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California is a very diverse state, but members of every demographic, geographic and ideological subgroup in the state agree on one thing: They don't approve of outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance.

That's one of the results of an extensive post-election survey of voters by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The PPIC survey found that overall, Schwarzenegger leaves office with a 32 percent approval rating among November's voters, and results were remarkably consistent among all subgroups. For instance, 68 percent of Democrats disapproved of Schwarzenegger's performance, along with 55 percent of the governor's fellow Republicans and 55 percent of independents. His approval didn't hit 40 percent in any subgroup.

Among other results of PPIC's survey, which involved 2,003 voters:

--Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana, drew the most voter interest. The measure lost narrowly and PPIC found that Republicans, Latinos, whites, women and older voters were most opposed.

--The second most-important ballot measure to voters was Proposition 23, which would have suspended the state's anti-greenhouse gas program - a major Schwarzenegger initiative - until unemployment dropped sharply and lost by a landslide vote. PPIC found a sharp partisan divide with more than half of Republicans supporting the measure but huge majorities of Democrats and independents opposing it.

--The nine measures on the November ballot continued a decades-long trend of placing major issues before voters and while past surveys have indicated voters like having that power, the new PPIC poll found that two-thirds of them say the 2010 initiatives were too confusing. And for the first time in the history of the organization's polling, fewer than half of those polled said they had confidence in the ability of voters to make public policy decisions on the ballot.

--Schwarzenegger is not the only political figure to get low marks from voters. Just 13 percent of those polled approve of how he and the Legislature have dealt with issues and just 12 percent approve of the Legislature. Even President Barack Obama, who won by a large margin in California two years ago, is feeling the heat with just a 53 percent approval rating. Congress, like the Legislature, is less popular at 21 percent. And despite the state's Democratic bent, 43 percent of California voters say it's a good thing that Republicans have recaptured control of the House.

--Strong margins among independent voters helped Democrat Jerry Brown win the governorship and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer win re-election against well-financed Republican rivals, along with big margins among Latinos and women.

The full PPIC poll results can be found here.

Stanford physicist Charles Munger Jr. and his wife were the largest contributors to campaigns for and against nine statewide ballot measures whose fate was decided last week, according to MAPLight.org, a Berkeley campaign research organization.

Munger and his wife, Charlotte Lowell, contributed $12.6 million to the campaigns to pass Proposition 20, which extends the independent redistricting commission's authority to congressional districts, and defeat Proposition 27, which would have abolished the commission.

The Munger position prevailed on both by overwhelming margins. Munger is the son of Charles Munger Sr., the lesser known but still very wealthy partner of business tycoon Warren Buffet. The $12.6 million Munger Jr. and his wife contributed was part of the $147 million that was spent to pass and defeat ballot measures, MAPlight.org said.

The California Teachers Association spent $11.5 million to pass Propositions 24 and 25 and defeat Propositions 22, 23 and 26, but the large teachers' union was only 60 percent successful. Proposition 24, which would have repealed some business tax breaks granted by the Legislature last year, was rejected, but Proposition 25, reducing the legislative on the budget from two-thirds to a simple majority, passed.

Proposition 22, which would protect local government funds from raids by the state, also passed, as did Proposition 26, which imposes a two-thirds vote on some state and local government fees. Proposition 23, which would have suspended the state's global warming law, was rejected.

After the Mungers, the biggest individual contributors to ballot measure campaigns were San Francisco money manager and philanthropist Thomas Steyer and his wife, Kathryn Taylor, who gave $6.1 to defeat Propositions 23 and 26 and batted .500.

Valero Services, a Texas-based oil company and major sponsor of Proposition 23, came in fourth at $5 million, but struck out. And No. 5 was the California Chamber of Commerce, which ponied up $4.1 million. It opposed Proposition 19, a marijuana legalization measure rejected by voters, and Propositions 24, 25 and 27, while supporting Propositions 20 and 26. Its record was five wins and one loss.

The full MAPlight.org report on ballot measure financing can be found here.

Voters sent a message Tuesday that they are not eager to pay more money to state government.

Proposition 21 to impose a new $18 annual surcharge on vehicle licenses to bolster state parks was rejected, and Proposition 26 to require a two-thirds vote to raise certain state and local fees was approved.

Another measure with potential fiscal implications, Proposition 23, was rejected handily Tuesday. The proposal would have suspended California's landmark climate-change law until the state's unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

The financial implications of rejecting Proposition 23 are murky. Supporters of the measure had argued that failure to suspend the climate-change law would send household energy costs soaring in coming years. Others had argued that converting to greener energy would create myriad jobs, stimulate the economy, and ultimately produce lower energy prices for generations to come.

California voters spoke Tuesday on the arcane but politically important process of redrawing legislative and congressional districts after each census - and Democrats didn't like what they said.

The voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 20, which would take congressional redistricting out of the Legislature's hands and give it to an independent commission. And they just as handily rejected Proposition 27, which would have abolished the independent commission altogether and shifted all redistricting back to the Legislature.

Proposition 20 is the brainchild of Charles Munger Jr., a wealthy (his father is tycoon Warren Buffet's partner) Stanford University physicist. When it qualified for the ballot, thanks to Munger's money, some Southern California Democratic congressional members ginned up what became Proposition 27 as a counter punch.


November 2, 2010
Proposition 27 rejected

Voters rejected Proposition 27, a proposal to eliminate the redistricting commission that voters approved two years ago and give the authority to draw legislative and Board of Equalization districts back to the state Legislature.

The 2008 ballot measure that created the commission, supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was opposed by many Democratic interest groups and incumbents in Congress and the Legislature. They pushed Proposition 27 to undo the earlier action and kill the commission. It was backed largely by entertainment mogul Haim Saban and labor unions. Along with his wife, physicist Charles T. Munger Jr., a major donor to GOP candidates and causes, almost single-handedly funded the fight to kill Proposition 27.

November 2, 2010
Proposition 26 approved

Voters approved Propoosition 26 to require that certain state fees be approved by a two-thirds vote and more local fees subjected to the voters.

The proposal sought to broaden the definition of a state or local tax to include many payments now considered fees. State law requires a two-thirds vote for taxes, but it allows a majority vote to increase fees. Republicans argued that Democrats have passed higher fees to skirt the two-thirds requirement for tax increases. Independent analysts said passage could make it more difficult to raise fees on alcohol, oil and toxics. Supporters included cigarette, alcohol and oil companies. Opponents included labor unions, health advocates, environmental organizations, the California League of Cities and the California State Association of Counties.

