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Prison Population Reduction Plan
SB 105 (Steinberg) – Support
Chapter No. 310, Statutes of 2013
Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 105, the compromise prison population reduction plan, into law on September 12, the day following its passage by the Legislature. The bill’s provisions go into effect immediately, giving the state the ability to work swiftly toward complying with the standing federal court order to additionally reduce the state prison population by December 31, 2013 – or, if possible, to strike a new agreement with the court. SB 105 reconciles the differences between the plan presented in late August by the Governor and three of the legislative leader and that of the Senate Democrats. By merging the best elements of both approaches, SB 105 preserves counties’ ongoing efforts to improve offender outcomes, offers a safe yet temporary solution to avoid early prison releases necessitated by the court’s order, and gives time to develop thoughtful and sustainable solutions. This resolution – broadly supported by counties, the sheriffs, probation chiefs, district attorneys, police chiefs, victims’ rights advocates, and other groups – is good for counties and good for Californians and is consistent with the direction of CSAC’s Board of Directors.
A bit of background is in order. At its September 5 meeting, the CSAC Board spent several hours discussing and dissecting what at the time were dueling plans for dealing with the prison overcrowding crisis. Governor Jerry Brown spent nearly two hours with the Board discussing the complexity of correctional challenges facing the state and counties and outlining the necessity for his short-term capacity plan contained in SB 105. Senior staff to Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg – who would have been there himself, but he was observing Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year – presented the Senate Democrats’ alternative, which emphasized investment in recidivism reduction programs and other community corrections alternatives. The CSAC Board affirmed its support of the Governor’s capacity-only plan for the short-term, but urged the Administration and Legislature to reconcile the two approaches to avoid early prison releases and to invest in smart criminal justice practices over the long-term. One week ago today, the Governor and all four legislative leaders announced such a compromise plan.
SB 105, as signed by the Governor, means no early releases from state prison and – if the court grants the state more time or relaxes the prison population cap – would direct savings to programs investments that reduce recidivism. It does not impose new programmatic responsibilities on counties, nor does it contemplate a sentencing commission. It affords policy makers and key stakeholders additional time to develop long-term, sustainable correctional solutions. There are four key components to the measure:
- Maintains the Governor’s plan in that it appropriates $315 million in 2013-14 to invest in in- and out-of-state capacity, permitting the state to comply with the federal court’s order to reduce the prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity by year’s end. It assumes a further investment of up to $400 million in capacity purposes for next fiscal year. This default mechanism assures under all circumstances that there will be no early releases from prison.
- Provides for investment in recidivism reduction programs if the federal court adjusts its order – either by giving the state more time to comply with the existing cap or by revisiting the required population threshold. Should the state come to a new agreement with the court, then up to $75 million in savings – due to avoiding capacity expenditures – would go to a new Recidivism Reduction Fund, which would be appropriated by the Legislature for services and interventions. Any additional savings achieved beyond the $75 million would be shared equally between the state general fund and the Recidivism Reduction Fund.
- Improves the existing Community Corrections Performance Incentive Act (SB 678 – Leno and Benoit of 2009) funding methodology to ensure more funding certainty and stability for local programs over the long term.
- Changes the timeline for comprehensive, long-term solutions as contemplated by SB 105, the Governor’s proposal. An interim report would be due to the Legislature by April 2014; a final report would be due by January 10, 2015 – the date the Governor’s proposed 2015-16 budget is due.
CSAC will provide details on related developments in the coming weeks and months.
Public Finance Trailer Bill
SB 100 – Watch
Enrolled September 11, 2013
The public finance trailer bill now on its way to the Governor contains a number of clarifying and corrective changes. As it relates to public safety matters, we highlight three provisions of interest to counties in SB 100:
Distribution of ELEAS funds – An issue associated with the distribution of the various local law enforcement subventions funded out of 2011 Realignment (specifically the Enhancing Law Enforcement Activities Subaccount (ELEAS)) was recently identified. Modifications to relevant sections were needed to ensure that a fixed funding level for the booking fee replacement revenue ($35 million) and to subsequently ensure that all remaining funds can be appropriately disbursed out of the account. Since the amendments contained in SB 100 affect the 2012-13 ELEAS allocations, the State Controller’s Office held back a portion of 2012-13 ELEAS funding in order to true-up allocations in anticipation of this language being enacted. The holdback was necessary in order to ensure that 2012-13 allocations would be consistent with 2013-14, as well as the original intent of the language.
Counties may have noticed that they have not yet received the full 2012-13 allocations as anticipated, but should be aware that SB 100 is meant to correct the distribution mechanism and all funds (ELEAS has a guaranteed funding level of $489.9 million annually) are distributed as intended. Perhaps more importantly, counties should be aware that once all 2012-13 ELEAS funds are distributed, the $35 million in booking fee revenue will be reached, meaning that no county should be charging booking fees to their municipalities for 2012-13.
SB 678 Data Collection – SB 100 removes the requirement for counties to collect and report information on the number of felons who would have been subject to an 1170(h) sentence had felony probation not been granted. SB 75, the judiciary trailer bill enacted along with the budget, added this reporting requirement, but in several jurisdictions the information was not attainable. The data collection requirement related to that element has been eliminated.
Juvenile Interstate Compact Sunset Extension – The sunset date for the Juvenile Interstate Compact will be extended from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2016.
