Inventory of the California State Assembly Local Government Committee Records, 1940-2008

Processed by Lucy Barber and Alicia Castaneda.
California State Archives
1020 "O" Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 653-2246
Fax: (916) 653-7363
© 2014
California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the California State Assembly Local Government Committee Records, 1940-2008

Collection number: See series descriptions for LP numbers

California State Archives

Office of the Secretary of State

Sacramento, California

Contact Information:

  • California State Archives
  • 1020 "O" Street
  • Sacramento, California 95814
  • Phone: (916) 653-2246
  • Fax: (916) 653-7363
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by: Lucy Barber and Alicia Castaneda
Date Completed: 2014
Encoded by: Lucy Barber and Sara Kuzak
© 2014 California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: California State Assembly Local Government Committee records,
Date (inclusive): 1940-2008
Collection Numbers: See series descriptions for LP numbers.
Creator: Assembly Local Government Committee Assembly Municipal and County Government Committee
Extent: 129 cubic feet
Repository: California State Archives
Sacramento, California
Abstract: This collection contains the records of the California State Assembly Local Government Committee and its predecessor, the Municipal and County Government Committee. They reflect the activity of the committees in overseeing legislation and other matters affecting California's local governments, including counties, cities, local agency formation committee, water districts, and other special districts. The records cover the years, 1940-2008, with the bulk from 1969-2008. They are comprised of bill files, hearing files, subject files, correspondence files, legislative counsel opinions and court opinions.
Language: English.

Administrative Information


While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions are noted in the record series descriptions.

Publication Rights

For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], [Name of Committee] Records, LP[number]:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California

Acquisition and Custodial History

The State Archives received these records in accordance with California Government Code 9080(b) which requires legislative committees to transfer their records to the State Archives when they are no longer needed by the committee.

