BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                            Senator Dave Cox, Chair

          BILL NO:  AB 1399                    HEARING:  6/16/10
          AUTHOR:  Anderson                    FISCAL:  No
          VERSION:  3/17/10                    CONSULTANT:   
                           LOCAL OFFICIALS' VEHICLES

                           Background and Existing Law  

          The California Constitution prohibits government from  
          making any gift of public money or thing of value to any  
          individual.  State law prohibits any elected state or local  
          officers, employees, or consultants from using or  
          permitting others to use public resources for a campaign  
          activity, or personal or other purposes which are not  
          authorized by law.

          If a local agency reimburses members of its legislative  
          body for expenses, it must adopt a written policy on the  
          duties for which members may receive compensation.  If a  
          local agency provides any type of compensation to a member  
          of its legislative body, all members of the legislative  
          body and its designated employees must receive two hours of  
          ethics training every two years. (AB 1234, Salinas, 2005).

          In response to news reports about a county supervisor's  
          sister who, as a full-time unpaid volunteer with her  
          brother's office, received free use of a county car with  
          taxpayer-funded gasoline included, AB 1399's author wants  
          to prohibit public officials' immediate family members from  
          using public vehicles or credit cards.

                                   Proposed Law  

          Assembly Bill 1399 prohibits, except in the case of a  
          medical emergency, a city or county official, whether  
          elected or appointed, from making available to an immediate  
          family member:
                 A publicly-funded vehicle owned or operated by the  
               local agency that the local officials represents, or
                 A credit card issued by the local agency that the  
               local official represents.


          AB 1399 -- 3/17/10 -- Page 2

          AB 1399 defines "immediate family member" as a spouse,  
          child, in-law, parent, or sibling of the local official.

          The bill's provisions do not apply to a local official if  
          the legislative body of the local agency that the local  
          official represents has adopted an ordinance, resolution,  
          or other measure that prohibits the same conduct that the  
          bill prohibits.


          1.   A higher standard  .  When a public official allows an  
          immediate family member to use a public vehicle and credit  
          card, regardless of whether the resources are only used to  
          conduct public business, it raises concerns about nepotism  
          and the use of public resources for personal benefit.  A  
          Riverside County Supervisor's sister reportedly earned  
          hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign for  
          political consulting and professional services while also  
          enjoying free use of a county car and taxpayer-funded  
          gasoline by working as an unpaid volunteer in the  
          supervisor's office.  Although allowing a county volunteer  
          to use a public car and gasoline to conduct county business  
          does not violate state law, some critics believe this  
          arrangement violated higher ethical standards that elected  
          officials ought to meet.  AB 1399 holds elected county  
          officials to a higher standard by prohibiting their family  
          members from using public vehicles and credit cards for any  
          purpose other than a medical emergency.

          2.   Unintended consequences  .  AB 1399 is narrowly written  
          to reflect the facts of the Riverside County case.  This  
          specificity creates at least four unintended consequences:
                 Because the bill's prohibition applies only to city  
               and county officials, AB 1399 allows special district  
               officials to engage in the prohibited behavior.
                 Because the bill applies only to elected and  
               appointed officials, AB 1399 allows city or county  
               employees to engage in the prohibited behavior.
                 Because the bill applies only to a local official's  
               spouse, children, in-laws, parents, or siblings, AB  
               1399 allows a domestic partner, unrelated paid  
               campaign worker, business partner, or campaign donor,  
               to use public vehicles and credit cards while  
               volunteering with the public official's office.


          AB 1399 -- 3/17/10 -- Page 3

                 Because the bill applies only to public vehicles  
               and credit cards, AB 1399 allows a local official to  
               let any volunteer use publicly funded office space,  
               phones, computers, faxes, copiers, tools, and  
               equipment, regardless of the volunteer's relationship  
               to the local official.
          The Committee may wish to consider whether, by narrowly  
          prohibiting a few activities that could create perceptions  
          of favoritism, AB 1399 implicitly authorizes many other  
          arrangements that raise similar concerns.

          3.   Prevent favoritism  .  The Riverside County case  
          demonstrates that, by serving as unpaid volunteers, public  
          officials' family members, campaign workers, or both, may  
          be able to use public resources that are not available to  
          others.   Regardless of whether public resources are used  
          exclusively for public purposes, some volunteers should not  
          be able to use public resources simply because of family or  
          financial connections to a public official.  A broad  
          prohibition could prevent this type of favoritism.  The  
          Committee may wish to consider amending AB 1399 to prohibit  
          a local official's immediate family members, or any  
          individual who has been paid from a campaign account  
          controlled by the public official, from volunteering for  
          the local agency that the local official represents. 
                                 Assembly Actions  

          Assembly Local Government Committee:  5-0
          Assembly Floor:                    66-0

                        Support and Opposition  (6/10/10)

           Support  :  California Taxpayer Protection Committee, La Mesa  
          Taxpayers Association, California Conference of Machinists,  
          California Conference of Amalgamated Transit Union,  
          California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, Engineers and  
          Scientists of California, IFPTE, Local 20, Professional and  
          Technical Engineers, IFPTE, Local 21, UNITE HERE!,  
          International Longshore and Warehouse Union, United Food &  
          Commercial Workers Western States Council, Helix Water  
          District, Ramona Springs Municipal Water District, Deer  
          Springs Fire Protections district, San Gorgonio Pass Water  
          Agency, Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District, El  
          Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis, El Cajon Mayor Pro Tem Bill Wells,  
          Indian Wells Mayor Larry Spicer, Lemon Grove City  


          AB 1399 -- 3/17/10 -- Page 4

          Councilmember Mary England, Ramona Unified School District  
          Board President Roger Dohm, Padre Dam Municipal Water  
          District Director James Maletic, Grossmont Union High  
          School District Board President Rob Shield,  Grossmont  
          Healthcare District director James Stieringer, Lakeside  
          Water District Director Frank Hilliker, Daniel Neirinckx,  
          Jamul Dulzura Community Planning Group, Lakeside Union high  
          School District Superintendent Stephen Halfaker, La  
          Mesa-Spring Valley School District Trustee Rick Winet,  
          Beaumont Cherry Valley Water District President Blair Ball,  
          Borrego Springs Fire District Chairman Martin Orenyak,  
          Lakeside Water District Superintendent Brett Sanders,  
          Borrego Water District General Manager Richard Williamson,  
          Tierrasanta Community Council.

           Opposition  :  Unknown.