Press Releases

Legislative Priorities for County of Orange

County Executive Office - Press Release

COUNTY OF ORANGE

County Executive Office
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 1998
Contact: Diane Thomas
(714) 834-6203

Legislative Platform County of Orange

The following is a synopsis of the legislative platform for the County of Orange. This item is agendized for consideration by the Board of Supervisors at the January 27 Board meeting. For further information about the legislative platform, please contact Robert L. Richardson, Manager/Legislative Affairs, at 834-3481.

County of Orange

State Legislative Priorities for 1998

(Listed in priority order)

Property Tax Equity:

Orange County has supported the efforts of CSAC and Urban County Caucus for the last three years to return the property taxes shifted from local governments in 1992-93 and 1993-94 to the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF). In doing so, however, it became clear last year that the County did not significantly benefit by any of the proposed formulas for returning ERAF. This is primarily because Orange County has received a disproportionately small share of its local property tax since 1978 – the year Proposition 13 was passed and fixed the County’s share from that time forward. The County has supported two bills in the last two years to correct this inequity (AB 3334-Brewer/96 and AB 661-Brewer/97). In 1998, the County will join forces with the Orange County Taxpayers Association and the Orange County League of Cities to again address this issue.

Governor’s Budget:

The Governor’s budget was released on January 9. As predicted, this year’s new revenues for the 1998-99 State budget are projected to be almost totally committed based on last year’s legislative actions and the Governor’s increased funding for education, child care, and child health. The Governor’s budget continued his commitment and funding for trial court realignment, welfare reform, the Citizens Option for Public Safety Program (COPS), and the Healthy Families program. Orange County will advocate for the following additional issues to be included in the 1998-99 State budget: (1) property tax equity; (2) flood subvention funding for the Santa Ana Main Stem Project; and (3) funding for the dredging of Newport Bay. The CEO will return to the Board in early February with a full analysis of the impact of this year’s State budget on its agencies and departments.

Discretionary Revenues for Local Governments:

At its annual meeting in November 1997, CSAC determined that its number one priority for its 1998 legislative agenda would be the return of discretionary revenues to counties. While there are still some members who believe that there is still some chance of returning ERAF to the counties, most do not. In fact, members have been openly dissuaded by high ranking members of the Legislature and the Administration from seeking funding through this avenue. Instead, other program funding will be sought for counties including reimbursement for the school’s share of property tax administration costs, flood subventions, agricultural commissioners’ pest detection activities, continued use of the armories for homeless shelters, etc. Orange County lobbyists will be supportive of CSAC’s efforts in these areas this year.

Revenue Neutrality for Incorporations:

In 1993, counties achieved legislation which requires "revenue neutral" incorporations, meaning that a county cannot lose more revenues than it once spent providing services to the area. In 1996, CSAC and the League of Cities squared off on this issue and the counties prevailed. In 1997, the same issue arose and, as a result of intensive negotiations between CSAC, the League, and others, a new process for resolving annexation/incorporation agreements was established through SB 466 (Rainey). Despite these negotiations and subsequent agreement, it is anticipated that the League of Cities will make another attempt to change the annexation process. Orange County has been working with CSAC on this issue and will continue its efforts in this area.

Proposition 172 Challenges:

Proposition 172, passed by the voters in 1994, provided a half cent of sales tax revenue for public safety services. It also gave local jurisdictions the ability to decide which among its local public safety services (sheriff, fire, district attorney, public defender, probation) would receive these funds. In some areas of the State, public safety entities which have not received a share of the original Prop. 172 allocation are requesting growth from the revenues. Orange County will join CSAC, the Sheriff’s Association, and others in opposing legislation which would weaken local control over this funding source.

Trial Court Realignment and Welfare Reform Legislation Clean-up:

Trial Court Realignment legislation represented a "broad brush" approach to the issue and created a great many questions and concerns among counties and courts as well. This year, these implementation questions may require legislative answers. In addition, other areas of the original legislation have been identified as needing clarification. In the area of welfare reform, CSAC and the California Welfare Director’s Association have already indicated their intention to introduce legislation this year to provide additional flexibility to counties in the administration of welfare programs, to address changes in policies by the Federal government, and to allow for individual situations of counties not able to meet their enrollment goals. Orange County advocates will support these efforts only after a review of the specific legislative proposals and authorization by the Board.

Sponsored Legislation:

Orange County proposes to sponsor or co-sponsor 14 bills this session. Seven of these are two-year bills carried over from last year. Key among these are the proposals for achieving property tax equity (priority #1) and for clarifying bankruptcy bond legislation from 1995. Because of the large number of bills and the short time frame in which to achieve passage, Board members and department staff will be required to take an active role this year in promoting their bills.

County of Orange

Federal Legislative Priorities for 1998

(Listed in priority order)

MCAS El Toro Reuse Plan.

In 1996, the County of Orange, with the adoption of the base reuse plan in December 1996, retained the firm of Hill & Knowlton to represent its interests in Washington D.C. on base reuse activities including various elements of the Federal administration. The approval process will require the involvement of the Board of Supervisors and key staff in Washington, D.C., as well as the County’s Washington legislative advocate and special counsel.

2. Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act 1991 (ISTEA).

Congress was unable to reach consensus on an annual year successor bill for ISTEA, and, as a result, passed legislation to simply extend ISTEA for six months beyond the September 30, 1997 deadline. A key issue for Orange County is the redesignation process of State and Local MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations). The Southern California MPO, SCAG, is the nation’s largest, and efforts will focus on advising a fair redesignation process.

