California Lab. Federation v. Occupational Safety & Health Stds. Bd., AFL-CIO

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtSMITH; KLINE, P.J., and PETERSON
Citation7 Cal.Rptr.2d 399,5 Cal.App.4th 985
PartiesCALIFORNIA LABOR FEDERATIONet al., Petitioners, v. OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH STANDARDS BOARD, Respondent.
Decision Date24 April 1992
Docket NumberNo. A048574,AFL-CIO

Page 399

7 Cal.Rptr.2d 399
5 Cal.App.4th 985
CALIFORNIA LABOR FEDERATION AFL-CIO et al., Petitioners,
v.
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH STANDARDS BOARD, Respondent.
No. A048574.
Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2, California.
April 24, 1992.
As Modified on Denial of Rehearing May 21, 1992.

Page 400

[5 Cal.App.4th 988] Stephen P. Berzon, Michael Rubin, Altshuler & Berzon, Charles P. Scully, II, Donald C. Carroll, Law Offices of Charles P. Scully, Inc., A Professional Corp., Ralph Santiago Abascal, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., Albert H. Meyerhoff, Natural Resources Defense Council, San Francisco, David B. Roe, Environmental Defense Fund, Oakland, Laurence Gold, Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Charles A. Barrett, Janet K. Goldsmith, William E. Hvidsten, Steven H. Goldberg, Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard, Sacramento, for respondent.

SMITH, Associate Justice.

We are called upon here to determine the constitutionality of provisions of the state Budget Act which purport to limit the amounts the state will pay towards a certain category of attorneys' fee awards against state agencies. We conclude that the challenged provisions violate the Single Subject Rule set forth in section 9 of article IV of the California Constitution, and are therefore void.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioners brought this original proceeding for a writ of mandate compelling respondent California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to incorporate in the state Cal/OSHA plan certain health and safety provisions adopted in Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. We granted the relief requested. (California Lab. Federation v. Occupational Safety & Health [5 Cal.App.4th 989] Stds. Bd. (1990) 221 Cal.App.3d 1547,1559, 271 Cal.Rptr. 310, review den.) Thereafter, petitioners moved under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 (hereinafter cited as section 1021.5) for an award of some $234,373.10 in attorneys' fees and costs. We awarded $114,266.25 in fees and $2,820.30 in costs, and directed respondent to pay these sums "forthwith."

When petitioners sought payment, a budget analyst for the Department of Industrial Relations advised counsel by letter that the state would not pay the full award: "The State of California has established a Budget Appropriation for payment of attorney's fees awarded pursuant to [section 1021.5] with a $125 cap on the hourly fee payable. The court's award of $114,226.25 [sic ] was reduced to $55,422.75 in compliance with the hourly rate cap requirement for 1021.5 cases." In order to receive any payment at all, petitioners would have to execute releases discharging the state from any further liability.

Petitioners brought this motion to enforce the award as made, seeking an order requiring respondent to pay the full amount awarded. 1 They contend that the budget provisions on which the state relies are void because they effect an amendment of existing law in violation of the single subject rule.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Introduction

The controversy before us is one of considerable delicacy, arising as it does in the sometimes turbulent region where the legislative

Page 401

and judicial spheres come into close contact. In making the present award, we did no more than carry out the legislative directive of section 1021.5 that we reward litigants in certain cases by granting a reasonable attorneys' fee. We are now [5 Cal.App.4th 990] called upon to consider the effect of budget provisions by which the Legislature sought to restrict the right thus granted. In addressing this question we must consider the paramount command of the California Constitution that the Legislature may not use the Budget Act to expressly or impliedly amend or repeal existing substantive statutes.

This case raises no question concerning the Legislature's substantive power to limit or control attorneys' fee awards against the state. In Mandel v. Myers (1981) 29 Cal.3d 531, 550-551, 174 Cal.Rptr. 841, 629 P.2d 935, the Supreme Court pointed out several means by which the Legislature might accomplish such a result through properly enacted statutes. One of the strategies noted is similar in substance to the provisions in question here, i.e., "establish[ing] a fixed or maximum hourly rate of recovery for attorney services...." (Id. at p. 551, 174 Cal.Rptr. 841, 629 P.2d 935.) There is no occasion here to question the Legislature's competence to enact such a limitation. The sole issue is the lawfulness, in light of the single subject rule, of a "cap" on fee awards enacted as part of the Budget Act.

