On July 25, 2011, Governor Brown vetoed AB 455, a bill that would have drastically altered the manner in which public agency personnel and merit system commission appointments are made, and that would have decisively increased union presence on commissions.  (LCW blogged about the bill on July 7, 2011.)  AB 455, authored by Nora Campos (D – San Jose), would have authorized the union representing the largest number of a public agency’s employees to appoint half of the members of the agency’s personnel or merit system commission.  Such appointments are now usually made by the governing board of the agency itself. 

The bill was sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME”).  Its purpose was to remedy what unions have claimed to be a pro-employer disposition of commission appointees. 

The League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties urged Governor Brown to veto the bill.

The Governor’s veto message emphasized that AB 455 was overly strong medicine for the problem that was claimed to exist.  He wrote: “While intended to create more balanced commissions and address concerns relating to individual commissions, this measure imposes a top down, one-size-fits-all solution on all merit and personnel commissions statewide.”  The Governor articulated a desire to defer to individual cities, counties, and agencies: “The measure seeks to impose a level of state control that is inconsistent with my administration’s efforts to realign state services and to increase local control.  Concerns relating to specific commissions should be addressed on a case-by-case basis at the local level.”