BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    ”



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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING


          AB  
          277 (Roger HernŠndez)


          As Amended  April 7, 2015


          Majority vote


           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Committee       |Votes |Ayes                |Noes                |
          |----------------+------+--------------------+--------------------|
          |Elections       |5-2   |Ridley-Thomas,      |Grove, Travis Allen |
          |                |      |Gatto, Gordon,      |                    |
          |                |      |Mullin, Perea       |                    |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 


          SUMMARY:  Provides that the California Voting Rights Act of 2001  
          (CVRA) applies to charter cities, charter counties, and charter  
          cities and counties.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Provides, expressly, that general law cities, general law  
            counties, charter cities, charter counties, and charter cities  
            and counties are "political subdivisions" that are subject to  
            the CVRA.


          2)Makes the following findings and declarations:


             a)   The dilution of votes of a protected class is a matter of  
               statewide concern.









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             b)   The provisions of the CVRA are reasonably related to the  
               issue of vote dilution and constitute a narrowly-drawn remedy  
               that does not unnecessarily interfere with municipal  
               governance.


             c)   It is the intent of the Legislature that the CVRA shall  
               apply to charter cities, charter counties, and charter cities  
               and counties.


             d)   It is further the intent of the Legislature in enacting  
               this bill to codify the holding in Jauregui v. City of  
               Palmdale (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 781.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  None.  This bill is keyed non-fiscal by the  
          Legislative Counsel.


          COMMENTS:  According to the author, "Assembly Bill 277 ensures  
          that voters in charter cities are granted their fundamental rights  
          and protections as guaranteed under Section 7 of Article I and  
          Section 2 of Article II of the California Constitution.


          "The recent case of Jauregui v. Palmdale determined that integrity  
          in the municipal electoral process is a matter of statewide  
          concern, therefore, state law that addresses an issue such as  
          racially polarized voting applies regardless of charter status. AB  
          277 would codify that decision and clarify all residents of  
          California have the same fundamental rights and protections."


          SB 976 (Polanco), Chapter 129, Statutes of 2002, enacted the CVRA  
          to address racial block voting in at-large elections for local  
          office in California.  In areas where racial block voting occurs,  
          an at-large method of election can dilute the voting rights of  








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          minority communities if the majority typically votes to support  
          candidates that differ from the candidates who are preferred by  
          minority communities.  In such situations, breaking a jurisdiction  
          up into districts can result in districts in which a minority  
          community can elect the candidate of its choice or otherwise have  
          the ability to influence the outcome of an election.  Accordingly,  
          the CVRA prohibits an at-large method of election from being  
          imposed or applied in a political subdivision in a manner that  
          impairs the ability of a protected class of voters to elect the  
          candidate of its choice or to influence the outcome of an  
          election, as a result of the dilution or the abridgement of the  
          rights of voters who are members of the protected class.


          The California Constitution gives cities and counties the ability  
          to adopt charters, which give those jurisdictions greater autonomy  
          over local affairs.  The Constitution provides that a county's  
          charter may provide for members of the county board of supervisors  
          to be elected by district, at-large, or at-large with a  
          requirement that members reside in a district.  The Constitution  
          also gives a great deal of autonomy to charter cities over the  
          rules governing the election of municipal officers, granting  
          "plenary authority," subject to limited restrictions, for a city  
          charter to provide "the manner in which, the method by which, the  
          times at which, and the terms for which the several municipal  
          officers and employees?shall be elected or appointed."  The  
          Constitution further provides that properly adopted city charters  
          "shall supersede all laws inconsistent" with the charter.


          Given the autonomy granted by the California Constitution to  
          charter cities and charter counties, questions have been raised  
          concerning whether the CVRA is applicable to those jurisdictions.


          In July 2013, the Superior Court of the State of California for  
          the County of Los Angeles, Central District, found that the City  
          of Palmdale's at-large method for electing city council members  
          violated the CVRA (Jauregui v. City of Palmdale (2013) Case BC  








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          483039).  In the case, in addition to denying that its method of  
          electing city council members violated the CVRA, the City of  
          Palmdale argued that the CVRA was not applicable to the city  
          because it is a charter city, and California Constitution Article  
          XI, Section 5(b) gives charter cities plenary authority to  
          determine the manner and method in which their voters elect  
          municipal officers.  The court disagreed, finding that "state law  
          regulating a matter of statewide concern preempts a conflicting  
          local ordinance if the state law is narrowly tailored to limit its  
          incursion into local interest," and concluding that "[t]here can  
          be no question that the dilution of minority voting rights is a  
          matter of statewide concern."


          The City of Palmdale appealed to the California Court of Appeals,  
          Second District, Division Five.  In its appeal, Palmdale again  
          argued that, as a charter city, it was not subject to the  
          provisions of the CVRA.  The appellate court disagreed, finding  
          that the CVRA addresses an issue of statewide concern, is narrowly  
          tailored to avoid unnecessary interference in municipal  
          governance, and is reasonably related to the resolution of  
          statewide concerns of the right to vote, equal protection, and the  
          integrity of elections (Jauregui v. City of Palmdale (2014) 226  
          Cal.App.4th 781).  Palmdale appealed to the California Supreme  
          Court, and in August of last year, the Supreme Court denied  
          Palmdale's request to hear the case.


          By explicitly providing that charter cities, charter counties, and  
          charter cities and counties are subject to the provisions of the  
          CVRA, this bill would codify the appellate court's ruling in  
          Jauregui v. City of Palmdale.


          Please see the policy committee analysis for a full discussion of  
          this bill.











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          Analysis Prepared by:                                               
                          Ethan Jones / E. & R. / (916) 319-2094  FN:  
          0000089