As the new Legislature came to Sacramento on Monday, interest groups and lobbyists descended on the Capitol to catch the ear of the still wide-eyed freshmen and rehash old conversations with returning lawmakers. Among those visiting was the California Contract Cities Association who brought a delegation of their members to discuss some of the issues that will likely arise during the coming legislative session.
For the CCCA, the Legislative Orientation Tour is in its 46th year. This year, the participants made their way through the Capitol over two days, meeting with a number of Senators and Assembly Members. Those conversations were intended to remind Sacramento’s elected leaders that Contract Cities encompass 7 million Californians. Their positions on issues sure arise during the year must be considered.
On the list of topics discussed during the two days of meetings were the future of redevelopment and the resolving challenges to the money the state says it is owed by the demise of redevelopment. Many cities lost an important tool for funding various municipal operations, and have had to shelve or scrap ambitious development projects that now lack funding.
“We essentially asked the different members ‘What Now?’ when discussing redevelopment,” said one of the participants from the CCCA. “Last year, they took away redevelopment and left us with no engine for economic growth or job creation. We want to know what’s next.”
Similar questions arose during discussions about realignment and early release of inmates. While those responsibilities fall to Counties, cities are interested and affected bystanders. A clear path towards reforming and refining the reality of Realignment will remain an important issue to all local governments in this coming year.
“I had a number of good meetings,” recounted one freshman Assembly member.
That sentiment seemed to echo throughout a legislative reception that was hosted at the end of the two-day session. Unlike previous years, there seemed to be less finger pointing and assigning blame between parties and groups, recalled one longtime participant. Instead, everyone seemed focused on what lies ahead.
The lack of strong dissent between parties and levels of government may show that this legislative session is starting with optimism and improved relations between state/local levels. Improving those relationships was a prominent item on the agenda of the CCCA. They wanted to remind the Legislature that local governments are partners, their importance must be recognized, and the recent habit of treating local agencies as “bank accounts” for the state must stop.
During the Legislative Orientation programming, the CCCA heard from Senator Bob Huff, Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, Chris McKenize of the League of Cities, Dan Schnur of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics, and other local government leaders.