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2013-2014 Legislative Session

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The 2013-2014 Legislative Session officially began on Monday, January 7, 2013. With the independent Legislative Analyst estimating that the California budget deficit will be much smaller through the end of the next fiscal year than what the State faced in 2012 – about $1.9 billion estimated in 2013, compared to $15.7 billion in 2012 -- legislators and the Governor have turned their attention away from the budget crisis and toward a more robust policy agenda.

Governor Brown is likely to present an ambitious agenda when he releases his budget proposal and gives his State of the State address later this month. His focus will undoubtedly be on major policy issues that will help build his legacy in the last two years of his term. These issues will likely include a massive Sacramento-San Joaquin water infrastructure project and getting the high speed rail on track. Governor Brown has also signaled that he will seek to streamline state regulations and "calibrate" California’s environmental regulations to ensure they are reasonable, but still protect the environment.

The Legislature’s agenda will be driven by Democrats, who now hold supermajorities in both the Senate and the Assembly. Legislative Democrat leadership has stated that they seek to rewrite the $11 billion water bond that is set to be on the 2014 ballot. They plan to rearrange its priorities and decrease the borrowing by at least $1 billion.

Democrats have also signaled that they want to reform Proposition 13. Senators Lois Wolk and Mark Leno have introduced constitutional amendments, which will require voter approval, to lower the Proposition 13 voting threshold for parcel taxes to fund schools and libraries from 66.7 percent to 55 percent. And, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano plans to introduce legislation that will "close a loophole" that allows corporations to "sidestep" reassessments on properties they purchase. Currently, ownership of property isn’t considered transferred unless 50 percent or more is sold. Critics say that corporations find ways to avoid triggering reassessments.

On a bright note, under the leadership of Senator Michael Rubio, the newly appointed Chair of the powerful Senate Environmental Quality Committee, one key environmental law will be targeted for overhaul – the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CEQA has been misused to thwart business development in California by unduly challenging projects in court. Senator Rubio is working with Senate Democratic leadership and the Governor’s office to craft compromise measures that will help root out frivolous lawsuits aimed at stopping projects.

The CLFP will be closely monitoring and engaging in these issues as well as a multitude of other environmental, labor, and tax issues that will be addressed by the Legislature over the next year.

To keep up with the latest legislative developments and help guide CLFP’s policy direction, please join the CLFP’s Government Affairs Committee. Please contact Trudi Hughes if you are interested in participating on this committee.


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