AFSCME Local 685 Legislative Report
By the last day to introduce bills for the 2022 California Legislative Session, there was a total of 2,020 bills introduced between the Senate and Assembly, including 1,461 bills introduced during the last week alone. Of the 2,020 total bills introduced by the deadline, there were 1,361 Assembly Bills and 659 Senate Bills.
We are now entering a critical bottleneck in the Legislative process that will decide the outcome of many controversial issues and determine whether the Legislature will punt or play on high-profile issues before the November Election. As reported in past months, many legislators are not returning to the State Capitol next year, causing the Assembly and Senate to look much different in 2023. Redistricting has also created a clash between many matchups within the same party, where moderate Democrats are battling progressive candidates up and down the State. The stakes are high, with the winners of this election largely having the impact of shaping the politics of California for the next decade.
Legislators are also staring down a massive exodus from the State Legislature due to term limits that will largely turn over the entire Assembly between 2024 and 2028. More than a dozen California lawmakers have also declared candidacy elsewhere in state and local government.
To date, out of 120 total members of the State Legislature, 25 Democrats, 7 Republicans, and one independent are not coming back next year. This is going to trigger a massive re-education and networking effort by the Union to ensure that incoming Legislators understand the nuances of your priorities, as well as the background on recent and historical battles from past years that may resurface due to the exodus of institutional knowledge.
In the meantime, the calendar is moving right along and the work within policy committees will wrap up on or before July 1, 2022. Once this date arrives, the Legislature will adjourn for a month-long summer recess that concludes on August 1, 2022. Upon the Legislature’s return in August, we will have a sprint to the end of the 2021-22 Session that will include fiscal deadlines (8/12) and then two weeks of Floor Session votes and concurrence votes that will ultimately decide which bills are presented to the Governor for his signature. The pace will be extremely fast.
Your Union leadership and legislative representatives have been hard at work advocating on your behalf to ensure that any measures introduced into Sections of law that affect your profession are in your best interest. Whether the solution was crafting amendments to remove concerns or political maneuvering to stop the movement of bills that could not be fixed, we have been effective this year in diffusing potential problems while lending muscle to measures that we supported.
Some 2022 highlights:
Assembly Bill 1165 (Gipson): Banned OC Spray
This bill was moved to the Inactive File by the Author after fierce opposition and advocacy by Local 685 to maintain the use of OC Spray as a tool to ensure safety for Members as well as the minors in Probation facilities.
Senate Bill 493 (Bradford): Distribute Critical Probation monies to Community-Based Organizations
The measure was held for the year after intense lobbying and education efforts by Local 685 to demonstrate the important work done by probation professionals with Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act funds.
Assembly Bill 2321 (Jones-Sawyer): Reduced Confinement
Would have limited the use of juvenile confinement for the purposes of institutional operations to one hour. We were able to educate policymakers to understand the purpose and need for more time for specific operational purposes and compelled the Author to accept an amendment to allow for two hours.
Assembly Bill 503 (Stone): Cap for Probation Terms
Set into law a default 6-month cap on probation terms, with the requirement that extensions of the 6 months be justified by a preponderance of the evidence that it is in the best interest of the ward. The measure has been held up on the Senate Floor inactive file due to a lack of necessary support.
State Budget Action: $100 million secured for Facility Preparation
The Legislature has agreed to and submitted a $300 billion State Budget plan to the Governor. By rule, they had to construct and approve a “balanced” budget for the Governor’s consideration by June 15, 2022. The Budget bill voted on by the Legislature this week represents about 75 percent of the total State spending plan. They will follow up the larger Budget bill with several “trailer” bills that will dictate the plans for the remaining unspent dollars and the $98 billion surplus.
Specific to probation programs, the Governor’s January Budget plan contained a proposed $100 million to be used by California Counties for the improvement and preparation to facilities in anticipation of the ongoing and eventual closure of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) at the State level. Youth who otherwise would have been sentenced to serve their time at DJJ will, through attrition, now be the responsibility of the appropriate County depending on the circumstances and support system of the individual. This population is comprised of a higher level of offender that requires more oversight, resources, and training to oversee.
The item was met with fierce resistance by the criminal justice “reform” community, which mobilized to oppose the funding at every step in the process. They organized dozens of volunteers to call into hearings during subcommittee meetings, full Budget Committee meetings, and any informational hearings where the item was being contemplated. Their resistance was muted by the strong voice of Local 685 and our Probation coalition – we organized as well, providing staunch support for the $100 million funding. Both the Senate and Assembly subcommittees left the item “open” during their process and appeared resistant to investing more money into incarceration.
However, when the Assembly Speaker and Senate Pro Tem released their final Budget “deal,” the $100 million was included in their compromise. There will be a process for Counties to demonstrate “need” and qualify for appropriate uses of the funding, so Local 685 will continue to be vigilant to ensure that the County makes an effort to secure the critical funding at the appropriate time.
The 2021-22 Legislative Session is now entering the home stretch, with essentially six weeks of active work until they adjourn on August 31, 2022. A lot can happen between now and then, and we will remain vigilant and active on your behalf until the dust settles.