Committee History

Since the California legislature was first organized, there has been an Assembly committee concerned with the affairs of local governments. The earliest committee, the Assembly Counties and County Boundaries, focused the boundaries and divisions of counties and the salaries of county officials. By the 1880s, the Assembly added the Assembly County and Township Committee and the Municipal Corporations Committee. The Counties and County Boundaries and the County and Township Government Committees ceased operation after 1911. Apparently to replace both, the Assembly created the County Government Committee in 1913. In the same year, a Committee on Libraries to review matters concerning local libraries was established. The Municipal Corporations Committee, the County Government Committee and the Libraries Committee continued to operate until 1943 when the Assembly formed the Municipal and County Government Committee in their places. It was "assigned the subject matter in the Government Code relating to the government of cities, counties, cities and counties, districts, and other political subdivisions of the state, uncodified laws relating there to, and other matters relating to municipal and county government" (HR438, July 11, 1968, Assembly Journal, p. 5709).
In 1969, the committee was renamed the Assembly Local Government Committee but kept its original scope of addressing all matters "relating to local government" (HR 414, August 4, 1969, Assembly Journal, p. 7394). They were specifically excluded from addressing the boundaries of school districts.
As both the Municipal and County Government and later as the Local Government Committee, the committee had some distinctive characteristics in comparison to other standing committees in the Assembly. In the opinion of its members and its staff, the committee was seen as less important than other committees. John Knox, chair of the committee from 1963 to 1975, called the committee the "worst in the house" for a member to be appointed. Thomas Willoughby, principal staff analyst from 1961- 1977, observed, "it wasn't that the committee was unimportant, it was just that the issues it deal with didn't have a lot of political sex appeal" (Willoughby Oral History, p. 6; see related collections). Another unique quality was the continuity and effectiveness of its staff. Thomas Willoughby (fifteen years) and his successor Julie Castelli Nauman (eleven years) provided the committee with expert assistance in evaluating measures. In addition, John Knox was the first chair in the Assembly to ask his staff to prepare bill analyses that were distributed to all members of the committee. This practice eventually spread to all committees in the legislature (Willoughby Oral History, p. 6).
Most notably, the committee was different because the committee's scope meant that it did not have a single major state agency with which it worked closely. Instead, its main advisors were officials in local government, as well as the professional associations and lobbyists that represented them. Close relationships were common between committee members and staff and such groups as the League of California Cities, the California Association of Local Agency Formation, and the County Supervisors Association of California. Often, the committee arranged to hold hearings at the same time as annual meetings of such groups.
Though the official scope of the committee has stayed consistent since the creation of the Municipal and Country Government Committee in 1943, certain measures and social changes have resulted in new areas of investigations. As a result of recommendations from Governor Pat Brown's Commission on Metropolitan Area Problems, the Knox-Nisbet Act (AB1662 and SB861) was passed and chaptered in 1963 (Thomas Willoughby to Editor, CALAFCO Newsletter, September 18, 1975, Assembly Local Government Records, LP327:431). The broad goal of the bill was the "discouragement of urban sprawl" and "the orderly formation" of local government; its main mechanism was the creation of Local Agency Formation Committees (known as LAFCos) in every county "to regulate the expansion, reorganization, creation, dissolution of cities and special districts." However, because these were new local governmental organizations with some power to regulate the actions of other local government, in the wake of their creation, committee constantly evaluated subsequent bills seeking to clarify distinct responsibilities for each form of local government. At the same time, the committee increasingly returned to the issues of development, growth, and sprawl that had originally inspired the Knox-Nisbet Act. In the 1970s, this concern was at times made more difficult because of the overlap in responsibilities between the Local Government Committee and the Assembly Planning, Land Use and Energy Committee. By the early 1980s, the Local Government Committee had secured primary review authority over local planning issues (John T. Knox to Leo T. McCarthy, July 15, 1974, Assembly Local Government Records, LP327:430; Robert C. Frazee to Willie L. Brown, January 27, 1981, Assembly Local Government Records, LP327:448).
The committee also played an important role in creating the guidelines for the original California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 (AB2045). After the California Supreme Court ruled that its measures applied to private as well as public projects, the committee helped developed provisions to apply this widen scope and to reconcile the measure with federal requirements for similar environmental impact statements. No political shift had more impact on the committee than the series of efforts to control property taxes in California. The ratification by the voters of the Property Tax Initiative (Proposition 13) in 1978 resulted in new concerns for the committee. In its wake, many measures considered by the committee focused on how local governments could finance projects under the new fiscal constraints imposed by the measure. The following year the passage of the Gann Initiative (Proposition 4) further limited the ability of local governments to increase their budgets through new forms of assessments. In the wake of both measures, the Committee considered various measures to make up for these strict budget limitations. The Mello-Roos Community Facility Act of 1982 (AB3564 and SB2001) was one such measure that allowed local governments to impose fees on developers of new subdivisions to pay for community facilities in the areas. With fiscal constraints on local government, the issue of state mandates for local government without adequate state funding became a constant source of discussion and legislation. Because the committee dealt with a variety of local governments, it often found itself considering measures that resulted in face-offs between counties, school districts, special districts, and cities, all competing for parts of limited revenues. Such debates, alongside the perennial questions of local vs. state governmental scope, the integrity of local governments, and the need for special legislation for specific areas, will continue to keep the Assembly Local Government Committee busy in the 21st century.
For a complete list of committee chairs, please see Appendix A in Additional Information.

