Six Moorlach Bills in Assembly

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Six of Senator John M. W. Moorlach ’s bills are making their way through the Assembly. All have passed their first committees and head to either the Assembly Appropriations Committee or the Assembly floor for a vote.

Senate Bill 359, Municipal Referendum Petitions, passed in the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee by a 6-0 vote and now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This bill creates an additional simplified, cost-effective referendum methodology for parties who are interested in overturning an ordinance passed by a city council.

Senate Bill 598, Open Financial Statements Act, passed in both the Assembly Accountability & Administrative Review Committee and the Local Government Committee by unanimous consent. It now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This bill takes the first step to modernize California’s municipal financial reporting practices. It creates the Open Financial Statements Commission to evaluate the feasibility of transitioning municipal financial reports to a machine-readable format, known as iXBRL (inline eXtensible Business Reporting Language). Over 1,500 public entities prepare annual financial statements, independently audited, and submitted to the State Controller. The entities submit reports as a PDF, either in a text-searchable format or as scanned physical documents, producing data difficult to extract and analyze. SB 598 will work towards updating how we track taxpayer dollars by switching to a more accessible, efficient, and user-friendly system already familiar to publicly traded corporations.

Senate Bill 754, HOA Elections by Acclamation, passed the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee by an 8-0 vote and now heads to the Assembly Floor. This bill provides for the election of board members by acclamation if the number of candidates seeking election is equal to or fewer than the number of board seats available. Limited qualifications are imposed on nominees and apply if there are 6,000 or more units within the homeowners association (HOA) community. Reducing unnecessary HOA elections can save residents significant costs. Like many municipal, special district and school board elections, HOAs should also be eligible for the same election by acclamation when mailing out ballots would be redundant.

Senate Bill 184, Judicial Fairness Act of 2019, passed the Assembly Accountability & Administrative Review Committee by unanimous consent and now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This bill would repair a cliff vesting penalty in the Judicial Retirement System II (JRS II) giving an option for judges to leave the bench earlier than planned with the requirement that they defer their public pension until they are eligible. No judge will receive a larger pension, nor does any judge receive a defined benefit payout any sooner than if the judge had remained on the bench to the mandatory minimum retirement age of 65 (with 20 or more years of service) or age 70 (with five or more years of service). It also allows the California Public Employee Retirement System to charge a reasonable fee to cover the administrative costs to the system.

SB 496, Protections Against Financial Abuse of Elder and Dependent Adults, passed the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee by a 12-0 vote, and the Assembly Judiciary and Appropriations Committees on consent. It now heads to the Assembly Floor for one final vote before it reaches the Governor’s desk. This bill gives financial industry participants and state regulators new tools to help detect and prevent financial abuse of vulnerable adults. Specifically, it would expand the category of mandated reporters and authorize the notification of trusted contact persons. It would also allow the temporary delay of requested disbursements and transactions if abuse is suspected and require the sharing of records related to exploitation with law enforcement, state adult protective services agencies, and the Department of Business Oversight.

SB 535, Tracking Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Wildfires, passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This bill would require the Air Resources Board (ARB), in consultation with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, to submit a comprehensive report every three years. The report would include (1) information on greenhouse gas, criteria air pollutant, short-lived climate pollutant emissions from wildfires and forest fires, (2) an assessment of increased severity of wildfires and forest fires from the impacts of climate change, and (3) a calculation of the increase in the emissions of criteria air pollutants, greenhouse gases, and short-lived climate pollutants based on the increased severity of wildfires and forest fires assessed. The ARB would also determine what information from the report should be included in future iterations of the Assembly Bill 32 (Nunez, 2006) Scoping Plan