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March 29, 2019



FROM:           Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists

RE:                 NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL


Bill lowers the local vote threshold for library, broadband construction projects

On Wednesday afternoon, the Assembly Local Government Committee considered ACA 1, a constitutional amendment by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) which seeks to lower the local vote threshold for local construction bonds and special taxes from the current two-thirds vote to 55%.  The measure passed on a vote of 5 “ayes” to 2 “noes.”  CLA is supporting this important measure.

Earlier in the day, Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry held a press conference at the State Capitol along with her colleagues, including Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Assemblyman Todd Gloria.  Ms. Aguiar-Curry has also unveiled a new “#BUILD2020” component on her website, which features a so-called “Near Miss” List, highlighting several local construction projects or local taxes that received well beyond the 55% but fell just short of the two-thirds vote threshold.  She cites two past library renovation bond efforts on her list - one for the City of Whittier (66.5%) and one for the City of El Cerrito (62.9%), that unfortunately fell just short of the required vote.

During the hearing in the Assembly Local Government Committee, Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry noted that the bill would establish the same local vote threshold that is currently authorized for K-12 school construction bonds and bring about parity for all local government projects, such as housing, road repair, libraries, and parks.  A representative from the California Professional Firefighters Association, a co-sponsor of the measure, said that ACA 1 was “just a question to be placed to the voters.  It is supporting your community and trying to determine when it is appropriate [to levy a special tax or authorize a construction bond].”  Other groups supporting the bill consisted of the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties, the California Special Districts Association, CLA, labor groups, numerous housing groups, and several water and transit agencies. 

The bill received opposition from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and other business groups, who argued that “parcel taxes are very regressive.  They don’t account for income or house size.  Everyone votes but not everyone pays.”  The California Taxpayers Association worried that the bill could increase the cost of housing construction. 

The bill is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  We will provide instructions on how to write letters to those members in the coming days.