Voters rejected Proposition 21 to establish an $18 annual vehicle license surcharge to help fund state parks and wildlife programs. It would would have given surcharged vehicles free admission to all state parks and beaches.

Park advocates argued that the physical condition of California's 278 state parks has worsened. A review by The Bee and California McClatchy newspapers this year found a $1.3 billion maintenance backlog - too big to be covered by park user fees and money from the general fund. But the taxpayer groups such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association opposed the parks surcharge. Conservation groups put up most of the money for the Yes on 21 campaign. Opponents reported far less in contributions, most of it from automobile-related interest groups.

November 2, 2010
Proposition 22 passes

Voters backed Proposition 22 to prohibit the state from borrowing or taking funds used for transportation, redevelopment or local government projects and services. The state will be barred from delaying distribution of tax revenues for these purposes even during severe fiscal hardship.

The state has helped bridge its budget gaps for nearly two decades by turning to cities, counties, special districts and redevelopment agencies for money. These practices have been the subject of lawsuits, and the debate came down to who should spend public money. The League of California Cities was this measure's biggest backer, with other large contributors including the California Transit Association, the California Alliance for Jobs and the California Redevelopment Association. The opposition's largest contributors included the California Teachers Association, SEIU Local 1000 and other labor groups that stand to lose if the state faces more budget cuts.

November 2, 2010
Proposition 20 passes

Voters backed Proposition 20 to transfer the authority of drawing congressional districts from the state Legislature and hand it to the Citizens Redistricting Commission that voters approved two years ago.

The 2008 ballot measure that created the commission, which was backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was opposed by many Democratic interest groups and incumbents in Congress and the Legislature. Along with several labor unions, they opposed expanding the commission's authority to include congressional districts and pushed a competing measure, Proposition 27, that would kill the commission altogether. Proposition 20 supporters included Charles T. Munger Jr., a physicist and major donor to GOP candidates and causes, who along with his wife almost single-handedly funded the fight to pass Proposition 20 and kill Proposition 27. If both measures pass, the one with the greater number of "yes" votes will go into effect.

Age is a major indicator of support for the measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use, according to the first wave of exit polling conducted for The Bee and other media outlets by Edison Research.

Though voters ages 18 to 39 generally support Proposition 19 by slim margins, the measure is trailing among voters 40 and older. Respondents 65 and older also reported voting no.

The first wave of 1,500 voter interviews did not show unusually high turnout among young voters.

Predictions from some observers and campaign operatives that the measure would drive voters to the polls do not appear to be playing out so far.

Just 11 percent of voters surveyed named Proposition 19 as the one contest that matters most. Just under half the voters surveyed said the governor's race was the major draw, while 27 percent cared most about the Senate race.

The exit poll was conducted at 50 polling places across the state by Edison Research. The figures are just based on the first wave of exit interviews and expected to change throughout the afternoon. Check back soon for more updates.

For winning the World Series on the eve of California's Election Day, the San Francisco Giants should have expected this, perhaps.

In a single sentence, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger found a way Monday both to congratulate the Giants and to throw a political jab at Proposition 23, which would suspend the state's landmark greenhouse gas emissions law.

"The San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers tonight, just like California voters are going to defeat the attempts of dirty Texas oil companies to undo our clean energy laws at the polls tomorrow," he said in a written statement.

The termed-out Republican governor then dropped politics to give what amounted to a standing ovation.

"Throughout the season and post-season, the Giants have shown remarkable determination and excellence," Schwarzenegger said.

"They have made this state proud and shown the world what we are capable of. I join all Californians in congratulating the entire Giants organization, coaching staff, players and fans on this much-deserved win."

A Field Poll released today shows that ballot measures to legalize marijuana and to suspend the state's greenhouse-gas law both could go up in smoke on Tuesday.

Support for Proposition 19, which would legalize and allow regulation of marijuana for recreational use, had fallen over the last month. According to the poll, 42 percent of likely voters are now backing the measure and 49 percent oppose it, while 9 percent are undecided.

Support for Proposition 19 has flipped since September, when the measure was ahead 49 percent to 42 percent.

Proposition 23 continues to trail in the polls, with 48 percent of likely voters opposed to suspending Assembly Bill 32. Meanwhile, 33 percent support the measure, and 19 percent haven't made up their minds.

Proposition 25, the majority-budget initiative, is ahead 48 percent to 31 percent, with 21 percent still undecided.

The survey of 1,092 voters who are likely to vote or have already cast a ballot was conducted Oct. 14 to Oct. 26. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

Click here for the full results and statistical tabulations produced exclusively for Capitol Alert.

Hundreds of thousands of ballots printed in Fresno County use an incorrect ballot label to describe a statewide proposition to suspend the state's greenhouse gas emissions law, election officials confirmed today.

Ballots printed for the county's roughly 380,000 registered voters say Proposition 23 would suspend laws requiring "major polluters" to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That language was thrown out by a Sacramento superior court judge, who ordered several edits to the original language drafted by the attorney general's office, including changing "major polluters" to "major sources of emissions."

The Proposition 23 campaign has demanded that the county "take immediate steps to reprint the ballots remaining to be sent to vote by mail voters as well as ballots to be distributed on election day."

"Fresno County is a county of significant size in California and in a close election, its vote, now tainted by this serious error, could call into question the state results and possibly give rise to an election contest and require a new statewide election on Proposition 23," attorney Colleen C. McAndrews wrote in a letter to the Fresno elections officials.

Fresno County Clerk Victor E. Salazar said officials are aware of the error but it is too late to reprint the ballots. He said officials will send out a press release informing local media and voters of the error and post signs with the correct language at all polling places on Election Day. Nothing more can be done for the roughly 140,000 vote-by-mail ballots containing the incorrect language that have already been issued, he said.

Salazar said election officials received the updated ballot label language from the secretary of state, but that the correction was never made.

Proposition 19 supporters are using their cash to court California voters who tune into Comedy Central.

Just before Tuesday's election, a committee backing the measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use plans to air a new television spot during commercial breaks on satirical news programs "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report."