3. Santa Ana River Project.

In 1997, the County secured a major victory when the Assistant Secretary of the Army decided that the Prado Dam project was responsible for the rest of the Santa Ana River project. Efforts will continue to focus on obtaining funds for the Prado Dam project in the President’s budget.

FEMA.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency advanced $4.1 million to the County of Orange in January 1995 in the wake of severe storms. A difference of interpretation exists, however, and FEMA claims that this amount was to help the County during bankruptcy. Efforts will center on FEMA, the Corps of Engineers, the Administration, and a strongly supportive Orange County delegation to secure a favorable resolution.

Endangered Species Act Reauthorization:

Legislation that will codify the "no surprises" doctrine pioneered in Orange County to facilitate comprehensive planning will be considered early this year; the President has pledged his support already.

6. Tobacco Settlement:

Late last year, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Jim Hansen (R-UT) introduced the Public Health and Education Resource (PHAER) Act, Senate Bill 1343. It imposes a $1.50 per pack tax on cigarettes, phased in over the next three years. The proceeds are going to be divided: 25% to Federal public health programs and 75% to State public health programs. The bill would end federal preemption of local tobacco advertising regulations and mandate that local governments receive an equitable allocation of the State share of the PHAER tax proceeds. The National Association of Counties (NACo) and other national organizations are gearing up to push this bill in 1998 as the most viable alternative to the proposed Tobacco Settlement bill from last year.

7. Sponsored Legislation:

In 1997, Orange County proposed a Federal legislative proposal to permit local agencies to intercept Federal income tax refunds and use the money to pay overdue court-ordered obligations. This proposal was approved by the NACo in February.

County of Orange

Sponsored Legislation For 1998

INTRODUCTION

The discussion papers in this package outline proposed legislation for the County of Orange sponsorship in 1998. In addition, the County is currently carrying or supporting seven issues which were either carried over from last year’s adopted Legislative Platform or adopted by the Board in subsequent actions. These proposals include:

Property Tax Distribution Reform:

This proposal would redress property tax distribution inequities by shifting funds in "under-equity" school districts from the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) back to counties, cities and special districts. This proposal has been updated and appears in the attached documents in a separate section. (Adopted as part of the County of Orange Legislative Platform on January 14, 1997).

Local Discretion on Contract Bidder’s Security:

Introduced in 1997 as AB 990 (Ashburn), this bill would give local agencies the discretion on whether they require security on bids from contractors of public works projects under $75,000. (Adopted as part of the County of Orange Legislative Platform on January 14, 1997).

Expansion of Counties’ Ability to Contract Out for Services:

Introduced as SB 428 (Hurtt) in 1997, this bill would authorize General Law counties to contract for the performance of certain government activities. (Adopted as part of the County of Orange Legislative Platform on January 15, 1997).

Clarification of the 1995 Bankruptcy Recovery Statutes:

This proposal would further validate in statute the legislation enacted by the Legislature in 1995 which pledged certain revenues for the repayment of the County’s bankruptcy recovery bonds. (Adopted as requested by CEO in a memo dated April 30, 1997)

District Attorney Family Support Unit Pilot Program:

Introduced as SB 1210 (Hurtt) in 1997, this proposal would establish a pilot project for child support collection in Orange County. (Adopted by the Board of Supervisors on March 18, 1997)

Modification of the Final Map Act Approval Process:

This proposal would allow the County of Orage to delegate to a designated official the ability to approve final maps, improvement agreements and offers of dedications. (Adopted by the Board of Supervisors on March 18, 1997).

Establishment of a Federal Tax Intercept Program: This federal proposal would permit local agencies to intercept the Federal tax returns of taxpayers who owe outstanding court-ordered obligations in criminal and juvenile justice proceedings. (Adopted as part of the County of Orange Legislative Platform on January 14, 1997).

SUMMARY OF 1998 PROPOSALS AND RECOMMENDED ACTIONS

A summary of the 1998 proposals and the CEO’s recommendations for Board action follow:

Refunding of Nuclear Power Preparedness Programs:

This proposal would continue funding for the Nuclear Power Preparedness Programs at San Onofre in San Clemente and Diablo Canyon on San Luis Obispo to provide coordinated integrated preparedness and response in the event of an emergency.

Recommendation:

Support or co-sponsor this proposal with San Luis Obispo County.

Transfer of Audit Functions:

This proposal would allow the Orange County Board of Supervisors to direct that audits required by statute to be performed by the Auditor, be performed by a County officer who meets requirements as specified.

Recommendation:

Sponsor and seek inclusion of the legislative language into the annual local government omnibus bill.

Funeral Expenses for Children under Care of Legal Guardians:

This proposal would provide state funds for children’s funeral expenses to foster parents who become legal guardians.

Recommendation: Sponsor.

Liability for Welfare Reform Diversion Payments:

The proposal would grant counties immunity from liability if they provide welfare applicants lump-sum diversion payments for vehicle-related expenses.

Recommendation: Sponsor.

Aid Payments to Targeted Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Recipients:

This proposal would remove the current income exemption when calculating the net income of a family when a recipient is removed from assistance for any reason.

Recommendation: Sponsor.

Private Party Licenses of County Real Property:

This proposal would allow the Orange County Board of Supervisors, by resolution, to authorize a County officer to enter into licenses of County property to private third parties.

Recommendation:

Sponsor and seek inclusion of the legislative language into the annual local government omnibus bill.

Incentives to Facilitate Annexations of Small County Islands:

This proposal would establish a multi-year subvention program for cities which annex small county islands in Orange County funded through Vehicle License Fee revenues and simplify the LAFCo process for annexation.

Recommendation:

Co-sponsor with the League of California Cities, Orange County Division