On today’s episode of The CAP·impact Podcast we talk with Erin Evans-Fudem – a Legislative Representative at the League of California Cities, and McGeorge class of 2012 – about the wildfires across California, some of the factors that have led to the surge in wildfires recently, and the issue of liability – specifically as it pertains to shareholder owned utilities like PG&E.

On that liability front, we walk through the legal doctrine called “inverse condemnation” – which is the current standard used in California when it comes to liability – some of the proposals the Legislature is working on to address the issue, and what cities are particularly concerned about on this issue.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

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

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

Regular vs. Special Sessions (transcript)

Today’s podcast is on the differences between regular and special sessions of the California Legislature.

As you may be aware, the California Legislature can be in regular, or special, or even joint sessions. A session is the designated period of time in which the Legislature meets. There are three types.

Our state constitution provides the dates for convening and adjourning the regular session. Other than that, the Legislature has the freedom to set its own calendar for meetings and recesses.

Generally, the Legislature begins meeting in the first week in January of each calendar year and concludes its work for the year either in mid‑September during the odd‑numbered years, or August 31st, the constitutionally mandated adjournment date in the even‑numbered years.

In terms of the period of time in which the legislature meets, they may do so in either regular or special session. A regular session is the one convened in December of the even‑numbered year pursuant to Article 4 Section 3A.

That section of our state constitution states, “The Legislature shall convene in regular session at noon on the first Monday in December of each even‑numbered year, and each house shall immediately organize. Each session of the Legislature shall adjourn sine die,” that is for good, “by operation of the Constitution at midnight on November 30th of the following even‑numbered year.”

A special session, on the other hand, is one that’s convened pursuant to a proclamation that’s issued by the governor of the state. Found in Article 4 Section 3B of the state constitution, this section reads, “On extraordinary occasions the Governor by proclamation may cause the Legislature to assemble in special session.

When so assembled, it has power to legislate only on subjects specified in the proclamation, but may provide for expenses and other matters incidental to the session.”

One common misconception is that the Legislature must enact bills when called into special session. While the Legislature must convene a special session once it has been called by proclamation by the Governor, there is no legal requirement that any legislation actually be enacted, nor even be voted upon.

A joint session can occur in either a regular or a special session. A joint session is one in which both houses of the Legislature ‑‑ that is the Assembly and the Senate ‑‑ meet for a specified purpose. Due to its physical size, joint sessions are normally held in the chambers of the State Assembly.

On today’s show we are giving you the rundown on what the biggest issues facing the California Legislature are in its final month of session. August is going to be a four week sprint to the finish line, so brought on CAP·impact podcast regular – as well as lobbyist, capitol observer, McGeorge alum, and McGeorge adjunct professor – Chris Micheli to help distill which of the roughly 1,400 remaining bills the California Legislature has to work on will be the most interesting.

You can find a similar rundown that Chris wrote on Fox & Hounds, however, he goes into more depth on these bills and a few others on our podcast.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

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

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

As I discussed yesterday in my post “How California Municipalities are experimenting with voting,” cumulative voting is an electoral process in which voters have a number of votes equal to the number of seats to be elected. For example, if in an election there were three seats up for election, voters would have three votes that they could cast however they chose to – all for one candidate, or divided among multiple candidates. I also discussed yesterday that Mission Viejo is potentially going to be the first California city to adopt this electoral process. This sets up the obvious question, why adopt a new-to-California voting system?

The Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) recently filed suit against Mission Viejo. Again, one asks why? Well, about one in five residents of Mission Viejo is Latinx, however for over a decade the city council has had no Latinx representation. The California Voting Rights Act prohibits district-based voting that would impair a protected class from appropriate representation. Specifically stated the CVRA was designed with “legislative intent to eliminate minority vote dilution.”

After a study, public hearings, and analysis by the city and SVREP, the city maintained their district-based voting. SVREP responded to the decision to maintain district-based voting with a lawsuit. The claim was that Mission Viejo’s district-based voting was a violation of the California Voting Rights Act.

The litigation ended with a settlement plan. SVREP and the City of Mission Viejo agreed that the district-based voting was to be replaced with the cumulative voting system. The city also agreed to put all five council seats up for election every four years. This means that every voter in Mission Viejo will have five votes to use however they wish, including casting all five votes for the same candidate in every city council election.

