Gov. Newsom protects voters, taxpayers and schools by signing AB 2584 and SB 1061
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Sept. 30, 2022) –Election reform took an important step forward Sept. 29 when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a pair of CSBA-sponsored bills, Assembly Bill 2584 (Berman, D–Menlo Park) and Senate Bill 1061 (Laird, D–Santa Cruz) into law. AB 2584 raises the signature threshold for initiating a recall, requires that petitions state the estimated cost of a special election, mandates that the information cited in recall petitions meet the same standards for accuracy and review as candidate statements used in election materials and allows for the consolidation of recall elections with regular elections scheduled within 180 days after the recall is qualified.
“AB 2584 increases transparency and accuracy in special elections while ensuring that recalls better reflect the will of the public,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “The bill will also save schools money by avoiding scenarios where a special election and the regularly scheduled election for the same position occur within a matter of months. Those savings can be directed toward the classroom to support California students.”
Currently, most notices of intent to recall a member of a school district governing board require only 10 signatures, an insufficient number to determine the sentiment of voters in a particular jurisdiction, especially when the petitioner’s statement and the elected official’s response are not subject to the same accuracy standards as that in other election materials provided to voters. For school board members, AB 2584 would raise the number of signatures required on the notice of intent to recall from 10 to 30 in jurisdictions with fewer than 100,000 registered voters. In jurisdictions with 100,000 or greater, the threshold would increase from 10 to 50. The reforms of AB 2584 will help ensure that special elections are used to reflect the popular will, not as a tool of intimidation.
“While recalls can be an important tool to hold elected officials accountable, the bar is so low to initiate a recall that it has been weaponized against elected officials at all levels of government, but especially school board members,” said bill author Assemblymember Marc Berman. “Thanks to the Governor’s signature, AB 2584 will ensure that the process to initiate a recall is rigorous enough to demonstrate that it is a serious effort, that voters are provided accurate and truthful information, and that we don't waste limited public resources and funds intended for students.”
SB 1061 complements AB 2584 as part of a pair of CSBA-sponsored bills promoting sensible election reform. SB 1061 will provide voters with additional information about the cost of special elections for school and community college boards, while simultaneously reducing the expense associated with those elections, thereby preserving money for student services that would otherwise be diverted toward redundant special elections.
Currently, the boards of school districts, county offices of education and community colleges have two choices when a sitting member resigns their seat before the end of the term: they can appoint a provisional member to serve the remainder of the term or hold a special election to fill the vacancy. Voters can terminate an appointment by collecting enough petition signatures to trigger a special election that must take place within 150 days of qualifying, effectively preventing districts from consolidating the special election with a regularly scheduled election.
“It’s absolutely critical that precious school resources be used in a responsible manner and one that supports student success,” said SB 1061 author Sen. John Laird. “Unfortunately, the previous law for school board special elections did just the opposite — and deprived schools of funds that could be used to accelerate student achievement. Now that the Governor has signed 1061 into law, districts can streamline and reduce the costs of the elections when they occur. In fact, provisions of SB 1061, as seen in a 2022 Middletown School District special election, can help reduce costs by as much as 50 percent. That’s real financial relief, especially for smaller school districts that are more severely impacted by any unexpected hit to their budgets."
CSBA is a nonprofit association representing nearly 1,000 PreK-12 school districts
and county offices of education throughout California.