The deadliest fire in California history is still raging, and there still hundreds of people unaccounted for in this ongoing tragedy. In addition to earning that moniker, the Camp Fire is also “the most destructive in California history … 8,817 structures have been destroyed, including 7,600 homes.”

Like the fires in 2017, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) appears to be the focus of the finger pointing. There’s already talk of lawsuits directed at PG&E – should they be the ones found responsible for the Camp Fire. California State Senator Jerry Hill is in the camp of those who believe PG&E is to blame, telling Politico, “The main culprit here is the spark, and what cause the spark. … Here, PG&E reported a break in their line where the Camp Fire started. It looks like there’s a causal relationship there.”

Politico is further reporting that Sen. Hill is “having a number of conversations” about introducing legislation in the 2019-2020 session that would create a statewide publicly owned utility company – a la SMUD here in Sacramento – as an alternative to investor owned utility like PG&E.

Sen. Hill is a well-known antagonist of PG&E, so his stance is not surprising. And it also needs repeating the Cal Fire is still investigating the cause of the Camp Fire, so it could very well mean that PG&E is not responsible this time.

However, if PG&E is found responsible for the Camp Fire, things could get very expensive for the utility very quickly. That’s because SB 901 – last year’s grand compromise on wildfire liability – allows utilities like PG&E to pass on the cost of lawsuits to ratepayers for 2017’s wildfires and for wildfires sparked after Jan. 1, 2019, leaving PG&E shareholders on the hook for the Camp Fire it be determined PG&E was liable. Should that be the case, I would not be surprised if PG&E sponsored legislation in 2019 in an attempt to shift costs of the Camp Fire from shareholders and on to ratepayers.

Looking ahead – between potential lawsuits, the cost of lobbying, and dealing with unbridled rage of Northern Californians who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their possessions – it is increasingly looking like PG&E will have hell to pay in the near future.

 

Conducting Business on the Floors (transcript)

Today’s post is on conducting business on the floors.

The California Legislature conducts its business both in policy and fiscal committees as well as on the floors of the State Assembly and the State Senate. Each house determines its own rules and specifies how business will be handled on their respective floors. This process of conducting their activities on the floors is called the Order of Business.

The processes between the two houses are similar in many regards, but there are a few differences as well. So let’s look at the Assembly and the Senate and how each conducts business on the floors.

Pursuant to Assembly Rule 40A, the Assembly’s Order of Business is:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Prayer by the Chaplain
  3. Reading of the Previous Day’s Journal
  4. Presentation of Petitions
  5. Introduction and Reference of Bills
  6. Reports of Committees
  7. Messages from the Governor
  8. Messages from the Senate
  9. Motions and Resolutions
  10. Business on the Daily File
  11. Announcements, and
  12. Adjournment

In addition, under Assembly Rule 63 the following constitutes the Order of Business of pending legislation as contained in the Assembly Daily File:

  1. Special Orders of the Day
  2. Second Reading – Assembly Bills
  3. Second Reading – Senate Bills
  4. Unfinished Business
  5. Third Reading – Assembly bills, and
  6. Third Reading – Senate Bills.

As for the State Senate, under Senate Rule 4, the Order of Business of the Senate is:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Prayer by the Chaplain
  3. Pledge of Allegiance
  4. Privileges of the Floor
  5. Communications and Petitions
  6. Messages from the Governor
  7. Messages from the Assembly
  8. Reports of Committees; Motions, Resolutions, and Notices
  9. Introduction and First Reading of Bills
  10. Consideration of the Daily File in the following order:
    1. Second Reading,
    2. Special Orders,
    3. Unfinished Business, and
    4. Third Reading
  11. Announcement of Committee Meetings
  12. Leaves of Absence, and finally

There are no additional special rules for the Senate found in the Senate Rules. When a bill is taken up that is not on the Daily File, it is done so without reference to file – most often known as its acronym WORF. When a bill is subject to a WORF, what the Senate or Assembly is actually doing is suspending the Orders of the day as set forth in their respective rules providing the order of business.

 

 

Floor Items (transcript)

This post is on floor items. We’re going to cover, briefly, the unfinished business file, the inactive file, the use of floor managers, and WORFs. What are they?

The unfinished business file: both the Assembly Daily File as well as the Senate Daily File contain a portion titled “Unfinished Business.” This is the section of the daily file that contains the bills that have returned to their House of origin from the opposite House.

This section of the daily file also contains bills that were vetoed by the governor. Note that vetoed items remain on the daily file for a 60‑day period following the gubernatorial veto. Thereafter, unless voted upon, they are removed from the daily file and can no longer be considered.

What’s the inactive file? Another portion of the daily file to be aware of is for bills that made it to the floor of either the Assembly or the Senate but, for whatever reason, the bill’s author has chosen not to proceed with the measure.

