The end of the legislative year is approaching, and several bills remain pending that could have deep impacts on California local government. Among these are bills that would change rules for bankruptcy and also a new way to regulate how local governments address medicinal marijuana.
Those two bills, in particular, are just a part of an overall agenda that is presenting local government advocates with challenges, as they seek to work with individual legislators and the Governor’s office to amend and improve legislation.
AB 1692, a bill by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, would undo major provisions of last year’s AB 506. Instead of allowing an avenue for local governments to address severe budget challenges in a secure and confidential process, AB 506 would create real and cumbersome obstacles to fiscal reform and even bankruptcy. Local government organizations have taken a strong stand against the bill, and we’ve published a strongly worded call to action against the bill on this site as well. The bill should come to the floor for a general vote sometime this week.
Also pending is AB 2312 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, which would create a new method for local governments to govern medicinal marijuana policies. Instead of allowing local control, AB 2312 would use a one-size-fits-all approach to governance, with the state government mandating specific processes for local permitting and zoning.
The bill would create zoning standards; a fine and fee structure, and create mandatory registration. Should a government representing less than 50,000 residents want to impose stricter limits on medicinal marijuana than allowable under AB 2312, they would be required to either obtain an assenting vote of the people or appear before a new 9-member state commission on medicinal marijuana. There they would need to demonstrate that people with prescriptions for the controversial medication could access a collective somewhere nearby.
It would also prohibit local authorities from appropriating any funds to enforce federal marijuana prohibitions that contradict California’s Proposition 215.
However, not all bills on the legislative calendar are potentially bad for local government. Speaker John Perez introduced AB 1585, a bill that would provide additional money for low and moderate income housing to come from the now-dissolved redevelopment agencies. That bill is supported by the League of California Cities.