Court Contracting-Out Provisions
AB 566 Wieckowski – Watch
Enrolled September 12, 2013
AB 566, by Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski, would limit trial courts’ ability to contract out for services. To ensure that the measure would not affect county-operated court-ordered debt programs, CSAC requested a letter to the journal, which enters into the legislative record the author’s intent regarding a measure.
AB 56 sets up various due diligence standards before a trial court could privatize a service. It expressly exempts certain enumerated contracts from the due diligence standards set out in the bill, including those between a trial court and other government entities. This letter to the journal spells out that the measure is not intended to affect county-operated enhanced collection programs or other collection services carried out by a county on behalf of a court.
Judgment Interest Rate
AB 748 (Eggman) – Support
Enrolled September 10, 2013
AB 748, by Assembly Member Susan Talamantes Eggman, would amend the current calculation of the judicial interest rate charged to public entities. This bill was sponsored by the Urban Counties Caucus and supported by CSAC, various counties, and other groups.
Under current law, the interest rate for claims against public entities is 7 percent. By way of comparison, the interest rate on federal judgments is indexed to a Treasury yield, which currently sits at less than 1 percent. At a time of historically low interest rates, CSAC believes it is appropriate to revise the mechanism by which interest rates on claims are calculated.
AB 748 would specify that for any tax or fee claim that results in a judgment against a public entity, the judicial interest rate would be set at the weekly average one-year constant maturity U.S. Treasury yield. Further, the measure provides that for post-interest judgments, the rate on the claim would be the U.S. Treasury yield plus 2 percent. The bill ensures that in no case would the calculation exceed the existing rate of 7 percent annually. AB 748 maintains current law requiring local governments to pay claims promptly.
CSAC believe AB 748 is appropriate and fair, as it merely seeks to modernize the interest rate calculation to reflect current market conditions in a very narrow set of claims. We are requesting the Governor’s signature on the bill and would encourage other counties to do so as well.
AB 1149 (Campos) – Oppose
Enrolled September 10, 2013
AB 1149, by Assembly Member Nora Campos, would require local agencies to notify consumers of a breach if unauthorized persons access specified personal information. The bill was amended late in the legislative session to avoid chaptering out provisions – meaning it now will incorporate changes to the same section of law made by another bill (SB 46, by Senator Ellen Corbett) – to ensure that if the both bills are passed and signed into law then both sets of amendments are enacted.
CSAC – as part of a broad coalition of public agency advocacy groups – is in opposition to the bill for fiscal and operational reasons. As detailed in previous Bulletins, public agency groups do not oppose the policy objective being advanced in AB 1149. It is merely a question of resources and concern over the precedent that local governments – after some 35 years of being expressly exempt from its provisions – would be subject to a portion of the Information Practices Act (IPA).
The practical effect of double joining AB 1149 to SB 46 is that it would likely increase the scope of potential workload associated with the breach notification requirements in AB 1149. SB 46 on its own does not impose any new duties on local governments; it merely expands the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include the user name, password, and security questions. However, if AB 1149 is signed, all of the existing breach notification law, plus the expanded definition and duties offered in SB 46, would be imposed upon local governments.
CSAC will be seeking the Governor’s veto on this measure given the precedent it sets with respect to the IPA and because of the unfunded mandate it would impose.
Medical Parole: Notification to Counties
AB 68 (Maienschein) – Support
Enrolled September 9, 2013
AB 68, Assembly Member Brian Maienschein, would require the transmittal of information relative to medical parole hearings and releases to counties, as specified.
As counties may recall, CSAC and an array of county groups were actively involved in SB 1399 (Leno, 2010) that established California’s medical parole program. We provided technical input into the bill to ensure that the measure was operationally feasible at the local level, recognized the potential impacts and interactions with county governments, and maximized the use of federal funds for covering the medical costs of individuals released onto this new status.
AB 68, sponsored by San Diego County, seeks to enhance communication associated with the hearing process for medical parole candidates as well as the subsequent release process. These details were not specified in the original measure but would be helpful to counties, particularly in instances where the recipient county may not be the county of commitment. The bill is narrowly crafted and seeks to help ensure that pertinent information about the inmate and plans for his or her post-release care are transmitted on a timely basis to affected jurisdictions.
Vehicle Registration Fees: Vehicle Theft Prevention
AB 767 (Levine) – Support
Chapter No. 241, Statutes of 2013
AB 767, by Assembly Member Marc Levine, authorizes counties to increase vehicle registration fee from $1 to $2 for motor vehicles and from $2 to $4 for commercial vehicles. Proceeds would support vehicle theft efforts. This authority can be exercised only after adoption of a resolution by the board of supervisors. The Governor signed the measure into law on September 6.
By way of background, AB 1404 (Chapter 775, Statutes of 2012) authorized these increases for three specified counties. AB 767 expands the authority across all 58 counties and deletes the existing sunset on the vehicle registration surcharge. The revenues derived from the surcharge are dedicated to vehicle theft abatement programs. The bill maintains existing requirements regarding expenditure and programmatic reporting, and it specifies the vehicle-theft related purposes for the funds in counties. The bill also authorizes jurisdictions that may not yet have exercised the original $1 surcharge to approve a $2 surcharge, in accordance with procedures outlined in the bill.