July 13, 2017
Friday, July 15 is the last day for policy committees to hear and refer bills to fiscal committees. This is a key deadline because bills that are held in policy committees are effectively dead for this year, and bills that are approved and move onto the fiscal committees can continue to move through the legislative process. Below are status updates on bills of concern to the organization that CASH advocates have been actively engaged on. Thematically, these bills reflect two issue areas that have dominated school facility legislation this year – local bond accountability and transparency, and the lead content of water in schools. CASH is pleased to have helped improve some bills and helped block others that could not be improved. The Legislature convenes summer recess on Friday, July 21 and returns on Monday, August 21 to finish its business for 2017.
SB 348 (Leyva) – Local Bonds/Voter Information Guide
This bill requires voters to be notified of the timeframe for filing a validation lawsuit contesting the voter’s passage of a special tax. In the Assembly Local Government Committee, CASH testified that including this notice in the Voter Information Guide will encourage voters to vote no on the measure in the belief that the only reason they are being told of the ability to challenge the outcome is that the measure should not be approved. CASH also identified that if a legal flaw is in the special tax proposal it should be presented at the time of the local agency decision to place the proposal on the local ballot. The bill was made a two-year bill by the author in the Assembly Local Government Committee.
AB 746 (Gonzalez-Fletcher) – Lead/Water
This bill requires schools to annually test for lead in the potable water system at every schoolsite with a building constructed before 1993, and every three years at every schoolsite with a building constructed in or after 1993. The issue of lead content in water at schools is a significant issue of concern in the Legislature this year, and school organizations including CASH have opposed the more onerous lead/water bills and worked to improve others. CASH and other school groups opposed AB 885 (Rubio) which required plumbing retrofits if lead thresholds were triggered, and that bill died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AB 746 requires that if lead thresholds are triggered, the associated part of the water system must be made “inoperable”, which is a more reasonable approach. CASH continues to be concerned about the cost implications of the bill, and are working with the author to improve the bill. The bill was approved by the Senate Education and Environmental Toxics and Safety Committees unanimously, and is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 776 (Harper) – Local Bonds/Ballot Label/Voter Information Guide
This bill requires a statement about property tax increases on the ballot label for a local bond add the following statement to the ballot label: “See Voter Information Guide for effects on your property taxes.” CASH opposed this bill in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee, testifying that it is duplicative and could reduce local support for school bonds. Specifically, CASH argued that current law already requires inclusion of a tax rate statement in the ballot pamphlet (voter guide), and that this additional text cuts into the existing 75 word limit for ballot measures and so takes up precious space that districts use to communicate on election day what the bond will do for their local community. Other education organizations opposed the bill including ACSA, CASBO, CSBA and the Riverside Superintendent of Schools. The bill was held in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee.
AB 1196 (Harper) – Use of Bond Funds
This bill seeks to ensure that schools and community colleges are matching the term of their bonds with the anticipated useful life of furniture and equipment purchases. CASH opposed the bill in the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, arguing that the bill is unnecessary given existing Federal tax code requirements to ensure taxpayer protections, and questioning what problem the bill is trying to solve. The bill was held in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.
~ CASH Staff