The Clinic – Episode 1: Introducing Keri and Michelle

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new series here on CAP·impact that we’re calling The Clinic. CAP·impact exists to make it easier to understand the legislative process. We do that by utilizing the knowledge and experience of experts who work in California’s public policy world.

In this new series, we’ll explore California’s legislative process through the experiences of people just beginning to experience California’s legislative process. In this first season, those people are two McGeorge students, Keri Firth and Michelle Evans, who are both participating in the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic.

In the first episode we’ll meet our two students, get to them know them, their inspirations, and their bill. As the show goes on, and as their bill progresses further and further through the Legislature, we’ll progress with them. Speaking of their bill, Keri and Michelle are working on a bill affecting California’s foster care system that would create a pilot program for counties to give foster parents access to in home coaching after they receive a foster child.

We’ll get into more details of the bill and the legislative process in later episodes. For now, we hope you enjoy meeting Michelle and Keri, and learning a little bit more about their bill.

Lobbying the Budget

There are some who are intimidated by the process of lobbying the budget. One theory as to why they’re intimidated is, put simply, that it contains numbers and people are intimidated by numbers. That’s just one theory. However, there are quite a few subtle and not so subtle differences between lobbying the budget and lobbying any other piece of legislation that can make the budget process seem more intimidating. Today’s podcast with veteran lobbyists Ray LeBov and Chris Micheli seeks to demystify that process.

There are two very important things to understand about the budget. First, remember that in some ways, the budget bill is a bill just like any other bill – but in some ways unlike any other bill. The other thing to keep in mind is why the budget is so important because it can do things to you and your client(s) or for you and your client(s).

We’ll go over the calendar for the budget here and leave the other topics Ray and Chris discuss for you to listen to. The first difference between lobbying the budget and lobbying legislation is the calendar. The budget does not run on the normal legislative calendar. The budget process starts right after beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. There is a lot of behind the scenes work over the next six months culminating in the Governor’s budget proposal on January 10, which kicks off the legislative portion of budget lobbying.

After the Governor announces the budget proposal, it becomes two identical bills – one in the Assembly and one in the Senate – that begin to work their way through the California Legislature. The bills start in their respective house’s Budget Committee, and then the work on the budget gets divided up between the budget subcommittees which work on different issue area jurisdictions within the budget.

After the subcommittee process is completed, the budget bill goes back to the full Budget Committee, which essentially amends the recommended changes from the subcommittees into the budget bill. The next step in the legislative process is conference committee to reconcile differences between the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget. That said, they can make changes to the budget bill that were identical in the versions the two houses sent over in addition to reconciling differences between the two versions of the budget bill.

After conference committee come negotiations between the Big Three – the two Democratic leaders in the Legislature and the Governor – to negotiate any final changes to the budget. Then, by June 15, the budget is passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor to be signed. The Governor has the final say on the budget and can either reduce, or completely line item veto, appropriations in the budget.




LORA and How to Examine California Legislative Records

Dan Walters had a commentary column on CALmatters earlier this week about the California Legislature and the Legislative Open Records Act that governs what the Legislature can and cannot choose to release to members of the public. Today’s podcast examines the Legislative Open Records Act, or LORA.

Pursuant to LORA, record requests by members of the public must be made in writing and be submitted to either the Senate Committee on the Rules or the Assembly Rules Committee, depending on the location of the documents being requested.

Generally, the respective rules committee will respond within 3-10 days upon receiving written requests for legislative records. If a request is denied, the individual who made the request is entitled to a written explanation of that denial.

Another general rule is that the records may not be removed from the office space that is designated for records inspection, and must be inspected in the presence of a designated staff member from the Legislature. The public can request copies of legislative records.

