August, 2019

In This Issue:

  • Update on Sponsored Legislation
  • Suspense File: Examining Legislation in Context of Overall Spending Proposals
  • Key Legislative Bills Referred to the Suspense File
  • New Interpretation of Public Charge Rule
  • Little Progress in the U.S. Senate on the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations
  • Federal Grant Opportunities
  • Upcoming Events

Update on Sponsored Legislation

Two of the League’s sponsored legislative measures, AB 30 (Holden), which would simplify the process colleges must utilize to enter into a College and Career Access Pathways partnership, and AB 612 (Weber), which would create a statewide MOU between the Chancellor’s Office and Department of Social Services to streamline the process for a college to accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on campus, are in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Both bills will ease administrative burdens for colleges that want to create programs that are proven to help students’ academic success. The committee will meet on August 30th to act on both pieces of legislation. 

SB 291 (Leyva), which would have reformed financial aid for community college students was held as a 2-year bill in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.  Senator Leyva and the co-authors of AB 1314, Assemblymember Medina and Assemblymember McCarty, who lead another major financial aid reform bill, have pledged to work together to continue to study the issue and address California’s higher education affordability crisis.

Suspense File: Examining Legislation in Context of Overall Spending Proposals

At this point in the legislative process, most League tracked legislation has been referred to either the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File or the Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense File. Most bills that spend a nominal sum of money – $150,000 in the Assembly and $50,000 in the Senate – are placed in what is called the Suspense File. The committees will act on their respective files around August 30th.

In theory, this is done in order to permit the appropriations committees to consider the fiscal impact of each legislative measure in the overall context of the legislation the committee is considering. To do otherwise would be the equivalent of evaluating living expenses by taking into account only the utility bill but not thinking about all of the other costs of living. Thus, the goal of the Suspense File is to help the state legislature make smart fiscal decisions.

However, acting on hundreds of bills at once results in less attention to each individual legislative measure. Thus, in practice, this process has been utilized by the leadership of the legislature to either halt or amend legislation without forcing their members to take a difficult vote.

Key Legislative Bills Referred to the Suspense File

As most bills impacting community colleges appropriate a significant amount of money, the majority of the League’s tracked legislation has been referred to either the Assembly or Senate Suspense Files. Below is an update on key legislation. All bills that have been referred to the Suspense File will be acted on by August 30th.  

AB 48 (O’Donnell)
Would authorize a state-wide general obligation bond to fund K-14 facility construction and modernization projects to go on the 2020 primary ballot and the 2022 general election ballot. Referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File.

AB 302 (Berman)
Would mandate that community colleges open up their parking lots to homeless students to camp overnight in unless colleges provide hotel vouchers, rapid rehousing services, and housing-focused emergency grants.  While the bill technically permits colleges to opt-out of the provisions around parking lots, the required services are prohibitively expensive and no district is currently qualified to opt-out. The bill, more importantly, do not include a proposal to explore a more substantive solution to the housing challenges students face.

AB 302 (Berman) was amended to attempt to reduce a college’s liability, but institutions would still be required to demonstrate a good faith effort to minimize risk to a student. The Department of Finance is officially opposed to the bill due to a cost estimate of $50-$80 million annually in addition to concerns of increased incidences of harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of misconduct on campuses. Referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File.

AB 500 (Gonzalez)
Would mandate that colleges provide at least six weeks of paid maternity leave. Referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File.

AB 720 (Muratsuchi)
Permits college courses offered pursuant to an instructional service agreement with a public safety agency to be funded based on a general apportionment rate. Referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File.

AB 1727 (Weber)
Would permit non-credit programs to capture apportionment based on census day attendance accounting rules. Referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File.

SCA 5 (Hill)
Would authorize a ballot measure to change California’s constitution to lower the threshold that a parcel tax sponsored by a school or community college district needs to meet to be successful from two-thirds majority vote to 55 percent. Will need a two-thirds majority vote of both houses to be placed on the ballot. Waiting action on the Senate Floor.  

