Legislative Update: Spring 2018
MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY
Net Neutrality: SB 822 (Wiener- San Francisco) – SUPPORT
Summary: SB 822 would mandate Net Neutrality in California, prohibiting internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating between websites with respect to cost or speed of service based on who owns the website, website content, or method of access. It would prohibit state agencies from using or funding ISPs who violate net neutrality principles. Without these restrictions, ISPs can intentionally block, slow down, or charge money to allow access to specific websites and online content. Our democracy thrives only with a free and open exchange of ideas. Allowing a few companies to control which viewpoints are seen on the internet, or to charge a premium for equal access, would be a dangerous precedent. Status: Awaiting hearing in Senate Appropriations Committee.
ETHICS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Ban on Campaign Nepotism: AB 664 (Steinorth – Rancho Cucamonga) – SUPPORT
Summary: Current law prohibits elected officials and candidates for elected office, as well as their spouses, from receiving compensation from campaign committees controlled by said official or candidates. AB 664 extends this ban by also prohibiting the parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and grandchildren of elected officials and candidates from receiving compensation above fair market value for goods and services rendered to their relative’s campaign committee. This reform will stymie corruption and nepotism in California politics. Status: Passed the Assembly floor, now to Senate Elections Committee.
Local FPPC Enforcement: AB 2880 (Harper- Huntington Beach) -SPONSORED
Summary: Currently, most cities or counties with local campaign finance ordinances rely on city attorneys or district attorneys to enforce their ordinances. Enforcement is sparse, and relying on appointed or elected officials for enforcement creates conflict of interest concerns. SB 2880 allows local governments to contract with the FPPC for local campaign finance and ethics enforcement, a model which San Bernardino County has used very effectively in a pilot program. In the 2014 election cycle in San Bernardino County, the FPPC educated more than 50 campaigns on ordinance requirements; audited 22 campaigns; and investigated 24 campaigns for alleged violations, resulting in 9 fines. SB 2880 would allow all cities and all counties below a population of 3,000,000 to contract with the FPPC for local campaign and ethics ordinance enforcement. Status: Passed Assembly Local Government Committee to Assembly Appropriations Committee.
VOTING AND ELECTIONS
Local Initiative Reform: SB 1153 (Stern – Canoga Park) – SUPPORT
Summary: In 2014, the Legislature passed the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act (SB 1253), which required a public review process for state ballot measures and gave opportunity for the Legislature to negotiate, and potentially reach a compromise, with the initiative proponents, in which case the measure could be withdrawn from the ballot prior to its qualifying. BITA was a success during the 2016 election cycle; SB 1153 will extend a similar reform at the local level. City and County initiative proponents would now be allowed to withdraw their petitions even after submitting their gathered signatures for verification, which will create beneficial space for compromise and negotiation in the direct democracy process. Status: Passed the Senate floor, to Assembly Elections Committee.
Office of Elections Cybersecurity: AB 3075 (Berman- Palo Alto) – SUPPORT
Summary: AB 3075 would establish an Office of Elections Cybersecurity (OEC) within the Secretary of State’s office. The OEC will distribute expert information and best practices and communicate with federal, state, and local agencies about future threats. Now, more than ever, we need to devote resources to protecting our elections from hostile actors. Status: Passed the Assembly floor, to Senate Elections Committee.
GERRYMANDERING AND REPRESENTATION
Independent Redistricting Commissions: SB 1018 (B.Allen- Santa Monica) – SPONSORED
Summary: Current law allows cities and counties, but no other local government, to set up independent commissions. SB 1018 would authorize school districts and special districts to set up independent commissions. The bill also clarifies that commissions may be used for an initial districting, makes commissions easier to adopt, and authorizes cities to contract with their county to have the county’s independent redistricting commission draw the city’s districts. Finally, SB 1018 protects best practice by prohibiting independent commissions from drawing lines to benefit or discriminate against a political party. Status: Passed Senate Governance and Finance Committee
CVRA Reform: SB 2123 (Cervantes- Corona) – SUPPORT
Summary: SB 2123 would grant a 90-day extension to cities sued in California Voting Rights Act claims, so that they have more time to transition from at-large to by-district elections. It can be very difficult, in only the 90 days currently allowed by law, for a local government or civil rights or community-based organizations to identify underrepresented communities, educate them about districting and its importance, and encourage and facilitate their participation in the process. The extra 3 months will allow for greater community engagement and education in the initial districting process. Status: Passed Assembly Elections committee, to Assembly Judiciary Committee.
MONEY AND INFLUENCE
Social Media Disclosure Act: AB 2188 (Mullin – South San Francisco) – SUPPORT
Summary: This bill follows up on last year’s AB 249, the California Disclose Act, which was a major victory for California Common Cause. AB 2188 requires all online social media platforms to include a “Who funded this ad?” link on all sponsored posts on social media websites. Clicking on the link will take the user to a list of top three funders of the ad. AB 2188 will create clear, informative disclosures on social media advertisements and provide the public with a convenient way to see who is funds political ads on social media. Status: Passed Assembly Elections Committee, to Assembly Appropriations Committee
Ballot Initiative Transparency: SB 651 (B. Allen – Santa Monica) – SUPPORT
Summary: SB 651 will improve disclosure on ballot measure petitions by requiring circulated initiative, referendum and recall petitions to include — either on the petition or on a separate document — an updated, accurate disclosure of the committee that paid for the petition, plus that committee’s top 3 funders. The measures proponents may also list up to three other supporters of the measure, in order to show broader support. Understanding who is funding and who supports an initiative campaign can provide valuable context to registered voters, and may inform their decision to sign or to more closely inspect the circulated petition. Status: Passed Assembly Appropriations, to Assembly floor.