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League-Opposed SB 311 Now Before Gov. Jerry Brown

Measure Severely Restricts Cities Ability to Address Local Issues in Timely Manner

August 22, 2013
The measure, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), limits labor related charter amendments and newly proposed charters to statewide general elections.
SB 311 severely restricting cities’ flexibility to address otherwise legitimate issues and forces charter cities wishing to make critical changes to wait up to two years to do so. 
Sen. Padilla argued that that SB 311 was intended to address low voter turnout, though the amendments adopted in June marked a shift in his line of argument and thinking.  He now contends that the bill is intended to address changes that impact worker protections.
Gov. Brown, just one legislative session ago, signed AB 1344 (Feuer; 2011), which made several changes to the law related to this very topic. AB 1344 did two significant things:
  • Special elections were eliminated as an option for cities to go to the voters with charter amendments and new charters; and
  • A very lengthy process was put into place before cities can go to the voters with a newly proposed charter, equaling to about a 10-week process, and requires at least two public hearings. One of the public hearings must be held outside of regular business hours in order to facilitate public participation in the charter adoption process.
It is premature to make additional sweeping changes without giving other laws a chance to work. The bottom line is that cities should be able to govern effectively and efficiently even if that means going to the voters at regularly scheduled municipal elections.

Take Action

The bill passed the Senate Floor last Thursday by a vote of 26-11. As of this week, SB 311 is now pending before the Governor. The League strongly encourages city officials to send veto request letters as soon as possible since it is uncertain when the Governor will sign the legislation.

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