Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 11, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Bills Implementing Little Hoover Commission Recommendations Signed by Governor Newsom

Seven bills supported by the Little Hoover Commission to implement its recommendations were signed into law by Governor Newsom this year. The new laws include three measures that will strengthen efforts against Intimate Partner Violence and others to address labor trafficking, the underground economy, and broadband access.

“We are gratified that our recommendations for efficient and effective government will become law,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “We commend Governor Newsom for signing these vital bills that will strengthen California’s response to some of its most pressing issues.”

“The Little Hoover Commission continues to be a leader in identifying essential reforms to improve California government,” said Vice Chair Sean Varner. “These laws will enable the state to more efficiently serve its citizens, especially some of the most vulnerable among us.”

The three laws addressing Intimate Partner Violence implement recommendations from the Commission’s pair of studies on the issue, Intimate Partner Violence: Getting the Money to Those on the Front Line and Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence. These studies, crafted over the past year through the Commission’s series of public hearings, advisory committee meetings, and extensive research, urged California to take stronger action to help survivors of intimate partner violence and prevent abuse.

With these laws, California implements the Commission’s recommendations to front-load state funding to service providers, make it easier for victims to receive employment and training grants, and strengthen efforts to remove firearms from people with a domestic violence protective order.

“These laws will profoundly impact California’s ability to address Intimate Partner Violence and protect survivors of this abhorrent abuse,” study subcommittee chair Commissioner Janna Sidley said. “We are grateful to Assemblymembers Salas and Eduardo Garcia and Senator Talamantes Eggman for authoring these crucial bills, and we thank Governor Newsom for signing them into law.”

Another measure signed into law by Governor Newsom implements a recommendation from the Commission’s report Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Uncover this Hidden Crime by including child labor trafficking prevention education in resource family training. In its report, the Commission urged lawmakers to expand existing protections for commercially sexually exploited children to include children who have been trafficked for other forms of labor, too.

“California must protect child victims of both sex and labor trafficking, and this law does exactly that,” said Commissioner Cynthia Buiza, chair of the Commission’s labor trafficking subcommittee. “We want to congratulate Senator Brian Jones for his work in authoring this law, and we commend Governor Newsom for recognizing the importance of this issue.”

One law combats wage theft by implementing a Commission recommendation from Level the Playing Field: Put California's Underground Economy Out of Business. In that study, the Commission called on lawmakers to adjust existing penalties for white collar crimes so that the rewards of breaking the law do not outweigh the penalties imposed if caught breaking it.

“Strengthening the consequences for Labor Code violations is critical to combat California’s insidious underground economy,” said Nava, who served as the subcommittee chair for this report. “Thank you to Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez for your leadership on this matter, and to Governor Newsom for signing this important bill into law.”

Two laws increase Californians’ access to broadband internet, implementing the Commission’s recommendation to improve and expand access to digital government services from its report, A Customer-Centric Upgrade For California Government.

“We applaud Governor Newsom for his dedication to expanding Californians’ access to affordable, high-speed internet,” said Commissioner David Beier, chair of the study’s subcommittee. “Congratulations to Assemblymember Bill Quirk and Senator Lena Gonzalez for all of their hard work in authoring these significant bills.”

More details on the signed bills supported by the Commission:

AB 673 by Assemblymember Rudy Salas enables recipients of grant funding awarded pursuant to California Penal Code §13823.15 to receive the entirety of the state’s portion of the grant funding in a single disbursement at the beginning of the grant period. This change was recommended by the Commission in its 2020 report Intimate Partner Violence: Getting the Money to Those on the Front Line to ensure that service providers immediately receive the funding they need to help survivors of intimate partner violence.  

AB 628 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia expands the Removing Barriers to Employment Act to include persons who are victims of domestic violence on the list of those eligible to receive grant funding. Expanding the Act’s eligibility was recommended by the Commission in its recent report Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence.

SB 320 by Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman similarly implements a recommendation from Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence by strengthening family court procedures to ensure that those subject to a domestic violence protective order relinquish their firearms. Immediately removing firearms from those prohibited from owning them is a key aspect of protecting survivors of intimate partner violence, the Commission found in its report.

SB 584 by Senator Brian Jones requires resource family training to include information on providing care and supervision to children who have been victims of child labor trafficking. Such a requirement was recommended by the Commission in its 2020 report Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Uncover this Hidden Crime to ensure that laws protecting commercially sexually exploited children are expanded to include children who are exploited for other forms of labor.

AB 1003 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez makes an employer's intentional theft of wages punishable as grand theft when collectively greater than $950. Adjusting existing penalties for white collar crimes so that the rewards of breaking the law do not outweigh the risk or the penalties imposed if caught breaking it was recommended in the Commission’s 2015 report Level the Playing Field: Put California's Underground Economy Out of Business.

Two bills – AB 537 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk and SB 378 by Senator Lena Gonzalez – increase access to broadband internet, implementing the Commission’s recommendation to improve and expand access to digital government services from its 2015 report, A Customer-Centric Upgrade For California Government. AB 537 aligns California law with federal law to ensure that local jurisdictions approve of telecommunications projects within reasonable time periods and utilize permitting best practices, while SB 378 lowers broadband installation costs and speeds up deployment of broadband to California communities by requiring that local governments allow microtrenching for the installation of underground fiber optic equipment.

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission to Study Reform of California’s Recall System

The Little Hoover Commission – a bipartisan, independent citizens commission working to improve state government – will hold hearings this fall to study whether California’s recall system should be changed.

The Commission voted unanimously at its business meeting on September 27 to proceed with a study on recall reform. The study will begin with public hearings, and conclude with recommendations to the Governor and Legislature as to whether the recall system should be changed, and if so, how.

“As a bipartisan commission dedicated to bettering California government, we are uniquely suited to study this issue,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava, who also serves as chair of the recall study’s subcommittee. “Our Commission includes Democrats, Republicans, and non-partisans. Our diverse experiences and perspectives will be crucial as we consider whether the recall system serves Californians in the best way possible.”     

The Commission is currently determining dates for its public hearings on recall reform, at which it hopes to hear from a broad range of stakeholders, including elected officials, voter advocates, academic experts, and more.

“We are committed to ensuring that California’s recall process works as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Vice Chair Sean Varner, member of the study’s subcommittee. “We look forward to robust discussions that will shed light on this important issue.”  

All hearings will be held by Zoom and will stream live on the Little Hoover Commission Facebook page. Additional information will be available at a later date on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov/events.

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

 

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Septemer 20, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Senate Rules Committee Appoints Senator Dave Min to the Little Hoover Commission

 
Senator Dave Min (D – Irvine) will join the Little Hoover Commission following his appointment to the independent oversight panel by the Senate Rules Committee.  
 
Senator Min replaces Senator Richard Roth (D – Riverside), who has served on the Commission since he was appointed by the Senate Rules Committee in February 2013.
 
“I would like to thank Senator Roth for his service to the Commission and his dedication to making state government more efficient and effective,” said Chair Pedro Nava. “We are looking forward to working with Senator Min, a leader who is committed to our mission.”
 
Senator Min was elected in November 2020 to represent the 37th Senate district. Before joining the State Senate, Senator Min was a law professor at UC Irvine (UCI), where he taught and researched in the area of business law.
 
“I am honored to be appointed to the Little Hoover Commission,” said Senator Min. “Oversight is imperative to reflect on what is and isn't working so that we can streamline bureaucracies. Government is here to serve the people -- and this is even more critical in a time of global pandemic, climate crisis, and economic uncertainty.”
 
Senator Min started his career in public service at the Securities and Exchange Commission after graduating from Wharton and Harvard Law School. He later went on to work for U.S. Senator Charles Schumer as a senior economic policy advisor and then the Center for American Progress as an economic policy director before coming back home to California to teach at UCI.
 
“We are thrilled that Senator Min will be joining the Commission,” Nava said. “He has spent his career working to improve the economic opportunities available to working families and we can’t wait to see how his experience and insight will add to the Commission and our work.”
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.
 

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Secretary Castro Ramírez to Testify on Affordable Housing Before Little Hoover Commission

 

Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez will testify Sept. 23 at the Little Hoover Commission’s hearing on creating affordable housing in California.

Castro Ramírez leads and oversees California’s key housing entities, including the Department of Housing and Community Development, the state’s lead in facilitating the creation of new affordable housing. Previously, she was appointed by President Obama to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Public and Indian Housing and led both the San Antonio Housing Authority and the Los Angeles City Housing Authority.

“We are grateful that Secretary Castro Ramírez has agreed to share her insight and expertise on expanding affordable housing with the Commission,” said Chair Pedro Nava. “Her leadership and experience in this area is invaluable, and we look forward to her testimony.”

The hearing is the Commission’s third in its series examining ways to strengthen the relationship between state and local governments to increase the supply of affordable housing. The first and second hearings in the series focused on perspectives from stakeholders outside of government and local government officials, respectively.

Members of the public may join the hearing on Thursday, September 23 at 10 a.m. via Zoom or watch live on the Little Hoover Commission Facebook page. More details are available on the Commission’s website at  www.lhc.ca.gov/events.

About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Announces Passage of Legislation Implementing Its Recommendations

Seven bills supported by the Little Hoover Commission to implement its recommendations passed the Legislature this year, including three measures that will strengthen efforts against Intimate Partner Violence and other bills to address labor trafficking, the underground economy, and broadband access.

“The Little Hoover Commission is a solutions factory, and we’re immensely proud that our work has contributed to bills that will enhance California’s ability to help some of its most vulnerable populations,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “We applaud the Legislature for passing these important bills.”

“We urge the Governor to sign these bills so that our recommendations for efficient and effective government become law,” said Vice Chair Sean Varner. “These reforms will help California government serve our citizens in the best way possible.”

Over the past year, the Commission committed substantial time to studying Intimate Partner Violence, holding a series of public hearings, organizing a major advisory committee meeting, and conducting extensive research. This work resulted in a pair of studies on that issue, Intimate Partner Violence: Getting the Money to Those on the Front Line and Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence.