The ad, fueled by a $1 million contribution from billionaire George Soros, urges the presumably young, liberal viewers to go to the polls to support the measure.

Recent polls have shown support for Proposition 19 slipping, though young voters still favor the measure by large margins. A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll found that 59 percent of likely voters ages 18 to 34 planned to support the measure, compared to just 42 percent of all likely voters.

Watch the ad below:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spent Tuesday afternoon with his gubernatorial successor at the Women's Conference in Long Beach. Now he's spending today with his predecessor, Gray Davis.

Schwarzenegger, Davis and other political leaders are meeting with billionaire philanthropists today at Google headquarters in Mountain View to discuss ways to reform California, their spokesmen confirmed.

The Los Angeles Times reported today that billionaire Nicolas Berggruen has committed $20 million toward a new organization with eyes on overhauling California government, called the Think Long Committee. Besides Davis, the group reportedly includes former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and philanthropist Eli Broad.

It's not clear whether Schwarzenegger will remain on board. But he is appearing today to discuss the budget reform measure that he and lawmakers placed on the 2012 ballot, as well as other efforts he has made at changing the governance system, said spokesman Adam Mendelsohn.

"The governor has gotten to know Mr. Berggruen over the last couple months because he's been a supporter of the No on 23 campaign," Mendelsohn said, referring to a ballot initiative that would roll back a Schwarzenegger-signed climate change law. "The governor believes Californians still need significant reform, and the governor has a budget reform measure on the 2012 ballot. When they asked him to come by, he agreed to talk to them."

After the meeting, Schwarzenegger will join "Terminator" director James Cameron for a live 3 p.m. webcast at tech firm Applied Materials in Santa Clara to discuss their opposition to Proposition 23. The webcast can be seen here.

The Republican National Committee has told Orange County political consultant Scott Hart to stop using its trademarked elephant symbol on a slate mailer, calling it "disgraceful" since the mailer advocates ballot measure positions that the party doesn't support.

"I'll probably remove it," Hart said Wednesday after receiving the harshly worded letter from John R. Phillippe Jr., the RNC's chief counsel. "I'm a good Republican."

"Your use of a near-exact replica of the official elephant logo of the RNC is an egregious attempt to deceive the recipients of your mailer of its true sponsorship while at the same time allowing you to feign innocence for trademark infringement," Phillippe told Hart.

He continued: "The bad faith of your mailer is evident on many levels; first in your false implication of RNC sponsorship, and again in your disgraceful 'recommendation' to vote opposite the Republican position on every ballot proposition."

Hart said he was surprised at the reaction since he and other Republican operatives had often used the elephant logo in the past. "I don't know why people are all worked up about this," he said.

Hart has managed a number of local, legislative and congressional campaigns for Republican candidates and also lobbies for corporate clients, He calls his slate mailer "Continuing the Republican Revolution," and his website terms it "one of the oldest and most respected Republican slate mailers in California."

Soros.JPGBillionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros has contributed $1 million to the California ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The hedge fund manager announced his support for Proposition 19 in a piece published today in the Wall Street Journal. He wrote that Proposition 19, which would also allow the regulation and taxation of the substance, isn't perfect but "would represent a major step forward and its deficiencies can be corrected on the basis of experience."

"Regulating and taxing marijuana would simultaneously save taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement and incarceration costs, while providing many billions of dollars in revenue annually," he wrote. "It also would reduce the crime, violence and corruption associated with drug markets, and the violations of civil liberties and human rights that occur when large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens are subject to arrest. Police could focus on serious crime instead"

Soros, a major donor to Democratic candidates and causes, has in the past supported efforts to decriminalize marijuana and reform sentencing requirements for drug-related offenses, including measures in California.

The contribution, reported today to the secretary of state, comes as several recent polls show support for the measure dropping. The Yes on 19 campaign, funded by a separate account, released its first television ad of the campaign yesterday -- a small buy that will run on cable stations in Los Angeles.

PHOTO CREDIT: In this Jan. 23, 2008 file photo, Chairman of the Soros Fund Management, USA, George Soros, pauses before speaking during a seminar at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Virginia Mayo, Associated Press.

The ballot measure campaign to legalize marijuana for recreational use has released its first television spot.

The ad, which will air on cable stations in the Los Angeles market, comes as several polls show support for Proposition 19 slipping.

Read more and view the spot at our sister blog, Weed Wars.

San Francisco hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer had pledged to spend at least $1 million against a measure that would make it more difficult for lawmakers to raise fees.

The contribution, which is expected to be reported to the secretary of state today, will be used to fund the No on 26 campaign's radio and television spots in the final week of the election.

Proposition 26, which would raise the legislative vote requirement for approving fees from a majority to two-thirds, has been fueled by big donations from the beer and wine, oil and tobacco industries, including $1.25 million contribution reported last week from Chevron Corp.

Steyer, a Democrat, has also contributed $5 million to the campaign to defeat Proposition 23, the measure to suspend California's landmark greenhouse gas emissions law. He serves as co-chairman of that effort.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown has opened up an eight-point lead over Republican Meg Whitman, according to poll results released tonight by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The statewide survey of 1,067 likely voters showed Brown leading Whitman 44 percent to 36 percent, with 16 percent of respondents undecided.

Brown and Whitman were in a dead heat in PPIC's September survey, with Whitman ahead 38 percent to 37 percent.

The most recent poll, conducted Oct.10 to Oct. 17, showed support for Brown rising among key voting blocs, including independents and Latinos. Whitman must make inroads with both groups to offset Democrats' 13-point registration advantage in the state.

Meanwhile, likely voters aren't feeling so high about passing Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize and allow taxation of marijuana for recreational use. Support for the measure has fallen eight points since September, when 52 percent had been in favor of the initiative. Now, just 44 percent support the initiative, and 49 percent plan to vote no.

The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Here are some of its other findings:

• Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer posted a five-point edge in the U.S. Senate race, leading Republican Carly Fiorina 43 percent to 38 percent, with 13 percent undecided. Boxer led by seven points in September.

• Opposition to Proposition 23, the initiative to suspend the state's greenhouse gas emission reduction law, has grown. The measure was opposed by 48 percent of respondents and supported by 37 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

• Likely voters favor Proposition 25, the majority-vote budget initiative, 49 percent to 34 percent, with 17 percent undecided.

