Be Prepared: New 2014 Laws Affect Public Agencies
The public law attorneys at Best Best & Krieger have closely studied the new laws that cover everything from security data breaches to new reporting requirements for economic development subsidies. Below is an analysis of what public agencies need to know as they begin 2014, including links to more extensive information.
Effective Jan. 1, 2014:
This bill requires the impartial analysis of a local ballot measure to identify whether the measure was placed on the ballot by a petition signed by the requisite number of voters or by the local agency’s legislative body. For school district ballot measures, the impartial analysis is only required to note when the measure was placed on the ballot by the governing board of the school district.
All cities and counties are required to provide a report to the public before approving any economic development subsidy of $100,000 or more that is issued to corporations and other business entities. The reports require specific information about the entity and the subsidy. In addition, each city and county will need to review, hold hearings and report on the subsidies at five-year intervals.
Under this law, the Fair Political Practices Commission is empowered to investigate or initiate an administrative or civil action (including significant fines) against an officer or other person for violation of Government Code section 1090, which prohibits public officials and employees from having financial interests in any contract made by them in their official capacity or by any body or board of which they are members. The law also requires that the district attorney in the county in which the alleged violation occurred authorizes the Fair Political Practices Commission to pursue the action, but prohibits the commission from filing a civil action if the attorney general or district attorney is pursuing a criminal prosecution of the person.
AB 1090 also authorizes any local government official or employee to request advice or an opinion from the Fair Political Practices Commission regarding his or her duties under Section 1090. The law also provides an additional “non-interest” exception for the interest of a Board member in a contract for “public services” with a special district that requires a person to be a landowner or represent a landowner to serve on the board, as long as the contract is on the same terms as if he or she were not a board member.
Local public agencies are now required to advise residents when the security of their personal information has been breached, as quickly as possible. Previously only state agencies and businesses had to make such notifications. The new law also expands the scope of personal information that prompts a disclosure of a security breach to include a user name or email address, in combination with a password or security question and answer that permits access to an online account.
This law clarifies the Subdivision Map Act’s process for converting mobile home parks to resident ownership and authorizing cities and counties to deny a proposed conversion if a majority of the mobile home park’s residents oppose it. A subdivider of a mobile home park is required to avoid the economic displacement of non-purchasing residents, in part, by surveying the residents about their support for the conversion and submitting the survey results to be considered as part of the local agency’s hearing. The specific results of the survey, though, are not binding. Prior to this law, there was legal uncertainty over a local agency’s ability to consider the outcome of a resident survey when making its decision to approve, conditionally approve or disprove a conversion?.
Nonprofits are now prohibited from using “public resources” from local agencies in any communications that expressly advocate for or against a state or local ballot measure or for the election or defeat of a candidate or that constitutes a campaign contribution. Public resources include cash, office supplies and any assets owned by a local agency, including equipment and compensated employee work time. The law applies to all nonprofits incorporated under California law, including chambers of commerce and labor unions, and certain other nonprofit organizations exempt under federal law. SB 594 also carves out certain exceptions, allowing nonprofits to use public resources to adopt a position or resolution supporting or opposing a ballot measure or candidate.
SB 743: CEQA Changes
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