The three bills addressing Intimate Partner Violence would implement recommendations from those reports by front-loading state funding to service providers, making it easier for victims to receive employment and training grants, and strengthening efforts to remove firearms from people with a domestic violence protective order.

“These are real changes that will make a difference in the lives of people victimized by Intimate Partner Violence,” said Commissioner Janna Sidley, who chaired the Commission’s subcommittee on IPV. “We want to congratulate Assemblymembers Salas and Eduardo Garcia and Senator Talamantes Eggman for their work in authoring these important bills.”

Another measure that passed the Legislature this year would implement a recommendation from the Commission’s report Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Uncover this Hidden Crime by including child labor trafficking prevention education in resource family training. In its report, the Commission urged lawmakers to expand existing protections for commercially sexually exploited children to include children who have been trafficked for other forms of labor, too.

“It is imperative that child victims of all types of human trafficking are protected under California law,” said Dion Aroner, who served on the Commission’s labor trafficking subcommittee. “We are grateful to Senator Brian Jones for his leadership on this issue.”

One bill seeks to combat wage theft by implementing a Commission recommendation from Level the Playing Field: Put California's Underground Economy Out of Business. In that study, the Commission called on lawmakers to adjust existing penalties for white collar crimes so that the rewards of breaking the law do not outweigh the penalties imposed if caught breaking it.

“We commend Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez for authoring this bill that will help protect innocent employees from unscrupulous bosses,” said Nava, who served as the subcommittee chair for this report.  

Two measures would increase Californians’ access to broadband internet, implementing the Commission’s recommendation to improve and expand access to digital government services from its report, A Customer-Centric Upgrade For California Government.

“Now more than ever it is critical that all Californians have access to affordable, reliable broadband internet,” study subcommittee chair David Beier said. “Thank you to Assemblymember Bill Quirk and Senator Lena Gonzalez for your commitment and leadership in bringing broadband to California communities.”

More details on the enacted bills supported by the Commission:

AB 673 by Assemblymember Rudy Salas would enable recipients of grant funding awarded pursuant to California Penal Code §13823.15 to receive the entirety of the state’s portion of the grant funding in a single disbursement at the beginning of the grant period. This change was recommended by the Commission in its 2020 report Intimate Partner Violence: Getting the Money to Those on the Front Line to ensure that service providers immediately receive the funding they need to help survivors of intimate partner violence.  

AB 628 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia would expand the Removing Barriers to Employment Act to include persons who are victims of domestic violence on the list of those eligible to receive grant funding. Expanding the Act’s eligibility was recommended by the Commission in its recent report Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence.

SB 320 by Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman would similarly implement a recommendation from Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence by strengthening family court procedures to ensure that those subject to a domestic violence protective order relinquish their firearms. Immediately removing firearms from those prohibited from owning them is a key aspect of protecting survivors of intimate partner violence, the Commission found in its report.

SB 584 by Senator Brian Jones would require resource family training to include information on providing care and supervision to children who have been victims of child labor trafficking. Such a requirement was recommended by the Commission in its 2020 report Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Uncover this Hidden Crime to ensure that laws protecting commercially sexually exploited children are expanded to include children who are exploited for other forms of labor.

AB 1003 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez would make an employer's intentional theft of wages punishable as grand theft when collectively greater than $950. Adjusting existing penalties for white collar crimes so that the rewards of breaking the law do not outweigh the risk or the penalties imposed if caught breaking it was recommended in the Commission’s 2015 report Level the Playing Field: Put California's Underground Economy Out of Business.

Two bills – AB 537 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk and SB 378 by Senator Lena Gonzalez – would increase access to broadband internet, implementing the Commission’s recommendation to improve and expand access to digital government services from its 2015 report, A Customer-Centric Upgrade For California Government. AB 537 would align California law with federal law to ensure that local jurisdictions approve of telecommunications projects within reasonable time periods and utilize permitting best practices, while SB 378 would lower broadband installation costs and speed up deployment of broadband to California communities by requiring that local governments allow microtrenching for the installation of underground fiber optic equipment.

About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

The Pandemic Presents a Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Improve Children’s Mental Health Care, Little Hoover Commission Says

 

California has taken bold action to improve its child mental health system. The state still needs consistent leadership and shared outcome goals to fully address the pandemic’s impact on children’s emotional well-being and to achieve lasting improvements to children’s mental health, finds the Little Hoover Commission in its latest report.

The report, COVID-19 and Children’s Mental Health: Addressing the Impact, examines the pandemic’s impact on the mental and emotional well-being of children and adolescents, especially those under the age of 18. This is the Commission’s third and final report studying the pandemic’s impact on California.

In its report, the Commission finds that the pandemic has had a major impact on the mental well-being of our youth and has created an additional source of stress, anxiety, and trauma. The Commission also learned that California has long struggled to support children’s mental and emotional health adequately. Mental illness is the leading reason for hospitalization among children in California.

“We are failing at supporting the mental and emotional well-being of children and delivering care to those in need,” says Chair Pedro Nava. “Too few children receive care, and when they do, it is often too little, too late.”

The Commission highlights systemic and structural barriers that can prevent children from accessing mental health services, including a child mental health system that is extremely decentralized and that suffers from severe capacity shortages.

“The pandemic has further stressed and strained California’s already fragmented system for supporting children’s mental health,” says Vice Chair Sean Varner, a member of the subcommittee studying the state’s recovery from the pandemic. “We must attend to the system’s existing weaknesses and inefficiencies in order to fully address COVID’s impact on child mental health.”

The Commission applauds the advances that Governor Newsom and the Legislature have taken to overhaul and improve California’s system for supporting child mental health, especially through the new Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative. California is poised to facilitate access to services, build a larger, more diverse mental health workforce, establish a genuine continuum of care for children, emphasize prevention and early intervention, and center schools as hubs of mental well-being.

The Commission calls on California to further expand state leadership over children’s mental health and establish shared outcome goals to ensure these efforts achieve their potential and produce a lasting and sustainable transformation of California’s child mental health system.

“California has an opportunity to build meaningfully and substantially on its efforts to better support child mental health,” says Commissioner David Beier, who also serves on the study’s subcommittee. “Meeting children’s mental health needs will require clear and consistent state leadership and clearly defined goals and expectations.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Announces Support for Legislation Implementing Its Recommendations

The Little Hoover Commission today announced its support for a bill that would implement recommendations from its report on customer-centric government:
SB 378 by Senator Lena Gonzalez would require that local governments allow microtrenching for the installation of underground fiber optic equipment, which would lower broadband installation costs and speed up deployment of broadband to California communities. Improving and expanding access to digital government services was recommended by the Commission in its 2015 report, A Customer-Centric Upgrade For California Government.
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 
Make Public Meetings More Accessible and Inclusive, Urges the Little Hoover Commission

California can save taxpayer dollars and make state government more accessible and inclusive by allowing fully remote public meetings even after the pandemic ends, says the state’s independent government watchdog in its new report.

In The Government of Tomorrow: Online Meetings, the Little Hoover Commission looks at the benefits of Governor Newsom’s March 2020 Executive Order allowing state boards and commissions to meet entirely via remote technology, with no physical location accessible to the public. The Commission calls on the Legislature and Governor to update the state’s open meetings law – the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act – to reflect new technologies and the experiences of the past year.

In its report, the Commission finds that California can make its public meetings more accessible and inclusive by requiring that boards and commissions give the public remote access to every meeting. This change would especially benefit those who traditionally face obstacles in interacting with state government, such as low-income people, rural Californians, or people with physical disabilities.

“Governor Newsom has long been an advocate of using technology to make government more accessible,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava, who also serves on the subcommittee on remote work and state government. “He even wrote a book on the subject – Citizenville. Now the Governor and the Legislature can use proven technology to increase public accessibility and strengthen government accountability.”

The report also provides results from the Commission’s survey of state boards and commissions that have met remotely during the pandemic. The survey results highlight some of the substantial benefits afforded to the public when boards and commissions hold meetings in which their own members participate via remote technology:

  • Over 90 percent of surveyed agencies reported reduced costs due to remote meetings.
  • Approximately half of agencies reported better attendance by commission members.
  • One-third of agencies responded that they are meeting more often due to their ability to meet remotely.
  • Roughly half of agencies that have witnesses said it has been easier to secure high-quality speakers.

To capture the full benefits of remote meetings, the Commission urges the Legislature and Governor to make it easier for members of boards and commissions to participate remotely.

For these reforms to be most effective, the Commission says that the Governor and the Legislature should take action before September 30, when the Governor’s Executive Order is rescinded and pre-pandemic requirements of Bagley-Keene resume.

“With these two simple yet critical changes to Bagley-Keene, California can increase public access to state government while capturing the efficiency and cost-saving advantages of new technologies,” says Commissioner Bill Emmerson, who chaired the study’s subcommittee. “State leaders should not let our state fall short due to outdated statutes.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy, and improved service.

 

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Announces Support for Legislation Implementing Its Recommendations

The Little Hoover Commission today announced its support for two bills that would implement recommendations from its report on occupational licensing:

AB 410 by Assemblymember Vince Fong would enact the Nurse Licensure Compact, under which the Board of Registered Nursing and the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians would be authorized to issue a multistate license authorizing the holder to practice as a registered nurse or a licensed vocational nurse in all party states under a multistate licensure privilege.
 
AB 1236 by Assemblymember Phil Ting would require all healing arts boards under the jurisdiction of the Department of Consumer Affairs to request demographic information from its licensees and registrants.
 
In its 2016 report, Jobs for Californians: Strategies to Ease Occupational Licensing Barriers, the Commission called on California to require reciprocity for all professionals licensed in other states and recommended the Legislature authorize the collection of demographic information for license applications across all licensed occupations in California.
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director

(510) 205-8042

Little Hoover Commission Announces Support for Legislation Implementing Its Recommendations

The Little Hoover Commission today announced its support for a bill that would implement recommendations from its report on customer-centric government:

AB 537 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk would align California law with federal law to ensure that local jurisdictions approve of telecommunications projects within reasonable time periods and utilize permitting best practices. Improving and expanding access to digital government services was recommended by the Commission in its 2015 report, A Customer-Centric Upgrade For California Government.

