Both the California Constitution and the California Government Code describe in detail state mandated local programs. As a result of the constitution and the statutes in the Government Code, a California bill is identified as mandating or not mandating a local program.

If a mandated local program is going to be required, then the Legislature helps determine whether or not a local agency will be reimbursed for costs by the state. The constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs that are mandated by the state.

However, Section 6 of Article XIII (B), added to the California Constitution by Proposition 4 in 1970, which is the constitutional provisions requiring the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for mandated local programs includes one important caveat. The Section uses the term may instead of shall. The Legislature may, but does not have to, provide funds for these mandates.

There are four types of legislative mandates that the Legislature does not have to provide reimbursement to local governments for.

  1. Any legislative mandates requested by the local agency that would be affected by the mandates.
  2. Legislation that defines a new crime or changes an existing definition of a crime.
  3. Mandates that are contained in a statute that is within the scope of certain provisions found in Article IV Section 3 of the California Constitution.
  4. Any legislative mandates enacted prior to January 1, 1975 – obviously no longer relevant today.

There are additional statutory provisions in the Government Code that establish procedures for making reimbursements to local governments. Among those is the provision that states the Commission on State Mandates actually determines if the bill contains costs mandates by the state. In other words, the Legislature does not have the final say on whether a requirement in proposed legislation is reimbursable.

In most instances, the Legislature declares that no reimbursement is required by a piece of legislation. The general rule is that a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges that the Legislature deems sufficient to pay for a program, a program expansion, or a higher level of service mandated by state law.

You can read the transcript of today’s audio here.