One of the issues that the Legislature must confront in considering legislation is whether a bill is addressing a “matter of statewide concern” or the bill is a “municipal affair.” If a proposed state law is a municipal affair, then it can only apply to general law cities. However, if a proposed state law is a matter of statewide concern, then it will apply to both general law cities and charter cities.
How does someone determine if this issue is raised in legislation? In reading a bill, the following is an example of a “plus section” at the end of a bill from a recently-introduced measure:
The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of this act adding Section 25233 to the Public Resources Code addresses a matter of statewide concern rather than a municipal affair as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, Section 2 of this act applies to all cities, including charter cities.
How is this determination made between a statewide concern and a municipal affair? We get guidance on this questions from the California Constitution which provides, in Article XI (“Local Government”), Section 5, Subdivision (a):
(a) It shall be competent in any city charter to provide that the city governed thereunder may make and enforce all ordinances and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to restrictions and limitations provided in their several charters and in respect to other matters they shall be subject to general laws. City charters adopted pursuant to this Constitution shall supersede any existing charter, and with respect to municipal affairs shall supersede all laws inconsistent therewith.
What does this language mean? Basically, if a matter is addressed by the city charter and the proposed state law is a “municipal affair,” then the state law cannot be imposed upon the city if that city’s voters has adopted a charter to govern the city’s affairs. However, if the matter being addressed by a state bill is one of “statewide concern,” then the provision of state law will apply to both general law cities and charter cities.
It is for the Legislature to make a determination that is specified at the end of the bill whether the proposed state law is deemed to be a statewide matter or a municipal affair.
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