About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042

Improve the State’s Election Infrastructure, Urges Little Hoover Commission

 

California’s elections are free, fair, and secure, but the state can do more to improve its election infrastructure, the state’s independent government watchdog recommends in a new report.

In California Election Infrastructure: Making a Good System Better, the Little Hoover Commission recommends creation of an open source voting system and the statewide use of risk-limiting audits.

“The 2020 election was the most secure election in history,” says Chair Pedro Nava. “But California cannot be complacent and should take steps to improve its election infrastructure in order to keep up with evolving technology and knowledge.”

The Commission held a hearing on this topic in 2019 and released a letter to the Governor and legislative leadership to consider important questions related to elections security, such as the need for funding to improve equipment. This report builds on the Commission’s past work and adds specific policy recommendations

In its report, the Commission finds that California relies on a for-profit model for election equipment security. The Commission recommends that the state develop and adopt an open source elections system, which would be more transparent, save money, increase versatility for counties, and aligns with a state goal to use open source software across government.

“Currently, the process in California to test and re-certify election infrastructure is extensive and does not incentivize security upgrades for existing models,” said Commissioner Bill Emmerson, who chaired the Commission’s subcommittee on voting equipment security. “Investing in a publicly-owned, open source election system should help the state better address any security vulnerabilities.”

The Commission also concluded that the state’s current requirement for checking the results of an election – a manual tally of 1 percent of precincts – is outdated. The Commission urges the state to implement the use of risk-limiting audits, a review of randomly selected ballots until the risk limit – a pre-determined chance that a wrong outcome will not be discovered – is reached.

The Commission also outlines additional reforms to include improving training and adopting the use of compliance audits.

“By following the recommendations outlined in our report, California can build on its good work and make our elections even more secure,” says Commissioner Janna Sidley, who also served on the study’s subcommittee. “Some of our recommendations will require more resources from the Legislature, but it’s worth it to maintain California’s tradition of top-notch election administration.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy, and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Commission Applauds Prioritization of Wildfire Prevention Funding

Pedro Nava, Chair of California’s Little Hoover Commission, issued the following statement Thursday on Governor Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Aktins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s $536 million funding plan to help improve California’s resilience to wildfires.

“The Commission applauds the Administration and legislative leaders for prioritizing forest resilience efforts. These proposed investments will pay dividends in the long run by curbing the rising costs associated with tackling the crippling wildfires plaguing our state,” said Chair Nava.

Nava noted that initiatives included in the proposed funding package echo the Commission’s 2018 report, Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada. In its report the Commission found that a century of forest mismanagement and neglect in California has resulted in devastating wildfires that threaten homes, lives and livelihoods and worsening air quality for Californians.

“In the face of this unprecedented environmental catastrophe, we called on the state to invest upfront to create healthier forests,” said Nava. “We are glad to see that California is taking action to support such critical efforts to reduce the state’s wildfire risk.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

California Renters, Landlords, and Homeowners Struggling Due to COVID-19 Impacts, Little Hoover Commission Finds

 

Thousands of renters, landlords, and homeowners across California – particularly those of color – are struggling to make their housing payments amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Little Hoover Commission explains in its latest Issue Brief.

The Brief, the Commission’s newest resource for state policymakers that outlines current research without making policy recommendations, examines the impact of the pandemic on California housing. This is the Commission’s second Issue Brief. Its first, published in December, focuses on California’s Digital Divide.

“The financial impacts of the pandemic have significantly affected hardworking Californians, and these impacts could worsen as the pandemic continues,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava.

In its Issue Brief, the Commission responds to questions posed by Senator Scott Wilk, Senator Melissa Hurtado, Senator Anna Caballero, and Senator Steven Bradford regarding essential workers, landlords, and homeowners in California. The Commission finds that:  

  • Essential workers make up one-third to one-half of the state’s workforce, or approximately 5.6 million to 8.5 million Californians. As many as 1.4 million essential workers live in overcrowded housing.

  • Roughly one in ten individuals in owner-occupied households have fallen behind on their mortgage, while roughly one in six renters have fallen behind on their rent. Landlords have suffered as renters have been unable to pay, especially small landlords.

  • Nearly 5 percent of mortgages were in forbearance – an agreement to temporarily pause or reduce monthly payments – in early February. This places California eighth among the 15 states with the most loans in forbearance.

  • Foreclosures due to the pandemic could exacerbate the racial wealth gap, result in a loss of affordable rental housing, and negatively impact the health and well-being of homeowners and small landlords who experience it.

The Commission also provides demographic insight into the pandemic’s impacts on Californians based on its analysis of U.S. Census Bureau survey data, finding that:  
 
  • Black and Latinx homeowners were over two times as likely as Whites to report being behind on their housing payments, and similar gaps existed for renters.

  • Low-income homeowners and renters were nearly four and six times as likely, respectively, to be behind on their housing payments as high-income homeowners and renters.

  • Renters with less than a high school education were more than three times as likely as renters with a bachelor’s degree or higher to be behind on their housing payments.

“Our research sheds new light on the severe housing impacts facing California’s most vulnerable populations,” said Commission Vice Chair Sean Varner. “We hope this Brief will assist policymakers as they consider measures to help all Californians who have experienced housing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Announces Support for Legislation Implementing Its Recommendations

 

The Little Hoover Commission today announced its support for two bills that would implement recommendations from its reports on customer-centric government and intimate partner violence:

AB 885 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk would amend the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act to require that teleconference meetings that are open to the public be observable both audibly and visually. The bill would also clarify that members of a board participating remotely shall count towards a quorum and would only require public disclosure of the designated primary physical meeting location from which the public may participate. Making government more transparent and accessible to the public was recommended by the Commission in its 2015 reports, Conversations for a Workable Government and A Customer-Centric Upgrade For California Government.

SB 320 by Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman would strengthen family court procedures to ensure that those subject to a domestic violence protective order relinquish their firearms. Ensuring that firearms immediately are removed from those prohibited from owning them is a key aspect of protecting survivors of intimate partner violence, and was recommended in the Commission’s recent report, Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence.

About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042

 

Little Hoover Commission Re-Elects Chair Nava and Vice Chair Varner

The Little Hoover Commission unanimously re-elected Commissioner Pedro Nava as Chair and Commissioner Sean Varner as Vice Chair on Thursday, March 25, 2021. This will be Nava’s eighth consecutive term as Chair and Varner’s fifth consecutive term as Vice Chair.

Nava, a former Assemblymember and prosecutor, served on the Commission from 2005 to 2010 when he was a legislator, and later was appointed as a public member by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez in 2013 and reappointed by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in 2017 and again in 2021.

“I am honored to have been elected Chair of the Little Hoover Commission for another term,” said Nava. “I want to thank my fellow Commissioners for their faith in me and I look forward to continuing to work to promote economy, efficiency and improved service for all Californians.”

Varner is managing partner at Varner & Brandt LLP, where he focuses on mergers and acquisitions, finance, real estate, and general counsel work. He was appointed to the Commission in 2016 by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

“Serving as the Commission’s Vice Chair has been an incredible opportunity and I feel fortunate to have been re-elected,” Varner said. “I am very proud of the Commission’s work, especially this past year as we have navigated and responded to the COVID pandemic and its challenges.”

The Commission is charged with researching public policy issues and making recommendations to the Governor and Legislature about how state government can be made more efficient and effective. In recent years, the Commission has reviewed and made recommendations on a wide variety of study areas, including the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s response to labor trafficking and intimate partner violence, the management of California’s forests, the use of Artificial Intelligence and Geographic Information Systems in government, the Mental Health Services Act, Denti-Cal, and the veterans homes program.

The Commission has studies underway now on police training, the long-term impact of the pandemic on childhood well-being, the future of remote work for the state government workforce, the security of California’s voting system, and is engaged in preliminary research on the interrelated issues of housing affordability and regional economic development. The Commission held a teleconference meeting Thursday to discuss current business and to conduct elections of the chair and vice chair. Terms of the officers are for one year.

Nava served in the California Assembly from 2004 to 2010 representing the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas. After leaving the Legislature, Nava served as a government relations advisor. In 2011, he was appointed to the California Department of Fish & Game Blue Ribbon Commission to assist in the development of the Wildlife Strategic Vision. Previously, he worked as a civil litigator after serving as a deputy district attorney in Fresno and Santa Barbara counties. Nava also served on the California Coastal Commission. While in the Legislature, he chaired several Assembly committees, including Transportation, Banking and Finance, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, the Select Committee on California’s Green Economy and the Joint Commission on Emergency Management. Nava also served on several other Assembly committees, including the Insurance, Business and Professions and Joint Legislative Audit, and was an Assembly representative to the Ocean Protection Council and California Transportation Commission.

Varner has over 26 years of legal and business experience, handling critical transactions facing a diverse clientele including Fortune 500 companies, the food and beverage industry, the manufacturing industry, the service industry, the technology sector, entertainment and social media, real estate development and land use, restaurant, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, officers and directors of corporations, and a variety of family-owned businesses. He has also represented oversight boards in the winding down of redevelopment agencies, including the City of Los Angeles and the City of Industry. Among many civic commitments, he has served as Chair of the board of the directors of The Community Foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, as two-time Chairman of the California Inland Empire Chapter of the Young President’s Organization, and as a member of the UC-Riverside Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics.

About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy, and improved service.
 

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Announces Support for Legislation Implementing Its Recommendations

 
The Little Hoover Commission today announced its support for bills that would implement its recommendations on forest management, the underground economy, intimate partner violence, and labor trafficking:
 
AB 1431 by Assemblymember Jim Frazier would build upon the objectives established in California’s Forest Carbon Plan by establishing state goals for fuel treatment and vegetation management. The bill would also require the Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency to submit a report to the Legislature on the positions and resources needed to achieve those goals by January 2023; and annually thereafter, on the progress made toward implementing those goals. The contents of this bill were recommended by the Commission in its 2018 report, Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada.
 
