Recognizing Legislators’ Work in 2005
by Dan Carrigg and League legislative staff
Dan Carrigg is the League’s legislative director. League Legislative Representatives Yvonne Hunter, Jean Flournoy Korinke, Anthony Thomas and Deputy Executive Director Dwight Stenbakken also contributed to this article.
Although numerous legislative measures affecting local government were signed into law in 2005, most have minimal impact on core local authority.So while the larger battles raged over the politics of the November special election, from a local government perspective, 2005 was a fairly positive year.
No League Voting Records for 2005
During the past several years, the League has compiled an Annual Legislative Voting Report to provide city officials with a better understanding of their legislators’ voting patterns. While at times controversial with legislators, this report has been generally well received by local officials who want to track how their legislators vote on key city issues. However, given that so few bills of consequence moved in 2005, there simply were not a sufficient amount of votes on key city issues to render a voting record that would be of much value to city officials.
For 2005, in lieu of the voting records and accompanying ranking system for legislators, the League’s legislative team has provided a bipartisan listing of legislators who deserve special recognition for being particularly attentive to city issues and helpful to the League during the 2005 legislative session.
Assembly Member Sam Blakeslee (R-33, San Luis Obispo) has worked closely with the League on pension reform issues. A certified financial planner, Assembly Member Blakeslee hit the ground running and provided valuable feedback to the League on pension reform. He has proved to be open to city issues and concerns. Assembly Member Blakeslee will certainly be a major player in any future legislation in this area.
Assembly Member Hector De La Torre (D-50, South Gate), a former South Gate
City Council member, has taken up the “good government” mantle since arriving at the Capitol. He was the driving force behind AB 11, the bill that caps and regulates compensation for local elected officials who sit on community development commissions. Assembly Member De La Torre believed that there were too many loopholes in the law allowing for unregulated compensation of local elected officials. Throughout the process, he worked closely with the League to avoid any unintended consequences with the drafting of his legislation.
Assembly Member Bonnie Garcia (R-80, Cathedral City) has been a strong supporter of local government funding, including redevelopment, and has been protective of local control since her election in 2002. As vice chairperson of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, she has consistently opposed heavy-handed measures that would remove local land use authority.
Assembly Member Tom Harman (R-67, Huntington Beach) has once again introduced legislation, ACA 13, to modify Proposition 218 to add storm water and flood control fees to those already exempted from the measure’s voter approval requirements. His willingness to face the uphill battle of getting ACA 13 on the ballot demonstrates this former Huntington Beach City Council member’s commitment to the issue and his understanding of the problems faced by cities. He also made an eloquent floor argument against legislation opposed by the League that would have unnecessarily exposed cities to paying attorneys’ fees. The Republican “No” votes he garnered assisted significantly with the governor’s veto of the measure.
Assembly Member Rick Keene (R-3, Chico) has demonstrated solid support for local government as the vice chair- person of the Assembly Budget Committee. In 2005, he and other members of the Assembly Republican Caucus fought hard for the full repayment of the Vehicle License Fee loans to local government as part of the final adopted state budget.
Senator Christine Kehoe (D-39, San Diego) and her staff were especially responsive to the concerns raised by the League on two of her environmental bills this year: SB 44, dealing with air quality elements; and SB 926, dealing with the California Coastal Commission. In particular, SB 44 as amended responds to virtually every issue raised by the League and other local government organizations. Senator Kehoe recognized the legitimacy of the issues raised by the League and worked collaboratively with us to find workable solutions. Her understanding of the League’s concerns reflect her experience on the San Diego City Council.
Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-27, Long Beach) is a former Long Beach City Council member. His responsiveness on city issues reminds us why he was selected as the League’s Legislator of the Year in 2001. After hearing about problems from the League and several cities in his district, Senator Lowenthal agreed to delay action on one of his bills dealing with water quality. He was also helpful on a number of land use and other issues important to the League.
Senator George Runner (R-17, Antelope Valley) has been a long-time supporter of cities and the League throughout his terms in the Assembly and now in the state Senate. He is a former council member and mayor of the City of Lancaster. Senator Runner and his staff have been consistently helpful to the League on budget and policy issues. As a former League Legislator of the Year in 2000, he deserves our continued recognition and thanks for his support of local government.
Senator Debra Ortiz (D-6, Sacramento), a former Sacramento City Council member, was very responsive to local control issues raised by the League relative to her SB 655, dealing with naturally occurring asbestos. Recognizing the need to craft a practical approach, Senator Ortiz and her staff worked cooperatively and creatively with the League to address our legitimate concerns while still maintaining her intent to address this emerging public health issue.
Assembly Member Alberto Torrico
(D-20, Newark), a former Newark City Council member and freshman legislator, is a rising star in the Legislature. As chairperson of the influential Public Employment and Retirement Committee, Assemblyman Torrico will play a pivotal role in pension reform discussions. He has had an open door policy with the League and has been very interested in the League’s pension reform principles. Along with the League, Assembly Member Torrico supports the ability of public employees to count on
a fair and equitable retirement plan.
For information about the 2005 Legislator of the Year awards, see “City Forum”.