Posts Tagged ‘initiative’
July 11th, 2013 at 1:00 pm
The Supreme Court’s Real Prop. 8 Legacy

As usual, Troy puts his finger on the essential issue in an otherwise complicated matter. Writing with John Yoo for City Journal recently our Senior Fellow explains how the Supreme Court’s ruling in California’s Prop. 8 case – that the official proponents of the traditional marriage law have no standing to defend it when state officials refuse – will have a chilling effect on direct democracy, and with it, dash any hope of checking radical leftwing politicians.

“Regardless of how one feels about gay marriage as a policy matter, the Court’s ruling creates a chilling legal precedent for the future of direct democracy—that is, passing laws by popular vote. The opinion dictates that any law that an electorate passes can be invalidated if it is challenged in court and the state’s constitutional officers refuse to defend it. This amounts to an executive-branch veto for laws approved by an electoral majority. Direct democracy is far from perfect; it often oversimplifies issues and insulates voters from the consequences of their policy choices. At its best, however, it allows popular majorities to tighten the reins on out-of-touch politicians. The Prop. 8 ruling loosens those reins.

“All conscientious Californians should be disturbed by the sweeping implications of the Prop. 8 ruling, but it augurs especially poorly for the state’s shrinking cadre of conservatives. With every statewide elected office and both houses of the state legislature controlled by Democrats, only the initiative process gives California conservatives a real chance to have their voices heard. As a result of the Court’s ruling, California liberals now have a mechanism by which to frustrate this last meaningful check on their dominance. The state’s future will only grow dimmer, and the Supreme Court will deserve the blame.”

The entire article can be read here.

August 4th, 2011 at 1:00 pm
California Democrats Trying to Weaken Initiative System

Dan Walters, the dean of California political journalists, is sounding the alarm over a series of moves by the state’s Democratic machine to restrict conservative access to statewide ballot initiatives.

As California Democrats see it, conservatives are poised to unleash a torrent of ballot measures to rein in government spending and regulations, as the state continues to suffer double-digit unemployment and annual budget deficits.  With Democrats controlling all levers of government, there’s only one area where their tax-and-spend liberalism could be challenged: at the ballot box.

To eliminate that threat, Democrats in and outside government are pushing to criminalize paying signature gatherers per name collected, and issuing radio ads linking petition-signing with identity theft.  Last week, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the criminalization measure, but others are waiting the wings.

The motivation behind the Democrats’ ploy is protecting the public employee union members who live off legislative largesse, be it sweetheart pension deals, deferred compensation, or over-generous overtime pay.

With Californians waking up to the fact that economic growth isn’t possible without serious reforms, it’s becoming clearer by the day that the liberal Democrats running the state are not governing in the taxpayer’s best interest.  So to the statist’s mind, it’s far better to cut off debate than face reality.

June 6th, 2011 at 5:20 pm
California’s Constitutional Crisis

A blog post last Friday by Loren Kaye at Fox and Hounds Daily provides another variation on the theme of California’s broken governing structure.

Two budget-related developments yesterday bring a small amount of clarity to the political positioning on achieving a deal. But their long-term effect is to re-allocate political power.

Controller John Chiang released a legal opinion interpreting the section of Proposition 25 that would halt salary and expense payments to the Legislature if it fails to transmit a budget to the Governor by June 15. His lawyers concluded that even if the budget is timely passed and sent to the Governor, if it is not a balanced budget, then legislators would forfeit their pay until they pass one that is balanced. This twist arises from an earlier measure, Proposition 58 in 2004, which requires that the Legislature may not send to the Governor, nor may the Governor sign, a budget that would spend more than the revenues estimated for the year. Until the Controller’s memo, this constitutional provision had no teeth. Now that provision has been given real force, and the arbiter of whether a budget is balanced – and therefore whether the Legislature will be paid – will be Controller John Chiang.

Within several hours of this disclosure, Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced that his SB 653 would be folded into a budget trailer bill. His proposal would provide broad local taxing authority (contingent on existing voter approval requirements) to counties and school districts, which would substantially increase the level of uncertainty surrounding economic development. The significance of including the language into a budget trailer bill is that those bills are granted immunity from referendum, even if passed by a simple majority vote. This was another consequence of Proposition 25 that was warned against, but pooh-poohed by proponents. This maneuver has ramifications that extend well beyond today’s budget controversy, and could presage the demise of the people’s cherished referendum power, 100 years after it was first granted.

The consequences of Proposition 25 on the power dynamics in California government go far beyond just passing the state budget. And we’re only beginning to see their boundaries tested.

So, as of last Friday, California’s Controller claimed the power to determine the state’s budget process.  Maybe next week the state’s Attorney General can find a way to trump him.  After that, why doesn’t the Treasurer figure out how to get in on the fun?  In Golden State government, everyone wants power, but none claim responsibility.