LORA does list categories of legislative records that are exempt from public inspection. A not-exhaustive list of some of those categories includes:

  • Records pertaining to certain claims against the Legislature until they’re finally adjudicated or settled, and records pertaining to litigation to which the Legislature is a party, until such litigation has been finally adjudicated or settled;
  • Records of complaints to the Legislature, its investigations, and its security procedures;
  • Correspondence of members and their staff;
  • Written commentary submitted to a Committee on legislation that was not utilized by the staff; and
  • Other records determined by the Committee to be confidential and records where, based on the facts of the particular case, the Joint Rules Committee believes that the public interested served by not disclosing the records outweighs the public interest served by disclosing the records.

I explore other components of LORA in more depth in the brief podcast, so be sure to listen.




Advocacy in Practice with Judge Consuelo Callahan

Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Mary-Beth Moylan recently sat down with Judge Consuelo Callahan from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

They discussed Callahan’s path to the bench starting from her career right out of law school; her judicial life on the Court of Appeals; and advice, insights, and observations for attorneys appearing before her in the Ninth Circuit.

One thing in particular that stands out is Judge Callahan’s advice to attorneys – especially those working with Court of Appeals justices. She said “The point [of oral argument in the Appellate Court] is addressing the court’s concern and being really targeted and approaching the case thinking what would a judge want to hear? What opinion is the judge going to write in this and how can I assist the court?”

She emphasized the importance of answering the exact question a judge asks in order to help direct the conversation in a way that you want to argue. This way, you can address what the court finds important in their decision-making process.

Another important point that Callahan made was about preparing for court, setting high standards early on, and establishing good work habits. She put it a little more bluntly than that, saying:

we will do our jobs regardless of whether you do your job.”

Callahan also pointed out some resources to help attorneys make the best arguments and be prepared for their time in the Court of Appeals. The Appellate Reps for the Ninth Circuit host a mentorship program, where attorneys are assigned someone that is a specialist in the area of law.

Judge Callahan gave some amazing insight in her interview that would intrigue anyone in the legal field – attorneys and judges alike. You’ll have to listen to the rest of the podcast for all of her advice.

We hope you enjoy listening to the conversation with Judge Consuelo Callahan. Be sure to tune in next time!




Laws Regulating Lobbyists

Today’s podcast is a brief overview of some of the laws that regulate the lobbying profession in California. In the podcast, I go over lobbying laws and campaigns laws, and how they impact lobbyists.

The Political Reform Act of 1974, often referred to as the PRA, was adopted by the voters as Proposition 9 and is the main law governing lobbying ethics and political campaigns. Note that some cities and counties have locally adopted ordinances regulating lobbying activity as well.

The PRA charges the Fair Political Practices Commission, also known as the FPPC, with enforcing the PRA. I will leave most of the details of the laws regulating lobbyists to the podcast, and here, direct you to where in the Government Code and California Code of Regulations you can find the various laws regulating lobbyists.

The purpose of lobbyist regulation as stated in the PRA is found in Title 9. It reads:

The activities of lobbyists should be regulated and their finances disclosed in order that improper influences will not be directed at public officials.”

Chapter 6 of Title 9 deals specifically with lobbyists. Chapter 6 contains Sections 86100 through 86300. In addition to the laws found in Government Code provisions, the FPPC has adopted regulations on lobbying. Those regulations are contained in Title 2, Sections 18109 through 18997 of the California Code of Regulations.

Article 1 of Chapter 6 of the Government Code sets forth the registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists, Article 2 of the Government Code deals with prohibitions, and Article 3 of Chapter 6 deals with specified exemptions. Again, I go over the contents of those articles in the podcast. The laws I have pointed to here specifically deal with lobbying – you’ll need to listen to the audio for a discussion on how campaign laws impact lobbyists.


In 2013, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) proposed a bill to allow teens aged 16 and 17 to preregister to vote in order to promote registration and involvement in the political system. This bill, SB 113, was signed into law and enacted in 2014, and is now part of the California Elections Code §2102(2)(d).

Just last week, Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla, posted on twitter the results for an 18-month study on preregistrations under the new Elections Code.

The results demonstrate a trend among young voters- almost 44% of preregistrations listed ‘No Party Preference’ with about 37% selecting ‘Democrat’ and 10% as ‘Republican’.