Proposition 24, the measure to repeal corporate tax benefits approved by the Legislature, has neither majority support nor majority opposition, with 31 percent saying they would vote yes and 38 percent saying they would vote no. Another 31 percent are still undecided.

Click here for the full poll results, which should be posted by 9 p.m.

The once-large list of applicants to serve on California's new legislative redistricting commission has been narrowed to 60, any of whom could be knocked off by the Legislature's four legislative leaders in the next round of the convoluted selection process.

At least one of the 60 is intimately familiar with the ways of the Capitol, which would give him a unique basis for serving on the commission, but could also make him a target for legislative challenge.

He is William Hamm, who was the Legislature's nonpartisan budget analyst for nine years, 1977 to 1986, and has been a private economic consultant and businessman since.

Hamm's letters of recommendation also come from Capitol insiders - his successor as legislative analyst, Elizabeth Hill; former California Chamber of Commerce president Kirk West; and Sunne McPeak, a prominent Bay Area civic leader and former Contra Costa County supervisor and Schwarzenegger administration official.

Hamm's chances of serving on the commission, which is to redraw districts for 120 legislative seats and four Board of Equalization positions, depend not only on the remaining selection process but the outcome of Proposition 27. If passed by voters on Nov. 2, the measure would abolish the commission and return redistricting to the Legislature.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has officially weighed in on the redistricting battle on the ballot, pledging to fight an initiative to eliminate the voter-approved Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Schwarzenegger urged voters to reject Proposition 27 after a Sacramento screening Tuesday night of "Gerrymandering," a 2010 documentary on the redistricting process. He was a major supporter of Proposition 11, the 2008 initiative that shifted the job of redrawing state legislative and Board of Equalization district to a 14-member citizen panel.

"We are very excited about (Proposition 11), and we are very excited also that we have open primaries and won that after years and years and years of trying. But of course whenever you do something big like that and create change, there's a lot of people out there that want to go and roll it back again because they are very unhappy about this change. And this is why there's people out there now trying to undo the great progress that was made," he said, according to a transcript on the remarks.

Schwarzenegger also endorsed Proposition 20, a dueling measure to expand the commission's duties to include redrawing congressional district lines.

Schwarzenegger said he believes Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are funding Proposition 27 because they "have an interest in keeping the status quo and keeping the old system."

"They love that, because this is how they divide up their turf and their territory. And they, as you have heard, they want to choose the people, the voters, rather than the voters choosing them," he said in response to a reporter's question.

Companies and individuals are writing big checks to boost campaigns for and against the nine propositions slated for the November ballot.

Committees for and against the ballot measures have raised more than $84.25 million in contributions of $100,000 or more since the beginning of the year, according to an analysis released today by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The most active big-money fundraisers were the campaigns surrounding Proposition 24, which would repeal corporate tax benefits approved by the Legislature, and Proposition 23, which would suspend the state's greenhouse gas reduction law until the unemployment rate drops.

Proposition 24 pits the California Teachers Association, which poured $6.5 million into the initiative campaign, against 15 companies writing checks of $100,000 or more.

Oil companies have been the major funders of Proposition 23, with the 10 opposition committees raising their cash mostly from small donors (with the exception of a $5 million contribution from San Francisco hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer, the co-chair of the opposition effort).

FPPC Chairman Dan Schnur called the findings "the big story when it comes to the influence of big money in California politics."

"Once again, 2010 is destined to be a record-setting year in the annals of big-dollar spending on California initiatives. I predict this record will stand until 2012," he said in a statement.

The FPPC is tracking contributions of $100,000 or more to all the ballot measure campaign committees. See the full list here.

Breakthroughs in political campaign technology are fairly rare, but the folks who want Californians to enact Proposition 20 and reject Proposition 27 have found one - more or less.

Proposition 20, sponsored primarily by wealthy Stanford University physicist and political reformer Charles Munger Jr., would extend the authority of the state's new redistricting commission to congressional districts.

Proposition 27, sponsored by Southern California Democratic congressional members and other Democratic politicians, would abolish the commission and put legislative and congressional redistricting in the hands of the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

The "Yes20No27.org" group has mailed out millions of DVD's to voters containing a documentary film called "Gerrymandering" which critiques the practice of allowing politicians to draw new districts after the decennial census.

It's a new way of reaching voters, and there's an ironic twist to its use. The other side of the Proposition 20-Proposition 27 debate is rooted in a Southern California political organization headed by Reps. Henry Waxman and Howard Berman and Berman's brother, Michael.

Michael Berman is one of the state's top experts on redistricting and was the major figure in drawing the state's legislative and congressional districts after the 2000 census, which is now being denounced as a gerrymander. The Berman-Waxman organization was considered to be one of the most innovative campaign operations in the 1980s and 1990s, pioneering in computer-driven direct mail appeals, including potholders that were emblazoned with political messages.

The mass mailing of DVDs, therefore, has its roots in in those earlier Waxman-Berman campaigns and also builds on several experimental campaigns of the 1980s. The successful drive to persuade voters to turn out Rose Bird and other justices of the Supreme Court, for example, included giving away free anti-Bird video cassettes at video rental stores. And in one congressional campaign on the San Francisco Peninsula during that era, videotapes touting one candidate were placed in plastic bags and hung on doorknobs of voters' homes.

California voters will decide the fate of nine initiative ballot measures on Nov. 2, continuing a three-decade-old trend of placing major political policy issues before the electorate rather than leaving them to the Legislature.

But Californians aren't alone. The University of Southern California's Initiative and Referendum Institute says in a new nationwide study that voters in 36 states will decide 155 ballot measures in November, virtually the same number as the 153 in 2008 but markedly fewer than the 204 in 2006.

Unlike in California, however, most of those measures in other states were placed on the ballot by their legislatures, not initiative petitions. Only 42 are initiatives, including California's nine. Oregon, the institute says, remains the historic leader in initiatives with 354 to date, but California, at 340, is closing the gap.

The full report on this year's crop of ballot measures is available here.

The ballot measure battle over California's landmark greenhouse gas emissions law is heating up the airwaves, with both sides of the Proposition 23 fight launching television ads this week.

The campaign for Proposition 23, which would suspend implementation of 2006's Assembly Bill 32 until the state's unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters, is up with a 30-second spot casting the 2006 law as an "energy tax." The ad, which is airing in markets in Sacramento, the Central Valley and San Diego, highlights proponents' argument that the state cannot afford the cost of regulations until the economy recovers.