Bills that have failed passage can be moved to the inactive file for further consideration. If an author has moved the bill to the inactive file, he or she can remove it from the Inactive File at a later date, with specified public notice, for further consideration on the respective floor.

What are floor managers? When the bill’s author presents his or her bill on the floor of the bill’s House of origin, that is, when the Assembly bill is presented by an Assembly Member or a Senate bill is presented by the Senator, that’s different when the bill is for consideration in the opposite House.

While a bill’s author is responsible for taking up his or her measure on their own floor, a floor manager is required in the other House. A member of the other House, designated by the bill’s author when the bill is considered by the other House, is called the bill’s floor manager.

What’s a WORF? According to the rules of both Houses, bills that are not listed on the daily file can only be taken up with either unanimous consent by the members of that House or by suspension of the rules.

A bill that is not listed on the daily file but which is taken up nonetheless is referred to as a WORF. The process of taking up a WORF’ed bill is without reference to file, W‑O‑R‑F.

In order to WORF a bill, a majority of the House’s membership, that’s 41 votes in the Assembly and 21 votes in the Senate, is required to take up the bill without reference to file.

On today’s episode, we talk about the legislative, legal, and policy issues that face my favorite special interest in California state government and politics – craft beer. And to get more insight into that topic I brought Tom McCormick of the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) and McGeorge Professor – and craft beer law expert – Dan Croxall on the show to talk with.

Like Tom said, the best way to learn more about the craft beer industry is just to go spend time at your local craft brewery. But if you want to learn more about CCBA specifically – as well as the California Craft Beer Festival – you can always check out their website here.

You can also follow CCBA on Facebook and Twitter, and you can follow Tom on Twitter @CCBATom.

You can find Professor Croxall on Twitter @GoodBeerLawProf.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher Radio, and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that makes The CAP⋅impact Podcast easier to find and more accessible.

You can also stay in touch with us and let us know what you thought about today’s show and think about the show generally on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP⋅impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter.

The CAP⋅impact Podcast is made possible by the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. You can learn more about the Capital Center here, and keep up with the Capital Center on Facebook and Twitter.

For a more in depth discussion of Proposition 8, and the ten other initiatives on the ballot this November you can watch the forum in its entirety on YouTube or read the full analyses here. And keep your eyes peeled on The CAP⋅impact Podcast’s feed on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts from for analysis of this year’s ballot initiatives in your headphones coming next week.

Proposition 8: Fair Pricing for Dialysis Act

Current Law

  • California Health and Safety Code regulates chronic dialysis clinics (CDCs)
  • Current law does not limit the revenue of chronic dialysis clinics providing kidney dialysis treatment.

Proposed Law

  • Limit chronic dialysis clinics revenue and require clinics to issue refunds for revenue above 115 percent of the costs of direct patient care service and health care quality improvements.
  • Assess penalties if clinics fail to maintain information or timely submit a report required, report inaccurate or incomplete amounts or percentages, or fail to timely issue a full rebate.
  • Require clinics to submit annual reports to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). These reports shall include the number of dialysis treatments provided, the amount allowable costs, the amount of owner/operator’s revenue car, the amount by which revenues exceed the cap, and the amount of rebates paid.
  • Prohibit clinics from refusing to treat patient based on source of payment for care.

Policy Considerations

 

Yes on Proposition 8 No on Proposition 8
  • Lower costs of dialysis treatment.
  • Improve patient care by incentivizing clinics to spend more of direct patient care services.
  • Ensure clean dialysis centers because clinics would spend more on health care quality improvements.
  • Require corporations to refund excessive profits that aren’t spent on improving patient care.
  • Clinics will operate at a loss because reimbursement rates are too low.
  • Clinics will be forced to close.
  • Patients will be forced to seek treatment at more expensive hospital emergency rooms due to closures of clinics.
  • Definition of “allowable” costs excludes critical staff and necessary services to operate a dialysis clinic.
  • Presents constitutional issues, giving rise to a post-election challenge.

Analysis of Proposition 8 provided by John Ponce and Anupe Litt.

For a more in depth discussion of Proposition 11, and the ten other initiatives on the ballot this November you can watch the forum in its entirety on YouTube or read the full analyses here. And keep your eyes peeled on The CAP⋅impact Podcast’s feed on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts from for analysis of this year’s ballot initiatives in your headphones coming next week.

Proposition 11: Emergency Ambulance Employees Safety and Preparedness Act

Current Law

  • Federal law – Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, emergency employees may not receive compensation for interrupted breaks.
  • State law – Under the California Labor Code, employer-mandated on-call rest breaks are illegal.
  • CA Supreme Court – In Augustus v. ABM Security Services (2016), the California Supreme Court held that on-call breaks violate state labor law. Full compliance with the Augustus decision would potentially increase costs for ambulance providers by more than $100,000 annually.