“If they can get 20 percent of voters to cast all of their votes for that one candidate, well then, they ought to have a voice,” SVREP’s attorney Kevin Shenkman said.

 

 

 

San Francisco has had a lively debate over their Ranked Choice Voting policy since its inception. Ranked choice voting (RCV) is where voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. A candidate who wins the majority of first-choice votes is declared the winner. If no candidate wins on first-choice, the candidate with the fewest is eliminated and the second-choice on the eliminated candidate becomes first-choice for the remaining candidates. This is repeated until a candidate has won the majority of first-choice votes. Complicated? Maybe it’s easier to show you:

Candidate 1 has 450 votes or 40% of the votes

Candidate 2 has 300 votes or 26.67% of the votes

Candidate 3 has 200 votes or 17.78% of the votes

Candidate 4 has 175 votes 15.56% of the votes

Candidate 1 has a plurality, but not a majority. Rather than have Candidates 1 and 2 run head to head against each other in another election Candidate 4 is eliminated and the voters who selected them will now have their second-choice votes counted as first-choice. Assuming 75% of Candidate 4’s voters have Candidate 1 as their second choice and 25% have Candidate 2 as their second choice. When Candidate 4’s votes are redistributed, the outcome is:

Candidate 1 now has 582 votes or 51.73% of the votes

Candidate 2 now has 343 votes of 30.48% of the votes

Candidate 3 now has 200 votes or 17.78% of the votes

Candidate 1 now has a majority and is elected.

But this voting system can also get tricky. What if all of Candidate 4’s voters had Candidate 2 as their second choice? The result would instead look like this:

Candidate 1 has 450 votes, or 40% of the votes.

Candidate 2 has 475 votes, or 42.22% of the votes.

Candidate 3 has 200 votes, or 17.78% of the votes.

In this scenario, since neither Candidates 1 nor 2 have a majority. Candidate 3 is eliminated and their votes are redistributed based on who they have as their second choice candidate. And depending on how that breaks down, Candidate 1 – who led after the first round of votes were counted – could win or Candidate 2 – who led after the second round of votes were counted – could win.

California only has four cities that use ranked choice voting– San Francisco, Oakland, San Leandro, and Berkeley.

But now, another debate has been added to the mix. San Francisco city officials are recommending that instead of only having 3 ranked-choice selections, voters can select up to 10 candidates. The limitation of 3 ranked-choice selections was due to voting machine restrictions, but now San Francisco will have new ballots and machines that can be used as soon as the November 2019 election.

But ranked voting isn’t the only unconventional voting system in California, for long… Mission Viejo announced on July 27 that starting in 2020, it will put a cumulative voting structure in place. Mission Viejo would be the first city in California to implement this voting system.

For example, assume three of Missions Viejo’s City Council seats are up for election and there are five candidates running for those three seats. A voter in Mission Viejo would have three votes – one for each open City Council position – that they could cast however they choose. That could mean casing all three votes for one candidate, two votes for one candidate and one for another, or one vote for three different candidates.

Cumulative Voting is a method of election in which voters have a number of votes equal to the number of seats to be elected. Voters can assign as many of their votes to a particular candidate or candidates as they wish. Most commonly, it has been used to resolve voting rights cases for city council, county commission, and school board elections.

The difference between ranked choice voting and cumulative voting is this- in ranked choice voting – like traditional voting in California and the rest of the US – one candidate can receive a maximum of one vote from a voter. Cumulative voting, however, allows a voter as many votes for a candidate (or candidates) as there are opening seats.

In today’s episode, we finish our conversation with Adriana Ruelas and Adrienne Shilton from the Steinberg Institute. You can find the first half of our conversation here. Today we talk about SB 1113 and AB 1971.

They’re both interesting bills. SB 1113 would establish voluntary workplace mental health standards, meaning that the state of California would set standards for what would be in workplace mental standards, but companies could volunteer to adopt those standards.

AB 1971 is where we spend more time, however, and it’s the most controversial of the bills that we talked about. AB 1971 expands the definition of “gravely disabled” to “include a condition in which a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, is unable to provide for his or her basic personal needs for medical treatment, if the failure to receive medical treatments, as defined, results in a deteriorating physical condition that a medical professional, in her or her best medical judgment, attests in writing, will more likely than not, lead to death within 6 months.” In practical terms, this bill would make it easier for medical professionals to place someone under a 5150 hold.