"I want to do my part on global warming, all Yes on 23 says is, let's wait until people are back to work and we can afford it" a woman says at the end of the ad.

Opponents fired back, releasing a spot of their own focused on oil companies that have provided major funding for the initiative.

The 30-second spot, which will also air statewide, argues that delaying AB32 "would pollute our air, kill clean energy jobs, and keep us addicted to costly oil."

"California is outlining a clean energy future a growing workforce of bright Californians who harness wind and solar power to move our state forward. But two Texas oil companies have a deceptive scheme to take us backwards," the narrator says, referring to Valero and Tesoro, which have both contributed heavily to the measure.

Click here to watch the ad from the opposition campaign. The Yes on 23 campaign's spot is posted below.

Whitman Schwarzenegger.JPGGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has published a piece in the Los Angeles Times slamming the Service Employees International Union State Council for endorsing Proposition 19, the November initiative to legalize and allow the regulation of marijuana for recreational use.

The governor argues that the union's leaders should be focused on overhauling the pension system, not promoting legalization of marijuana, as a fix for the state's fiscal woes. He writes:

Any patrol officer, judge or district attorney will tell you that Proposition 19 is a flawed initiative that would bring about a host of legal nightmares and risks to public safety. It would also make California a laughingstock.

Leaders of the Service Employees International Union say they support Proposition 19 so the state can avoid cuts to healthcare, home care, education and elderly care programs. Yet even the best-case estimates show Proposition 19 (assuming it would even pass constitutional muster) bringing in only $1.4 billion in annual revenue -- a fraction of our current deficit.

The SEIU could embrace a far better and more responsible solution for saving state programs: pension reform.

Getting a handle on pensions would preserve far more jobs and prevent many more cuts than legalizing marijuana, and it would do so without the legal complications and safety risks inherent in Proposition 19. Yet for the past year, the SEIU's leaders have been fighting tooth-and-nail against common-sense measures to rein in a debt that is unsustainable and is severely affecting the state's finances.

Click here to read the full piece.

UPDATE: As several commenters have pointed out, SEIU Local 1000 is neutral on the initiative.

One of the major arguments Proposition 19 opponents make against the measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use is that the language doesn't provide details or direction on how the substance should be regulated.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who has in the past authored legislation with the same aim, has introduced a bill to address the regulatory concerns.

The bill, Assembly Bill 9 6X, would create a statewide regulatory system to oversee the sale of marijuana to Californians at least 21 years old, while still allowing local governments to decide whether to allow the sale of the substance. It includes an exemption for medical marijuana.

The San Francisco Democrat said in a statement that the bill is meant to ensure the state can regulate recreational marijuana in "an effective, systematic way" if the measure passes.

"Proposition 19 is an opportunity for Californians to finally change direction after years of our failed "war on drugs" he said. "But no initiative is perfect and the devil is in the details."

A spokesman for Ammiano said he intends for lawmaker to take up the bill when lawmakers return to vote on the budget. If the legislation is approved before Nov. 2, the changes would only take effect if Proposition 19 passes, he said.

After announcing her opposition to Proposition 23, Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman released her positions on all nine measures slated for the November ballot.

Here are the stances:

Proposition 19 (legalize marijuana): Oppose
Proposition 20 (redistricting commission for Congress): Support
Proposition 21 (car surcharge for parks funding) : Oppose
Proposition 22 (prohibit local funds borrowing) Support
Proposition 23 (suspend AB32) Oppose
Proposition 24 (repeal corporate tax benefits) Oppose
Proposition 25 (majority vote budget) Oppose
Proposition 26 (two-thirds vote for fees) Support
Proposition 27 (repeal redistricting commission) Oppose


An attorney for the Proposition 25 campaign has asked radio stations to pull what they characterize as a misleading ad attacking the majority budget vote initiative.

The ad from the opposition campaign, which you can listen to here, claims the measure to lower the requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a majority would also allow lawmakers to increase taxes by a majority vote.

In a letter to station managers, Proposition 25 attorney Lance Olson argues that the ad "makes an inflammatory and demonstrably false charge." He points to a Third District Court of Appeals ruling that rejected opponents' petition to strike ballot language saying the measure would not change the two-thirds vote requirement for taxes.

Beth Miller, a spokeswoman for the No on Proposition 25 campaign, said the opposition "completely stands by our ad." She argued that the court did not directly address the core issue of the tax vote requirement, but deferred to the attorney general's office in drafting the ballot language.

"We have supplied significant legal analysis and representation to support everything we lay out in that ad and we fundamentally believe that Prop. 25 will lead to increased taxes," Miller said.

Miller pointed out that the proponents did not challenge the arguments in the spot when they were submitted to the Secretary of State's Voter Information Guide, which is mailed to millions of voters.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman's campaign took a similar step recently, demanding that television stations take an attack ad from the California Teachers Association off the airwaves. Several providers complied before the CTA updated the spot.

Neither side of the Proposition 25 battle has reported hearing from any stations that agreed to pull the ad.

Click here to read the letter to station managers.

Opponents of Proposition 25 are taking their attacks of the majority budget vote initiative to the airwaves in a new radio campaign.

The radio ad hinges on opponent's arguments that the Nov. 2 measure to lower the two-thirds legislative vote requirement for approving a budget will also allow lawmakers to approve new taxes and increase their own pay with a majority vote.

Supporters of Proposition 25 dispute those claims. An appeals court sided with the measure's proponents during litigation over the initiative's title and summary, saying nothing in the measure's language permits increasing taxes on a majority vote.

The ad, titled "I'll Drink to That - No on 25," features two "lawmakers" toasting to the measure's passage with a "$100 bottle," as a narrator claims "Sacramento politicians are living it up at taxpayers' expense."

"If we get voters to pass Prop. 25, we can afford even more," one chuckles.

Click here to listen to the spot, which the campaign says will air statewide.

Proponents of Proposition 25, , who say the measure would hold lawmakers more accountable by docking pay when they fail to approve a budget on time, launched their first television and radio advertisements this week. Read more about those spots in today's AM Alert.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that a superior court judge also sided with the proponents on whether the measure language could say it does not impact the tax vote requirement. The judge said the phrase should be deleted because it could confuse voters into thinking they had to support the measure to retain the two-thirds vote requirement. An appeals court overruled that decision.

