BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 2389


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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING


          AB  
          2389 (Ridley-Thomas)


          As Amended  May 9, 2016


          Majority vote


           ------------------------------------------------------------------ 
          |Committee       |Votes|Ayes                  |Noes                |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |----------------+-----+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Elections       |5-2  |Weber, Gordon, Low,   |Harper, Travis      |
          |                |     |Mullin, Nazarian      |Allen               |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |----------------+-----+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Local           |8-0  |Eggman, Waldron,      |                    |
          |Government      |     |Mullin, Bonilla,      |                    |
          |                |     |Chiu, Cooley, Gordon, |                    |
          |                |     |Linder                |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
           ------------------------------------------------------------------ 


          SUMMARY:  Permits a special district to change the method of  
          electing its governing board members from at-large to a  
          by-district method of election without receiving voter approval.  
           Specifically, this bill:


          1)Authorizes the governing body of a special district to adopt a  








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            resolution, without being required to submit the resolution to  
            the voters for approval that requires members of its governing  
            body to be elected using district-based elections.  


          2)Requires the resolution to include a declaration that the  
            change in the method of electing members of the governing body  
            is in furtherance of the purposes of the California Voting  
            Rights Act (CVRA) of 2001.  


          3)Defines a "special district," for the purposes for these  
            provisions, to mean an agency of the state formed pursuant to  
            general law or special act for the local performance of  
            governmental or proprietary functions within limited  
            boundaries.  Provides that a "special district" does not  
            include a city, county, city and county, school or community  
            college district, special assessment district, or a district  
            with appointed members on its governing board.  


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


          COMMENTS:  According to the author, "Current law provides for  
          different forms of government for special districts in  
          California.  Depending on the type of district, a special  
          district can be organized so that members of the governing board  
          are elected at-large or are elected using districts.  In  
          jurisdictions that have districts, the districts can be  
          organized such that the registered voters in the entire district  
          vote for governing board members from each of the districts  
          (known as "from district" elections), or the jurisdiction can be  
          organized so that only the registered voters in a district vote  
          in the election to choose the board member from that area (known  
          as "by district" elections).  In either case, a candidate for  
          the governing body must reside in the district in which he or  
          she is running.








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          "The CVRA is designed to protect against at-large election  
          systems that dilute minority voting rights.  As a result of the  
          CVRA, local governments throughout the state have been  
          transitioning from at-large to district-based elections.  If a  
          special district wishes to move from at-large elections to a  
          district-based method of election to address concerns under the  
          CVRA, existing law provides no uniform process for accomplishing  
          that conversion.   


          "[A] voter approval requirement, however, can make it difficult  
          and costly for jurisdictions to proactively transition to  
          district-based elections in order to address potential liability  
          under the CVRA.  AB 2389 allows a special district that is  
          concerned about liability under the CVRA to voluntarily convert  
          from at-large to district-based elections without the expense of  
          a ballot initiative.  This bill mirrors a similar process that  
          is already in place for general law cities with populations of  
          fewer than 100,000 people."




          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 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  








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          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.


          In many cases, local government bodies must receive voter  
          approval to move from an at-large method of election to a  
          district-based method of election for selecting governing board  
          members.  This voter approval requirement can make it difficult  
          for jurisdictions to proactively transition to district-based  
          elections in order to address potential liability under the  
          CVRA.  If a jurisdiction attempts to transition from at-large to  
          district-based elections to address CVRA concerns, but the  
          voters reject the proposal, the jurisdiction nonetheless remains  
          subject to a lawsuit under the CVRA.  Furthermore, to the extent  
          that there is racially polarized voting on the question of  
          whether to transition from at-large to district-based elections,  
          the results of the vote on that question could provide further  
          evidence for a lawsuit under the CVRA.  As a result, many  
          jurisdictions have sought ways to transition from at-large to  
          district-based elections without having to receive voter  
          approval for such a change.  


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


          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Nichole Becker / E. & R. / (916) 319-2094  FN:  
          0002919
















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