Administration of Justice
For more information, contact Elizabeth Howard at 916/327-7500, ext. 537 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Rosemary Lamb at 916/327-7500, ext. 503 or email@example.com.
SB 241 (Kuehl) – Concerns
SB 241, by Senator Sheila Kuehl, would require counties to pick up the costs of court-appointed counsel in certain guardianship hearings when the family is unable to fund all or a portion of the cost. SB 241 passed out of Assembly Judiciary on June 19 and now awaits hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
CSAC has raised concerns with the author’s office relative to the imposition of new financial responsibilities. We do not question the potential value of the policy that would permit independent counsel to represent children in guardianship cases for those children and families being served. However, the bill, in its current form, provides no guidance or limitations on the appropriate rates or range of rates to compensate private legal counsel in these proceedings. As a result, counties would be faced with costs of unknown and unpredictable magnitude that might impact other important programs administered by the county. Furthermore, given that this provision of the law has not been previously enacted, it is unclear how many new recipients will seek services under the program, which could result in additional financial impacts on counties that exceed current cost estimates.
We continue to urge counties to examine the provisions of this measure and contact CSAC with comments — especially as it relates to expected fiscal or operational impacts — and concerns.
Local Detention Facilities
SB 864 (Cogdill) – Request for Comment
SB 864, by Senator Dave Cogdill, was recently amendment to address overcrowding in county jails, specifically those jails that have reached crisis levels due to overcrowding. The measure specifically targets those facilities operating under a court order requiring early release, those that are operating under an early release policy to prevent overcrowding, and those that have exceeded 90 percent of jail capacity on one or more occasions during each of six consecutive months.
This measure seeks to address overcrowding by authorizing counties in which overcrowding has reached crisis levels to use secure temporary housing facilities available for natural or other emergencies if suitable and available. Furthermore, the bill gives sole authority to the sheriff about determinations regarding the placement of inmates and the security of jail facilities. Lastly, the measure contains a provision that no inmate shall be housed in a temporary facility for more than 90 days based on a single sentence.
SB 864 has been referred to the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee. A hearing date has yet to be set. CSAC requests feedback as soon as possible regarding this bill.
Trial Court Trust Fund
SB 539 (Margett) – Support
SB 539, by Senator Bob Margett, seeks to revise the current payment system for the trial court trust fund to establish a more equitable and efficient method for local governments and courts to provide direct payments to the State Controller.
SB 539 would make two very important and necessary changes that will provide for more efficient and responsible processing of payments. First, it would authorize the trial courts to make payments directly to the State Treasury. Second, it would require the State Controller’s Office to identify the entity responsible — the trial court or county — for any allocation error or delinquent payment in final audit reports and issue an instructional correspondence to each responsible entity. This provision will ensure that the entity responsible for any error is the entity that is required to remit the payment to the State Controller.
SB 539, sponsored by the State Association of County Auditors, is awaiting hearing in Assembly Appropriations Committee. CSAC urges other counties to join in support of this measure.