On this week’s  episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast Jon explores the legal and regulatory frameworks around the growing legalized sports betting industry with Drake University Law School Professor Keith Miller. Professor Miller talks about the role that gambling plays in the budgets of state’s that already have legalized gambling and provides a cautionary note to states thinking about legalizing sports betting. Professor Miller also discusses some of the numerous public policy issues that gaming law – and legalizing sports betting – implicates. The conversation delves into tax law and crafting public policy that doesn’t worsen the issue of problem gambling.

On the issue of tax policy, Professor Miller points out, “If legislators in a state see sports betting as a gold mine of revenue … they are going to be disappointed.”

To learn more about Professor Miller, you can visit his Drake University Law School faculty page or his SSRN page.

And as always, you can listen to today’s conversation on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio, in addition to wherever else you listen to podcasts.

To help more people hear this week’s conversation, please subscribe to The CAP⋅impact Podcast on any of those services and leave a 5-star rating and a positive review. That makes it easier for the show to be found which in turn makes it easier for people to learn about the work that Professor Fox is doing.




Today’s post is on obstacles faced in the legislative process.

As one might contemplate, there are numerous obstacles to overcome during the legislative process here in California. These are generally characterized as policy, fiscal, and political obstacles that may have to be addressed as a bill travels through the legislative process. Our effort here is to pose a few questions that one might want to ask before proceeding with a bill in the California Legislature.

The first set is policy obstacles. Naturally, there should be a good policy rationale for the legislation. Unfortunately, the Legislature generally examines a proposed solution rather than examine the policy problem that is attempted to be addressed and then determine what the best solution to that problem actually is.

At this early point, the bill’s proponents need to address these questions.

  • In presenting the bill, which contains a solution, has the policy problem been clearly explained?
  • Is this bill the best solution to the stated policy problem?
  • Are there other viable solutions to address the problem?
  • What are the potential policy problems with the other solutions?
  • Is there sufficient policy justification to make the proposed change in the law?
  • Is there evidence that the alleged shortcoming in existing law actually exists?

The next set is fiscal obstacles. Assuming the policy implications are addressed, the fiscal impact is duly considered by the respective appropriations committees. Note that even some policy committees do consider the fiscal impact of proposed legislation. The questions for addressing fiscal obstacles are:

  • Is there any fiscal impact due to the proposed law change contained in the bill? If so, how significant is the fiscal impact?
  • If there is a fiscal impact, is it to the state government, to local government, to the private sector, or a combination thereof?
  • If the fiscal impact is significant, is there some sort of funding source or a mechanism to help pay for the cost of the bill?
  • What is the likely position of the Governor’s Department of Finance: support or oppose or neutral?

Third is political obstacles. Some of the questions to pose in this area include:

  • Which groups are likely to support or oppose the bill and how can they impact the proposed law change?
  • Is there potential grassroots support for either side of the bill, in support or in opposition?
  • And how do the key legislative staff view the proposal?

In some instances, vote requirements may become an obstacle if the bill requires a super-majority vote for passage.

As one would expect, each controversial bill can create its own unique set of obstacles that will need to be addressed. That’s why there’s not a clear set of rules that apply in the same way for all pieces of legislation.

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

The 2017-18 legislative session was a lively one, as well as the last one ever to overseen by Governor Jerry Brown. To discuss the end of session and some of the historic legislation that came out of it, we talk with Aaron Brieno – Leg. Director to Sen. Ben Hueso – now former lobbyist Lexi Howard – she was a contract lobbyist at the time of recording – and lobbyist and friend of the show Chris Micheli.

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.

Laura Curtis, who just finished her first year as a lobbyist, sits down with McGeorge alum and adjunct professor Chris Micheli, to talk about her experience as a lobbyist and being a part of the advocacy at the California Chamber of Commerce.

You can also check out last week’s episode where Laura talks about her recent career switch – from working in a legal career in the San Francisco Bay Area to lobbying for the California Chamber of Commerce in California’s capital. The two talk about her experience switching careers and the biggest differences between being a practicing attorney and a lobbyist.

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.




The Role of State Agencies in Policy Making (transcript)

Today’s podcast is about state agencies and their role in public policy development. California’s agencies – including departments, board, and commissions – engage in a fair amount of public policy making through both their rule making authority, as well as their interpretation and enforcement of existing statutes and regulations.

These state agencies are the ones who generally run the day-to-day operations of state government, and they’re charged with implementing the statutes adopted by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. With over 200 of these agencies in California state government, there are many state agencies that do policy development by adopting regulations and implementing statutes. They can also engage in policy making when issuing guidelines, legal opinions, management memos, and other sorts of written documents wherein they interpret and implement laws and regulations.

