McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we’ll take a brief look at how to have effective meetings with legislators and their staff. First, note that there are basically two types of meetings you can have with elected or appointed officials, relationship-building meetings and policy meetings.

Relationship building meetings are an important first step prior to meeting on a policy matter. These can consist of taking the legislator or his or her staff on a tour of your facility, hosting them for a town hall, or having them write an article for your organization’s newsletter.

Policy meetings are used to discuss public policy issues such as bills, regulations, issues, or to seek an official act. Some common asks made in policy meetings are to introduce or coauthor a bill, to vote for or against a measure, or to talk with another legislator about a bill or regulation.

So, what are some do’s and don’ts for having effective meetings with legislators and their staff? Here are my tips for what to do prior to, during, and after meetings to ensure that the meetings are effective.

Prior to Meeting

DO

  • Schedule the meeting with the legislator – generally 2-3 weeks in advance
  • Research the legislator you are meeting with
  • Determine what your ask will be

DON’T

  • Forget to confirm the meeting a few days in advance.
  • Dress inappropriately. This is a business meeting.
  • Go in without practicing what you and others in your group, if there are other joining you, are going to say
During the Meeting

DO

  • Be polite.
  • Be flexible. If you need meet in the hallway instead of an office, or with a staff member instead of the legislator, happily go along with the changes.
  • Personalize your message and explain why the issue you are talking about matters to you.

Don’t

  • Be late.
  • Discuss any political campaigning or political contributions in legislative offices or with legislative staff.
  • Make vague or generalized requests of the legislator or their staff.
After the Meeting

DO

  • Send a thank you note for taking the time to meet
  • Follow up
  • Be a resource

DON’T

  • Overstay your welcome. If there are ongoing issues, it’s appropriate to check back in every few months.
  • Be impatient.
  • Forget to acknowledge any positions the legislator has taken in the past, such as if they committed to voting yes or no on a particular measure.

A full transcript of today’s podcast can be found here.

Full disclosure, I recorded today’s interview about election reforms in January before the debacle that was the Iowa Caucus. We also don’t talk about caucuses, but that’s a solid candidate for a follow-up episode on democracy reform. On this episode, I talked with Joshua Douglas, Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky Rosenberg College of Law and author of the book Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting. Today’s conversation is very much a related conversation to the one I had with Professor Irving Joyner last year about voting rights fights in North Carolina.

There is a lot of ground to cover under democracy reform that spans multiple policy areas, but if I had to try to put the reforms under one umbrella, I’d say Prof. Douglas’s main focus is on increasing access to voting. The conversation spans from less covered reforms like lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 or 17 and incorporating civic engagement in high school civics education to oft-discussed topics like gerrymandering, money in politics, and “fake news.”

The other thing that we discuss, and that is the underlying theme in Vote for US, is the importance of the grassroots movement. The point Prof. Douglas makes is that major reforms to our democracy don’t work best and are most likely succeed when they bubble up from the grassroots as opposed to when they’re pushed onto voters from the top-down. The grassroots support demonstrates buy-in on a reform that can’t be replicated when the process starts at elected leaders and trickles down to Americans.

You can follow Professor Douglas on Twitter, @JoshuaADouglas, and you can track his research on SSRN.

As always, please subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also help the podcast by leaving a five-star review on your favorite app as well.

McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

In California’s Government Code there are a number of sections of law that prohibit specified political activities of public employees.

Government Code section 3201 specifies that the Legislature makes a finding that political activities of public employees are of significant statewide concern and that the provisions of this section of the law supersede all other provisions of general law on this topic.

Section 3202 specifies that this area of the law applies to all officers and employees of either a state or a local agency and defines those terms. Section 3203, with certain exceptions,basically says that no restriction is to be placed on the political activities of any officer or employee of a state or local agency unless it’s necessary to meet federal law.

Section 3205 essentially prohibits an officer or employee of a local agency from soliciting, directly or indirectly, a political contribution from any officer and employee of that agency or from a person on an employment list, et cetera. Now, this same prohibition applies to candidates for elected office of a local agency, and a violation of this section is punishable as a misdemeanor.