AB 1003 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez would make an employer's intentional theft of wages punishable as grand theft when collectively greater than $950, implementing a recommendation made in the Commission’s 2015 report, Level the Playing Field: Put California's Underground Economy Out of Business.
 
AB 628 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia would expand the Removing Barriers to Employment Act to include persons who are at risk of intimate partner violence or of committing IPV on the list of those eligible to receive grant funding. Such an expansion was recommended by the Commission in its recent report Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence.
 
SB 720 by Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh and AB 673 by Assemblymember Rudy Salas would enable recipients of grant funding awarded pursuant to California Penal Code §13823.15 to receive the entirety of the state’s portion of the grant funding in a single disbursement at the beginning of the grant period, which would implement the Commission’s 2020 report, Intimate Partner Violence: Getting the Money to Those on the Front Line.
 
SB 373 by Senator Dave Min would prohibit debt collectors from collecting or attempting to collect debt from survivors of domestic violence who can provide documentation that the debt was incurred as a result of economic abuse. Helping survivors of intimate partner violence recover from damage to their credit was recommended by the Commission in its recent report, Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence.
 
SB 584 by Senator Brian Jones would require resource family training to include child labor trafficking education for foster parents caring for children who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, human trafficking. This change would implement a recommendation made by the Commission in its 2020 report, Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Uncover this Hidden Crime.
 
“We are proud to support these bills that will help California respond more efficiently and effectively to some of its most pressing challenges,” said Chairman Pedro Nava.
 
“We look forward to partnering with the authors and their staff as these important bills move through the legislative process to help implement the recommendations of the Commission,” said Vice Chairman Sean Varner.
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

 

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

California Must Act Now to Better Support Job Training and Reskilling for Workers Impacted By the Pandemic, Little Hoover Commission Says

California’s job training system is a patchwork quilt that must be streamlined and better matched to employer needs in order to help workers displaced by the COVID pandemic, according to a new report from the state’s independent government watchdog.
 
The report from the Little Hoover Commission notes that as of late 2020, California had lost over 1.5 million jobs due to the pandemic – more than it did during the entire Great Recession. In the face of this historic crisis, the state must work with employers and training providers to develop training pathways that give impacted workers access to quality jobs as the economy recovers, the report says.
 
The report, First Steps toward Recovery: Job Training and Reskilling, focuses on immediate and near-term steps that California can take to support reskilling and retraining opportunities for impacted workers and communities. This is the Commission’s second report studying California’s response to the pandemic recession. In its first report on the topic, released in December 2020, the Commission called on the state to forge deeper partnerships with the private sector to support small businesses recovery.
 
“Job training and reskilling will likely be necessary to help workers impacted by COVID adjust to the post-pandemic workforce and transition to new jobs,” says Chair Pedro Nava. “Training and support are especially important for lower-wage workers – where job losses are concentrated – and for those in underserved communities.”
 
In its report, the Commission also highlights some of the significant barriers that can make it difficult for individuals to identify training opportunities that lead to in-demand skills, or to translate training into a good job. The report notes that the state’s workforce development and training systems are difficult to navigate and limited coordination among different programs further tends to lessen their cumulative impact.
 
“Many jobless Californians looking to learn new skills are left without tools to help them understand the economic value of different training program options (or even that options are available), evaluate what skills are in-demand, or select what training is best for them,” says Sean Varner, a member of the subcommittee studying economic recovery from the pandemic.
 
The Commission applauds the state’s efforts to strengthen and expand career training and workforce development but calls on the state to do more to expand existing training partnerships and encourage new ones, and ensure those partnerships have the resources they need to support workers impacted by the pandemic.
 
“High-quality training can help workers in industries impacted by the pandemic pivot to increase their earnings and advance their careers,” says Commissioner David Beier, who also serves on the study’s subcommittee. “The state must act now to develop a plan for providing this training as part of an equitable economic recovery.” 
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Calls for Greater Action Against Intimate Partner Violence

 
Millions of Californians experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime, and California must do more to prevent this abhorrent abuse and help survivors, the state’s independent government watchdog recommends in a new report.
 
In Beyond the Crisis: A Long-Term Approach to Reduce, Prevent, and Recover from Intimate Partner Violence, the Little Hoover Commission calls on California to strengthen efforts to address this violence by implementing a statewide strategy focused on prevention and early intervention. This is the Commission’s second report studying California’s response to intimate partner violence. Its first report on the topic, released last May, urges the state to provide grant funding to service providers in up-front payments rather than reimbursements.
 
“Far too many Californians struggle to receive the help they need to escape their abuser,” said Chairman Pedro Nava. “This is unacceptable, and our recommendations can help transform the state’s response to this horrible violence.”
 
Intimate partner violence has a devastating impact on communities across the state. One third of women and one quarter of men in California will experience it in their lifetime, and rates are even higher for people of color and those who are transgender. Abused women are more likely to drop out of school, earn less in the workplace, and experience higher rates of physical and mental health disorders than their non-abused peers.
 
In addition to the dire human cost, intimate partner violence exacts a heavy burden on California taxpayers through medical, criminal justice, property damage, and other costs. The Commission urges the state to appoint a leader responsible for overseeing progress on implementing a more rigorous, strategic approach to preventing intimate partner violence and helping survivors recover from its effects.
 
“It is crucial that California strengthen efforts to combat this heinous abuse,” said Commissioner Janna Sidley, chair of the Commission’s subcommittee on the state’s response to intimate partner violence. “Our state needs a designated leader who will take charge of this critical issue.”
 
The report also focuses on the deadly intersection of firearms and intimate partner violence, and calls for more resources for enforcing existing firearms laws. It also details the challenges survivors face accessing support services and establishing financial independence, and urges the state to do more in these areas.
 
“These recommendations, together with our first report on intimate partner violence, will enable California to better address this violence and assist innocent survivors,” said Commissioner Cathy Schwamberger, member of the study’s subcommittee. “It is time for commitment and coordination.”
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is the nation’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2021
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042

 

Speaker Rendon Reappoints Pedro Nava to the Little Hoover Commission

 
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has reappointed Pedro Nava to the Little Hoover Commission for an additional four-year term. Nava, of Santa Barbara, was originally appointed as a public member of the Commission in 2013 by Speaker John Perez, and reappointed by Speaker Rendon in 2017. Nava also served as a legislative appointee to the Commission from 2005 to 2010, when he was a member of the Assembly. For the past seven years he has served as Chair of the Commission, a position to which he has been elected by his fellow Commissioners.
 
Nava served in the California Assembly from 2004 to 2010 representing the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas. After leaving the Legislature, he served as a government relations advisor. In 2011, he was appointed to the California Department of Fish & Game Blue Ribbon Commission to assist in the development of the Wildlife Strategic Vision. Previously, he worked as a civil litigator after serving as a deputy district attorney in Fresno and Santa Barbara counties. Nava also served on the California Coastal Commission. While in the Legislature, he chaired several Assembly committees, including Transportation, Banking and Finance, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, the Select Committee on California’s Green Economy and the Joint Commission on Emergency Management. Nava also served on several other Assembly committees, including the Insurance, Business and Professions and Joint Legislative Audit, and was an Assembly representative to the Ocean Protection Council and California Transportation Commission. 
 
“I want to thank Speaker Rendon for this reappointment,” said Chairman Nava. “The Little Hoover Commission plays a critical role in helping to make government more efficient and responsive. I am honored to be a part of that process, and look forward to continuing that work with my fellow Commissioners.”
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Releases its Biennial Review of California State Government Operations

 

The Little Hoover Commission – California’s independent government watchdog – today released its traditional biennial report, summarizing its oversight activities during the past two years and highlighting top opportunities for government reform.

As outlined in The Little Hoover Commission: Advocating for Change, 2019-20, the Commission released eight reports – including its 250th – during 2019-20. Those reports call on California to take greater action to strengthen California’s voting equipment security, implement Geographic Information Systems technologies, streamline the funding process for intimate partner violence service providers, identify and prosecute labor trafficking, and support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the biennium the Commission introduced Issue Briefs, a new resource for state leaders that provides crucial data and background information on key challenges facing California. The Commission’s first Issue Brief, published in December 2020, focuses on the state’s digital divide. The Commission also created a blog that highlights the ways in which past recommendations remain relevant amid new events.

In 2020, the Commission responded to the pandemic by meeting more frequently and by holding a series of hearings on the economic impact of the recession. In all, the Commission met more than 20 times during 2020, more than doubling its traditional schedule. Prior to the pandemic, the Commission also resumed holding meetings around the state, holding meetings in both San Diego and Los Angeles.

“The Little Hoover Commission has been an advocate for reform in California for almost 60 years, and we’re continuing that tradition today,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. “We are eager to continue our work to improve California government.”

The report also includes Ideas for Change, a list of recommendations for government reform generated by the Commission through its work over the past several years.

“We look forward to partnering with state leaders to implement these recommendations for lasting change that will positively impact California,” said Vice Chairman Sean Varner.

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government. A nonpartisan oversight agency created in 1962, the Commission includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042

 

Increase Efforts to Support California’s Small Businesses, Urges Little Hoover Commission

 
California has taken strong first steps toward helping small businesses survive the pandemic, but the state must do more, including an expanded loan program, deeper collaboration with the private sector, and additional emphasis on organizations that focus on the underserved, according to a new report from the Little Hoover Commission.
 

The report, First Steps toward Recovery: Saving Small Businesses, details how the pandemic has impacted small businesses – which accounted for nearly half of the private sector workforce prior to COVID. The Commission notes that the pandemic hit minority- and women-owned businesses hardest and has magnified the structural inequalities facing California.

“California’s small businesses have been devastated by the pandemic with marginalized groups feeling the worst of impact,” said Commissioner David Beier, member of the subcommittee studying economic recovery from the pandemic. “It is crucial that we are intentional with our economic rebuilding efforts and that we actively work to support small businesses in underserved communities in their efforts to survive and reorient towards a changing economy.”

