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Term Limits Initiative May Fail To Qualify

by: Robert Cruickshank

Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 09:21:05 AM PDT


There are two primary reasons for the dysfunction of the state legislature and, in turn, the political crisis our state is in. The first one is the 2/3 rule to pass a budget or raise new revenues, which has given conservatives veto power over almost everything that happens in our state.

The other is term limits, which has destroyed good government in Sacramento. Legislators don't have enough time to learn the workings of state government - not something you can pick up overnight - and by the time they do, they're on their way out. Because of the ridiculously short terms, legislators are often looking for their next job or fundraising, leaving less time to do the people's work. Term limits prioritize short-term fixes over long-term solutions, and have given more power in the Capitol, not less, to lobbyists,

There will be an initiative on the November ballot to deal with the 2/3 rule, restoring majority rule for the budget (but not taxes). It also looked like there would be an initiative to fix term limits, resembling the Prop 93 fix (allowing people to serve 12 years in either house) but unlike Prop 93, exempting current legislators.

But not any more. As the Sac Bee reports, the term limits initiative may fail to qualify for the November ballot:

Validity rates for a sample of signatures from all 58 counties projected that proponents turned well over the roughly 694,000 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, but not enough to qualify in the random sample process. Counties now have 30 days to verify every signature submitted....

The campaign behind the measure, called "Californians for a Fresh Start," has reported raising more than $1.6 million and spending more than $1.4 million on paid signature gatherers.

Campaign spokesman Matt Klink expressed confidence that the measure would qualify during the full count validation process, which would place it on the ballot in the next statewide election after November.

With this year's budget fight likely to drag on well into the summer, perhaps this isn't the worst thing in the world if the term limits initiative fails.  Another budget delay might not put voters in a mood to extend legislators' terms, even though the case for doing so is quite strong. However, if the majority vote budget initiative is approved, it could unlock the doors to much greater reform in California. A more effective legislature might put voters in a better mood to support things like term limits reform.

Although the bigger reform efforts such as the constitutional convention are dead for now, the need for fundamental reform of California government remains strong. And as we've known, the right-wing will keep pushing their own version of "reform" until we progressives are able to articulate and promote our own reforms. That's one reason why the majority vote budget initiative is so important to support and pass this November. It helps remove the tree trunk that's blocking the tracks, enabling us to finally start fixing what has been broken here in California.

Robert Cruickshank :: Term Limits Initiative May Fail To Qualify
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Problem goes back to 1910 (0.00 / 0)
I think that the basic problem is initiatives.  Most of them are just plain horrible -- there are a handful that are pretty good.  If we have a functional government, they will enact the necessary.  If we don't, we should throw them out.

In California's history, the harm to good ratio is so high.  The only initiative that I really want right now is to abolish initiatives.


Where does one sign? (0.00 / 0)
Out of curiosity, where does one get the opportunity to sign these petitions?  In my 20 years in California, I've only been asked once to sign a petition (the Davis recall -- I refused to sign that) yet there are issues like this one where I would sign.  If this fails to make the ballot because too many signatures were invalidated, I'll be unhappy that I did not have the opportunity to sign, or did not know where/how to add my signature.

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