Preregistrations have increased in numbers over the past years. Padilla attributed some of the uptick in preregistration to current events, such as the Parkland, Florida shooting.

“The shooting has high school students very active, aware and engaged,” he said. “We’ve seen the numbers go up even recently.”

Whether this increase in registration and lack of party affiliation will continue will be followed over future years.


Working with Legislative Committees

Today’s post is a continuation of our Rules for Effective Lobbying conversations. Today’s talk between Ray LeBov and Chris Micheli focuses in on the advice they have for lobbyists when it comes to working with committees and committee staff in the California Legislature.

The first step to being successful in working with committees is – like it is in many other aspects of legislative and regulatory advocacy – building good working relationships with the committee staff. This goes beyond just building good relationships with committee consultants, and into building good relationships with the committee secretaries in the Assembly and committee assistants in the Senate.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the work you do that is going to affect your success working in committee is done long before the committee hearing. Testimony at the hearing and other things that occur at the hearing really don’t change many votes. The work done with committee consultants and the minority part consultant to that committee is what will truly affect the outcome.

Also remember that on top of the Joint Rules and the standing rules for either House, that each committee also its own rules. To give one example, every committee has a rule about many days in advance of a hearing you have to submit your letter for it to be included in the analysis under support and opposition. For some committees, it’s a twelve day rule. Now, if you’ve built a good relationship with committee staff, if you’re a few days late, you might be able to go to them and ask them to list the letter, and they will do you that favor. In that situation remember that the twelve day rule applies to you, not them.

On the topic of letters, there may be times when committee staff asks you to submit a letter. A good rule to adhere to is that if honoring that request can in no possible way do harm to your client, always, 100% of the time, honor that request. The good will it can build up is invaluable. That said, never cross the line and agree to a request that could harm your client in any way.




With school shootings making headline news across the country, a rising movement across the United States is to arm teachers to protect students is making headlines. Not surprisingly, there are strong emotions both for and against allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools.

California law prohibits the possession of concealed firearms on campus with a few exceptions. In 2015, the California Legislature passed SB 707, which recognized exceptions, such as persons who have the written permission of specified school district officials or for certain retired reserve peace officers who are authorized to carry a concealed or loaded firearm.

For years, several districts in California have allowed teachers and staff to carry concealed firearms on their school’s grounds. Since 2010, Folsom Cordova Unified School District in Sacramento County has allowed staff to carry weapons on school campuses, however they must be stored in a specified location. In response to the San Bernardino shooting in 2016, Kingsburg Joint Union High School District in Fresno County voted to allow no more than five people to carry concealed weapons on  their person to address “immediate” threats. Anderson Union High School District in Shasta County also allows employees to carry weapons at schools.

Campaigns and citizens across America are protesting policies such as these, with just as many supporting it. The National Educators Association President, Lily Eskelsen García, quickly announced her opposition to arming teachers. She stated in her official comment, “We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.” The California Teachers Association and many of its members expressed their opposition to guns on schools online as well:

However, supporters of arming teachers cite an Illinois teacher who shot an armed student threatening the school. President Donald Trump suggested teachers should have guns in the classroom since the teacher could “[shoot] and that would be the end of it.”

California is just one of over two dozen states that allow teachers and staff to bring firearms on campus with the topic becoming more widespread across the nation, likely more school districts will have to decide if they should allow firearms on their campuses as well.




How Interest Groups Influence Policymaking

Often, when we think of special interests, we associate them with lobbying legislators. However, interest groups not only actively lobby in the legislative arena, but they’re also active in efforts to influence state agencies and regulatory activities.

Who and what are these special interests? Arguably, anyone with a point of view on a matter of public policy is a special interest. However, we generally characterize such interest groups as those with specific public policy agendas that they try to advance with the legislative and executive branches of government. They are generally those with vested interests, who are politically active in the lawmaking process.

