On the Ledge with Lege

May
2005
Dan Crump, Chair

The Academic Senate's Legislative and Governmental Relations Committee had two opportunities at the Spring Plenary Session to inform attendees of legislative issues affecting faculty-a breakout on legislative activities and a breakout on Senate Bill 5 and its impact on academic freedom.

SB5, titled by the author Senator Bill Morrow as the "Student Bill of Rights," is seen by many faculty as an attack on academic freedom. The breakout held by the Committee provided an active discussion of the implications of SB 5 on academic freedom and faculty rights and responsibilities. During the breakout, faculty leaders noted that faculty groups testified at legislative hearings about the processes in place at colleges to protect students from classroom or grading retaliation or retribution for holding beliefs that are different than that of the faculty. During the coming year, the Legislative and Governmental Relations Committee will work on efforts to make campus grievance policies and procedures more apparent to both students and faculty.

Similarly, the legislative update and issues breakout alerted attendees to information about the importance of student participation in the voting process. David Yee (City College of San Francisco faculty member) informed attendees about an initiative spearheaded by students and faculty at CCSF that ties voter registration to the college registration process. Jonathan Lightman, Executive Director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, then provided an interesting and informative overview of the legislative process. He discussed SB 55 (authored by Senator Alan Lowenthal), and a FACCC-sponsored bill that provides a process for votes of no confidence taken by local academic senates on upper-level college and district administrators to be placed on the agenda of the local board of trustees in order for the board to make "certain determinations" regarding such votes.

Julie Adams, ASCCC Executive Director, showcased the Senate's new legislative tracking system now displayed on the Senate Website http://www.academicsenate.cc.ca.us/Legislative/Legislative.htm. This new tracking system will serve as a new resource for local academic senates to use in monitoring key legislation on academic and professional matters. Faculty can now find up to date information on bills that the Academic Senate is actively tracking at the state level. In addition, each bill is linked to background information, analysis, status, our position and the position of other organizations. Congratulations to Julie and Rita Sabler (Publications Specialist) for the development and design of this useful page.

During the breakout, various pieces of legislation pertaining to fees (AB 473), funding (SB 361 and AB 23), accountability (AB 196 and SB 445), student health centers (AB 982), 75:25 (AB 1425) and career technical/vocational education (AB 1425 and SB 794) were discussed. I urge you to visit our new tracking page to read more background information and see the Senate's positions on these and other bills by going to the Senate's new Lege Tracking Page.

This is a very busy time for legislative activity -both tracking and advocacy-in the Capitol. By the time this article comes out, we will have heard about the Governor's "May Revise" of the 2005-06 state budget that he proposed in January and that will guide much of the legislative deliberations. The appropriations committees of both houses will be busy discussing the fiscal implications of bills and the budget. The Legislative and Governmental Relations Committee will do its best to keep you informed of these activities.

LEGISLATIVE TERMS OF INTEREST

BLUE PENCIL

The California Constitution grants the Governor "line item veto" authority to reduce or eliminate any item of appropriation in any bill including the Budget Bill. Years ago, the Governor used an editor's blue pencil for the task. An example of blue pencil would be the $31.4 million in PFE appropriations that the Governor deleted from last year's Budget Bill (it is expected that funding will be restored in this year's May Revise).

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

Usually composed of three members from each house (the Speaker chooses the Assembly conferees and Senate conferees are chosen by the Senate Rules Committee), a conference committee meets in public session to forge one version of a bill when the house of origin has refused to concur in amendments to the bill adopted by the other house. For the bill to pass, both the Assembly and the Senate must approve the conference committee version. The annual Budget Bill is a usually the result of a conference committee.

RECONSIDERATION

a motion giving the opportunity to take another vote on a matter previously decided in a committee hearing or floor session. For example, SB5 failed to get out of the Senate Education Committee, but was granted the courtesy of possible reconsideration sometime in the future.

SUSPENSE FILE

A holding place for bills that carry appropriations over a specified dollar amount. The suspense file is a function of the fiscal committee in both houses. Bills are generally placed in the suspense file before the adoption of the Budget Bill and just before the summer recess.

The articles published in the Rostrum do not necessarily represent the adopted positions of the academic senate. For adopted positions and recommendations, please browse this website.