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California Part-Time State Legislature Initiative (2012)

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A California Citizen Legislature Act Initiative (#11-0095) was approved for circulation in California as a contender for the November 6, 2012 ballot.[1]

Its sponsors, however, did not submit any signatures to election officials by the deadline.

If the initiative had qualified for the ballot and been approved by the state's voters, it would have:

  • Provided that the California State Legislature is to convene for its regular sessions for a period of no more than 30 days starting each January and no more than 60 days starting each May, with up to five more days to reconsider bills vetoed by the Governor.
  • Established a two-year state budget cycle.
  • Devoted regular sessions in odd-numbered years to consideration of state budget matters.
  • Devoted regular sessions in even-numbered years to non-state budget matters.
  • Limited special sessions to 15 days.
  • Set the level of legislators' salary at $1,500 per month and limit their employment during and after their terms in office.

California is one of a handful of states with a full-time legislature. It has the longest scheduled session of any state legislature in the country.[1]

Supporters

Shannon Grove and Ted Costa were the sponsors of the initiative. They referred to it as "The Citizen Legislature Act".

An associate of Grove said, "If the ballot initiative is passed by voters, we will see more Shannon Groves in the Legislature and fewer career politicians. They won’t be able to work on protecting their jobs anymore, and instead will work for the people of the state."[1]

Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida, endorsed the initiative, saying, "I can’t imagine being governor of Florida with a full-time legislature. It would have driven me nuts personally. But more importantly, you know, if you have a full-time legislature, the void is filled — and it’s filled with, a lot of times, just nonsensical stuff."[2]

Michael Reagan, son of Ronald Reagan, also supported the initiative, and was the chair of the committee that supported it. He said that his father, who was the Governor of California from 1967-1975, was disappointed that the California State Legislature moved from a part-time legislature to a full-time legislature in 1967.[2]

Opponents

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a columnist for Prop Zero, argued that part-time state legislatures tend to promote the influence of lobbyists. In a column she wrote in December 2011 opposing the Grove/Costa proposal, she argued that if it were to be approved, California would return to the days of "Arthur H. “Artie” Samish, arguably the most influential and powerful lobbyist in California’s history." Samish famously said, "I can tell whether a man wants a baked potato, a girl or money."[3]

Text of measure

See also: Ballot titles, summaries and fiscal statements for California's 2012 ballot propositions

Ballot title:

Part-Time Legislature. Two-Year State Budget. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Official summary:

"Provides that Legislature shall convene regular sessions for a period of no more than 30 days starting each January and no more than 60 days starting each May, with up to five more days to reconsider bills vetoed by the Governor. Establishes two-year state budget cycle. Devotes regular sessions in odd-numbered years to state budget matters. Devotes regular sessions in even-numbered years to non-state budget matters. Limits special sessions to 15 days. Sets legislators' salary at $1,500 per month and limits employment during and after their terms in office."

Fiscal impact estimate:

"Reduction in state legislative expenses for Member salaries, travel and living expenses, and staff costs-potentially in the tens of millions of dollars per year. Actual reduction would depend on future actions of the Legislature and the Governor. Reduced state spending or increased state revenues in some years. Over time, the net fiscal effect of this provision is unknown and would depend on future actions of the Legislature, Governor, State Treasurer, and State Controller."

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

External links

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References