BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  April 10, 2012

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                  Mike Feuer, Chair
                 AB 2328 (Olsen) - As Introduced:  February 24, 2012

           SUBJECT :  CALIFORNIA LAW REVISION COMMISSION: ELIMINATION

           KEY ISSUE  :  should THE CALIFORNIA LAW REVISION COMMISSION BE 
          ELIMINATED?

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed fiscal.

                                      SYNOPSIS

          This bill is completely inconsistent with ACR 98 (Wagner, 2012). 
           That measure, authored by this Committee's Vice Chair, 
          reauthorizes 21 substantive areas of law that the Commission 
          expertly studies, often at the specific request of the 
          Legislature, to improve California law.  The Commission was 
          created over half a century ago to help the Legislature discover 
          defects and anachronisms in California law and recommend 
          legislation to make needed reforms.  Reflecting the Vice Chair's 
          authorship of ACR 98 this year (placed on the Committee's 
          consent calendar reflecting its bi-partisan support), the 
          Commission has had a remarkable record of helping to improve the 
          state's legal framework.  Since its creation in 1953, it has 
          made 389 reform recommendations, ranging from the creation of 
          entire codes to the repeal of a single section. More than 90% of 
          those recommendations have been enacted in whole or in 
          substantial part, affecting more than 24,000 sections of the 
          California codes.  Major enactments include: the Evidence Code, 
          the Family Code, the Probate Code, the Government Claims Act 
          (also known as the "Tort Claims Act"), the Enforcement of 
          Judgments Law, the Trust Law, the Power of Attorney Law, the 
          Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, the 
          Guardianship-Conservatorship Law, the Marketable Title Act, the 
          Eminent Domain Law, implementation of Trial Court Unification 
          and Restructuring, Administrative Adjudication, recodification 
          of Deadly Weapons Law, and the recodification of Mechanics Lien 
          Law.  This Committee has supported on a bi-partisan basis the 
          annual reauthorization of the Commission's work for many 
          decades.

          Notwithstanding the Commission's long and consistent record of 
          accomplishment, this measure seeks to eliminate it.  







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           SUMMARY  :  Seeks to eliminate the California Law Revision 
          Commission ("Commission").  Specifically,  this bill  :  

              1)   Eliminates Section 703.120 of the Code of Civil 
               Procedure, relating to the Commission's ability to 
               decennially review exemptions to certain monetary civil 
               damages.

             2)   Eliminates Sections 70219, 71674 and 8280 et seq. of the 
               Government Code, relating to the operation and structure of 
               the Commission.

          EXISTING LAW  authorizes the California Law Revision Commission 
          to study topics approved by concurrent resolution of the 
          Legislature.  (Government Code Section 8293.)

           COMMENTS  :  This bill seeks to eliminate the California Law 
          Revision Commission.  In support, the author states:

               The Law Revision Commission serves a function that many 
               other entities already handle, like the Commission on 
               Uniform State Laws? Part of the mission of the Law Revision 
               Commission is to make recommendations to the Governor, yet 
               the Governor has been recommending over the past two years 
               that it be eliminated or at least consolidated? 
               The Law Revision Commission is not an efficient or widely 
               enough used service for the expenditure of our fleeting 
               government dollars.

           The Commission Provides an Important Public Service, and Assists 
          the Legislature Directly On Many Important Law Reform Issues:   
          The Commission was created in 1953 as a permanent law reform 
          body.  The Commission serves as an impartial body of law reform 
          experts tasked with undertaking substantive review of the law 
          and making recommendations for potential improvements.  The 
          Commission primarily focuses on large or technically complex 
          areas of law that are not easily addressed through the normal 
          legislative process.  The Commission recommends important 
          reforms that lack the natural constituencies to independently 
          develop and sponsor legal improvements.  

          The Commission has had a remarkable record of helping to improve 
          the state's legal framework.  Since its creation in 1953, it has 
          made 389 reform recommendations, ranging from the creation of 
          entire codes to the repeal of a single section.  More than 90% 







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          of those recommendations have been enacted in whole or in 
          substantial part, affecting more than 24,000 sections of the 
          California codes.  Major enactments include: the Evidence Code, 
          the Family Code, the Probate Code, the Government Claims Act 
          (also known as the "Tort Claims Act"), the Enforcement of 
          Judgments Law, the Trust Law, the Power of Attorney Law, the 
          Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, the 
          Guardianship-Conservatorship Law, the Marketable Title Act, the 
          Eminent Domain Law, implementation of Trial Court Unification 
          and Restructuring, Administrative Adjudication, recodification 
          of Deadly Weapons Law, and the recodification of Mechanics Lien 
          Law.  

          This Committee has supported on a bi-partisan basis the annual 
          reauthorization of the Commission's work for many decades.  The 
          fact that the Commission continues to receive numerous requests 
          from the Legislature (see, e.g., ACR 98 (Wagner) this year) 
          appears to undermine the author's assertion that the Commission 
          has purportedly outlived its usefulness.

           Unnecessary Costs in Tight Budget Times?:   In support of the 
          measure, the author asserts that the Commission is a luxury 
          California can no longer afford, and that all essential 
          functions of the Commission allegedly could be performed by 
          other state agencies.  The Commission currently receives 
          $665,000 in annual General Fund appropriations, which is by all 
          accounts a miniscule part of the annual California budget.  
          Furthermore, General Fund appropriations only account for a 
          portion of the Commission's annual operating budget.  The 
          Commission also receives almost half of its budget in annual 
          donations from groups including the State Bar of California and 
          several prominent legal publications.  Given the Commission's 
          important function - especially for the Legislature in improving 
          state law -- and relatively small cost, the assertion that the 
          Commission may be an unaffordable luxury seems to ignore the 
          important role the Commission had played and continues to play 
          in the improvement of California law.