In addition to legislation, we also talk with Lacey Mickleburgh who is a staff attorney at McGeorge School of Law’s Homeless Advocacy Clinic, which is part of McGeorge’s Community Legal Services about the services  that they’re providing and the interdisciplinary approach they take to helping those who are experiencing homelessness or those who are housing insecure here in the Sacramento region.

You can learn more about the individual bills that we talk about in the links above, and you can learn more about Steinberg Institute and the work they do here. And you can learn more about all of McGeorge’s legal clinics here.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

You can stay in touch with us and let us know what you think about the show on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter. Or you hit me up directly on Twitter @jon_wainwright.

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

We’re sat down with Adriana Ruelas and Adrienne Shilton on this week’s episode of The CAP·impact Podcast to talk about a number of mental health bills that the Steinberg Institute is working on this year. This week is part one of the conversation, we’ll part two for you next week.

I was initially inspired to seek out having this conversation after the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. While that was the original impetus for the conversation, we also talked at length about the homelessness crisis in California.

This week, we talk in depth about AB 1436 and SB 1004 as well as briefly touch on AB 2018 and SB 906.

You can learn more about the individual bills that we talk about in the links above, and you can learn more about Steinberg Institute and the work they do here.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

You can stay in touch with us and let us know what you think about the show on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter. Or you hit me up directly on Twitter @jon_wainwright.

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

Thanks for listening to today’s show.

On today’s episode of The CAP·impact Podcast we talk with McGeorge School of Law Capital Lawyering professor Chris Micheli about some of the institutional challenges to lawmaking in California. We then have a deep dive conversation with Assembly Member Chad Mayes about how our current state of hyper-partisan politics is affecting governing and lawmaking in California.

To learn more about Asm. Mayes’ new organization, New Way California, you can check out their website here.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

You can stay in touch with us and let us know what you think about the show on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter. Or you hit me up directly on Twitter @jon_wainwright.

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

Thanks for listening to today’s show.

 

 

 

Legislative Lingo (transcript)

Today’s topic is one of my favorites, legislative lingo.

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that my colleagues and I, those who work in and around California’s state capital, use a number of different terms or lingo to describe different aspects of the California legislative process. I’ve tried to compile a short list of some of the more common terms used in the California legislative process.

I’ll cover a few of the terms here, and the rest are covered in the podcast. The first one is “41st senator.” There are 40 members of the California State Senate who are duly elected to represent the 40 Senate districts across the state of California, about 950,000 constituents each.

Due to the power of some of the staff in the upper house of the Legislature, there are a few staffers, particularly with committees or leadership offices, who are often viewed as being almost as powerful, if not as powerful, as some of those elected members of the State Senate. That’s why we use the term, 41st Senator.

Blue pencil. The term blue pencil is used to refer to the Governor in the State of California has an ability to line‑item veto, specific items of appropriations, either in the budget bill itself, which has numerous thousands of appropriations or individual appropriation bills.

The President of the United States does not have line‑item veto authority, but California’s Governor is one of those states that provides it. The line‑item veto authority can only reduce or eliminate items of appropriation. The Governor does not have authority to increase items of appropriation.

Gut and amend. It sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? This is when amendments to a bill remove the current contents of the bill in their entirety. It’s gutted ‑‑ the bill is gutted ‑‑ and it’s amended, that is the language is replaced with entirely different provisions that are unrelated to the original contents of the bill. That’s a gut and amend.

Again, I cover many more terms in today’s podcast. Thanks for listening.

This week’s LIVE episode of The CAP·impact Podcast was recorded a little while back at the Sterling Hotel here in Sacramento. Every year, the Capital Center for Law & Policy hosts the Mike Belote Endowed Capital Lecture. This year’s topic, and today’s episode, was Journalism in the Era of Fake News.

The discussion between the three esteemed journalists on the panel runs longer than our normal shows so we’ve split it in two episodes. Part 1 is the moderated portion of the panel discussion. Next week’s episode is Part 2, where we’ll feature the audience questions.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

You can stay in touch with us and let us know what you think about the show on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter. Or you hit me up directly on Twitter @jon_wainwright.

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

Thanks for listening to today’s show.