Although the state’s budget outlook has recently improved, the Commission acknowledges that California still faces budget constraints and that state government lacks sufficient resources to fully address the enormous impact of COVID on small businesses. The Commission details the need for the state to leverage private resources – financial, institutional, and human talent—toward addressing the economic impact of COVID.

“California’s fiscal challenges have strained its ability to fully address the enormous impacts of the pandemic,” said Vice Chair Sean Varner, who also served on the study’s subcommittee. “By leveraging public-private partnerships, California can foster and enhance economic recovery while also addressing the pandemic’s disparate impacts.”

The Commission also calls on the state to work with institutions that focus on underserved communities, especially Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which have a strong record of supporting minority- and women-owned businesses by providing them with credit and technical assistance.

The Commission identifies the California Rebuilding Fund as a key mechanism for supporting small businesses and encouraging economic recovery.  The Rebuilding Fund is a partnership of state and local governments and private organizations – some for-profit, some nonprofit – that will aggregate and leverage funding and work through CDFIs to provide financial support to small businesses in underserved communities.

The Commission urges the state to expand the Rebuilding Fund, both by maximizing private participation and by increasing the size of the state’s contribution. The Governor’s Office recently announced that the state will add $12.5 million to its initial contribution of $25 million.

“The state’s recent additional investment into the California Rebuilding Fund offers a critical step towards developing a robust public-private partnership to support small business recovery,” said Chair Nava. “We ask that the state continue its work in expanding the Rebuilding Fund to meet the scale of the crisis confronting small businesses.”

In addition to increasing the state’s contribution to the Rebuilding Fund, the Governor’s Office recently announced several other measures to support small businesses, including $500 million for COVID relief grants for small businesses. These measures complement the aims and recommendations outlined in the Commission’s report and demonstrate the bold leadership in support of small businesses that the Commission encourages.

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

As many as 2.3 million Californians lack access to broadband

 
As many as 2.3 million Californians lack access to broadband, a gap in high-speed connectivity outlined in the Little Hoover Commission’s first Issue Brief. The Brief, which outlines current research without making policy recommendations, focuses on California’s digital divide and efforts to address broadband connectivity gaps on the local level through municipal fiber broadband networks.
 

“At a time when access to affordable, high-speed internet is needed most – many Californians are left without internet access or lack sufficient bandwidth to meet their household’s needs,” noted Commission Chair Pedro Nava.

Inequities in access to broadband are impacting many Californians’ ability to – among other things – access education, contribute to a productive economy, and obtain government services.

In its Issue Brief, the Commission outlines the status of broadband service in both California and the U.S. This research shows that:

  • California’s broadband coverage, speed, and pricing is rated 13th in the nation with strong access to low-cost plans (defined as less than $60/month) but very slow speeds.

  • The U.S. ranked 31st out of 36 OECD countries for their internet access among households. A majority of U.S. cities still pay more for slower internet speeds than their counterparts abroad.

  • Experts attribute higher broadband prices and slower speeds to a lack of competition among internet service providers.

The Commission also provides background on initiatives from municipalities – in California and across the globe – to start fiber broadband networks as a way to increase competition and potentially make access more affordable for consumers. The Commission discovered that:
 
  • Using public and public-private partnership models respectively, Chattanooga and Stockholm were able to offer fiber broadband connections to businesses and residents.

  • The South Bay Cities Council of Governments has developed a ring of fiber with connections to data centers, municipal buildings, and public agencies in the South Bay and anticipates that 15 South Bay cities and additional agencies will be connected to the network by the end of the year.

  • Santa Monica executed a successful effort to bring fiber broadband connections to the city’s business, anchor institutions, and municipal buildings and also provides residential service to some affordable housing units in the city.

  • Attempts to create public-private partnerships to build fiber broadband networks in California’s more populous cities – San Francisco and Los Angeles – were unsuccessful.

“We hope our research on the digital divide will serve as a tool for state policymakers as they embark on efforts to address the inequities in connectivity facing Californians in communities across our state,” said Commission Vice Chair Sean Varner.
 

The Commission plans to publish additional Issue Briefs in the future, with a goal to provide data and background information on important and relevant issues that arise through our research process. Unlike our reports, these Briefs will not include Commission recommendations.

“While reports with recommendations to the Governor and Legislature will remain the Commission’s first priority,” said Nava, “we hope these Issue Briefs will serve as a resource for state policymakers and others to enrich the conversations surrounding key challenges and issues facing California.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy, and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director

(510) 205-8042

 

Little Hoover Commission Urges California to Help Victims and Bring Labor Traffickers to Justice

 

Each year thousands of Californians fall prey to human trafficking, including hundreds who are exploited for the value of their labor, and California must do more to help these survivors and to bring traffickers to justice, says the state’s independent government watchdog.

The Little Hoover Commission today released Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Help Victims and Bring Traffickers to Justice, the agency’s third and final report stemming from a year-long investigation into the state’s response to labor trafficking.

The report provides new data about the extent of the problem, based on an analysis of records from a key state program that provides help to trafficking victims. That analysis shows that:

  • Between 2016 and 2019, more than 14,000 human trafficking survivors received help from the state, including more than 3,000 who were classified as being exploited for their labor. (The remainder were exploited for sex.)

  • More than one-quarter of the survivors helped by the state were under 18.

  • African-Americans were disproportionately impacted, accounting for more than a third of those who received help.

  • Those seeking help for labor trafficking are disproportionately located in the Central Valley.

“Too little has been known about labor trafficking in the past, and we hope that this report provides policymakers with new information about this horrific crime,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “Still better information can lead to a stronger response and more work is needed to understand the prevalence of this crime.”

The report analyzes raw data from only a single state program, Nava noted, and thus it is highly likely that far more people are victimized each year by traffickers. This is especially true for labor trafficking, which is often even harder to detect than trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation.

The data analyzed by Commission staff comes from the Office of Emergency Services’ Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program. The Commission is grateful to OES for providing the raw data, which did not identify individual survivors, but allowed for an analysis of all those helped by the program, Nava said.

“This is a significant first step to understanding more about who the victims of trafficking are and how we can better direct resources to serve and protect them,” said Commissioner Cynthia Buiza, chair of the Commission’s subcommittee for the labor trafficking studies.

While causing serious harm to victims, perpetrators of this crime also steal from the state and undercut legitimate businesses. The report urges a strong state response, recommending that policymakers prioritize victim services for survivors while increasing investigations and prosecutions of traffickers.

In its report, the Commission also focuses on the numerous barriers hindering the enforcement of labor trafficking laws, including costly and time-consuming investigations, difficulty proving non-physical coercion or force, lack of adequate training for law enforcement and court personnel, and more. The report describes steps taken by the federal government, other states, and some California counties to address these barriers and calls upon state officials to take similar actions.  

“It is unacceptable that perpetrators of this despicable crime are too often not held accountable,” Nava said. “Our recommendations will transform California’s ability to bring these evildoers to justice and ensure that survivors receive the care they need.”

All too often, law enforcement lacks the tools, training, and resources to respond to labor trafficking, the Commission found.

Earlier this year the Commission released two reports about trafficking. This is the Commission’s third report studying California’s response to human trafficking. Its first report on the subject, released in June 2020, calls for the creation of a statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Council. Its second report, released in September 2020, implores officials to increase efforts to identify labor trafficking.

Commissioner Dion Aroner, a member of the study’s subcommittee, noted the importance of viewing this report along with the Commission’s two previous reports on labor trafficking. “We are providing state officials with a comprehensive roadmap for lasting change that will enable California to more effectively combat labor trafficking and protect innocent workers.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Increase Efforts to Identify Labor Trafficking, Little Hoover Commission Says

 
California must improve and expand efforts to identify labor trafficking, the state’s independent government watchdog recommends in a new report.
 
In Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Uncover this Hidden Crime, the Little Hoover Commission calls for increased efforts to identify labor trafficking through better training, data collection, and public awareness. This is the Commission’s second report studying California’s response to human trafficking and builds upon the recommendation from its first report on the topic, released in June 2020, to create a statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Council.
 
“Too often, this heinous crime goes undetected, and those who have been preyed upon have nowhere to turn,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “This horrible crime demands an aggressive response, and our recommendations will help California do just that.”
 
Labor trafficking occurs when employers use force, fraud or coercion to exert a level of control over workers that leaves them trapped in oppressive situations. It can occur in a variety of workplaces, including restaurants, construction sites, farm fields, and households, and is often very difficult to detect. Widespread unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to the conditions necessary for labor trafficking to flourish.
 
The Commission’s report focuses on the obstacles that make it difficult to identify labor trafficking, including a lack of enforcement of anti-trafficking laws and a lack of familiarity about the issue among government officials and the public. The report also notes that the state’s primary focus has been on combatting sex trafficking, a focus that must continue but be expanded to include labor trafficking as well. 
 
“We need to know where labor trafficking is occurring in California and who is being affected so we can direct resources to help victims and bring traffickers to justice,” explained Commissioner Cynthia Buiza, chair of the Commission’s subcommittee for the labor trafficking studies. “More information will mean a stronger state response.”
 
The report also notes the strides taken by state officials to combat and deter child sex trafficking and calls for similar investment in protections for child victims of labor trafficking.
 
“It is crucial that all children are protected,” said Commissioner Dion Aroner, a member of the study’s subcommittee. “Nothing is more important than ensuring that California’s youngest and most vulnerable residents do not fall prey to the evil of human trafficking.”
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
 
The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Calls for Stronger Effort against Labor Trafficking

California must better coordinate efforts to identify victims and help survivors of labor trafficking, California’s independent government watchdog urges in a new report.
 
Human Trafficking: Coordinating a California Response, a new report from the Little Hoover Commission, calls for the creation of the California Anti-Human Trafficking Council within the Governor’s office. The Council would be tasked with studying the prevalence of labor trafficking, coordinating efforts to fight the crime, and assessing the effectiveness of anti-trafficking efforts.
 
“This is a critical first step in understanding more about this extraordinarily serious crime and strengthening California’s response,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava.
 