Additional Information

Scope and Content

The Assembly Local Government Committee Records consist of 129 cubic feet of textual and audiovisual records reflecting the activity of the committee in overseeing legislation and other matters affecting California's local governments, including counties, cities, local agency formation committee, water districts, and other special districts. The records cover the years, 1940-2008, with the bulk from 1969-2008. They are comprised of bill files, hearing files, subject files, correspondence files, legislative counsel opinions and court opinions. Although the Municipal and County Government Committee began in 1943, records from the first eight years are entirely lacking in the Archives holdings and there are no bill files for the committee. It is anticipated that the Archives will receive further records from the Assembly Local Government Committee. Researchers should check for recently received, unprocessed records of the committee.
All of the series in the collection provide insight into the many relationships between the state of California and the many local governments within its boundaries. Bill files cover such diverse topics as requirements for the sterilization of stray animals (AB302), the creation of regional planning agencies, the application of the Brown Act requiring open meetings to various local government, the appropriate jurisdiction in cases of shopping cart theft, the regulation of subdivision of land in multi-unit residential area, and the conversion of military bases to civilian uses in the 1990s. The issue of how best to regulate growth in California reoccurs repeatedly, often in connection with legislation about the scope of Local Agency Formation Committees. In bill, hearing, and subject files, the appropriate application of the California Environmental Quality Act is reviewed from its incarnation in the 1970s to the controversies in the 1990s. Researchers interested in the practical adjustments made by the state, county, and local governments in the wake of the "tax revolt" of the 1970s and the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 will find many perspectives.
Regular correspondents about legislation and committee matters as well as speakers at hearings included representatives from the Association of California Water Agencies, California State Association of Counties, California Special Districts Association, California Taxpayers Association, City Clerks Association of California, County Supervisors Association of California, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, League of California Cities, and from individual cities and counties. For researchers interested in the workings of the California State Legislature, the correspondence and subject files provides insight into the varied duties provided by committee members and staff, the allocation of their time, and their perception of the role of the committee for the Assembly.


Further accruals are expected.

Related Collections at the California State Archives

Eugene Chappie Papers
Dominic L. Cortese Papers
William Craven Papers
Sam Farr Papers
Robert Frazee Papers
Mike Gotch Papers
John Knox Papers
Richard Rainey Papers
Michael Sweeney Papers
Senate Local Government Committee Records

Oral Histories of Committee Staff

Thomas H. Willoughby, oral history interview conducted by Anne Lage, 1988, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley for the State Government Oral History Program, California State Archives.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been associated with these materials in the Archives' automated public access system (currently in development, September 2003).
Knox, John T. (John Theryll), 1924-
Willoughby, Thomas H., 1935-
California. Legislature. Assembly. Local Government Committee.
Environmental law - California.
Proposition 13 (California property tax initiative), 1978.
California. California Environmental Quality Act.

Series Description

See below for LP numbers

Series 1 Bill Files 1969-2008

Physical Description: 1,486 file folders and 2 VHS tapes

Alternative Form of Materials Available

Microfilm copies of bill files are available for the years 1969-1988 where indicated with MF before the LP number.


Arranged chronologically by legislative session, then numerically by bill number.

Access Information

Access to audiovisual materials requires the production of use copies.