Then section 3206 specifies that no officer or employee of a local agency may participate in political activities of any kind, while he or she is in uniform. Section 3207 provides that any city, county, or a city and county in San Francisco’s case, may prohibit or otherwise restrict officers and employees engaging in political activity during working hours, or political activities on the premises of the local agency.

Section 3208 states that the limitations in this area of the law are the only restrictions on the political activities of state employees.

You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.

McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

Article IV of the California Constitution deals with the Legislature, and there are several sections that are applicable to ethical conduct by members of the Legislature. These provisions are found primarily in Sections 4 and 5 of California’s Constitution.

Article IV, Section 4 contains a prohibition on certain earned income. It essentially prohibits a member of the Legislature from knowingly receiving any form of income, salary, wages, or commissions from a lobbyist or lobbying firm, or from any person who during the previous 12 months had had a contract with the Legislature. Additionally, any member who knowingly receives any salary, wages, commissions, or other earned income from a lobbyist employer may not for a period of one year following the receipt, vote upon, make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his or her official position to influence any actions or decisions of the Legislature.

Section 5 of Article IV deals with a prohibition on honorariums – essentially a payment for making a speech, meeting with, writing an article for, etc. some outside group. Section 5 prohibits members of the Legislature from accepting honorariums.

Other parts of California’s Legislative Code of Ethics are found in Title II, Division 2, Part 1, Chapter 1, or Article 2 of California’s Government Code. Government Code section 8920 says, “A member of the Legislature, a state elected or appointed officer, or a judge or justice, may not while serving in that particular position, have any interest financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties.” Government Code Section 8920 also states “A member of the Legislature may not participate by voting or any other action on the floors or in committee or anywhere else for the passage or defeat of Legislation in which he or she has a personal interest,” but there are some specified circumstances that are exceptions to that rule.

Government Code Section 8924 says that an employee of either house of the Legislature is subject to the same prohibitions that members of the Legislature are subject to.

I cover more of the Government Code and constitutional provisions that make up California’s Legislative Code of Ethics in today’s podcast.

You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.

What does “separation of powers” mean in the state of California? Similar to the federal government, it essentially means that the powers of government are provided to separate branches of government to operate.

These powers are set forth in the California Constitution and are granted to the three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. The separation of powers doctrine essentially provides that those who exercise power in one branch of government cannot exercise the powers of the other two branches of government.

While the United States Constitution does not contain any express language dealing with the separation of powers of the federal government, California’s separation of powers doctrine is set forth in Article III, Section 3 of the state constitution. Section 3 provides specifically that the powers of state government are legislative, executive, and judicial. Persons charged with the exercise of one power may not exercise either of the others except as permitted by the state constitution.

Article IV, Section 1 of the California Constitution provides the legislative power of the state is vested in the California Legislature, which consists of the Senate and Assembly, but the people reserve to themselves the powers of initiative and referendum. Thereafter in Article V, Section 1, the state constitution provides the supreme executive power of this state is vested in the governor. The governor shall see that the law is faithfully executed. In Article VI, Section 1 provides that the judicial power of the state is vested in the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and superior courts, all of which are courts of record. In the California Constitution, the three branches of state government are clearly established, and their roles are specified.

As a result, the separation of powers can be readily ascertained, but the three branches sometimes operate in a manner that may overlap another branch’s role in government. For example, in the legislative process, while the legislature writes and passes the bills, the governor can sign or veto those measures. Once enacted, the courts can validate or invalidate those laws passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. In addition, while the courts generally interpret the laws, so too the executive branch, through its administrative agencies, will interpret the laws and enforce them by adopting regulations. That is exercising their quasi-legislative role to implement the statutes that were enacted by the legislature. When a state agency enforces the statute or gives meaning to the law, it exercises a quasi-judicial role and, therefore, partially overlaps with the judicial branch’s jurisdiction.

