1. Attorney General Issued Title and Summary for Chuck Reed’s 2016 Initiative

As required by law, Attorney General Kamala Harris issued the title as well as the summary of Chuck Reed’s 2016 Ballot Initiative. Recall that Reed wants to: eliminate defined benefit pensions for new employees, after January 1, 2019; potentially permit voters to reduce retirement benefits for current employees for future service; and allow voters to reserve for themselves the right to approve pay increases of public employees. The title and the full summary appear below. As we have reported before (see http://www.laborbeatblog.com/?p=486), this initiative is Chuck Reed’s attempt to bring his toxic brand of politics statewide. One only need to look at how San Jose collapsed under his leadership to understand just how dangerous this initiative is.

We are heartened to see that the Attorney General recognizes that this initiative is, in fact, an assault on pension rights of current and future employees, despite Reed and his cohorts’ assertions to the contrary.

We will continue to keep you updated as the fight over your pensions moves forward.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES. PENSION AND RETIREE HEALTHCARE BENEFITS

INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Eliminates constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree healthcare benefits for current public employees, including those working in K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals, and police protection, for future work performed. Adds initiative/referendum powers to Constitution, for determining public employee compensation and retirement benefits. Bars government employers from enrolling new employees in defined benefit plans, paying more than one-half cost of new employees’ retirement benefits, or enhancing retirement benefits, unless first approved by voters. Limits placement of financial conditions upon government employers closing defined benefit plans to new employees. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Significant effects—savings and costs—on state and local governments relating to compensation for governmental employees. The magnitude and timing of these effects would depend heavily on future decisions made by voters, governmental employers, and the courts. (15-0033.)

  1. California Eliminated Use of Grand Juries to Probe Lethal Officer Involved Shootings

Governor Brown signed into law SB 227, a bill that eliminates the option of grand juries to decide whether to charge officers with a crime who are involved in lethal force incidents. Previously, District Attorneys had the discretion to decide whether to use grand juries in such situations.

Effective January 2016, prosecutors will have to decide themselves whether to file criminal charges against police officers.

This is an unfortunate, and knee-jerk, political reaction to the media firestorm surrounding the recent spate of officer involved shootings. We are concerned that prosecutors now will be under intense political pressure to seek indictments against police officers involved in lethal force incidents even when the weight of the evidence establishes that the officer(s) acted within the confines of the law.

This may not be the end of the road, as some groups are already considering constitutional challenges to this statute.