Scope and Content Note

Bills that deal with the duties, status, and regulations of local governments are generally referred to the Assembly Local Government Committee. Bill files generally include the analysis of bills prepared by legislative staff and may also contain correspondence, special reports, newspaper articles, and similar materials. The files tend to include more information after 1979. Because of the broad scope of the committee, bills considered by the committee may be as specific as proposed changes to a single water district or as wide-ranging as the California Environmental Quality Act (AB2045, 1970). The committee also reviewed bills that responded specific emergencies in localities; for examples AB1974 (1993-1994) that helped business owners with losses from the Los Angeles Riots of 1992; SB248 and SB273 (1993-1994) in response to damage caused by the Northridge Earthquake of 1994; SB863, SB864, and SB866 in response to the Orange County financial crisis. After the passage of the measures (SB617, 1991-1992 and SB1135, 1993-1994) that resulted in the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund that required a certain amount of local property taxes to go towards public schools, local governments supported various measures that would protect their share of the remaining revenue.
1969: AB81-AB2326, ACA51, ACA67 (2ff) MF LP214:192-193
1970: AB60-AB2529, ACA33, ACA51, ACR11 (2ff) MF LP214:194-195
1970: SB15-SB1304, SCA19, SJR35 (1ff) MF LP214:196
1971: AB19-AB3094, ACA14, ACA55 (3ff) MF LP214:197-199
1971: SB46-SB1634, SJR93 (1ff) MF LP214:200
1972: AB27-AB2374, ACA31, ACA55 (2ff) MF LP214:201-202
1972: SB54-SB1468 (1ff) MF LP214:203
1973-1974: AB14-AB4415, ACA12, ACA91, AJR10, AJR59 (3ff) MF LP214:204-206
1973-1974: SB33-SB2416, SJR53 (1ff) MF LP214:207
1975-1976: AB20-AB4526, ACA18-ACA99, ACR167, AJR4 (5ff) MF LP214:208-209 MF:LP242:147-149
1975-1976: SB39-SB2186 (2ff) MF LP214:210 MF LP242:150
1977-1978: AB8-AB3824, ACA3-ACA78,ACR8-ACR122 (2ff) MF LP214:211-212
1977-1978: SB44-SB2208, SCA20, SCA35 (1ff) MF LP214:213
1979-1980: AB9-AB3477, ACA56, ACA85, ACR51 (17ff) MF LP187:158-172, MF LP214:214-215
1979-1980: SB51-SB2025, SCR29, SCR58 (7ff) MF LP206:194-199 MF LP214:216 SB462 (1ff) LP232:235
1981-1982: AB30-AB3796, ACA33-ACA86, AJR69 (14ff) MF LP206:200-212 MF LP214:217
1981-1982: AB251, AB2470 (2ff) MF LP212:68-69
1981-1982: SB55-SB2052 (7ff) MF LP206:213-218
1981-1982: SB66, SB297, SB1425 (2ff) MF LP212:70-71
1983-1984: AB14-AB4045, ACA54-ACA56, ACR150 (16ff) MF LP215:209-222
1983-1984: AB832, AB2010 (2ff) MF LP232:236-237
1983-1984: AB2038 (6ff) MF LP242:163-169
1983-1984: SB36-SB2337, SJR15 (12ff) MF LP242:151-162
1985-1986: AB49-AB810 MF LP255:195-201 AB820-4388, ACA36 (26ff) MF LP232:201-225
1985-1986: SB61-SB2441, SJR30 (9ff) MF LP232:226-234
1987-1988: AB13-AB4673, ACA9-ACA53 (29ff) MF LP263:163-191
1987-1988: Preprint SB1; SB97-SB2893 (29ff) MF LP263:192-220
1989-1990: AB35-AB4267, ACA1-ACA53, ACR131, AB1X-AB37X (71ff) LP292:1-70
1989-1990: SB20-SB2882, SCA2, SCA19, SJR36, SB27X (70ff) LP292:71-140
1991-1992: AB3-AB3813, ACA3-ACA39, ACR18-ACR108 AB27X-AB54X (94ff) LP292:141-234
1991-1992: SB11-SB2037, SCA13 (82ff) LP292:235-316
1993-1994: AB1-AB3800, ACA1-ACA45, ACR104, AJR59, AB90X-AB142X (82ff) LP327:1-81
1993-1994: SB1-SB2112, SCA20, SCA336, SCR18 (59ff) LP327:82-140
1995-1996: AB5-AB3503, ACA7-38, ACR90, AB2X (79ff) LP327:141-219
1995-1996: SB8-SB2169, SB11X (74ff) LP327:220-283
1997-1998: AB1-AB2708, ACA4-ACA42, ACR71, AJR60, HR52-HR58, AB2X-AB13X (LP327:454-525)
1997-1998: SB14-SB2227 (LP327:527-576)
1999-2000: AB24-AB2940, ACA11-ACA23 (LP327:577-663)
1999-2000: SB3-SB2117, SCA7, SJR13 (LP327:664-715)
2001-2002: AB205-AB3057, ACA10, ACR228 (LP327:716-785)
2001-2002: SB27-SB1579, SB23XX (LP327:786-837)
2003-2004: AB5-AB3105, ACA5-ACA30, AJR59-AJR84 (LP327:838-906)
2003-2004: SB10-SB1909, SJR23 (LP327:907-942)
2005-2006: AB14-AB3074, ACA7-ACA30 (LP327:943-1005)
2005-2006: SB35-SB1842 (LP327:1006-1043)
2007-2008: AB5-AB3080, ACA3-ACA8 (LP327:1044-1096)
2007-2008: SB2-SB1732 (LP327:1097-1128)
See Appendix B for LP numbers

Series 2 Hearing Files 1951-2002

Physical Description: 421 file folders, 131 audiocassettes, 3 VHS tapes, and 14 dictabelts


Arranged chronologically by date of hearing.