Proposed Law

  • Allows emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to remain on-call during breaks.
  • Requires employers to pay EMTs and paramedics at their regular rates during their breaks.
  • Requires 911 ambulance operators to maintain high staffing levels to provide coverage for breaks.
  • Requires training for certain emergency incidents related to active shooters, multiple casualties, natural disasters, and violence prevention.
  • Requires employers to provide employees mandatory mental health coverage, as well as yearly mental health and wellness training.
  • Retroactively prevents emergency employees from bringing claims pursuant to Augustus against ambulance service providers, including claims already pending.

Policy Considerations

Yes on Proposition 11 No on Proposition 11
  • Ensures 911 emergency will not be delayed because EMT’s always on-call.
  • Provides important additional training for emergency employees.
  • Increases efficacy of mental health services.
  • Negatively impacts labor union workers.
  • Excludes private sector emergency employees from labor law protections.
  • Allows ambulance companies to require workers to remain on-call during their breaks.

Analysis of Proposition 11 provided by Anupe Litt and David Witkin.

Ethics for Legislative Staff (transcript)

Today’s post is on ethics for legislative staff.

Just like California legislators, who are bound by laws and codes of conduct, there are also guides for the conduct of legislative staff as they serve these elected officials and the public. For example, the National Conference of State Legislatures – NCSL – has published a model code of conduct for legislative staff. This comprehensive guide is an invaluable resource for legislative staff across the country.

The purpose of this code of conduct is to provide guidance to legislative staff so that they can better serve the public and legislative branch of state government. These staffers are invaluable to the legislative process and the institution itself. But they are also public servants, just like the elected legislators for whom they work. And just like these legislators, staff too are there to carry out the mission of the Legislature. They have a relationship of trust to the institution and the public generally.

In that regard, staff must conduct themselves appropriately towards legislators, the public, lobbyists, and their fellow staff members. Any code of conduct must detail how legislative staff should conduct themselves so that the public trust is always protected. In addition to any code of conduct, there are relevant state laws that apply to staff such as the California Government Code that provides extensive guidance to public employees.

While many of the prohibitions in the Government Code may seem obvious, they are important for staff to keep in mind as they perform their valuable public service while working in the California State Legislature. In reviewing the NCSL’s model code, it provides a number of helpful guides to legislative staff.

For a more in depth discussion of Proposition 5, and the ten other initiatives on the ballot this November you can watch the forum in its entirety on YouTube or read the full analyses here. And keep your eyes peeled on The CAP⋅impact Podcast’s feed on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts from for analysis of this year’s ballot initiatives in your headphones coming next week.

Proposition 5: Property Tax Transfer

Current Law

  • California allows homeowners who are over the age of 55, disaster victims, or individuals with severe disabilities to sell their residence and transfer the property tax to a new home.
  • However, there are a number of restrictions.
    • This property tax transfer can only be done once.
    • In most situations the transfer must be within the same county. However, if the Board of Supervisors of the receiving country allows inter-county transfers, then an individual can transfer their property tax to another county.
    • The replacement property is required to be of equal or lesser value.

Proposed Law

  • Proposition 5 would amend these restrictions for homeowners who are over the age of 55, disaster victims, or individuals with severe disabilities.
    • Removes the cap on number of times a property tax can be transferred.
    • A property tax could be transferred anywhere in the state.
    • The replacement property could be worth more than the original home.

Policy Considerations

Yes on Proposition 5 No on Proposition 5
  • By giving seniors an incentive to move, Prop. 5 will increase economic activity and open up much needed housing.
  • Seniors and individuals with severe disabilities cannot move out of inadequate housing due to the tax penalty they might face.
  • Disaster victims cannot move out of the county without facing a property tax penalty.
  • Annual property tax losses for cities, counties, and special districts of around $150 million in the near term, growing over time to $1 billion or more per year (in today’s dollars).
  • Annual property tax losses for schools of around $150 million per year in the near term, growing over time to $1 billion or more per year (in today’s dollars).
  • Increase in state costs for schools of an equivalent amount in most years.

Analysis of Proposition 5 provided by John Knobel and Meghan Shiner.

For a more in depth discussion of Proposition 12, and the ten other initiatives on the ballot this November you can watch the forum in its entirety on YouTube or read the full analyses here. And keep your eyes peeled on The CAP⋅impact Podcast’s feed on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts from for analysis of this year’s ballot initiatives in your headphones coming next week.

