Thursday, June 19, 2008
Assembly Hearings Set For Courthouse Funding Bill
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Hearings on Senate Bill 1407, which authorizes up to $5 billion in lease revenue bonds to finance the improvement, renovation and replacement of court facilities, will take place next Tuesday in the Assembly Judiciary Committee and next Thursday in the Public Safety Committee, a spokesperson for each committee said yesterday.
The projects would be selected by the Judicial Council, and the state bonds would be financed by revenues that would be generated by raising certain civil and criminal fees and assessments.
Curtis L. Child, director of the Office of Government Affairs for the Judicial Council, called the legislation “absolutely crucial” because the state’s courts are “seriously deteriorating” to a “crisis level.”
He estimated that the $5 billion bond would allow the construction of about 40 courthouses that could be placed around the state.
Acknowledging that there was some opposition to the measure because of the increase to fees and fines, Child nonetheless opined, “I’m very confident that this approach that looks to not impacting the general fund that looks for increases in fees and fines will generate the support that we need to get it out of the Legislature and to the governor.”
The legislation was sponsored by the judicial council and introduced by Senate Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland. It passed the Senate Public Safety Committee May 6 by a vote of 4-1, the Judiciary Committee May 14 by a vote of 3-0, and the Appropriations Committee May 27 by a vote of 10-0.
It contains an urgency clause, which means it would go into effect immediately if the Assembly also approves it with a two-thirds majority vote and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs it into law.
Letters in support or opposition to the bill for the Judiciary Committee were due Tuesday, the orignal date scheduled for the hearing, however the committee spokesperson said letters faxed to the committee at (916) 319-2188 before Friday may receive consideration although they will not be included in the committee’s analysis, which she said will be released on Monday.
The spokesperson for the Public Safety Committee said that the committee will accept letters sent to the Assembly Public Safety Committee, State Capitol at P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento 94249, received by next Tuesday.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company