You can find the full transcript of today’s podcast here.

McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

So, what essentially are appropriations measures? Unfortunately, while California law does not define the term, it is used frequently in the law. California’s Legislative Counsel defines an appropriation as an amount of money made available for expenditure by a specific entity for a specific purpose from the General Fund or some other designated state fund or account.

California’s Constitution mentions appropriations in multiple locations. In Article IV Sections 8 and 10 there is mention of appropriations for the usual and current expenses of the state. Article IV Section 12 mentions appropriations for the salaries and expenses of the Legislature. Nonetheless, the state constitution also does not define the term “appropriation.”

Despite its use in numerous other Articles of the California Constitution and throughout many of California’s Codes, there is no formalized definition. The most common working definition of an appropriation bill, sometimes called a spending bill, is essentially any measure that authorizes or makes an expenditure of government funds.

At the state level, appropriations measures require adoption by the Legislature and approval by the Governor. In California, the main appropriations measure is the annual state budget bill. Article IV, Section 12d of the California Constitution provides that the budget bill is the only measure that may contain more than one item of appropriation. In addition, appropriations from the General Fund of the state, except for appropriations for the public schools and appropriations in the budget and trailer bills that make appropriations related to the budget bill, must be passed by a 2/3 majority vote of both houses of the Legislature.

These are the essential rules regarding appropriations measures, again, without any constitutional or statutory definition of what precisely constitutes an appropriations measure.

You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.

McGeorge adjunct professor Chris Micheli and veteran lobbyist Ray LeBov, both contributors here on CAP⋅impact, are releasing a first-of-its-kind college-level textbook on lobbying and advocacy in California. The book, A Practitioner’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy in California, was written entirely by more than 40 practicing California lobbyists and politicos and covers topics ranging from Getting and Retaining Clients (Ch. 20) to Best Practices for Lobbying (Ch. 15) to Use of Ballot Measures in Lobbying (Ch. 44).

In addition to editing the textbook and professional manual Chris Micheli wrote or co-wrote fourteen of the book’s forty-five chapters. A Practitioner’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy in California also features chapters written by McGeorge alumni and respected lobbyists and election lawyers including Thomas Hiltachk (JD ’87), Sarah Lang (JD ’13), and Mike Belote (JD ’87) as well as a chapter written by McGeorge adjunct professor Thomas Nussbaum.

A Practitioner’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy in California is available in hard copy and electronically from Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

Today’s episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast is the first of many I recorded with Professors at the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) annual meeting in Washington D.C. at the beginning of January 2020. This is also not the last episode I have for you about the 2020 Presidential election. Today’s show is a conversation I had with Professor Jeremy Bearer-Friend, who teaches at George Washington University Law School, about tax policy and the impact the different tax policy proposals put forth by the various Democratic candidates would have.

The interesting thing about tax policy is that because taxes fund government services tax policy impacts and shapes almost every other policy conversation. Case in point, we digress into a conversation about changes in tax policy, and governing philosophy more generally, dramatically changed higher education in California when the state started shifting to a high fee-high aid model for higher education and what the change meant for how higher education is viewed.

But writ large, this was a conversation focused on tax policy and socioeconomic justice – how tax policy can be used to remedy societal issues – and where the candidates stack up in using tax policy to achieve greater socioeconomic justice. If you are seeking out a conversation about the current Democratic primary and the presidential election that is not about the horse race, Medicare For All, Impeachment, or the latest flare-up created by someone’s supporters on Twitter, this conversation is for you.

You can find today’s podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, or your favorite podcast app. If you like the show, please subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts and leave a 5-star review which helps boost the show’s ranking and visibility.

You can also find Professor Jeremy Bearer-Friend on Twitter @bearerfriend and you can find his research on SSRN.

 

McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

Title I, Division 4, Chapter 7, Article 2 of the California Government Code provides for impeachment of officials by the California Legislature.

