Friday, August 23, 2013 The CSAC Bulletin
SB 594: Opposition Coalition Grows and Grows
Common Cause No Longer In Support

CSAC is now officially part of a growing coalition formed in joint opposition to SB 594 by Assemblyman Jerry Hill. The coalition includes the League of California Cities, California State Sheriff’s Association, California Police Chiefs Association, California School Boards Association, and many other organizations. SB 594 is a gut-and-amend bill that would stifle the ability of our organizations to participate in the initiative process.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee will consider SB 594 on August 30, their last hearing of the year. This is the same day that they will consider their Suspense File, which always makes for a long day of important decisions, a day that many bills die for the year.

We need counties to contact members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and make direct calls to local legislators. Counties should also send letters to the chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, Assembly Member Mike Gatto, and to your local legislative delegation. CSAC will send out information directly to counties to help draft letters. Contact information is listed at the end of this message for members of the committee.

SB 594 would expand the definition of “public resources” so broadly that CSAC and other organizations would essentially be shut out from any meaningful participation in the initiative process. Direct democracy is a major force in California’s public policy debates, and has direct and significant impact on our organizations, our members, and the services they provide to the public.

It is informative that California Common Cause, the “good government” organization that previously supported the bill, withdrew their support earlier this week. This makes it more clear than ever that the bill is not about good government, but about special interests attempting to gain an unfair advantage.

The remaining proponents of SB 594, an unlikely partnership of the California Professional Firefighters and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association, claim the bill is aimed at promoting “transparency” and preventing organizations like ours from using public funds for political purposes. However, using public funds in that way is already expressly prohibited by statute, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), and the IRS. The FPPC investigated CSAC and the League in 2009 and found no violations.

If this bill were truly about transparency, proponents would not use the gut and amend tactic to try to move it so late in the legislative session. Instead, the bill’s sponsors are trying to limit the ability of their political opponents from participating in statewide and local initiative campaigns.

 

Under this bill, the Association of California Water Agencies could not fully participate in a water bond campaign. The California State Sheriff’s Association and District Attorneys Association could not participate fully in an initiative about sentencing requirements. ACSA and CSBA would be largely silenced about issues directly relating to school and education. This makes no sense. The safeguards this bill might provide are already in place—but the collateral damage it would cause could ripple throughout California political landscape.

Members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee

Gatto, Mike, Chair                           916 319 2043 

Harkey, Diane, Vice-Chair              916 319 2073 

Bigelow, Franklin                             916 319 2005 

Bocanegra, Raul                              916 319 2039 

Bradford, Steven                             916 319 2062 

Calderon, Ian                                    916 319 2057 

Campos, Nora                                  916 319 2027 

Donnelly, Tim                                   916 319 2033 

Eggman, Susan                                 916 319 2013 

Gomez, Jimmy                                  916 319 2051 

Hall, Isadore                                     916 319 2064 

Holden, Chris                                    916 319 2041 

Linder, Eric                                        916 319 2060 

Pan, Richard                                     916 319 2009 

Quirk, Bill                                           916 319 2020 

Wagner, Donald                              916 319 2068 

Weber, Shirley                                  916 319 2079