Capitol Beat – Looking Ahead in 2020

Aaron Read and Randy Perry
Legislative Advocates
Aaron Read & Associates, LLC

Legislative Update

This January marks the second year of a two-year legislative session. This means that we will see many of our 2019 priority bills moving through committee and floor hearings once again. Last year, there were over 3,000 bills introduced in the state Assembly and state Senate. On average, each bill is amended three or four times, so that means PORAC leadership, along with Aaron Read & Associates, reviewed over 10,000 bills, looking for those that have an impact on our members.

Bills that remain from last year, called two-year bills, must pass their house of origin by the end of January or they automatically die. Many of them have already passed their house of origin and are pending in the second house in 2020, but there are many that are waiting for action in January. On top of that, the Legislature will introduce at least another 1,000 new bills for 2020. Over the course of winter recess, PORAC leadership, along with Aaron Read & Associates, has had many discussions with legislators and stakeholders regarding the current political and social climate in California, and it is clear that we are going to have another tough year ahead.  

On the Horizon

We are hearing discussion about legislation being introduced that calls for law enforcement “licensing” or some form of a certificate that would make it so if an officer is found guilty of a crime, as specified, they would lose their ability to be a law enforcement officer. At the time this article was written, we have not seen any proposed language or legislation; we’ve only heard rumors. Consequently, PORAC is working with other law enforcement associations, our attorneys and consultants to determine the best course of action as it relates to any officers who are found guilty of a particular crime.

2020–2021 Budget

Governor Newsom will unveil his proposed 2020–2021 state budget on or before January 10. The governor will also give his State of the State address at some point in January, in which he will lay out his administration’s goals for the coming year. The state will continue to grapple with perennial issues, such as our homeless problem, wildfires and a housing shortage, to name a few. At the same time, there continues to be rumblings about a possible slowdown in the economy. The stock market has been a bull market for longer than normal and many expect a slowdown and possible recession to some degree. Hopefully, it will be nothing like what we experienced in 2008–2010. That said, the state does have a continuously growing rainy-day reserve set aside that is over $19.2 billion. The reserve consists of:

  • $16.5 billion in the Budget Stabilization Account (BSA), the state’s constitutional reserve
  • $1.4 billion in the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties (SFEU), which is available for any purpose, including unexpected costs related to disasters
  • $900 million in the safety net reserve, which is available for spending on the state’s safety net programs like California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
  • $377 million in the state’s school reserve

Election Year

For most of you, this election year will be critical for your organization, your pension and the overall quality of your daily work life. Perhaps this election brings you hope for the future or quite possibly you share the concerns of millions of Californians that we need a more common-sense approach to governing. Aaron Read & Associates has been involved in elections and campaigning since we first opened our doors in 1978. What we have learned over the decades is that public safety has a voice, and it’s strong and credible. You don’t have to sit from the sidelines and watch — get involved!

This year, California has moved its primary election from June to March. That means there will be a lot of political ads on television, on the internet and in your mailbox — no doubt you will grow tired of seeing them. California moved the primary to an earlier date so that the state might have more influence on the presidential primary. We also have all 80 districts in the state Assembly up for election, as assembly members have two-year terms. Most Assembly districts have incumbents running for re-election, but there are several districts where there are vacancies due to a member retiring, moving on to a different office or quitting for some other reason. Half of the 40-member state Senate is up for election in 2020, as senators have four-year terms. The odd-numbered districts will be up for election this year, and the even-numbered districts will be up in 2022.

District Attorney Elections

As we mentioned in our previous report, the race for the new Los Angeles district attorney is heating up. California has 58 counties, and there are 58 district attorneys and, of course, 58 sheriffs. Sheriffs and DAs are elected countywide. In the last election cycle of 2018, we saw several incumbent DAs being challenged by liberal candidates being funded by an out-of-state billionaire named George Soros. Soros made his money running his own hedge funds. He has given away over $12 billion to various liberal causes. Most recently, he bankrolled the campaigns of several very liberal DA candidates throughout California and will no doubt continue to do the same in 2020. We have already seen a very liberal candidate, Chesa Boudin, win the DA race in San Francisco. The new DA openly campaigned saying he would prosecute police officers. He replaces George Gascón, who was the previous San Francisco DA and was equally liberal. Gascón is moving to Los Angeles, where he is challenging incumbent DA Jackie Lacey. DA Lacey is an African-American woman who has done a very good job as the incumbent district attorney. Gascón alleges Lacey is not hard enough on prosecuting police officers. In 2018, PORAC became financially involved in California’s DA races and will continue to be this election year. If Gascón becomes the DA of the most populous county in California, it will ignite the fire that started in 2018, and social justice groups will work aggressively to replace all current DAs with progressive, criminal justice reform supporters. Stay tuned.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Aaron Read & Associates if you have any legislative questions or concerns at (916) 448-3444 or email Aaron Read (aread@aaronread.com), Randy Perry (rperry@aaronread.com) or Michele Cervone (mcervone@aaronread.com).