Generally speaking, the authority of state agencies to adopt policy through their rule making process is defined and often restricted by state statute. These statutes usually prescribe each agency’s authority to adopt policy. And of course, it’s an established principle of administrative law that an agency cannot go beyond its legally prescribed authority to regulate. On the other hand, many statutes confer broad powers to some state agencies regarding matters that directly affect the public generally. The regulations and administrative practices of these agencies often affect millions of Californians in their daily lives.

It’s important to understand the rule making process and the role of state agencies in conducting rule making. One interesting phenomenon is that businesses cannot rely in good faith upon the written determinations issued by state agencies. State agencies’ written interpretation is often not given significant legal weight by a reviewing court. In other words, despite being charged with interpreting, implementing, and enforcing California statutes and regulations, individuals and businesses that obtain written guidelines from state agencies have little to no protection from legal liability if they follow that written guidance.




Policy Analysis in the Legislative Process

Today’s post is on policy analysis in the legislative process. Specifically, we’ll be exploring differences between the policy analysis process used in the California Legislature and the processes used in academia and elsewhere.

For anyone who has seen a bill introduced in the California Legislature that’s in print, one of the first items you see is a section titled The Legislative Counsel’s Digest. Is this actually an analysis of the bill? Not really. Instead, the purpose of the Legislative Counsel’s Digest is to succinctly describe what current law is, and then summarize the changes that are proposed in the bill.

Legislative proposals in California are analyzed by the staff of committees to which they are referred, as well as by the staff of the respective houses prior to a proposal coming up for a floor vote. As a result, a typical bill that makes it into law is analyzed as many as six times – by a policy committee in each house, by a fiscal committee in each house, and on the floor of each house.

In the California Legislature there’s no fixed policy analysis methodology, but there is one commonality that differentiates the policy analysis process in the Legislature from the process used in academia and elsewhere.  In the California Legislature, we find that policy analysis is generally focused on the evaluation of a specific proposal. In other words, rather than beginning the analysis with the definition of the problem, the analysis emanates from a proposed solution that is proposed in the bill.

The policy analysis methodologies that are taught in academia and used in other sectors tend to start from the definition of the problem and once the public policy problem is defined, then the analysis turns to identifying and evaluating various alternatives to address that stated problem. This policy analysis is usually a rigorous, multi-step process that involves a thorough analysis of the various alternative means of addressing the public policy problem.

While there are some practical realities that make it difficult, if not impossible, for legislative bodies and legislative staff to apply traditional policy analysis on each and every bill, this does not mean that traditional policy analysis cannot be infused into at least a portion of the legislative process. I explore some potential ways the California Legislature could do so in the podcast.

I think the legislative process would be better served in the long-term by providing greater policy analysis of both the problems and solutions being debated by members of the Legislature.




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.




Negotiating Policy and Legislation

Since California’s legislative session is only getting closer and closer, I have another podcast for you today with Erinn Ryberg – Leg. Director for Assembly Member Cristina Garcia. Today, Erinn and I are discussing negotiating legislation and the policy changes within a given piece of legislation.

Similar to our conversation last week about staffing a committee, we’ll be talking about the dos and don’ts of this process.

As Erinn will tell you, one of the first things she learned when started working in the Building is that if you have a good bill, then that means it will have support and opposition because the bill will actually do something. Because of this, the bill will require some negotiating and compromise. This means that you should start with the biggest, broadest bill possible because as your bill moves through both houses of the Legislature, you will inevitably have to remove or change some parts of the bill. And of course, with all these changes, it is a tightrope walk between keeping your coalition of supporters happy while not ticking off the opposition too much.

In being able to negotiate these changes, there are some things to keep in mind. The most important thing is make sure that your stakeholders are people that you trust, that are good at their jobs, and have some influence with their bosses. When I asked Erinn how critical it is to have good stakeholders on your side, she replied, “It will make or break the bill.”

You can’t negotiate if you’re working with people that aren’t willing to budge or that don’t have the authority to give more than what is on the sheet of paper you walk into a meeting with.

You will have to listen to the rest of our conversation to glean more insights from Erinn.




Welcome to Policy Change in Practice. In this series, we talk with the key people engaged in changing public policies at every level of government. Our conversations focus on how their organizations change policy, as well as their personal tips and insights into the most effective ways to make change.

Policy Change in Practice with Sosan Madanat

For our first Policy Change in Practice conversation, I sat down with Sosan Madanat, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy and Justice (FDJ), which is based in Sacramento, California.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, FDJ does not engage in lobbying to achieve policy change. We talked about how it uses public education events – in libraries and at panel events and resource fairs – as a tool to change public policy and the challenges in doing so.

To learn more about the Foundation for Democracy and Justice, you can visit its website. Or you can find it on any of its social media pages:

Facebook: Foundation for Democracy and Justice

Twitter: @FDJ_CA

Instagram: fdjca