          In short, since the Commission's creation in 1953, no 
          legislation has ever sought to curtail or revoke the 
          Commission's authority.  Indeed, numerous resolutions have 
          passed the Legislature expanding the areas of study the 
          Commission oversees due to its excellent record of legislative 
          assistance.  The Commission is consistently and widely praised 
          for its nonpartisan, professional work, and it is consistently 
          and widely supported by both parties in the California 







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          Legislature.

           Inaccurate Assertion that Other Entities Can Pick Up the Slack 
          If the Commission Is Abolished :  In support of her measure to 
          abolish the Commission, that author contends that "The Law 
          Revision Commission serves a function that many other entities 
          already handle, like the Commission on Uniform State Laws."  
          This is not accurate.  The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) has a 
          much more narrow focus than that of the California Law Revision 
          Commission, and the ULC has never provided the kind of helpful 
          in-depth law reform work provided by the dedicated staff of the 
          CLRC.  This is because the missions of the two entities are 
          different.  The ULC works with other member states to create 
          revisions on a national level - it by definition does not focus 
          on the individual statutes of each state's laws, as does the 
          CLRC.  
           
          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :  In opposition to the bill, the 
          Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the 
          State Bar of California (TEXCOM) states:

               TEXCOM has firsthand knowledge of the superb work and value 
               of the CLRC, as the CLRC has worked closely with TEXCOM's 
               volunteer attorneys on such projects as the Uniform Adult 
               Guardianship and Protective Proceeding Jurisdiction Act, 
               currently under study (Study L-750), Donative Transfer 
               Restrictions (Study L-622), Presumptively Disqualified 
               Fiduciary (Study L-623), Inheritance Involving Nonmarital 
               Child (Study L-661), and Revision of No Contest Clause 
               Statute (Study L-637). The CLRC consistently produces work 
               of exceptional quality, taking a neutral, analytical, and 
               academic approach to significant and complex issues that 
               are difficult to resolve.  Ending the CLRC's work would 
               deprive California of a tremendous resource.

               The Legislature often refers complex problems to the CLRC 
               to review and develop a balanced legislative proposal.  
               Often this occurs where there is no vested interest or 
               citizen group pushing for reform, even though the law 
               affects many people.  The CLRC identifies the major policy 
               questions, gathers the views of interested parties, and 
               drafts recommendations.  The CLRC's detailed studies enable 
               the Legislature to focus more on significant policy 
               questions than on the technicalities of intricate legal 
               problems.  At times, the CLRC may also recodify a body of 
               law to improve its organization and expression, without 







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               changing substantive outcomes under that law.  Often, areas 
               of the law - such as the law of trusts - become complex, 
               disorganized, and difficult to understand, leading to 
               mistakes, the need for legal advice on routine matters, and 
               litigation to resolve ambiguities.  The CLRC helps the 
               state's policy makers implement needed reforms that 
               otherwise might not be made, and provides information that 
               assists in making sound policy decisions.

               With a small staff, the CLRC is enormously productive.  The 
               CLRC's members, consultants, State Bar sections and 
               committees, law publishers, members of the public, and 
               others also donate tremendous time and resources to the 
               CLRC's operations.

               The CLRC provides a unique and significant benefit to the 
               Legislature, the Executive Branch, the court system, and 
               the attorneys and people of the State of California.  Since 
               its inception in 1953, the CLRC has submitted more than 389 
               recommendations, of which more than 357, or 92 percent, the 
               Legislature has enacted in whole or in substantial part.  
               More than 1,600 appellate decisions have cited the CLRC 
               reports for interpretation of the law.  Legislation enacted 
               on CLRC recommendation affects more than 24,000 sections of 
               the California codes.
           
          RELATED Legislation  :  ACR 98 (Wagner, 2012) reauthorizes 21 
          substantive areas of law for the Commission to continue 
          studying.

          The following resolutions renewed or expanded areas of law for 
          the Commission to study:

                 ACR 49 (Evans), Res. Ch. 98, Stats. 2009
                 ACR 35 (Evans), Res. Ch. 100, Stats. 2007
                 SCR 15 (Morrow), Res. Ch. 1, Stats. of 2006
                 SCR 42 (Campbell), Res. Ch. 122, Stats. of 2005
                 SCR 4 (Morrow), Res. Ch. 92, Stats. of 2003
                 ACR 125 (Papan), Res. Ch. 167, Stats. of 2002
                 ACR 123 (Wayne), Res. Ch. 166, Stats. of 2002
                 SCR 13 (Morrow), Res. Ch. 78, Stats of 2001
                 ACR 17 (Wayne), Res. Ch. 81, Stats. of 1999
                 SCR 65 (Kopp), Res. Ch. 91, Stats. of 1998
                 SCR 3 (Kopp), Res. Ch. 102, Stats. of 1997
                 SCR 43 (Kopp), Res. Ch. 38, Stats. of 1996








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           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          None on file

           Opposition 
           
          Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the 
          State Bar of California 


           Analysis Prepared by  :   Drew Liebert, Nicholas Liedtke and 
          Kimberly Rosenberger / JUD. / (916) 319-2334