What makes interest groups effective? The keys are often being politically powerful and socially popular. For example, teachers, labor unions, and public safety groups enjoy public support, in general. These groups raise and spend enormous sums of money for political campaign contributions. In addition, their members walk precincts, telephone voters, and get people to the polls for voting for their selected candidates.

What are some key ways that interest groups utilize to attempt to influence the Legislature and state agencies?

In order to influence policymaking in the legislative arena, interest groups obviously lobby legislators, as well as staff, legislative staff, committee staff, and ultimately, the Governor’s office. They lobby both in person and via written communications, such as: letters, emails, faxes, and even social media – of which Facebook and Twitter have become popular forums for policy discussions. Some interest groups nearly always include a media component to their lobbying efforts by sending out press releases, holding press conferences and rallies, and pitching favorable stories to the news media.

This is just scratching the surface of ways interest groups can influence the policymaking process in the California Legislature and in state agencies. There is an even more robust exploration of this topic in the podcast.




I appeared earlier this week on KCRA with Mike Luery to talk about the lawsuit that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has against California over three “sanctuary jurisdiction” laws that were passed by the California Legislature last year.

The three laws in question are SB 54, AB 450, and AB 103.

The lawsuit asks a federal district court to define the line between federal and state power under the U.S. Constitution.  Some things are undisputed.  These are:  (1) The federal government has exclusive authority to make and enforce immigration laws. (2) Federal government agents, like ICE agents, have the constitutional authority to enter states and enforce immigration laws against people within the state’s jurisdiction.  And, (3) valid federal law is supreme over state laws that conflict with it.  At the same time, (4) the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to require state agents to enforce federal law.  It may offer inducements, like money or other favors, but it cannot command state officials to do its bidding. And, (5) states, like California, have their own sovereign power to make laws for purposes other than immigration enforcement, specifically to protect the health, safety and welfare of all of their residents.

Here, California’s listed purposes for the three laws in question are to promote health, safety and welfare, not to regulate immigration, although a purpose is quite clearly not to assist with federal government immigration enforcement.  The question for courts will be whether the effects of these laws go beyond regulating the behavior of state and local officials, entities, and individuals lawfully subject to the state’s control into the unconstitutional arena of affirmatively impeding federal immigration enforcement.

As to SB 54, this law prohibits state and local officials from providing some types assistance to ICE enforcement agents, which they are not, by law, required to provide.  States, not the federal government, have the power to direct the behavior of state and local officials.  To the extent that the State of California is only saying don’t help beyond what the law requires, that direction should be okay.

AB 450 deals with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) going into workplaces in California to identify undocumented immigrants. The requirements in AB 450 make ICE do what the law requires it do. That is, have an appropriate warrant and give appropriate notice before ICE comes in to a workplace.  California employers are validly subject to California laws designed to protect the privacy of workers and ensure safe and efficient workplaces.  It’s not clear that ICE has a right superior to California’s policy judgment to get the voluntary cooperation of employers with immigration enforcement.  The constitutionality of this provision will depend upon how courts view the California provision – as part of a valid state effort not to assist federal enforcement or as an affirmative obstacle.

AB 103 might be on the shakiest grounds, I think. It requires California’s Attorney General, or his or her designee, to inspect federal detention centers, including records.  California’s argument that it is protecting the integrity of leased detention facilities of all types within the state is substantial.  Nevertheless, if I had to choose the most vulnerable provision, it would probably be this one to the extent that California officials are going into federal facilities and overseeing how the federal government does things.

Of course, there are a plethora of other opinions about this new lawsuit. There were two opinions featured on this blog a few days ago. Neither of those opinions matches mine perfectly. Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles Times talked to half a dozen law professors from all over California, all of whom have varying opinions about which aspects of the three laws may or may not be constitutional. The San Francisco Chronicle also spoke to law professors for their takes on the lawsuit.

While the range of opinions on which aspects of the three “sanctuary” laws vary widely, there does seem to be a consensus of opinion on one aspect the lawsuit, that this will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.