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Prepared by: Steve Wallauch & Nicole Wordelman of Platinum Advisors
The Legislature reconvened January 3rd to begin work in the final year of the 2017-18 legislative session. The Senate session began with the controversy of sexual harassment accusations against Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) and the request by other members that he be suspended from his post. Mendoza will take the month of January off while an investigation is conducted into the claims. He plans to return to the Capitol on February 1st. The Session was much less awkward in the Assembly where Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) attended her first session replacing newly elected Congressman Jimmy Gomez. The Assembly is now three members short of 80 with the resignation of Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando), Matt Dababneh (D-Encino), and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), who resigned at the end of December due to health problems.
Deadlines come quickly in the second year of session, and all measures introduced in 2017 must pass out of their house of origin by the end of the month (more than 600 bills). The bill introduction deadline is February 16th. Governor Brown will release his 2018-19 budget proposal on January 10th at 10:00 a.m. We anticipate a relatively prudent budget as usual. It’s possible funding will be made available for new community college students as chaptered into law last year. Governor Brown’s State of the State Address will be delivered on January 25th at 10:00 a.m.
State Budget: Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, Phil Ting (D- San Francisco) released an outline of spending priorities for discussion prior to the governor’s release of his 2018-19 Budget in December. Assemblyman Ting is expected to chair the Conference Committee this year which will occur near the end of May or early June. This is when the two houses meet to hash out their different spending commitments and compromise to create the Legislature’s budget. Assemblyman Ting adopted the Legislative Analyst’s Office revenue projections which are typically higher than the Department of Finance projections. In total, Ting made recommendations for $7.5 billion in discretionary funding. Ting suggests saving more revenue than required in reserves – $1.7 billion to the Rainy Day Fund and $1.5 billion to regular reserves. This brings total reserves to $15 billion. $4.3 billion would then remain for other commitments and priorities as suggested below:
House Cleaning: As is the case when complex packages such as, the affordable housing bill, are rushed through the process, there is a need for clean-up legislation. There will be one bill introduced to address issues with the collection of the new fees imposed by SB 2, as well as additional measures making corrections to other pieces of the housing package. This clean-up effort will provide local governments an opportunity to advocate for changes that are needed for implementation.
The Department of Housing and Community Development has created a webpage summarizing the housing package.
Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Capitol: Under scrutiny for sexual harassment claims, the Legislature released a joint announcement stating that sexual harassment prevention will be addressed in a bicameral and bipartisan way by a new committee directed to reform the current system.
Several legislators have already announced legislation to address the issue, including measures to give victims of sexual harassment more time to file claims with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, imposing stricter requirements for the Legislature and other employers to track sexual harassment complaints, a bill banning non- disclosure agreements in sexual harassment settlements in the public and private sectors, and a measure to provide whistleblower protections to legislative staffers.