BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                  SENATE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNANCE AND FINANCE
                         Senator Robert M. Hertzberg, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

                              
          
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          |Bill No:  |AB 630                           |Hearing    |7/8/15   |
          |          |                                 |Date:      |         |
          |----------+---------------------------------+-----------+---------|
          |Author:   |Linder                           |Tax Levy:  |No       |
          |----------+---------------------------------+-----------+---------|
          |Version:  |7/1/15                           |Fiscal:    |Yes      |
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          |Consultant|Lewis                                                 |
          |:         |                                                      |
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                              Counties'  oaths of office



          Allows a county board of supervisors to require the filing of a  
          new oath of office in specified instances.  


           Background and Existing Law

           State law requires members of the Legislature and all other  
          public officers and employees of the legislative, executive, and  
          judicial branches to take an oath (or affirmation) to protect  
          and defend the Constitutions of the United States and of the  
          State of California, and to faithfully discharge the duties upon  
          which they are about to enter.  Violating an oath or affirmation  
          is a crime.

          County clerks are responsible for keeping records documenting  
          oaths taken by most county officers.  State law requires these  
          oaths to be kept on file at the clerk's office, and this  
          information is subject to the California Public Records Act.   
          However, current law does not require a county officer to take a  
          new oath in the event that the officer changes his or her name,  
          title, department, or delegated authority.  In such cases,  
          counties are sometimes left with outdated information on file as  
          to who occupies what public office-a situation which can impede  
          counties' responses to public requests for information.   
          Similarly, if a county officer's delegated authority changes,  
          state law does not explicitly require his or her old authority  







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          to be rescinded.

          County clerks and election officials propose changing state law  
          to allow county boards of supervisors to require a new oath be  
          filed for county officers, department heads, disaster service  
          workers, and appointed deputies who change their names,  
          delegated authority, or department while in public office.   
          Furthermore, clerks and election officials suggest amending  
          current law to clarify that an appointed county officer's powers  
          are rescinded when he or she leaves office.

           Proposed Law

           Assembly Bill 630 authorizes a county board of supervisors to  
          require a new oath or affirmation to be filed within 10 days of  
          a legal change in name, delegated authority, or department by:

                 Every elected or appointed officer or department head of  
               that county;


                 Every disaster service worker of that county; and,


                 Every appointed deputy of that county.


          AB 630 allows a county to maintain a record of each person  
          required to file a new oath of office, indicating whether or not  
          the person has complied.  The bill specifies that those records  
          are subject to disclosure under the California Public Records  
          Act. 

          AB 630 specifies that the powers of an appointed officer of a  
          county are no longer granted upon the officer's departure from  
          office, and would authorize a county board of supervisors to  
          require the appointing authority to rescind these powers in  
          writing by filing a revocation in the same manner as the oath of  
          office was filed.

          The bill makes additional changes to current law, specifically  
          by adding "clerk of the court" to the categories of county  
          officers required to file a copy of his or her official oath,  
          signed with his or her own proper signature, with the Secretary  








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          of State as soon as he or she has taken and subscribed his or  
          her oath.

          AB 630 also provides that the failure to file a new oath of  
          office required by a board of supervisors pursuant to this  
          bill's provisions is not punishable as a crime.


           State Revenue Impact

           No estimate.


           Comments

            1. Purpose of the bill.   Current law does not require a county  
          officer to file a new oath in the event of a name, title, or  
          department change.  This situation leaves counties with outdated  
          information on file that is often untraceable to current staff  
          due to movement between offices, name changes due to marriage,  
          divorce, or other reasons.  When members of the public request  
          evidence of mandated oaths, county clerks either spend an  
          unnecessary amount of time tracking people down based on  
          outdated names, or in most cases, are not able to comply with  
          the request at all.  AB 630 is a transparency measure that will  
          help counties provide the public with current and accurate  
          public record information in a timely manner by expediting  
          public record searches for public and county clerk staff.  State  
          law already requires a notary public who legally changes his or  
          her name change to submit an application to the Secretary of  
          State to amend their commission and file a new oath with the  
          Secretary of State.  This practice makes sense from a policy  
          perspective, since it is in the public interest that public  
          records accurately reflect the legal names, titles, and duties  
          of individuals performing public functions.  AB 630 would  
          further this purpose by enabling counties to compel their  
          officers, disaster workers, and deputies to update their oaths  
          in a similar manner to notaries public in the event of a change  
          of name, title, department, or delegated authority.   

           2. Not a crime  .  State law makes it a crime, punishable by  
          imprisonment for up to four years, to knowingly make a false  
          statement of material fact while taking an oath of office, or to  
          take an oath of office and subsequently advocate for the violent  








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          overthrow of the United States government.  To avoid exposing  
          some county officers, deputies, and disaster service workers to  
          criminal liability for failing to update their oaths.  The July  
          1 amendments to this bill clarify that no one can be subject to  
          prosecution under AB 630 for failure to update his or her oath  
          due to a legal change in name, delegated authority, or  
          department.
           
          3. Mandate  . Because AB 630 would result in more people taking an  
          oath of office-the violation of which is a crime-the Legislative  
          Counsel's Office says that this bill expands the scope of an  
          existing crime and therefore imposes a state-mandated local  
          program.  But the bill disclaims the state's responsibility for  
          reimbursing counties for compliance with AB 630.  This  
          disclaimer is consistent with the California Constitution, which  
          provides that the state does not have to reimburse local  
          governments for the costs of new crimes (Article XIIIB, 6[a]  
          [2]).

           Assembly Actions

           Assembly Local Government                    9-0
          Assembly Appropriations                      17-0
          Assembly Floor                               78-0


           Support and Opposition  (6/18/15)  


            Support  :  California Association of Clerks and Elections  
          Officials.


           Opposition  :  Unknown.



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