The process is spelled out through multiple sections of the California Government Code. The Code provides that state officers elected on a statewide basis, including members of the Board of Equalization and judges of state courts, are subject to impeachment for any misconduct in office and that the Senate, when sitting as the court of impeachment, is a court of record and that the officers of the Senate are the officers of that court.

All impeachments must be made by resolution, adopted, originated in, and conducted by managers who are elected by the Assembly. Those managers are to prepare the articles of impeachment, present them at the bar of the Senate, and prosecute them. The trial is conducted before the Senate sitting as a court of impeachment. When an officer is impeached by the Assembly, the articles of impeachment must be delivered to the President of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor. If the Lieutenant Governor is impeached, a notice of that impeachment must be immediately given to the Senate so that another President of the Senate may be chosen.

California’s Government Code requires the defendant to answer the articles of impeachment. If they plead guilty or refuse to plead, the Senate must render judgment of conviction against them. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the Senate must try them. It requires a two-thirds vote of the California State Senate to convict. Further, if the judgment of suspension is given during the continuance of the judgement then the defendant is disqualified from receiving any salaries, fees, or anything else of that particular office.

You can find the full transcript of today’s podcast here.

By: Colin Nystrom

Pixar’s Wall-E gives an example of the effect AB 1133 could have on the California beer landscape. Everywhere you look in the film, the walls and screens are covered with global monopoly Buy n Large’s branding. With so much marketing, the population begin to mindlessly consume the corporation’s products and ultimately loses the ability to make their own decisions. The opportunity afforded by AB 1133 is analogous, albeit on a much smaller scale; beer manufacturers have the opportunity to flood each and every retailer throughout California with branded glassware, an opportunity that easily favors “Big Beer” – companies like AB InBev and MillerCoors. That’s because, more than likely, a majority of the glassware will be provided by these entities. It is clear to see how beer consumers will be subject to an even greater level of marketing on behalf of the massive corporations which dominate the beer manufacturing market.

Just over a year ago, Professor Dan Croxall published, “The Glassware Bill is Dead: Good News for California Independent Craft Beer” regarding Governor Brown’s veto of AB 2573. California craft beer dodged a bullet. In Governor Brown’s veto letter to the California Legislature, he indicated a two-fold concern over the proposed law: (1) it would allow manufacturers to influence the decision making of retailers and (2) it created an economic disadvantage for small beer manufacturers who cannot utilize the opportunity like a large manufacturer can. Large manufacturers have tremendous marketing budgets and wide-spread distribution; both of which far exceed the even the most successful independent brewers. It takes no stretch of the imagination to be concerned about the impact that a flood of their branded glassware in retailers would have throughout the state. In the following legislative session, a nearly identical bill was introduced by Assemblymember Low. Neither of Governor Brown’s concerns were addressed in AB 1133, yet the bill still easily garnered the support it needed in both houses of the California Legislature and was ultimately signed into law by Governor Newsom on October 8, 2019.

The most significant impact will be seen in local bars and taprooms where a direct-to -consumer marketing opportunity presents itself. Given the focus on bottom-line profits for many of these retailers, it is easy to see why they are excited to have a bit of overhead costs covered by manufacturers.  But slim margins for small, independent breweries are what will prevent many craft brewers from providing glassware to their favorite retailers. The combination could have a catastrophic effect on independent beer’s place in the retail marketplace. It is easy to understand how a particular supplier’s “willingness” to provide something of value—in the form of free glassware or abnormally large tips when a sales rep comes in for lunch—could leave a retailer feeling indebted to that supplier, leading the retailer to reserve a number of taps for the manufacturers who provide them direct value. Over time, every tap in that bar could be occupied by the various brands of a single, large manufacturer. This would mark a return to the tied houses which dominated the market before prohibition.

As a result, we see how easily the California market could be saturated with Big Beer’s branding and products. This will have direct impact on access to retail opportunities for our local brewers and make it all that much harder for consumers to support them and for these small businesses to survive. Only time will tell how this plays out, but due to the extensive efforts of Big Beer, a potential return to the decades of a one-note beer market does not seem farfetched.