Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair
SB 1261 (Vargas) - Department of Justice: special agents.
Amended: As IntroducedPolicy Vote: Public Safety 4-2
Urgency: No Mandate: No
Hearing Date: April 30, 2012
Consultant: Jolie Onodera
This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.
Bill Summary: SB 1261 would require the Attorney General to
maintain a minimum of 190 special agents within the Bureau of
Narcotic Enforcement (BNE), and a minimum of 90 special agents
in the Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence (BII). This bill
would delete the existing allocation to the General Fund from
the proceeds of asset forfeitures from drug-related cases and
would redirect the funds to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to
be continuously appropriated to fund the efforts of special
agents to investigate and enforce laws related to narcotics, as
First year costs to the DOJ of $50.3 million (General Fund)
to maintain a minimum of 280 special agents assuming
reestablishment of the BNE and BII, absent reductions to the
Bureau of Investigation (BI). Annual ongoing costs of $52.6
million (General Fund).
In lieu of reestablishment of the BNE and BII, annual costs
of approximately $30 million (General Fund), assuming 161
special agent positions are added to the existing staffing
levels of the BI to maintain a minimum of 280 special
Redirection of approximately $4 million to $7 million
annually in forfeited asset proceeds from the General Fund
to the DOJ to support the additional special agent
Background: Existing law provides that the Attorney General (AG)
may arrange and classify the work of the DOJ, and consolidate,
abolish, or create divisions, bureaus, branches, sections or
SB 1261 (Vargas)
units within the department. Both the BNE and BII were
established within the DOJ Division of Law Enforcement (DLE).
The Fiscal Year (FY) 2010-11 budget for the BNE of $48.3 million
($36.2 million General Fund) included approximately 160 sworn
and 70 non-sworn positions. The BII budget of $29.9 million
($16.1 million General Fund) supported approximately 100 sworn
and 100 non-sworn positions.
The FY 2011-12 DOJ budget was reduced by $71 million General
Fund and disbanded both the BNE and BII. The Bureau of
Investigation (BI) was formed by the merger of the BNE and BII
and began operations on February 12, 2012. Currently, the BI
supports 119 sworn and 122 non-sworn positions.
Current law sets out detailed procedures for drug forfeiture
actions and specifies an allocation formula for the distribution
of funds from forfeitures and seizures. After distribution to
bona fide innocent owners and reimbursement of expenses, the
remaining proceeds are distributed as follows: 65 percent to
participating law enforcement agencies, 10 percent to the
prosecutorial agency, 24 percent to the General Fund, and the
remaining one percent to nonprofit organizations for providing
an education and training program on ethics and the proper use
of asset seizure and forfeiture laws.
Proposed Law: This bill provides that in order to ensure the AG
has sufficient resources to carry out law enforcement functions
required by law, the AG shall maintain a minimum of 190 special
agents within the BNE and 90 special agents in the BII. This
bill would delete the existing allocation to the General Fund of
24 percent of remaining funds from the proceeds of seized and
forfeited property, and instead would require the funds to be
continuously appropriated to the DOJ to fund the efforts of
special agents to investigate and enforce laws related to
narcotics, including the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
Related Legislation: SB 1866 (Vasconcellos) 2000 proposed
various changes to asset forfeiture procedures and would have
required drug-related asset forfeitures appropriated to the
General Fund for school safety be redirected to drug prevention
and treatment services. This bill was vetoed by the Governor.
Staff Comments: As the BNE and BII have been replaced by the
Bureau of Investigation (BI) to continue certain law enforcement
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activities (not specifically narcotic enforcement),
reestablishment of the two bureaus would require additional
funding to support the minimum staffing levels specified under
the provisions of this bill. The DOJ indicates $50.3 million
(General Fund) would be required to support 280 special agent
positions for six months in FY 2012-13 and $52.6 million
annually ongoing. This reflects the annual ongoing costs for
salary, benefits, and operating expenses/equipment of $188,000
per special agent.
To the extent the minimum special agent staffing levels could be
met by augmenting existing staffing levels of the newly created
BI (119 sworn personnel), the estimated cost of 134 special
agents and 27 special agent supervisors (based on a 5:1 staffing
ratio) would be $29.3 million for the first year, $30.8 million
(General Fund) annually thereafter.
This bill would redirect the allocation of asset forfeiture
proceeds currently deposited in the General Fund to the DOJ to
support the additional 280 special agent positions. According to
the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Annual Report for 2010, the total value
of disbursed assets was $16.5 million. The 24 percent allocation
to the General Fund would equate to approximately $4 million.
The 2009 and 2008 Asset Forfeiture Reports reflect $28.8 million
and $25.5 million in disbursed assets, respectively. Twenty-four
percent of 2009 and 2008 reported disbursements would equate to
$6.9 million and $6.1 million, respectively, to the General
Fund. The $4 million to $7 million in asset forfeiture proceeds
would be insufficient to support the annual cost of the
additional positions required under the provisions of this bill.
Under existing law, subdivision (b) of Health and Safety Code
section 11469 states that no prosecutor's or sworn law
enforcement officer's employment or salary shall be made to
depend upon the level of seizures or forfeitures he or she
achieves. As a result, it is unclear if the redirection of asset
forfeiture proceeds from the General Fund to the DOJ to support
the efforts of special agents would be considered an allowable
use of these funds under current law.
SB 1261 (Vargas)