With six weeks until Election Day, the first Nov. 2 proposition spot is hitting TV screens across the state.

Days after this year's spending plan stalemate broke the record for the latest budget approval on record,Proposition 25 proponents have launched a TV ad touting the majority budget vote initiative as a tool for penalizing lawmakers when the budget is late.

The 30-second spot, which began to air statewide starting yesterday, also refutes opponents' allegations that the measure would allow lawmakers to increase taxes with a majority vote.

"Prop. 25 doesn't increase taxes. It holds legislators accountable for late budgets, period," the narrator says.

Proposition 25 lowers the legislative vote requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a majority. It would also permanently dock legislators' pay when they fail to approve a budget by the June 15 constitutional deadline. (Opponents argue that the provision contains a huge loophole, because it requires lawmakers only to approve a budget in order to get paid, not approve one the governor actually signs.)

The Proposition 25 campaign, funded largely by the state Democratic Party, teachers unions and other labor organizations, also launched a 60-second radio ad this week.

Click here to view the TV spot.

Meanwhile, the Assembly and Senate Public Safety committees meet today to take a look at Proposition 19, the ballot measure to allow the legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use.

Representatives from law enforcement, local government and groups involved in drug policy are scheduled to give testimony for and against the initiative.

The 9:30 a.m. hearing kicks off a week of legislative committee hearings on the nine propositions slated for the November ballot.

Back to the budget front, today is Day 83 of the fiscal year. "Big 5" negotiations between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders were canceled yesterday because the governor was under the weather in Los Angeles.

Could Proposition 23, the Nov. 2 initiative to suspend the state's landmark greenhouse gas emissions reduction law, improve the health of Californians?

That's what the author of the hot-button measure argued today at a lunchtime forum sponsored by the Sacramento Press Club.

Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, said delaying Assembly Bill 32 regulations until the state unemployment rate drops would protect and create jobs that give residents insurance and other resources to live better.

"If we want people to live longer, be healthy, I guarantee get them a job," he said. "The bottom line is if we're going to create an atmosphere where people have healthy lifestyles, we have to put them back to work."

Logue's comments came in response to No on Proposition 23 co-chair Thomas Steyer's assertion that suspending AB32 would hurt air qualify and pollution control in the state. Steyer, a wealthy manager of a hedge fund in San Francisco, noted that the American Lung Association is a member of the opposition campaign.

The two sparred on a variety of topics during the hourlong forum and Q-and-A, including the motives of donors contributing large sums of cash on both sides of the fight.

Logue defended heavy spending by the oil industry to boost the campaign, saying the companies had employed hundreds of thousands of Californians directly and indirectly.

A group of former law enforcement officials plan to endorse Proposition 19, the November ballot measure to allow the legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use.

Proponents are holding news conferences in West Hollywood and Oakland to release a letter announcing the endorsement of "dozens of law enforcers across the state."

Several of the former officials scheduled to speak are affiliated with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a Massachusetts-based group that has organized an international coalition of pro-legalization ex-cops, judges and prosecutors. Members of the group's speakers bureau have already been publicly endorsing the measure, penning editorials for newspapers across the state.

But the LEAP-connected law enforcement support doesn't appear to be too deep. The No on Proposition 19 campaign has racked up a substantial showing of law enforcement support itself.

More than 100 current and former California sheriffs, district attorneys and police chiefs oppose the measure, according to the opposition campaign's website. The opposition campaign also has the backing of prominent state and local groups representing various law enforcement officials.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to tout California's trade partnerships on his swing through China. Today his agenda included a forum with Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman and a tour of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co., which is manufacturing parts for the new Bay Bridge.

Back in California, we've hit Day 75 of the fiscal year without a spending plan in place.

BIRTHDAY: Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, turns 43 today.

Fiorinadebate.jpg Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who repeatedly refused to take a stand on Proposition 23 during a Wednesday debate, said today she is backing the measure.

In a statement, Fiorina called it "a Band-Aid fix and an imperfect solution," but she said she's supporting it anyway.

Proposition 23 would suspend implementation of the state's landmark climate change law until unemployment dropped to 5.5 percent or less for a full year. Critics say it's an attempt to gut the legislation.

"The real solution to these challenges lies not with a single state taking action on its own, but rather with global action," Fiorina said. "That's why we need a comprehensive, national energy solution that funds energy R&D and takes advantage of every source of domestic energy we have - including nuclear, wind and solar - in an environmentally responsible way. That said, AB 32 is undoubtedly a job killer, and it should be suspended."

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer chided Fiorina during the debate for declining to say whether she backed Proposition 23, and noted Thursday that "she's taken money from the very same oil and coal companies that are funding overturning AB 32."

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Carly Fiorina speaks during a debate with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on the campus of Saint Mary's College September 1, 2010. Jeff Chiu-Pool/ Getty Images


Majority Democrats have been opening their wallets this week to support a push to give the job of redrawing California's political maps back to the state Legislature.

The Proposition 27 campaign has reported more than $500,000 in contributions from Democratic lawmakers since Monday, mostly from state legislators whose districts would be drafted by new citizen commission.

Proposition 27 would eliminate the 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission approved by voters in 2008. The panel is tasked with redrawing state legislative and Board of Equalization districts after the census. Another measure on the ballot, Proposition 20, financed by wealthy Republican Charles Munger Jr., would add congressional redistricting to the job of the citizen panel.

The reported contributions include a combined $225,000 from committees controlled by husband-and-wife pair Rep. Judy Chu and Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park and $49,000 from Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.

Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, coughed up $100,000 for the campaign, while Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, reported giving $75,000. Also writing checks this week were Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, $30,000, and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, $24,000.

Yesterday, the campaign also reported $250,000 from a union-linked federal campaign committee called Working for Working Americans.

Congressional Democrats and unions have already contributed heavily to the Proposition 27 side of the redistricting fight. See all the contributions here.

Meanwhile, California candidates wrangling for a ticket to Washington are getting some fundraising help from could-be colleagues today.

Fresh off last night's debate with incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, Republican Carly Fiorina is hosting a Newport Beach fundraising event featuring Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.

Brown, a GOP star since he picked up late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in a special election this year, will join Fiorina for phone banking at her Burbank headquarters in the afternoon.

