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Home > News > News Articles > 2020 > April > Policy Committees Go Virtual as Advocacy Efforts Continue During COVID-19 Pandemic
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Policy Committees Go Virtual as Advocacy Efforts Continue During COVID-19 Pandemic

April 8, 2020
Since the beginning of the pandemic, local leaders have taken extraordinary action to lower the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
 
Cities and organizations across the state are also learning new ways to communicate, and finding creative ways to host meetings in a format that fosters transparency and access, while simultaneously ensuring the safety of participants.  

As cities are working around the clock to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in their communities, it is important that the voices of cities, especially in this moment, continue to be heard by the Legislature. City leaders’ commitment to this continued advocacy work was on full display last week when more than 600 local officials participated in the League of California Cities’ first ever virtual policy committee meetings.

“We’re all learning new ways to communicate, both officially and personally. Teleconferencing is replacing traditional public council meetings – and it’s exciting to see our policy committee meetings offered in this new format,” said League President John F. Dunbar in a welcome address to each of the policy committees.

The seven standing policy committee meetings, which were held via webinar over the course of April 2-3, met to review and discuss key bills pending in the Legislature that impact cities. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Legislature is on recess until May 4, but it is important, now more than ever, that state legislators hear local voices and understand the needs of cities.

The meetings featured remarks from League President Dunbar and Executive Director Carolyn Coleman, followed by engaging discussions on the COVID-19 impact to cities, key pending legislation, and the status of the state budget, facilitated by the League’s legislative representatives. The top highlights of the policy committee meetings are below.

Public Safety Policy Committee
The Public Safety Policy Committee took action on AB 2598 (Bonta and Chiu). This measure would require a California law enforcement agency, before entering into Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a federal law enforcement agency for participation in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, to submit the proposed MOU and any related guidelines to its governing body for approval. Ultimately, after a robust conversation, the committee voted to oppose this measure. The Public Safety Policy Committee slides can be found on the League’s website.
 
Community Services Policy Committee 
The Community Services Policy Committee had an engaging discussion on AB 1936 (Rodriguez), which would expand the current prohibition on public emergency price gouging to include utility-initiated power shutoffs. This measure was received favorably by the committee. The committee also discussed the various impacts that COVID-19 has had on providing vital community services. The Community Services Policy Committee slides can be found on the League’s website.  
 
Environmental Quality Policy Committee
The Environmental Quality Policy Committee was provided an overview of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) rulemaking to consider revisions to Electric Rule 20. Specifically, the CPUC issued a staff proposal in February that recommends sunsetting the existing Rule 20A and Rule 20D programs over a 10-year period, and including wildfire mitigation as an eligible project use for Rule 20A funds. League staff encouraged committee members to become parties to this proceeding and submit comments to the CPUC by the April 21, 2020 deadline. The Environmental Quality Policy Committee slides can be found on the League’s website. 
 
Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee
The Housing, Community, and Economic Development Policy Committee was provided with a legislative update on measures related to planning and zoning, accessory dwelling units, affordable housing, homelessness, mitigation and development fees, mobile homes, and tax increment financing. The committee also received an update on the League’s housing production proposal. More information on the League’s proposal can be found on the League’s Housing webpage. The Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee slides can be found on the League’s website
 
Governance, Transparency, and Labor Relations Policy Committee
The Governance, Transparency, and Labor Relations Policy Committee was provided with a legislative update on measures related to disallowed compensation, evidentiary privilege, email retention, public records, employee release time, employment discrimination, and the high risk local government agency audit program. The committee also had a robust conversation on ACA 5 (Weber), which if approved by the Legislature, and then the voters, would repeal Section 31 of Article I of the California Constitution. This section of the California Constitution was added by Proposition 209 of 1996. It prohibits cities and other governments from discriminating or giving preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national original with regard to public employment, public contracting, or public education. After a thoughtful conversation, the committee ultimately voted to defer taking a position on ACA 5 until more information is provided at a future date. The Governance, Transparency, and Labor Relations Policy Committee slides can be found on the League’s website.
 
Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee
The Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee received an update on the latest actions the League has taken to better understand the fiscal impact that COVID-19 will have on cities and allowed time for policy committee members to share their own experiences.
 
The committee also received a legislative update, and League staff solicited feedback from policy committee members on two bills. The first measure was AB 3009 (Mullin), which would change the formula for calculating a successor agency’s administrative cost allowance.
 
The second measure was SB 1072 (McGuire), which would authorize the option for a city to enact an ordinance exclusively delegating its authority to collect any transient occupancy tax (TOT) imposed by that local agency on short-term rentals to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and to enter into a contract with the department to perform all functions incident to the collection and administration of any TOT imposed on a short-term rental. The Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee slides can be found on the League’s website.
 
Transportation, Communications, and Public Works Policy Committee
The Transportation, Communications, and Public Works Policy Committee covered two bills on their legislative agenda in depth. The first measure, AB 2215 (Chau), would exclude electric vehicle charging stations from the definition of a service station. The second bill, AB 3277 (Jones-Sawyer), would increase the total amount of unpaid parking violations that can be paid by installments. Both of these bills were originally slated to be action items for the committee. However, in light of impacts COVID-19 has had on state legislative deadlines and the budget, it is unclear what the future holds for both measures. The Transportation, Communications, and Public Works Policy Committee slides can be found on the League’s website
 
Actions taken by policy committees will next go to the League board of directors for review and action. Agendas are available on the League website.


 
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