May The 4th Be With You

After initially being suspended until April 13, 2020, Senate President pro Tem Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that the California Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on May 4, 2020— but even that date could be pushed back further.

Just last week, Los Angeles County extended its stay-at-home order to May 15th.  The decision came a little more than a week before the county’s initial order was set to expire on April 19.

Will the State legislature re-open while the largest county in California remains locked down? No one really knows for certain.

One thing that is certain is California’s constitutional requirement to have an agreed upon budget by June 15th. Lawmakers are forging ahead this week and next with remote budget subcommittee hearings. A newly created bipartisan Senate subcommittee led by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) will meet remotely on April 16th to review expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including spending authorized by the Legislature on March 16th. Similarly, members of the Assembly budget subcommittee are expected to meet April 20, 2020. As remote legislative hearings become the norm, at least in the interim, the state will need to address how it will preserve the public’s constitutional due process rights. Details on how and where members of the public can watch hearing and submit public testimony have yet to be fully worked out.

The budget subhearings are expected to reflect the extraordinary impacts of COVID-19 on California’s economy.  The Assembly’s budget chair has already sent a memo to colleagues telling them to pare down their ambitions accordingly.  The Department of Finance is projecting a recession with substantial revenue shortfalls and growing unemployment that could exceed numbers during the Great Recession.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.  Stay tuned as things continue to change on a daily and weekly basis.

Adam Regele, Policy Advocate