B. Single Subject Rule

Article IV, section 9 of the California Constitution (hereafter article IV, section 9) requires that every statute "embrace but one subject, which shall be expressed in its title." 2 This requirement grew out of an abhorrence of "log-rolling," "pork barrel politics," and legislation by "riders"--all variations on the parliamentary tactic of combining unrelated provisions in a single bill in order to secure their enactment. A "rider," for example, " 'consisted in attaching to a bill dealing with one matter of legislation a clause entirely foreign to that subject matter, to the end that, hidden under the cloak of the meritorious legislation, the obnoxious measure might "ride through." Such "riders" ... not infrequently embraced ill-digested and pernicious legislation, relief bills, private appropriation measures, and the like, which would not have carried if the legislative mind had been directed to them. It was to cure this evil that the constitution made it mandatory that a bill should embrace but one subject-matter, and to meet the case of such a "rider" actually slipping through, declared that any matter foreign to the title of the bill should be held void.' " (Planned Parenthood Affiliates v. Swoap (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 1187, 1196, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664 (hereinafter cited as Swoap ), quoting Ex parte Hallawell (1909) 155 Cal. 112, 114, 99 P. 490.)

[5 Cal.App.4th 991] The Budget Act is a complex measure whose passage is essential, and as such is "particularly susceptible to abuse" of the kind just described. (Swoap, supra, 173 Cal.App.3d at p. 1198, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664.) It is, therefore, fully subject to scrutiny under the single subject rule. (Id. at pp. 1198-1199, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664.) Its "subject" is the appropriation of funds for government operations, and it cannot constitutionally be employed to expand a state agency's authority, or to "substantively amend[ ] and chang[e] existing statute law." (Id. at p. 1199, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664, quoting Association for Retarded Citizens v. Department of Developmental Services (1985) 38 Cal.3d 384, 394, 211 Cal.Rptr. 758, 696 P.2d 150, quoting 64 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 910, 917 (1981).) (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Whether it effects an amendment of existing law for purposes of this prohibition "is determined not by title alone, or by declarations in the new act that it purports to amend existing law. On the contrary, it is determined by an examination and comparison of its provisions with existing law. If its aim is to clarify or

Page 402

correct uncertainties which arose from the enforcement of the existing law, or to reach situations which were not covered by the original statute, the act is amendatory, even though in its wording it does not purport to amend the language of the prior act." (Ibid., quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. Cory (1978) 80 Cal.App.3d 772, 777, 145 Cal.Rptr. 819, quoting Balian Ice Cream v. Arden Farms Co. (S.D.Cal.1950) 94 F.Supp. 796, 798-799; italics and internal quotation marks omitted.)

C. Budget Act Provisions

We are called upon here to apply the principles of article IV, section 9 to provisions of the Budget Act 3 purporting to limit the payment of fee awards under section 1021.5. Section 5 of the Budget Act provides that no award may be paid except as "[s]pecifically authorized and set forth in an item or section of this act." 4 Item 9810-001-001 purports to (1) place a cap of $125 [5 Cal.App.4th 992] per hour on fee award payments, and (2) condition payment on acceptance of this amount "in full and final satisfaction" of the fee claim. 5

The question before us is whether these provisions are "amendatory" for purposes of the rule that the Budget Act may not be utilized to amend existing statutory law. Despite the fact that some such restrictions have been included in the Budget Act for at least 10 years, no published decision has yet faced the issue whether the restrictions survive scrutiny under the single subject rule. In Swoap, supra, we ourselves declined to reach the issue, characterizing it as a problem of enforcement not then before us. (173 Cal.App.3d 1187, 1202, fn. 12, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664, citing Committee to Defend Reproductive Rights v. Cory (1982) 132 Cal.App.3d 852, 859, 183 Cal.Rptr. 475.) Other courts have not reached the issue because they determined that the awards before them fell outside the terms of the budget restrictions. (E.g. Green v. Obledo (1984) 161 Cal.App.3d 678, 207 Cal.Rptr. 830, cert. den. (1985) 474 U.S. 819, 106 S.Ct.