House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer will be in Los Angeles to court contributors for former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass' 33rd Congressional District run today and state Sen. Jeff Denham is holding a fundraiser for his 19th Congressional District bid with Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, reports the subscription-only Capitol Morning Report.

SENATE DEBATE: Check out Capitol Alert's coverage of last night's Boxer-Fiorina face off at the blog. Jack Chang has the full report on the debate in today's Bee.

GOV2010: Jerry Brown is ramping up his campaigning today with two events across the state. Brown will be joined by Latino legislators and local officials at a 9 a.m. event in Oakland. By 2 p.m., he will be in Los Angeles to talk about green jobs.

This year's statewide ballot measures, like those in other recent election years, have been subjected to complex litigation not on their provisions, but how those provisions are presented to voters in official ballot titles and summaries.

Those who fight ballot language wars do so because they believe that how a measure is officially presented on the ballot could affect the outcome of the election. And -- in a masterpiece of timeliness -- two political scientists have written a 28-page research paper delving into that belief, one aspect of which is the Proposition 8 language clash.

Bee colleague Phillip Reese posts at the Public Eye blog this graphic showing campaign contributions both for and against the propositions slated for the November ballot. The graphic shows contributions through June 30.

One of the measures listed in the graphic, Proposition 18, has been moved off the ballot.

An appeals court ruled today that ballot pamphlet language for Proposition 25 can say the majority budget vote measure "retains two‐thirds vote requirement (for) taxes."

The decision overturns the ruling of a Sacramento Superior Court judge, who ordered last week that the reference to the tax vote requirement be removed to avoid misleading voters that they must support the initiative to keep the vote threshold for increasing taxes at its current level.

Proposition 25 opponents had sued to take the language out of the ballot label and title and summary prepared by the attorney general, arguing that, contrary to proponents' claims, the initiative would allow lawmakers to raise taxes on a majority vote.

Today's ruling from the appeals court delivers a blow to that argument, saying the measure's intent language declaring it would not change the legislative vote requirement on taxes is enough to assess the measure's impact.

"(W)e find nothing in the substantive provisions of Proposition 25 that would allow the Legislature to circumvent the existing constitutional requirement of a two-thirds vote to raise taxes," the ruling reads.

The campaign opposing the measure issued a release calling the ruling "unfortunate and disappointing because millions of voters won't receive a true and accurate title and summary or ballot label description of Prop. 25 contained in the official voter pamphlet," pointing out that their ballot arguments about opening the door to raising taxes on a majority vote were not challenged by proponents.

This post was updated at 7:06 p.m. with comments from the Prop 25 opponents.

Valero Energy Corp. dropped another $3 million into the Proposition 23 campaign, according to campaign finance filings reported Friday to the Secretary of State.

The Texas-based oil company has contributed more than $4 million to the initiative, which would suspend California's landmark greenhouse gas emissions reduction law until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. Tesoro Corp., another oil company based in Texas, has also contributed more than $500,000 to the campaign.

Both sides of the Proposition 23 fight have attracted significant cash this campaign cycle. One of several accounts opened to oppose the measure has reported more than $4 million in contributions, including $2.5 million from No on 23 campaign co-chairThomas Steyer, a major Democratic donor and hedge fund manager from San Francisco.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled Friday that the fiscal impact summary for Proposition 22 must include a reference to local funds.

The November ballot measure blocks state lawmakers from taking or redirecting certain local funds, including transit and redevelopment coffers, to balance the state budget. The League of California Cities, a lead sponsor of the initiative, filed a lawsuit to change the fiscal impact summary drafted by the Legislative Analyst's Office, arguing that it did not reflect the impact the initiative would have on local government revenues.

Kenny agreed with proponents' complaints that the language was misleading and changed the wording from:

Comparable increases in transportation and redevelopment resources.

To:

Comparable increases in funding for state and local transportation programs and local redevelopment.

Proposition 22 supporters said they were pleased that the judge took action to change the measure, but complained that the phrase "local government" is still absent from the language.

"(D)espite some minor changes, the fiscal impact statement still does not adequately inform voters that Prop. 22 will significantly protect revenues for cities, counties and special districts," League of California Cities Executive Director Chris McKenzie said in a statement

The fiscal impact summary for the proposition will be published as part of the measure's title and summary and ballot label. Today is the deadline for making court-ordered changes to the Voter Information Guide.

·

Legislators could set in motion today bumping the $11.1 billion water bond from the November ballot. But those seeking to delay the vote could face a bumpy boat ride.

The Senate last week amended two bills to create legislation to move the bond, which lawmakers put on the ballot, to the Nov. 6, 2012, election.

Supporters of the bond proposal want to push it back because they fear voters aren't likely to approve more debt for the already cash-strapped state while the economy is on the rocks. But bond critics, including some in the Legislature, would much rather see what they see as a pork-heavy measure rewritten or left on the ballot to fail.

Getting the two-thirds vote to move the bond could be an uphill battle. The proposal barely passed both the Assembly and Senate the first time around. Both houses have lost at least one "aye" from the first vote due to seat vacancies.

BB patrick marlette GOV RULE 0329(2).JPGA Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled today that ballot language for the majority-vote budget initiative cannot claim the measure retains the two-thirds vote requirement for raising taxes.

Proposition 25 supporters say the sole aim of the November ballot measure is to lower the legislative vote requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a majority vote.

The title and summary prepared for the initiative by the attorney general's office reinforced that claim, saying the measure "retains two-thirds vote requirement for taxes."

But opponents, who argue the initiative language would also allow lawmakers to raise taxes with a majority vote, sued to remove the reference to the tax vote. They cite a fiscal analysis by the Legislative Analyst's Office that says the initiative language does not "specifically address the legislative vote requirement for increasing state tax revenues."

Judge Patrick Marlette sided with the opponents that the language should be removed, but not because he agreed with opponents' arguments about the initiative's effect. Marlette, who ruled from the bench, said the language could misleadingly send the message to voters that they must support the initiative to keep the tax vote requirement as is, according to both proponents and opponents of the initiative.

ha_meg_whitman26.JPGGOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's views on immigration reform were in the spotlight again yesterday, as she told conservative radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou that she would not support allowing undocumented immigrants currently in the country to apply for citizenship.

"I don't think we should have blanket amnesty, and I am not for a path to citizenship. I have been very, very clear," she said during a segment on John and Ken show on KFI 640 AM.

