Cannella Bill to Protect Cities and Taxpayers from Costly Lawsuits Passes First Policy Committee

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Today, legislation authored by Senator Anthony Cannella (R – Ceres) that will save cities from potentially costly lawsuits was approved unanimously in its first hearing.  The California Senate Governance and Finance Committee passed Senate Bill 493 with a vote of 7-0.

“Cities need the tools to take steps to protect their residents and taxpayers from costly lawsuits,” said Senator Cannella.  “If the state can give options to city council members that help save time and money while protecting residents; there is no reason we should not do this.  City funds are better spent on the needs of the city not on lawsuits and settlement fees.”

Senate Bill 493 will allow city council members to approve an ordinance that changes its election method from at-large to district representation.  Currently, this can only be done through expensive elections which are often held under threat of lawsuit.  The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) prohibits city elections from impairing the ability of minority groups to elect a candidate of their choice.  Lawsuits against cities have argued that at-large election methods result in discrimination and are a violation of the CVRA.  Each of these cases have prevailed and cost California cities hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlement fees.

“I would like to thank Senator Cannella for introducing SB 493.  This bill will save cities and taxpayers time and money by stopping costly lawsuits before they start,” said Maggie Mejia, President of the Latino Community Roundtable.