Proposition 12 – Standards for Confinement of Specified Farm Animals; Bans Sale of Noncomplying Products

Current Law

  • California’s laws on animal cruelty are extensive, covering a wide range of behaviors and types of animals.
  • These concerns led to Proposition 12’s predecessor, Proposition 2 (2008), which targeted the treatment of farm animals.
  • Proposition 2 did not provide specific size requirements for the confinement of farm animals. The only standard it created was that farm animals “must be able to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and extend their limbs.”

Proposed Law

  • Proposition 12 amends the California Health and Safety Code and would address issues Proposition 2 did not address.
  • Proposition 12 sets specific space requirements for the confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal. These would be phased in over several years.
  • Starting in 2020, egg-laying hens would be required to have 1 square foot of floor space, and calves raised for veal would be required to have 43 square feet of floor space. Starting in 2022, egg-laying hens must be in cage-free housing, and breeding pigs would be required to have 24 square feet of floor space.
  • Proposition 12 would prohibit businesses from knowingly selling eggs, liquid eggs, uncooked pork, or veal that come from animals that are housed in ways that do not meet the new requirements.
  • Proposition 12 also provides two key changes to enforcement:
    • It requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of the act by September 1, 2019.
    • It provides that any person in violation of the act is guilty of a misdemeanor and is to be punished either by imprisonment or by paying a fine not to exceed $1000.

Policy Considerations

Yes on Proposition 12 No on Proposition 12
  • A YES vote means farmers would be required to provide more space for egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves.
  • California businesses would be banned from selling eggs or uncooked pork or veal that came from animals housed in ways that did not meet these requirements.
  • Prop 12 is a necessary step towards ending cruelty against farm animals.
  • Prop 12 will reduce risk of food poisoning, lead to job growth, and sensibly strengthen anti-cruelty laws put forward by prior law.
  • A NO vote means the current law relating to space and businesses selling animal products remain the same.
  • Proposition 12 is deceiving voters because it would actually prolong the suffering of animals rather than relieve it.
  • California was supposed to be “cage-free” in 2015, and Proposition 12 simply prolongs the suffering of egg-laying hens since it extends the deadline to comply with the law.
  • Based on the language of the proposed standards, Proposition 12 will actually result in smaller confinement spaces rather than larger spaces.

Analysis of Proposition 12 provided by Anna Lisa Thomas and Kevin Bursey.

For a more in depth discussion of Proposition 7, and the ten other initiatives on the ballot this November you can watch the forum in its entirety on YouTube or read the full analyses here. And keep your eyes peeled on The CAP⋅impact Podcast’s feed on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts from for analysis of this year’s ballot initiatives in your headphones coming next week.

Proposition 7: Daylight Saving Time

Current Law

  • In 1949, California voters adopted Proposition 12 an initiative titled “An Act Providing For Daylight Saving Time in the State of California.”
  • The key provisions established United States Standard Pacific Time as standard time within the state and provided that time advance one hour during a period from the last Sunday in April until the last Sunday in September.
  • The United States Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 to create daylight saving time nationwide, which effectively replaced the existing California law.
  • Currently under federal law, daylight saving time starts the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November.
  • Despite this fact that the existing language in the California Government Code still says that daylight saving time ends on the last Sunday in September, daylight saving time in California ends the first Sunday in November as required by federal law.
  • California’s current daylight saving time law, Daylight Saving Time Act of 1949, does not allow the California legislature to update the language in the current statute or ask the federal government to stop the twice per year time change with voter approval.

Proposed Law

  • The repeal of the Daylight Saving Time Act would allow the legislature to control changes to daylight saving because the voter initiative would be replaced by the proposed legislative initiative and no longer require voter approval to any daylight saving changes.
  • Proposition 7 updates California’s daylight saving time dates to be consistent with the federal Uniform Time Act.
  • Proposition 7 gives the California Legislature the power to ask Congress to allow California to go onto daylight saving time all year. The Legislature would need a two-thirds (2/3) vote to ask the federal government if California can change to have full-time daylight saving time, rather than changing the clocks in March and November.

Policy Considerations

Yes on Proposition 7 No on Proposition 7
  • Would allow the Legislature to update the current daylight saving language and to ask the federal government to have daylight saving time all year.
  • Does not guarantee that California would be able to stop changing the clocks because the Legislature may not ask the federal government for all year daylight saving time, or the federal government could say no.
  • The Legislature would not have to ask the voters for permission to change daylight saving laws in the future.
  • Would not change anything because California must follow the federal government’s daylight saving time rules.
  • The existing nonconforming language in the California Government Code would remain unchanged.
  • The Legislature would not have the ability to change daylight saving laws without voter approval in the future.

Analysis of Proposition 7 provided by Anna Lisa Thomas and Sarah Steimer.