In California state government is the Commission on State Mandates. It is established in Title 2, Division 4, Part 7 on State-Mandated Local Costs. Chapter 1 contains the following statement of legislative intent in Section 17500:
The Legislature finds and declares that the existing system for reimbursing local agencies and school districts for the costs of state-mandated local programs has not provided for the effective determination of the state’s responsibilities under Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution. The Legislature finds and declares that the failure of the existing process to adequately and consistently resolve the complex legal questions involved in the determination of state-mandated costs has led to an increasing reliance by local agencies and school districts on the judiciary and, therefore, in order to relieve unnecessary congestion of the judicial system, it is necessary to create a mechanism which is capable of rendering sound quasi-judicial decisions and providing an effective means of resolving disputes over the existence of state-mandated local programs.
It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this part to provide for the implementation of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution. Further, the Legislature intends that the Commission on State Mandates, as a quasi-judicial body, will act in a deliberative manner in accordance with the requirements of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
According to the Commission on State Mandates, the commission carries out four distinct statutory duties:
- Hears and decides test claims alleging that the Legislature or a state agency imposed a reimbursable state-mandated program on local agencies, school districts, or community college districts.
- Hears and decides claims alleging that the State Controller has incorrectly reduced a reimbursement claim for a state-mandated program.
- Hears and decides requests to adopt a new test claim decision to supersede a previously adopted test claim decision upon a showing that the state’s liability for that decision pursuant to article XIII B, section 6(a) of the California Constitution has been modified by a subsequent change in law.
- Determines the existence of significant financial distress for applicant counties that seek to reduce the level of aid they provide under General Assistance/General Relief.
Chapter 3 sets forth the Commission in Sections 17525 – 17533. Section 17525 creates the Commission and names seven members: Controller, Treasurer, Director of Finance, Director of the Office of Planning and Research, a public member with experience in public finance, appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate; and, two members from specified categories that are appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate.
Section 17526 requires all Commission meetings to be open to the public, with specified exceptions. It must meet at least once every two months. Section 17527 sets forth specific powers of the Commission in order for it to carry out its duties and responsibilities.
Section 17528 requires the Commission to elect a chair and vice chair. Section 17529 authorizes the Commission to appoint an attorney to represent and appear for the Commission in all actions and proceedings involving any questions under this law.
Section 17530 requires the Commission to appoint an executive director who is exempt from civil service and who is responsible for the executive and administrative duties of the Commission. Section 17531 allows the executive director to employ individuals as he or she deems necessary to carry out this law. Section 17532 provides that a majority of the Commissioners constitute a quorum for transacting business.
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