Page 403

67, 88 L.Ed.2d 54 [award based on federal law]; Coalition for Economic Survival v. Deukmejian (1985) 171 Cal.App.3d 954, 217 Cal.Rptr. 621 [same]; see Filipino Accountants' Assn. v. State Bd. of Accountancy (1984) 155 Cal.App.3d 1023, 204 Cal.Rptr. 913.) And one court held the restrictions ineffective as against an award made before their [5 Cal.App.4th 993] adoption, finding them to constitute an impermissible legislative readjudication of a final judgment. (Serrano v. Priest (1982) 131 Cal.App.3d 188, 200-201, 182 Cal.Rptr. 387.)

In Estate of Cirone (1987) 189 Cal.App.3d 1280, 234 Cal.Rptr. 749, review denied, similar budget restrictions were upheld as against a contention that they violated the separation of powers. However, the decision nowhere acknowledged, let alone decided, the possible applicability of the single subject rule....

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13 practice notes
  • City of Cerritos v. State, C070484
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 25, 2015
    ...statute law’ ” do not dictate a different result. California Lab. Federation v. Occupational Safety & Health Stds. Bd. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 985, 991, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 399, Planned Parenthood, supra, 173 Cal.App.3d at p. 1199, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664, and Tomra Pacific, Inc. v. Chiang (2011) 199 ......
  • Us Ecology, Inc. v. State of California, No. D036933.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
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    ...or even clarify, a previous statute. (See California Labor Federation AFL-CIO v. Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 985, 991-994, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 6. These actions include (1) requesting the terior Secretary of the Interior to withdraw the decision denying Cali......
  • Prof'l Eng'rS IN Cal. Gov't v. SCHWARZENEGGER, No. S183411.
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    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • October 4, 2010
    ...173 Cal.App.3d 1187, 1190, fn. 1, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664; California Lab. Federation v. Occupational Safety and Health Stds. Bd. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 985, 991, fn. 4, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 399; Homan v. Gomez (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 597, 599-600, 43 Cal.Rptr.2d 647), does not substantively amend or change......
  • Prof'l Eng'rs in Cal. Gov't v. Brown, A136338
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    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 1, 2014
    ...amend[ ] and chang[e] existing statute law.’ ” (California Lab. Federation v. Occupational Safety & Health Stds. Bd. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 985, 991, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 399 (California. Lab. Federation ); Professional Engineers I, supra, 50 Cal.4th at p. 1049, 116 Cal.Rptr.3d 480, 239 P.3d 118......
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13 cases
  • City of Cerritos v. State, C070484
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 25, 2015
    ...existing statute law’ ” do not dictate a different result. California Lab. Federation v. Occupational Safety & Health Stds. Bd. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 985, 991, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 399, Planned Parenthood, supra, 173 Cal.App.3d at p. 1199, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664, and Tomra Pacific, Inc. v. Chiang (2011)......
  • Us Ecology, Inc. v. State of California, No. D036933.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 5, 2001
    ...or even clarify, a previous statute. (See California Labor Federation AFL-CIO v. Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 985, 991-994, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 6. These actions include (1) requesting the terior Secretary of the Interior to withdraw the decision denying Cali......
  • Prof'l Eng'rS IN Cal. Gov't v. SCHWARZENEGGER, No. S183411.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • October 4, 2010
    ...173 Cal.App.3d 1187, 1190, fn. 1, 219 Cal.Rptr. 664; California Lab. Federation v. Occupational Safety and Health Stds. Bd. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 985, 991, fn. 4, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 399; Homan v. Gomez (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 597, 599-600, 43 Cal.Rptr.2d 647), does not substantively amend or change......
  • Prof'l Eng'rs in Cal. Gov't v. Brown, A136338
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 1, 2014
    ...amend[ ] and chang[e] existing statute law.’ ” (California Lab. Federation v. Occupational Safety & Health Stds. Bd. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 985, 991, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 399 (California. Lab. Federation ); Professional Engineers I, supra, 50 Cal.4th at p. 1049, 116 Cal.Rptr.3d 480, 239 P.3d 1186.) ......
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