SACRAMENTO — Today, AB 1390, Assemblymember Boerner Horvath’s bill to modernize State Lands Commission authority over “school lands”, state property used to bolster teachers’ retirement funds and reach clean energy goals, passed the Assembly on a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
Antiquated restrictions governing the Commission’s management of school lands prevent it from effectively generating revenues for California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and partnering with the federal government on renewable energy projects — two key directives from the Legislature. AB 1390 updates the law so the Commission can optimize its land holdings for revenue generation and meet both goals.
“Today’s teachers will be tomorrow’s retired teachers, and we must ensure we’re providing them with the financial security they deserve,” said Assemblymember Boerner Horvath. “We also owe it to our children to fight climate change, and that means doing everything we can to reach our ambitious clean energy goals. This bill will help us make good on both of those promises, and I’m glad to see it move forward with such significant bipartisan support.”
To maximize revenue from existing state land holdings, the Commission needs to be able to sell off its noncontiguous, square mile plots in remote desert and forest lands, and use those funds to invest in more productive properties. However, an obsolete cap on land acquisition fee expenditures and other limitations in existing law often result in the Commission losing out to other investors. AB 1390 removes these constraints and provides the Commission the flexibility it needs to meet its mission.
“As part of its duty to the people of California, the Commission is tasked with investing the School Land Bank Fund revenue in new properties to generate additional revenue for the Teachers’ Retirement Fund, but has been unable to do so optimally because of statutory constraints.” said Jennifer Lucchesi, Executive Officer for the California State Lands Commission. “AB 1390 will put the Commission on a level playing field with other participants in the real estate market, resulting in more lucrative investments and more security for California’s retired educators.”
In an effort to reach its stated goal to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade, the Biden Administration will seek to work with states on leasing land in areas suitable for solar and wind projects. AB 1390 makes California a more flexible partner in this process so the state can work productively with federal agencies toward common 2030 climate goals.
The bill now moves on to the Senate for consideration.