Governor signs a pair of Bonta bills

Governor signs a pair of Bonta bills

Michele Ellson
Rob Bonta

A pair of bills from local Assemblyman Rob Bonta that would cut election costs for a pair of municipal utility districts and lower fees for large credit unions that are chartered by the state have been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

The first bill, AB 408, allows the East Bay Municipal Utility District and Sacramento Municipal Utility District to appoint new members in cases where only one person’s name would appear on a ballot for the office or when no one applies.

The bill, which was drafted by the East Bay Municipal Utility District and supported by both utility districts along with the California Special District Association and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, passed both the Assembly and the Senate without opposition.

Under current law, the utility districts must hold an election even if only one person is running for a seat on their respective boards. The East Bay Municipal Utility District has spent more than $1.7 million on elections for uncontested seats since 2002, according to a press release issued by Bonta’s office.

The new rules would apply to elections slated to take place after January 1, 2014. Several members of the East Bay utility district’s board will see their current terms conclude on December 31, 2014.

The second bill, AB 1282, lowers assessments for some of the biggest state-chartered credit unions to put them in line with those paid by credit unions chartered by the federal government. The bill, which was supported by the California Credit Union League, passed both the Assembly and the Senate without opposition.

“By revising the state charter assessment schedule, which hasn’t been updated since 1998, AB 1282 narrows the gap between the federal and state assessments, giving DFI a fighting chance to remain an attractive option for credit unions,” Bonta was quoted as saying in the press release.

Under the current assessment structure, Golden 1 Credit Union – California’s largest state-chartered credit union – pays $700,000 in assessments; if it were federally chartered, its fees would be $475,000, an analysis of the bill says. The new law raises the minimum fee from $1,500 to $2,000 and reduces fees for credit unions with $2 billion or more in assets.

California is home to 246 federally chartered credit unions and 151 state chartered credit unions, the bill analysis says. As of March 31, eight state chartered credit unions had assets of $2 billion or more, financial data collected by the state Department of Business Oversight show, whiles six had less than $3 million in assets – the highest assessment rate.

The assessments fund credit union oversight provided by the Department of Business Oversight (formerly the Department of Financial Institutions), which costs $7.2 million a year.

The California Credit Union League’s political action committee donated $4,000 to Bonta’s assembly campaign funds in payments made in March and May of this year.

Bill information is available on the California Legislature's website.