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery that involves depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person with the intent to obtain forced labor or sex. Researchers typically divide human trafficking into cases of sex trafficking or labor trafficking or both. The new report focuses on the state’s response to labor trafficking, as opposed to cases that principally involve sex trafficking.
 
In its report, the Commission examines California’s response to trafficking and highlights the lack of data about the crime. The Commission also provides guidance that would enhance the state’s understanding of trafficking and our ability to fight it.
 
“California is one of the top destination states for human trafficking,” said Commissioner Cynthia Buiza, who chairs the Commission’s subcommittee on the state’s response to human trafficking. “The state can and must do more to respond.”
 
Commissioner Dion Aroner, who also served on the labor trafficking subcommittee, noted that the Council will also assess future needs.
 
“We need to know what resources are being devoted to this fight now, and we need an assessment of the resources that might be needed in the future,” Aroner said. Nava, Buiza and Aroner wrote about the report in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
 
The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042

 

Little Hoover Commission to Study the Long-Term Economic Impact of COVID-19

 

The Little Hoover Commission – America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government – will hold a series of hearings this summer to examine California’s long-term economic and fiscal challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearings will focus on identifying likely changes, their effect on state government, and how state government can best respond to support those who are impacted.

The first of three hearings will be held on Thursday, June 25, and will seek to address how the pandemic and the resulting economic dislocation will alter California’s economy over the next two to five years. The Commission will assess the potential “new normal” of work and take a look at how both businesses and individuals are economically impacted. The second and third hearings, which will focus on the fiscal impact on state government and the changes in state government organization and policy that are needed in response, will be held throughout the month of July.

All three hearings will be held by Zoom, and will be accessible from the events page on our website: www.lhc.ca.gov/events. Additional information, including witness lists, will be released later.

“The impact of the pandemic is a critical issue facing our state,” said Pedro Nava, Chair of the Little Hoover Commission. “We look forward to providing a platform for robust conversations that will contribute to long-term planning as the state looks to address the lasting economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It is comprised of 13 appointed Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members. Its mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Make sure to sign-up for our e-newsletter to receive future updates regarding our COVID-19 hearings and other efforts. You can also stay up-to-date with the Commission by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick
Executive Director
510-205-8042

 

Improve Payments to Domestic Violence Programs, Little Hoover Commission Urges

 

Organizations providing shelter and other services to survivors of intimate partner violence should receive their state funding in an up-front payment at the start of their grant, rather than having to wait months to have the money reimbursed later, California’s independent government watchdog recommended.

In a new report, Intimate Partner Violence: Getting the Money to Those on the Front Line, the Little Hoover Commission urged state policymakers to reform the state’s key anti-domestic violence program so that the state portion of funding is paid immediately. The full report is available on the Commission’s website at lhc.ca.gov.

“Currently, some providers take out a loan while they wait to have their expenses reimbursed by the state,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “That makes no sense. The state’s policymakers can make changes to fix this problem.”

Intimate partner violence, also referred to as domestic violence, has a tragic impact on California. It is the leading cause of homicide of women, and one third of California women and one quarter of men will experience intimate partner violence and/or intimate partner stalking during their lifetimes, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. California law enforcement agencies field an average of 457 domestic violence calls each day.

Sadly, early evidence suggests that domestic violence has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shelters around the state have reported an increase in calls following the shelter-at-home orders. Shelters remain open and those who are experiencing intimate partner violence, or know someone who is, should call 1-800-799-SAFE.

The Commission’s report focuses on the Domestic Violence Assistance Program, which currently provides funding from both state and federal sources to approximately 100 organizations around California that provide services to survivors of intimate partner violence. The recipient organizations are funded equally, with each receiving about $500,000 per year – about $200,000 in state funding and the rest in federal funding.

Currently, the program’s recipients typically receive their grants as reimbursements for past expenses, although they may request to receive an advance payment of up to 25 percent of the state-funded portion of their grant, a limit set by state law.

At an October public hearing before the Commission and a January meeting of the Commission’s Advisory Committee on intimate partner violence, service providers described long waits for their reimbursements, and the Commission’s examination of the process found that reimbursements typically take 79 days at best, and sometimes even longer. In some cases, providers have taken out loans to stay afloat until the reimbursement is received.

In its report, the Commission recommended that the Legislature provide for a full advance payment of state funds received through the program.

“These organizations are doing extraordinary work under grueling and stressful conditions,” said Commissioner Janna Sidley, who chairs the Commission’s subcommittee on the state’s response to intimate partner violence. “The state should do everything possible to ease their financial situation and their paperwork burden. The answer is simple: Get the money out the door and into the hands of people who are doing such important work.”

The report noted that even with an advance payment of state funding, grant recipients would still face reporting and auditing requirements that the Commission believes are adequate to prevent fraud.

The state cannot change federal policy that requires a reimbursement model, and the Commission’s report does not address the federal requirement.

The Little Hoover Commission is California’s independent government watchdog, charged with recommending reforms that will improve efficiency or service in state government. The panel includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders – nine public members and four sitting members of the Legislature. No party may hold more than five of the public seats or two of the legislative seats, ensuring that the Commission’s recommendations reflect a variety of partisan viewpoints.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042

 

Commission Applauds Appointment of Dedicated State GIO

 

Pedro Nava, Chair of California’s Little Hoover Commission, issued the following statement Tuesday on the appointment of Carlos Isaac Cabrera as the new State Geographic Information Officer (GIO) in the California Department of Technology, responsible for managing data and geospatial services.

“We congratulate the administration on filling this important appointment. It could not be more timely, as GIS has proven itself a powerful tool for state leaders, particularly in the past weeks and months in tracking the daily impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our state. This appointment marks an important first step toward implementing the vision of a strong, centralized, coordinated approach to GIS across state government, as detailed in the Commission’s 2019 report, Mapping a Strategy for GIS.

“The Commission found an absence of statewide GIS leadership and coordination, in part because the State GIO simultaneously served as the State Chief Technology Innovation Officer. We called for a dedicated, full-time GIO position, and we’re pleased to see Mr. Cabrera’s appointment. Though we hope to see the position elevated as outlined in our report, we are encouraged by this action and wish Mr. Cabrera the best as he steps into this critical role. We continue to support pending legislation, introduced by Assemblymember and Commissioner Chad Mayes, that would establish a GIS Advisory Council and a California Geographic Information Office within the Department of Technology, led by a Geographic Information Officer appointed by the Governor.

“The Commission also called for an increase in the state’s capacity to employ GIS to assess where state spending occurs, how the delivery of services varies geographically, and how policy outcomes vary by region. Achieving this, the Commission said, would require the state designate and empower a full-time, dedicated State GIO to serve as California’s GIS leader, responsible for coordinating the state’s GIS projects, promulgating standards for data collection and sharing, and managing shared data resources.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2020

For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

 

Little Hoover Commission Re-Elects Chair Nava and Vice Chair Varner

 

The Little Hoover Commission unanimously re-elected Commissioner Pedro Nava as Chair and Commissioner Sean Varner as Vice Chair on Thursday, March 26, 2020. This will be Nava’s seventh consecutive term as Chair and Varner’s fourth consecutive term as Vice Chair.

Nava, a former Assemblymember and prosecutor, served on the Commission from 2005 to 2010 when he was a legislator, and later was appointed as a public member by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez in 2013 and reappointed by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in 2017.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to continue serving as Chair of the Little Hoover Commission,” said Nava. “I want to thank my fellow Commissioners for their support and I look forward to continue fulfilling the Commission’s mission to make our state government work better for all Californians.”

Varner is managing partner at Varner & Brandt LLP, where he focuses on mergers and acquisitions, finance, real estate, and general counsel work. He was appointed to the Commission in 2016 by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

“It has been an extraordinary experience serving on the Commission and I want to express my gratitude to the Commission for the ability to continue serving as Vice Chair,” Varner said. “I am eager to build on my experience and work with other Commissioners to further our efforts and ensure that state government is effectively and efficiently serving the public.”

The Commission is charged with researching public policy issues and making recommendations to the Governor and Legislature about how state government can be made more efficient and effective. In recent years, the Commission has reviewed and made recommendations on a wide variety of study areas,  including the management of California’s forests, the use of Artificial Intelligence and Geographic Information Systems in government, the Mental Health Services Act, the underground economy, open-meeting laws, Denti-Cal,  the management of special districts, the use of mandatory overtime, and the veterans homes program.

The Commission has studies underway now on the state’s response to intimate partner violence and human trafficking for purposes of labor exploitation, and is engaged in preliminary research on the state’s system of recycling organic waste and the interrelated issues of housing affordability and regional economic development. The Commission held a teleconference meeting Thursday to discuss current business and to conduct elections of the chair and vice chair. Terms of the officers are for one year.

Nava served in the California Assembly from 2004 to 2010 representing the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas. After leaving the Legislature, Nava served as a government relations advisor. In 2011, he was appointed to the California Department of Fish & Game Blue Ribbon Commission to assist in the development of the Wildlife Strategic Vision. Previously, he worked as a civil litigator after serving as a deputy district attorney in Fresno and Santa Barbara counties. Nava also served on the California Coastal Commission. While in the Legislature, he chaired several Assembly committees, including Transportation, Banking and Finance, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, the Select Committee on California’s Green Economy and the Joint Commission on Emergency Management. Nava also served on several other Assembly committees, including the Insurance, Business and Professions and Joint Legislative Audit, and was an Assembly representative to the Ocean Protection Council and California Transportation Commission.

Varner has over 25 years of legal and business experience, handling critical transactions facing a diverse clientele including Fortune 500 companies, the food and beverage industry, the manufacturing industry, the service industry, the technology sector, entertainment and social media, real estate development and land use, restaurant, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, officers and directors of corporations, and a variety of family-owned businesses. He has also represented oversight boards in the winding down of redevelopment agencies, including the City of Los Angeles and the City of Industry. Among many civic commitments, he has served as Chair of the board of the directors of The Community Foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, as two-time Chairman of the California Inland Empire Chapter of the Young President’s Organization, and as a member of the UC-Riverside Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics.

