AB 1250 – A Bad Bill That Can’t Be Fixed

Matt Cate
Executive Director, California State Association of Counties

There’s an old adage in politics that you don’t amend a bad bill. If ever that was the case, it’s true with AB1250. The bill would institute a de facto ban on counties’ abilities to contract with nonprofits, community businesses and others to provide essential services to the public locally, including many services provided on behalf of the state. Despite numerous rounds of amendments to AB 1250, including recent amendments last week, the bill continues to be unworkable and opposed by hundreds of respected organizations throughout the state.

Amendments can’t fix AB 1250 because, at its core, this bill is a terrible idea. Restricting the ability of counties to contract with local nonprofits and community businesses that can frequently deliver services in a more efficient and effective way would greatly impede the delivery of core county and state services. Such restrictions would jeopardize the delivery of public health, public safety, mental health and social services for children, elderly and the disabled.

Last week’s amendments did little to change the fundamental problem with AB 1250. The legislation still makes it so restrictive for counties to contract out that it would serve as a de facto prohibition. That’s why the bill continues to be opposed by nearly 500 organizations representing nonprofits and groups advocating for children, seniors, the disabled, public health, mental health and social services for the vulnerable.

Specifically, even after amendments on September 5, 2017, AB 1250 still:

  • Restricts county authority to contract with nonprofits, community based organizations and private providers;
  • Applies to existing contracts and contract renewals and extensions;
  • Imposes a long list of expensive, time-consuming bureaucratic requirements on nonprofits and service providers that could result in unnecessary gaps in service delivery;
  • Imposes a slanted cost-benefit analysis that would be difficult to meet and severely restrict contracting;
  • Creates new costs for local taxpayers and the State;
  • Requires service providers to share the names and wages of their employees and subcontracted employees on a monthly basis which, as a public record, raise privacy concerns; and
  • Relies on ambiguous terms not found in other contracting code sections leaving the door open to litigation.

AB 1250 began as a bad bill without any regard for California’s most vulnerable populations nor deference to the organizations that enter into these effective public / private partnerships to meet each community’s unique needs.

The bill has been amended several times to keep it moving through the legislative process. Earlier this year the bill was amended to exempt cities and special districts, and even to exclude a specific county. Rather than improve the bill, these amendments underscore that AB 1250 is not about good public policy, but rather a raw political power play.

With only days remaining in the legislative session, AB 1250 should be left to die. The premise of the bill is unworkable, and no manner of last-minute amendments can make the bill workable.

There’s no fixing AB 1250.

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