The Senate will reconvene Wednesday morning amid signs of a possible thaw in the standoff between Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, that has frozen dozens of bills in the Senate.
While differences between the two leaders remain, Senate sources in both parties say there is optimism that a pair of local government finance bills will be passed by the Senate Wednesday. The Senate may also take up a bill that would streamline environmental regulations to ease construction of a new football stadium in Eastern Los Angeles County.
Steinberg spokesman Jim Evans said talks are ongoing, but there had been no agreement reached between the two sides. “
"The bills that we anticipate bringing up tomorrow are two-thirds (vote) bills that remained undone at the end of session,” he said.
Nearly three dozen bills stalled on the Senate floor last month amid a personal clash between the two Senate leaders. Hollingsworth has implied that Steinberg reneged on earlier promises to strip funding from the state’s free tax filing system, Ready Return, and make changes to state sales tax law.
Steinberg denies ever making any promises about those issues to Hollingsworth. And Evans said the Senate would not be voting on Ready Return or the single-sales factor issue this week.
It was unclear whether there would an agreement to move some of the non-controversial bills that did not pass the Senate last month. When asked about the prospects of the dozens of bills still in the Senate, Hollingsworth spokesman Hector Barajas said, "We are still working out some concerns with Sen. Steinberg. We hope to have these concerns resolved quickly.”
But there did appear to be some movement on a pair of bills of those bills, that would impact funding to local governments. SB 65 and SB 67 would allow cities to essentially avoid any out-of-pocket costs when the state borrows $2 billion in local revenues next year.
The language in those bills allows locals to sell revenue bonds to replace the money the state will be borrowing from cities, counties and special districts. The borrowing costs on the bonds will be paid for by the state.
The securitization language has been the top priority for the League of California Cities since the end of session said the League’s Dan Carrigg.
“Our leadership has sent numerous letters to leaders of the Senate encouraging them to come back and deal with this issue,” he said. “We’ve tried to stress the importance of this issue, and the problems that will result if this bill is not passed.”
Carrigg said his “conversations with some Senate Republican staff have gone a lot better than they've gone over the last 3-4 weeks. I believe I've received some assurances that the door is open on the GOP side to pass SB 67. Now, have I been assured by the Senate Republican leader personally? No.”
But like many of the bills still in limbo, there is no policy disagreement on the local government funding bills. They’ve just been caught in the mire as relations between the two Senate leaders melted down last month.
“It continues to be a volatile environment in the Legislature,” he said. “until they put up the votes, you never know where you are.”