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate Rules Committee. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

 

 

Commentary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2020

For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

 

Little Hoover Commission Provides Roadmap For Governor Newsom's Mental Health Care System Overhaul
 

In a CalMatters commentary, Chairman Pedro Nava explains how the Little Hoover Commission's previous recommendations on Proposition 63 reform provide a roadmap for Governor Gavin Newsom's goal of improving California's mental health care programs. Chairman Nava's commentary is available on the CalMatters website. For more information on the Commission's mental health care reform recommendations, take a look at our previous reports Promises Still to Keep: A Decade of the Mental Health Services Act and Promises Still to Keep: A Second Look at the Mental Health Services Act.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2020

For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

 

Governor Newsom Reappoints Janna Sidley to the Little Hoover Commission

Governor Newsom has reappointed Janna Sidley to the Little Hoover Commission for an additional four-year term. Sidley, of Los Angeles, was originally appointed to the Commission in 2016 by Governor Brown. She is currently the Subcommittee Chair on the Commission’s Intimate Partner Violence study.

Sidley serves as General Counsel for the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest port complex, where she oversees and manages all legal services for the port, ensuring compliance with transportation, infrastructure, environmental, real estate, municipal, and employment laws. Sidley’s career of public service includes serving as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Director of the Violence Against Women Office at the U.S. Department of Justice, Deputy Director of the Office of Press Advance at the White House, and a special assistant in the Office of the Deputy Secretary as well as a special assistant for congressional and legislative affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Sidley earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

“Since she joined the Commission in 2016, Commissioner Sidley has been a mainstay of our efforts to improve the functioning of state government,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “She brings to the Commission her broad experience in the public sector, her keen analytical abilities, and a deep commitment to the mission of the Little Hoover Commission. We are grateful for her service, and grateful to Governor Newsom for her reappointment.”

“I want to thank Governor Newsom for this reappointment,” said Commissioner Sidley. “I have greatly enjoyed serving on the Commission, and look forward to continuing our work to improve state government.”

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members, appointed by the Governor and legislative leadership. Its mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations, and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy, and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2019

For Additional Information Contact:
Tamar Foster, Project Manager
(916) 445-2125

Little Hoover Commission Names Ethan Rarick New Executive Director

The Little Hoover Commission announced Ethan Rarick has been named Executive Director of the bipartisan, independent state oversight agency. He will join the Commission on June 10, 2019. He succeeds the late Carole D’Elia, who held the post for four years following a long tenure with the Commission.

Mr. Rarick brings with him extensive public policy experience that aligns with the values of the Little Hoover Commission. Since 2015, he has served as associate director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley – the oldest public policy center in California. Additionally, Mr. Rarick has served as the founding director of the Institute’s Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service since 2008. He first joined the Institute in 2005, serving as both director of publications and director of the Center on Politics.

Prior to his service with U.C. Berkeley, Mr. Rarick had an extensive career as a journalist, working for the Associated Press, Contra Costa Times.

“We’re all very excited that Mr. Rarick will be joining us,” Commission Chairman Pedro Nava said. “Commissioners and staff collaborated in identifying the characteristics and qualities necessary for the position. Mr. Rarick impressed us with his experience, vision and temperament, all critical skills for successful leadership of the Commission.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission, created in 1962, comprises 13 appointed Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members. Its mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2019

For Additional Information Contact:
Tamar Foster, Project Manager
(916) 445-2125

 

Commission Urges State to Proactively Strengthen the Security of California's Voting Equipment

The Little Hoover Commission sent a letter to the Governor and Legislature, available here, on Monday, March 4, 2019, calling upon lawmakers to fortify the state’s approach to voting equipment security.

During the course of its study, the Commission learned of many actions California takes to secure its elections, including implementing rigorous certification standards, requiring a paper trail for every vote cast, and recently establishing an Office of Cybersecurity to keep up with evolving security threats.

The Commission found, however, there are bigger, more aggressive steps the state could take in securing its voting equipment. “In this era when foreign interference, human error, and machine malfunctions dominate headlines, it’s more important than ever to remember the adage that security is a process, not a product,” said Little Hoover Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. “Though the state takes a number of important security measures, it must be more ambitious in making sure every Californian’s vote counts.”

The Commission identified the following key issues that policymakers must consider when securing the state’s voting equipment:

  • California must ensure every county’s voting equipment is as secure as possible, but the Commission found old and outdated voting equipment threatens election integrity.
  • California must prove to voters that the election results are legitimate, but more work is needed to better implement safeguards to catch and correct intentional or accidental discrepancies between how Californians voted and reported winners.
  • California’s “bottom-up” election system is valued for its ability to adapt to local needs, but the state lacks statewide goals for election system innovation.

The Little Hoover Commission is an independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action. The letter report is available at www.lhc.ca.gov.

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    February 7, 2019


    For Additional Information Contact:
    Tamar Foster, Project Manager
    (916) 445-2125

    Commission Releases its Biennial Review of California State Government Operations

    On Thursday, February 7, 2019, the Little Hoover Commission released the 2017-2018 edition of its biennial Economy and Efficiency Report.

    Inside the report you will find a synopsis of our oversight work and accomplishments during the past two years, and our list of top opportunities for government reform derived from the Commission’s body of work.

    You also will briefly learn about our purpose and responsibilities, study process and the role we play within the Capitol community - recommending improvements to state operations, writing bill support letters, testifying in support of legislation that implements our recommendations and taking requests from the Legislature and Governor for detailed reviews of government performance. You also will meet our 11 appointed Commissioners who bring a wide variety of professional, business and civic perspectives to these reviews.

    California Could Be Left Behind

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 27, 2018


    For Additional Information Contact:
    Tamar Foster, Project Manager
    (916) 445-2125

    Little Hoover Commission Issues a Roadmap for Developing Robust California Policies on Artificial Intelligence

    Today, the Little Hoover Commission issued Artificial Intelligence: A Roadmap for California. A competitive race is underway to develop and use AI technologies, which could increase the global economy by $13 trillion dollars.

    Commission Chair Pedro Nava said, “Between now and 2030, AI technologies could have an economic impact in California of well more than $400 billion and anywhere from 1 to 11 million California jobs could be effected. Yet, California, the 5th largest economy in the world, bigger than the United Kingdom, India and France, isn’t truly engaged in the race to harness the opportunities of AI. France, Switzerland, Japan and even other U.S. states, like Indiana, Massachusetts and Vermont, have begun AI initiatives that exceed what our state has done. California can ill afford to be flatfooted in a global contest that may well define our future for the better or, if we are not prudent, perhaps the worse.”

    The report urges policymakers to adopt an agenda that revolves around public engagement, building a human infrastructure, attacking pressing social needs, and protecting core values—autonomy, responsibility, privacy, transparency and accountability. The report also offers lawmakers a high-level plan with wide ranging recommendations, including: 
     

    • Building a state government infrastructure for the development and use of AI that promotes economic, social and environmental good;
    • Ensuring AI education in California schools and institutions of higher education;
    • Improving the state’s collection of data;
    • Providing incentives for AI investment, research and development; and
    • Promoting apprenticeships and training for those whose jobs may be displaced or transformed by AI, including state employees.     

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    March 22, 2018

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Terri Hardy, Executive Director (A)
    (916) 445-2125
     

    Little Hoover Commission Elects New Chairman and Vice Chairman


    On Thursday, March 22, 2018, the Little Hoover Commission unanimously re-elected Pedro Nava as chairman and unanimously re-elected Sean Varner as vice chairman.  This will be Mr. Nava’s fifth consecutive year term as chair and Mr. Varner’s second year term as vice chair.

    Mr. Nava has served on the Commission since April 3, 2013, when he was appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez.  He was reappointed to the Commission in January 2017 by Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon.  Mr. Nava previously served on the Commission as a California Assembly representative from September 2005 until March 2010.  Under Mr. Nava’s leadership, the Commission has reviewed and made recommendations on a wide variety of study areas including; improving interactions with government, climate change adaptation, the underground economy, open meetings acts, the Mental Health Services Act, Denti-Cal, forest management, special districts, mandatory overtime, occupational licensing, bond oversight and the veterans homes program.

    Mr. Nava served in the California Assembly from 2004 to 2010 representing the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas.  After leaving the Legislature, Mr. Nava served as a government relations advisor.  In 2011, he was appointed to the California Department of Fish & Game Blue Ribbon Commission (renamed Department of Fish & Wildlife in 2013) to assist in the development of the Wildlife Strategic Vision.  Previously, he worked as a civil litigator after serving as a deputy district attorney in Fresno and Santa Barbara counties.  Mr. Nava also served on the California Coastal Commission.  

    While in the Legislature, he chaired several Assembly committees, including Transportation, Banking and Finance, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, the Select Committee on California’s Green Economy and the Joint Commission on Emergency Management.  Mr. Nava also served on several other Assembly committees, including the Insurance, Business and Professions and Joint Legislative Audit, and was an Assembly representative to the Ocean Protection Council and California Transportation Commission.    

    Sean Varner was appointed to the Commission by Governor Edmund Brown Jr. in April 2016. Mr. Varner serves as managing partner at Varner & Brandt LLP where he practices as a transactional attorney focusing on mergers and acquisitions, finance, real estate and general counsel work.  Mr. Varner serves as chair of the board of the directors of The Community Foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and on the University of California, Riverside Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics. He also served as two-time chairman of the California Inland Empire Chapter of the Young President’s Organization.

    The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962.  It is comprised of 13 appointed Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members.  Its mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    February 5, 2018

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Terri Hardy, Executive Director (A)
    (916) 445-2125
     

    Commission Urges Culture Change to Stop Catastrophic Fires and Tree Deaths
     

    The Little Hoover Commission released a new report Monday, calling for a dramatic culture change in the way forests are managed to curb a disastrous cycle of wildfire and tree deaths.

    Instead of focusing almost solely on fire suppression, the state must institute wide-scale controlled burns and other strategic measures as a tool to reinvigorate forests, inhibit firestorms and help protect air and water quality, according to the Commission’s report, Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada.