Access Information

Access to audiovisual materials requires the production of use copies.

Scope and Content Note

Hearing files for Assembly Local Government Committee may contain agendas, audiotapes, transcripts, testimony, background reports, and working files for regular session hearings, interim hearings, and some joint hearings. Tapes (dictabelts, audiocassettes, and VHS tapes) have been moved to a cold-storage vault for preservation purposes and separation sheets are in the appropriate files to alert the researcher to the existence of such tapes. When complete, hearings files can provide in-depth analysis of issues of concern to the committee and California's local government. Their topics reveal some continuity in concerns; the earliest hearing files in the Archives from 1951 address the division of powers between state and local governments. The topic reoccurs in subsequent decades. The appropriate response to suburban development and the application of the California Environmental Quality Act are also recurrent topics. The best and fairest methods for financing local government responsibilities are a regular concern, especially after the passage of Proposition 13. Other topics that receive less frequent attention include contracts with private business for public services, boundary changes, homelessness, transit districts, the specific needs of rural areas, County Assessors Offices, the division of Los Angeles County, disaster assistance. The committee often held joint hearings with the Senate Local Government Committee, and less often with the Assembly Committees on Transportation, Housing and Community Development, and Revenue and Taxation.
For a list of hearing dates and topics, see Appendix B in in Additional Series Information.

Additional Series Information

See Appendix C for LP numbers

Series 3 Subject Files 1944-1985

Physical Description: 62 file folders


Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Scope and Content Note

Subject files contain studies, correspondence with local governments and interest groups, press clippings, and reports on topics of interest to the Municipal and County Government and the Local Government Committees. The files date from a variety of periods and were maintained by the committee over varying lengths of time. Some files focus on the implementation of the United States and California Supreme Courts ruling that "One Man, One Vote" principles applied to local government elections. A collection of legislative counsel opinions documents the changing legal powers of Local Agency Formation Commissions. The issue of how best to finance local government reoccurs in various folders; an interesting proposal in 1972 recommended the abolition of property taxes and the implementation of income taxes at the local level. The controversial development of parts of San Bruno Mountain in San Mateo County is well-documented through environmental impact reports, comments by the LAFCo, newspapers reports, and other documents, mainly from the 1980s. Water sources for the city of Carlsbad in San Diego County are also discussed in series of studies, court rulings, and newspaper articles. The concern of the committee with how to revise the Subdivision Map Act appears in the files of the task force that helped developed AB1173 (1981-1982).
For a list of Subject Files, see Appendix C in in Additional Series Information.

Additional Series Information

LP38:17, 19-20 LP327:425-453

Series 4 Correspondence Files 1964-1985

Physical Description: 32 file folders


Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence includes letter received and written by the chairs of the Committee, its members, and its staff members. The bulk is from 1973-1985. The correspondence documents the wide-ranging interests of the committee in matters concerning local governments, its role of providing information to other elected officials about the specifics of California's laws regarding local governments, and its close working relationship with a wide range of associations, including the League of California Cities, the County Supervisors Association of California, and California Local Area Formation Committees.
Committee Correspondence. 1955-1956 (3ff) LP38:17, LP38:19-20
Committee Correspondence. 1964 (1ff) LP327:425
Committee Correspondence. 1973-1985 (27ff) LP327:426-452
Committee Correspondence. 1989-1990 (1ff) LP327:453
LP215:262-267, LP216:1-5

Series 5 Legislative Counsel Opinions 1962-1982

Physical Description: 11 file folders


Arranged chronologically by date of issue.

Scope and Content Note

Responses by the Legislative Counsels to questions about existing statutes and proposed legislation and their effects on local governments.
Opinions, 1962-1974 (6ff) LP215:262-267
Opinions, 1975-1982 (6ff) LP216:1-5

Series 6 Court Decisions 1940-1982

Physical Description: 22 file folders


Arranged chronologically by the year of decision.

Scope and Content Note

A collection of court decisions by state and federal courts that pertain to local government operations and were deemed critical by committee staff. For most years, an index is in the folder.