By: Chris Micheli

Differences Between the Assembly and the State Senate

In today’s podcast, I explore some the differences between the California State Senate and State Assembly, as they relate to the legislative processes of both houses. For the most part, the differences are fairly minor, since they both play similar roles in the legislative process. In other cases, the differences are more interesting. As to the differences between the two houses that aren’t just about legislative processes? Well, that’s another podcast.

 

 

 

California Cannabis Coalition v City of Upland

I recently sat down with Matt Read, the Policy Director for Sacramento City Council Member Steve Hansen, to discuss a very interesting California Supreme Court case – California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland. As Matt points out in the interview, the case itself was kind of boring. The implications of the decision however, are much more interesting.

Very quickly, the California Supreme Court’s decision in the case essentially ruled that parts of California’s Proposition 218 – specifically, parts related to procedures – did not apply to some initiatives that were ran in the City of Upland by marijuana dispensaries seeking clarification on rules ahead of impending state regulations. This led to other, potentially bigger questions.

Backtracking just a little bit, the most notable impact of Proposition 218 is that it instituted vote thresholds for different types of taxes levied by local governments. General taxes, those used to fund government functions generally, are subject to a 50% + 1 threshold. That’s the same threshold any political candidate needs to win office. Special taxes – taxes directed to a specific project like building new schools or road repairs – which are more commonly used by local governments, are subject to a 2/3 majority vote.

While those thresholds remain the same if a local government were to put a tax measure on the ballot, the decision in Upland potentially allows for citizen-led tax initiatives to be subject to the 50% + 1 threshold, regardless of whether the tax is a general tax or a special tax. What exactly is a citizen-led initiative? That much is unclear, or as Matt put it, “The Court punts on that … question.” You’ll have to listen to our conversation to get a better sense of why that is, and to get a better sense of the numerous other questions that this particular California Supreme Court ruling invites.

2018 was already shaping up to be a very interesting election year, and it appears that the decision in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland will only make this upcoming cycle more interesting.

By: Chris Micheli

Misconception Monday – Bill Referrals

Welcome to Episode 3 of Misconception Mondays, where I dispel common misconceptions about California’s legislative process. Today’s episode will take a focused look at bill referrals. To learn more about the California Lawmaking process, can check out my previous episodes on Bill Deadlines and Bills.

By: Dylan de Wit

California currently faces a major public education crisis. Similar to the housing crisis, California’s teacher supply has failed to meet demand, resulting in severe teacher shortages throughout the state. Seventy-five percent of school districts are understaffed, particularly with regard to fully-credentialed teachers. Compounding this problem is California’s affordable housing crisis. Housing supply has stagnated, rental prices have skyrocketed, and many Californians have been priced out of their homes and cities. These two crises seemed to intersect in late 2016, when the San Francisco Chronicle reported Etoria Cheeks, a local math teacher, fell into homelessness after being priced out of affordable housing in the city. Many viewed Ms. Cheeks’ story as a part of a larger problem, and began calling for action to better secure affordable housing for the state’s teachers.

Accordingly, Assembly Member Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) authored AB 45, which sought to create a development grant program for school districts to offer district-owned affordable rental housing to teachers. The program was framed not as an affordable housing project, however, but a recruitment and retention tool for school districts struggling to staff highly-qualified teachers. Under the program, school districts partnering with developers could secure pre-development funding and development loans to build on-site housing. The goal was to establish affordable rental options, incentivizing new highly-qualified teachers to work in districts they would otherwise avoid due to high rental costs.

AB 45 laid out specific criteria for school districts vying for development funding. Namely, prospective districts had to be in high-rent, hard-to-staff regions. Further, districts needed to have high rates of teachers employed under “emergency credentials,” teachers instructing courses outside their competency, and students on free and reduced lunch program. The bill also sets out development criteria for developers partnering with school districts. For instance, projects must be near public transportation, and must be subject to a project labor agreement (PLA).

Although AB 45 represented a creative approach by the state to staff school districts with high-quality teachers, several provisions suggest its effect may have been minimal. First, the program would have started at $25 million, which was likely enough for only a few projects. Further, AB 45’s PLA provision seemed misplaced given their tendency of PLA’s raise costs on development. Additionally, the program’s criteria suggested it would predominantly benefit urban areas over rural, even though California’s teacher shortage affects both urban and rural school districts equally.

AB 45 passed in September. Governor Brown vetoed the bill, however, citing existing legislation that served a similar purpose.  It should also be noted that because AB 45 did not make building housing easier for California developers, Governor Brown was  not likely to support the bill from the start.

Nonetheless, similar developments and programs showed significant success in attracting teachers, with most developments being either completely full or waitlisted. This suggests that AB 45 may have been effective for at least a few districts that met the restrictive criteria, and could afford the projects given the program’s limited funds. With some adjustment and perhaps additional funding, a program similar to AB 45 may eventually prove a valuable tool for school districts looking to recruit and retain highly-qualified teachers.

To learn more about AB 45, listen to my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.

By: Ray LeBov

Perseverance Equals Persistence Plus Patience

In today’s podcast, I talk about my fifth rule for being an effective lobbyist; understanding that perseverance equals persistence plus patience. While perseverance is correctly cited as being key to a lobbyist’s success, it is also critical to an advocate’s success to not engage in the fallacy of thinking that perseverance and persistence are the same thing. Perseverance equals persistence and patience, in roughly equal parts.