    Immediate action is crucial, according to Pedro Nava, chair of the Little Hoover Commission. “Dead trees due to drought and a century of forest mismanagement have devastated scenic landscapes throughout the Sierra range,” said Chair Nava. “Rural counties and homeowners alike are staggering under the financial impacts of removing them. We have catastrophe-scale fire danger throughout our unhealthy forests and a growing financial burden for all taxpayers and government like California has never seen.”

    Over the course of the Commission’s year-long study, the number of dead trees in the Sierra rose from 102 million to 129 million. The Commission found that the deadly bark beetle invasion, responsible for the tree kill, signaled a larger problem of mismanaged forests and climate change.

    The report, sent to Governor Brown and the Legislature, makes nine recommendations to restore forests back to their historic fire regime. The Commission urges expanded funding for state prescribed fire crews and forest administrators to oversee a transformation to more proactive forest management. Resilient forests improve safety and make economic sense. The costs of mismanaged forests – for every level of government and many California homeowners in and around the Sierra Nevada – have become an unsustainable burden in California. Firefighting costs in the first half of this fiscal year alone have already topped $700 million.

    In addition, the Commission found that forest treatments should be accelerated and expanded throughout the Sierra Nevada and that there must be greater teamwork between state and federal forestry agencies to plan and implement the work. And, the state must create a long-term bioenergy plan to address the disposal of millions of dead trees as well as fund and develop a public education campaign about the importance of healthy forests in the Sierra Nevada.

    The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

    In Memory of LHC Executive Director Carole D’Elia

    December 20, 2017

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Terri Hardy, Deputy Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    CaroleThe Little Hoover Commission regretfully announces the death of its Executive Director, Carole D’Elia, on Saturday, December 16. She was 55. Carole was diagnosed with cancer in September following a family camping and hiking trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. She welcomed the widespread support of her many friends and acquaintances, and fought bravely to the end.

    Carole brought a deep institutional history to the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency. She joined the team in 2001 as a research analyst and served as project manager and deputy executive director before serving as executive director since 2013. She left a legacy of tackling some of the most complicated issues facing California state government, including pensions, water quality, healthcare and long-term care, infrastructure and spending. She developed an especially deep knowledge and passion for energy and bond spending.

    Among her many important contributions to the state, perhaps the most lasting will be those in criminal justice. Her work in the Commission’s report, Solving California’s Corrections Crisis: Time is Running Out, was the first citation in the 2011 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Plata, which held that California’s overcrowded prison system violated 8th Amendment rights.

    “She was a remarkable person who cared deeply about the Commission's work and inspired all around her to reach higher,” said Pedro Nava, chair of the Little Hoover Commission. “She was thoughtful, considerate and caring. Her zeal was perfectly paired with the practical. We pledge to continue to perform our work in a way that would make her proud.”

    Carole dedicated her career to making California state government more effective, handled policy analysis with grace and helped the Commission skillfully navigate the political currents to find bipartisan, lasting solutions.

    She also was a member and leader of the Sacramento County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commissions and a volunteer coordinator with Get on the Bus, which provides bus trips for children to visit their incarcerated mothers. Additionally, Carole served on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Gender Responsive Strategies Commission and the St. Anthony Parish Social Justice Committee. She also worked with homeless families as part of Family Promise.

    Carole leaves her loving husband, John, and cherished children, Amanda and Adam. She is deeply missed by her six-member Commission staff in Sacramento and 12 current Commissioners and many former Commissioners throughout the state.

     

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 5, 2017

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125
     

    Little Hoover Commission Calls for Urgent Repair and Bold Transformation of the Yountville Veterans Home Campus
     

    The state must immediately fix public safety threats at the Yountville veteran’s home, including malfunctioning elevators and other critical infrastructure issues, according to the Little Hoover Commission, in a report sent Tuesday to Governor Brown and the Legislature. The report calls for bold and innovative approaches to transform the historic 615-acre campus in the heart of Napa Valley to better meet the changing needs of veterans statewide.

    Transforming the Yountville Veterans Home Campus builds on findings from a March 2017 Commission report in which the Commission identified critical infrastructures issues on the historic Yountville veterans home that pose a public safety risk to residents and others. Early in its study process the Commission identified problems with antiquated heating and cooling systems and alarming malfunctions of elevators in the home’s multi-story skilled nursing facility, designed to house veterans with acute health care needs, some of whom also have mobility challenges. This update report acknowledges efforts by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to address some of these issues, particularly to fix the faulty elevators. However, despite repairs, the problems persist. The report calls for CalVet to develop ongoing and proactive strategies to monitor and repair structural problems immediately as they arise, while at the same time evaluating and re-configuring, as necessary, its homes program to ensure that the levels of care offered meet the needs of California’s veterans population.

    Additionally, the Commission determined the state has greater latitude than originally believed to craft a new future for the home. Officials long had operated under the misperception that use of the Yountville property is limited by a 1899 deed that stated California must maintain the property as a home for United States soldiers, sailors and marines. Instead, the Commission discovered that state law permits leasing real property on the Yountville veterans home campus and lawmakers could further clarify the terms and purposes of leasing opportunities.

    “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform pristine property in the heart of Napa Valley and do so in a way that honors the history of the campus, while simultaneously expanding the state’s ability to serve more veterans,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. 

    The Commission recommends that California establish an independent entity to plan, design and manage the use of the Yountville property, beyond the current veterans home program. New uses could include affordable housing for veterans home employees and others, park space for residents and visitors, modernized office space in formerly underutilized buildings and a hotel and restaurants to serve the community while providing jobs for returning veterans. Though the Commission recommends the property should maintain a strong veterans focus, state law should be adapted to expand the use of the campus to allow long-term leasing agreements that generate revenue to be used for other veterans services across the state.

    The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    August 30, 2017

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Little Hoover Commission Calls for Special District Reforms


    The Little Hoover Commission, in a report sent Wednesday to Governor Brown and the Legislature, recommended several measures to strengthen oversight of California’s 2,071 independent special districts.  The state should eliminate unnecessary hurdles for district dissolutions and consolidations to improve service delivery, expand transparency by requiring every district to have a website with basic information and standardize current reporting requirements on  revenues, expenditures and reserves, according to the Commission’s report, Special Districts: Improving Oversight & Transparency.

    “Special districts are the most common form of government in California, yet because there are so many performing so many different types of services, it is hard to draw conclusions on whether taxpayers would be better served if various districts merged or consolidated,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava.  “Current local government oversight of these districts is working in many places, but not all corners of California.  To that end we are recommending some legislative changes that should lead to improved service delivery and greater efficiency.”

    Special districts are the workhorses of government in California, providing vital services ranging from fire protection to water, cemeteries to sewers. Often it is special districts on the front lines of adapting to climate change and the Commission’s study focused on the important role districts can plan in both planning for change and educating their constituents. The Commission spent a year investigating whether California taxpayers are well-served by this little-understood layer of bureaucracy.  While they vary greatly in size and in servces provided, some common themes emerged.

    The Commission found that the 58 Local Agency Formation Commission charged with oversight are not uniformly effective at initiating dissolutions and consolidations when necessary to improve service delivery and efficiency.  The Commission recommends several legislative modifications to strengthen these local bodies as well as a small one-time funding injection to initiate the most urgent dissolutions and consolidations, something that should save taxpayer dollars in the long run. 

    Also in its review, the Commission found it difficult to find basic information on all special districts.  The Commission recommended requiring every special district to maintain a website outlining how to participate in decision making and an easy guide to revenue resources and expenditures, plus a published policy for financial reserves.

    Additionally, the Commission focused on one type of district – healthcare districts – particularly those that no longer operate hospitals.  It found this segment needs to evolve to a modern preventative healthcare model, as some healthcare districts have.  As a start, the Commission recommends updating the outdated practice act that governs these districts.

    The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

    California's Little Hoover Commission Launches New Website, Brand and Logo


    The Commission is pleased to announce the launch of its newly redesigned website, brand and logo. Our refreshed new look mirrors the exciting and engaging direction we are taking the Commission’s work.

    Over the past year, the Commission has been working with lowercase productions to enhance our brand identity and web communication strategies. The Commission began its journey by developing a new logo design that better reflects its core mission, values, vision and purpose. You’ll see our refreshed look on our new website, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube platforms, and very soon on all of our business collateral, as well.

    In conjunction with our brand identity project, we also redesigned our website. With a focus on user experience, we wanted to create an aesthetically pleasing website with an intuitively accessible navigation scheme to make it easier for visitors to find the information they’re looking for.

    We will be continually expanding our online content to bring you updated information about future events, report releases and much more. So we encourage you to sign-up for our public notice list – located on our contact us page – and follow us on Twitter!

    We invite you to explore our new website and welcome your feedback.


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    • Homepage: At a glance, see upcoming events, recent reports, current studies, and quick links to get to where you want to go with one click. The rotating slideshow displays images of California’s diverse and beautiful landscapes. These images were selected to represent those who we serve – every Californian.
       
    • Report Library: Read our reports and learn more about our findings and recommendations. The new report library search engine and drop-down menu is a powerful yet simple feature, making it easier for you to filter through our 230 plus reports by subject areas or key words. You have the option of viewing the report library in a grid or list format.
       
    • Current Studies: Learn more about our current studies in progress and view their study schedules.
       
    • Events: Preview upcoming and past hearings, meetings, site visits and events. Quickly view the time and location of the event, agenda, public notice and the associated study page.
       
    • About: Meet our Commissioners and staff, and learn about the Commission’s role and responsibilities, organization, study process and history, and the Commission’s role in the Governor’s Reorganization process and oversight of the California State Auditor.
       
    • Impact: Learn about our impact in California state government and see highlighted implementation activities displaying our direct and long-term effects. Read about the Commission’s exciting work in the news and find legislation the Commission has supported during each two-year legislative session.
       
    • Contact Us: Participate! The new contact us form allows you to select multiple options for how you want to share your thoughts with us and follow our activities.