SB 268 (Wiener)
Currently, schools and community college district must adhere to a 150-word limit and provide a true and impartial statement of the purpose of a district-sponsored ballot measure. This bill would clarify that colleges can utilize the sentence “See voter guide for tax rate information.” Referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense File.

SB 468 (Jackson)
Would create a tax review board to evaluate major tax expenditures that cost the state’s general fund at least $1 billion in the last 10 years in foregone tax revenue. Referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense File.

New Interpretation of Public Charge Rule

On August 12th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finalized its new interpretation of the public charge rule. Intended to prevent immigrants from obtaining permanent residency if the applicant could be dependent on the federal government, the Public Charge Rule has historically been narrowly interpreted. Typically, it has only applied to those that were either institutionalized or developmentally disabled.

The new interpretation of the rule is broader and thus will impact more applicants. Immigration officials will now take into account an applicant's participation in public benefit programs such as SNAP, Section 8 Vouchers, Social Security, or Medicaid. Also, officials will more broadly consider an applicant's background and characteristics such as age, health, household size, income, assets, debts, education, and skill levels.

This change in interpretation is expected to reduce the utilization of public benefit programs by legal immigrants and increase the difficulty to obtain legal residency. Many of our students will be disproportionately impacted either directly or indirectly if their family currently receives public benefits. The net result of this new interpretation will be a reduction in many of our students’ ability to take classes and be academically successful. It is important to note that participation in federally funded financial aid programs such as Pell Grants or work-study will not be considered when reviewing an application for permanent residency under the new interpretation.

Little Progress in the U.S. Senate on the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations

With the start of the federal fiscal year start date of October 1st fast approaching, more work needs to be done to fully fund the federal government. Lawmakers now have two months to reach a deal on spending levels to fund the federal government at the start of the fiscal year. If a deal is not reached on all or part of the spending for the federal government by October 1st, they will need to pass a resolution authorizing spending at current levels or face a potential government shutdown.

The Senate has not acted on appropriations legislation relating to Fiscal Year 2020. They were waiting for a deal to be reached that would lift budget caps created in 2011 to be lifted and a delay in the debt limit to be reached.  This deal was reached on July 22nd and pushed delayed the debt ceiling for two years and put an end to automatic cuts that would have been triggered if a deal on the budget caps had not been reached.  Details of the Senate spending proposals are expected to be released in September when they return to Washington from their August break.

In contrast, the House has passed all of its appropriations bills authorizing spending for Fiscal Year 2020, with the Department of Education receiving a 6% overall funding increase. Additionally, the House spending bill covering the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services has been linked to the bill covering the Department of Defense and other areas of the federal government. This is critical as it makes spending for education harder to veto and reduces the chances of our students being directly impacted by a partial government shutdown.

Federal Grant Opportunities

Presented by Downs Government Affairs

The League, in partnership with Downs Government Affairs, provides a list of federal grants to assist your community college in improving its programs and services. If you have any questions about the following grants, please feel free to reach out to Thomas Downs at

For a full list of federal grants available to community colleges, visit our Federal Grants page at:

Upcoming Events

Student Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee
Sept. 4 | Sacramento

Bill Passage Deadline
Sept. 13 | Sacramento

Board of Governors Meeting
Sept. 16–17 | Riverside

League Monthly GR Webinar
Sept. 17, 11:00 a.m. | Online

Consultation Council
Sept. 19 | Sacramento

ACCT Leadership Congress
Oct. 16-19 | San Francisco

2019 Annual Convention
Nov. 21-23 | Riverside Convention Center

Follow League Tracked Bills at:
Follow news related to Budget and Policy at:

For more information, contact the League's Government Relations and Communications staff:

Lizette Navarette, Vice President |
Laura Murrell, Communications Manager |
Ryan McElhinney, Legislative Advocate |
Rina Kasim, Member Resources Associate |
Gerson Liahut-Sanchez, Government Relations & Communications Fellow |