What's Been Happening in the Legislature?


One of the standing committees of the Academic Senate is the Legislation and Governmental Relations Committee. A major charge of this committee is to track state and federal legislation that affects the community colleges and to keep the Senate President and the rest of the Executive Committee informed about such legislation. A primary goal of the committee is also to keep all faculty abreast of legislative affairs, both through Legislative Alerts to local senate presidents and by providing periodic updates on the Academic Senate's website. The committee also works with other groups, such as the Faculty Association for California Community Colleges (FACCC), the Community College League of California (CCLC) and the various unions representing faculty, especially the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and the Community College Association (CCA), to advocate for the community colleges with the Legislature and the Governor. The Senate, however, focuses on legislation affecting community colleges and faculty in regards to "academic and professional matters"-those areas in which the Senate has primary responsibility. Legislation affecting working conditions and such are monitored more closely by FACCC, CCA, and the CFT.

A further goal for this year is to develop a plan of action, in response to Resolution 1.04 passed by the delegates at the Spring 2003 Session, to increase the Legislature's support for community colleges that we might be seen as an equal partner in the California higher education system. This will be the basis of one of the breakouts at the Fall 2003 Plenary Session and will be reported in a later Rostrum article.

While there were many bills introduced in the Legislature that affect the community colleges, the two major focuses this year for the Academic Senate have been legislation surrounding the budget and legislation to implement various recommendations of the Master Plan for Education.

The newest articulation of the Master Plan for Education was outlined in the report from the legislative Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education; it contained a long list of recommendations for all levels of public education, from preschool through the graduate university level. Legislators then proposed legislation based on many of the recommendations. Four such bills are of special interest to community college faculty-AB 242 (dealing with school personnel), SB 550 (student learning), SB 823 (adult education) and SB 6.

The Academic Senate has been paying extra attention to SB 6. This bill, authored by Senator DeDe Alpert (San Diego), implements many of the recommendations of the Master Plan in regards to governance. In an early version of the bill, items specifically related to California Community Colleges included:

Constituting the California Community Colleges as a "public trust"
Revising the functions of the Board of Governors (BOG) (now detailed in Education Code 70901)
Revising the functions of local boards of trustees (see Education Code 70902)
Providing the BOG with the authority to fix the compensation of the executive staff it appoints.
Expanding the membership of the BOG to include the Governor, Lt. Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Speaker of the Assembly as voting members, serving ex officio. Amending Education Code 70901.5 to add language to allow the community college system, working in a bilateral process, to determine whether or not its regulations contain a statemandated cost.
Specifying the intent of the Legislature to provide a process by which employees of the Chancellor's Office may be compensated at a level comparable to district employees who perform similar functions.

While some of these elements have been altered or removed in later versions, one of the major concerns for the Academic Senate was removal of mention in the Education Code 70901(b)(1)E, of the "right of the academic senates to assume primary responsibility for making recommendations in the areas of curriculum and academic standards" and its parallel in 70902 (b) (7), conferring those same rights and responsibilities to the local senates. Most, if not all, California community college constituent groups also had concerns about various provisions in the bill. The author of the bill agreed to temporarily remove the community college governance provisions from the bill and convene a small task force to work on these elements. President Kate Clark represents the Senate on this working group.

Other legislation of interest to community colleges include AB 680 (Community College Enrollment Fees), AB 1417 (Calculation of CCC Revenue - Property Tax Backfill), AB 1783 (Continuation of the Cross-Enrollment Program), SB 76 and SB 243 (Block Grants for CCC Categorical Programs), SB 81 (Integrated Teacher Training and Articulation),

SB 328 (State and Federal Financial Aid for AB 540 Students), SB 338 (Concurrent Enrollment), SB 728 (Student Financial Aid - Cal Grant) and SB 955 (Community Colleges - Temporary Employees). A more detailed description of these bills and their present status can be found on the Legislative Issues page of the Academic Senate's website.

If you have questions or concerns about legislative or governmental relations, please feel free to contact the chair of the Committee, Ken Snell at <flc-sase [at] flc.losriosl.edu>.

A little background on bills and the Legislature in California

Each session of the Legislature is for two years. The current session started in January 2003, recessed in September and will convene again in January 2004 for the second year of the session. While some bills (notably budget bills) are passed annually, many bills such as SB 6 are designated as two-year bills and will not be voted upon until the second year of the session. How to search for a bill.

If you know the bill number, simply go to , click on Bill Information, designate "Senate" or "Assembly" and type in the bill number. You can also search by author and keyword in the bill.

Websites that cover community college-related bills http://www.academicsenate.cc.ca.us, Click on "Legislative Issues" http://www.faccc.org, Click on "Legislation and Advocacy" http://www.ccleague, Click on "Legislation and Budget" http://www.cta.org, Click on "Politics and Legislation" http://www.cft.org, Click on "Legislative/Political

A list of legislators for each community college district can be found on both the FACCC and CCLC websites.