For more advocacy tips from me and from the faculty at McGeorge School of Law, please visit CAP·impact’s In Practice Archive or attend one of the next sessions of Capitol Seminars, hosted at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

AB 1217 In Depth with Tristan Brown – Part 2

Today’s In Depth conversation picks up where we left off last week with Tristan Brown. As a refresher, you can refer back to Part 1 of our interview where we discussed the lay of the land for public education in California and about some of the details in AB 1217. This week’s conversation dives in to how Tristan, and CFT, went about killing AB 1217. Enjoy!

By: Adrienne Brungess

Improving the Lyrical Nature of Your Language with Alliteration and Repetition

In this In Practice podcast, I discuss how an advocate can effectively use alliteration and repetition to improve the lyrical nature of their arguments, without being too Seussical.

For more information and advocacy tips, you can reference my previous podcasts on CAP·impact on the use of imagery, simile and metaphor and ethos and credibility. You can also look for my posts on the blog Global Lawyering Skills as well.

By: Chris Micheli

Misconceptions – Bill Deadlines

Welcome to another edition of Misconception Monday where I dispel common misconceptions about the California lawmaking process. In this week’s episode I will go over misconceptions concerning bill deadlines. To learn more, you can also listen to my first Misconception Monday podcast from last week on bills.

 

 

 

Under Prop 64, city and county governments will be able to ban almost all cannabis activity except for personal cultivation of up to six plants in an enclosed structure and consumption, both by an adult at least 21 years old. Otherwise,  local governments in California are free to restrict cannabis businesses from operating within its jurisdiction, levy restrictions it determines to be appropriate on what cannabis businesses it does allow, and prohibit outdoor personal cannabis cultivation. For example, a county may allow dispensaries, but prohibit on-site consumption, so that customers may not ingest the cannabis at the dispensary. Should a city or county opt to ban all cannabis businesses it will, however, forego the tax revenue from Prop 64.

In anticipation of cannabis sales going live in January 2018, most counties and other local governments in California have established ordinances determining how much cannabis activity will be allowed within their jurisdictions. For example, Placer County allows indoor and outdoor cultivation of up to six plants, but with some specific requirements. All outdoor cultivation must have fencing to make it not visible to the public or neighbors, and must be set back at least 100 feet from all property lines. Further, Placer County prohibits all commercial sale, manufacturing, delivery, and dispensaries of cannabis, allowing only delivery of medicinal products by a “primary caregiver” to a “qualified patient.” Similarly, Sacramento County does not allow cannabis businesses, including dispensaries, in its unincorporated areas. As another example, the City of Folsom prohibits all outdoor cultivation of cannabis plants. If a city within a county adopts a cannabis ordinance that embodies more restrictive policies than the county requires, the city’s more restrictive laws control within its boundaries.

It probably comes as no great surprise then that conflicts can arise between different cities and counties, since they are given such great leeway within the state to customize their cannabis restrictions. One issue that arises is the legality of cannabis delivery services that necessitate travel through a city or county that bans cannabis delivery, to get to and from areas that do not prohibit such activity. Local governments are able to regulate delivery services as part of their normal business restrictions of cannabis activities under Proposition 64. It has not yet been officially resolved whether local governments can entirely prohibit the presence of cannabis delivery vehicles within their jurisdictions, even if those vehicles are not delivering or picking up cannabis within the city or county at issue. Delivery services already exist for medical cannabis, and these businesses are ready to deliver recreational cannabis as well beginning in January 2018. Other issues are bound to arise as local governments build regulatory schemes.

By: Megan McCauley

SB 54, which has been referred to as the “highest-profile act of defiance to Trump’s nascent presidency,” is indicative of the many ways in which opposition parties have declared war against President Trump’s immigration policies. It is a targeted response to the overlap between federal immigration enforcement and state and local law enforcement. SB 54, also known as the California Values Act, was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León in an attempt to build a “wall of justice” that would “protect the safety, well-being, and constitutional rights of the people of California, and … direct the state’s limited resources to matters of greatest concern to state and local governments.”

SB 54 prohibits California law enforcement agencies (LEAs) from using agency resources, including money and personnel, to “investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.” State and local LEAs may not, for example, inquire into a person’s immigration status, detain an individual based on an ICE hold request, arrest individuals based on civil immigration warrants, or perform the functions of an immigration officer. Furthermore, SB 54 creates “safe zones” by requiring all public schools, public libraries, state-operated health facilities, courthouses, and shelters to adopt policies that limit collaboration with immigration enforcement “to the fullest extent possible.” By creating these “safe zones,” SB 54 guarantees immigrants the ability to access these vital services without having to fear deportation.

Several important considerations surround the adoption of SB 54, including: whether the bill will be enough to strengthen the relationship between immigrant communities and local law enforcement, and how it will shift local and state resources away from immigration enforcement and towards protecting communities. SB 54 also invites preemption issues along with state sovereignty and Tenth Amendment concerns. Finally, SB 54 may have a significant fiscal impact in light of federal threats to withhold funding from sanctuary jurisdictions because California expects to receive $105 billion from the federal government next year.

Proponents of SB 54 emphasize that the new law will help protect the safety of all Californians by building trust in the community. They emphasize that sanctuary cities usually correlate with lower crime rates. In support of that position, the Center for American Progress reported that there are 33.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties. In response to concerns over preemption, supporters emphasize that SB 54 is merely an exercise of state sovereignty and falls squarely within the state’s police power.

On the other hand, opponents argue that the law might actually make the situation more dangerous because it will force ICE onto the streets. While the likelihood of this consequence was mitigated by last-minute amendments that eliminated serious restrictions on ICE’s ability to access prisons and jails, SB 54 will likely result in an uptick of ICE raids because of the new hurdles to collaborating with state and local law enforcement.

SB 54 was signed into law by the Governor on October 5, 2017.

To learn more about SB 54, listen to my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.