need to be ready to take action quickly to help advocate on important issues. On Monday, Aug. 1, the League will start the end of session by issuing an updated bills in committee list in CA Cities Advocate to help cities plan their engagement. There are additional things cities can do to be effective:
  • If city officials are not already receiving updates from the regional managers, they should connect with them to be added to the list.
  • City officials can sign up through their regional manager to gain access to the Legislative Advocacy section of the League’s app.
  • Follow and share messages sent through the League’s Facebook and Twitter.
  • Make contact with your legislator so that they know you are involved and can be a resource if they are considering legislation and amendments impacting cities. 
And finally, cities should mark Sept. 7 on their calendars, when the League has tentatively scheduled a Sign/Veto webinar. This webinar will highlight all the bills that pass the legislature and represent the last chance for cities to weigh in before Governor Brown takes action.


 
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