The radio hosts have relentlessly criticized Whitman in recent weeks, accusing her of changing her positions on key issues. They took their trademark aggressive tone in the interview, frequently interrupting and challenging Whitman's statements.

"Are you going to answer the question? ... No illegal alien is going to get any sort of citizenship unless they leave the country and apply through the process. Is that true?" Chiampou interjected during the interview.

Whitman responded "yes," adding that she does support a temporary guest worker program.

Whitman has faced criticism from opponents who say she has shifted her position on the issue since the primary. She has said in the past that deporting immigrants currently living in the country illegally is "simply not practical."

"Can we get a fair program where people stand at the back of the line, they pay a fine, they do some things that would ultimately allow a path to legalization?" she was quoted as saying during a 2009 event.

Spokesman Tucker Bounds said Whitman's position has remained consistent: "She does not support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants that are in the state currently."

Whitman was also asked about her position on Proposition 23, the November ballot measure to suspend California's landmark emissions reductions law indefinitely. When pressed by the hosts, she came closer to taking a stance than she has so far in the campaign, saying "in all likelihood" she would vote no on the initiative. She supports instead ordering as governor a one-year moratorium on the law.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this post misspelled the hosts' last names. The Bee regrets the error.

JM TIM FRAWLEY.JPGSacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley today ordered a change in the ballot language for Proposition 23, agreeing with proponents' charge that Attorney General Jerry Brown's office used misleading language in drafting the title and summary for the measure.

Bee colleague Rick Daysog reports:

Frawley said use of the term "major polluters" in election materials carried negative connotations with voters and ordered Brown's office to use the less loaded term "major sources of emissions."

Frawley also said the state inaccurately described the proposition as "abandoning" California's climate change law, or AB 32, and ordered it to substitute the term "suspends."

"My concern is that the word 'polluters' suggests something that comes out of a smokestack. That's where the prejudice lies," Frawley said.

Click here for the full story.

PHOTO: Timothy Frawley, Sacramento Bee file photo May 14, 2002/ Jay Mather

Proposition 22 proponents have filed a lawsuit seeking to change language in the Legislative Analyst's Office's fiscal impact summary of the measure.

The November ballot measure would block the state from taking, borrowing or redirecting cash from certain local government funding sources to balance the state budget. The League of California Cities, a lead sponsor of the initiative, says the "inexplicable and prejudicial" language does not address the impact the change would have on local government revenues.

"The omission leaves the impression that Proposition 22 has no fiscal impact on local government, when, in fact, the LAO's full analysis included in the Ballot Pamphlet shows that Proposition 22 has a significant and favorable impact on local government by stabilizing local governments' revenue resources," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit was filed Monday, during the public display period for language set to be published in the ballot pamphlet and in the Secretary of State's Voter Information Guide. It joins challenges to change language regarding Proposition 23 and Proposition 25.

Any court-ordered changes must be made by Aug. 9.

Clickhereto download the lawsuit.

A coalition of minor party candidates and voters have asked a judge to block the implementation of the top-two primary system approved under Proposition 14.

As Capitol Alert reported last night, the plaintiffs argue that provisions in Senate Bill 6, accompanying legislation directing the execution of the new system, disenfranchise candidates from minor parties and voters.

Read the complaints, filed this morning in San Francisco Superior Court, here and here.

Opponents of the majority budget initiative are going to court to challenge the official ballot language drafted for the proposition.

The lawsuit alleges that the ballot label and title and summary prepared by the attorney general for Proposition 25 falsely states that the measure "retains two‐thirds vote requirement (for) taxes."

Proposition 25 supporters say the sole purpose of the initiative is to lower the legislative vote requirement for approving the budget from two-thirds to a majority (the measure also calls for docking lawmakers' pay if the budget is late). But as we've reported, opponents say the measure's language allows taxes and other changes subject to a two-thirds approval to be folded into appropriation bills attached to the budget and passed by a majority vote. They point to the fiscal analysis by the Legislative Analyst's Office, which concludes "this measure's constitutional provisions do not specifically address the legislative vote requirement for increasing state tax revenues." The analysis notes that the intent language states that the aim is not to change the tax vote threshold.

Public Policy Institute of California's new statewide poll is adding fuel to the fire in the fight over Proposition 23.

The poll results, released last night, found that roughly two-thirds of Californians ( and 61 percent of likely voters) support AB 32, the 2006 law mandating that California drop its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. That figure remains consistent with support in past years.

That law would be suspended until the unemployment rate hits 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive calendar quarters by Proposition 23, considered by many the battle royal among the November initiatives. Supporters of the initiative say that move is needed to ease the regulatory burden on businesses until the economy rebounds.

Despite the strong support for the law, Californians were divided when asked whether the government should act right away to reduce emissions or wait until the economy recovers as the initiative proponents suggest.

A slim majority of Californians (53 percent) said the government should still immediately take action, with 42 percent of respondents saying they think the state should wait. Likely voters were split, with 48 percent of respondents on either side of the issue.

Prop 23 opponents seized on the results as a sign that ""Californians know that we can have both a strong economy and clean air."

But the Yes on Prop 23 campaign dismissed the findings, saying the questions were unfairly centered on global warming, not the economic impacts of AB 32.

"Folks instinctively will say we should reduce emissions related to global warming," Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, said in a statement. "Poll after poll shows that jobs and the economy are voters' top priority. At the end of the day, Californians will be unwilling to spend billions and risk over a million jobs for a global warming law that will do nothing to reduce global warming."

The poll also showed narrow leads for Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, with nearly a quarter of voters in both races still undecided. Dan Walters has more on those numbers on Capitol Alert.

Click here for the full poll, which includes voter opinions on offshore oil drilling, the direction of the state and job approval ratings of elected officials.

PRESSER: Plaintiffs in a lawsuit to block the implementation of the "top-two" primary system approved under Proposition 14 are holding an 11 a.m. news conference in San Jose to announce their plans. Read more about the suit, which will be filed today in San Francisco Superior Court, here.

BALLOT WATCH: Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced yesterday that an initiative to change the state's legislative term-limit laws has qualified for the ballot, just not for the one in November. The measure will be on the ballot for the next statewide election after the Nov. 2 general election, likely the February 2012 primary. The initiative would lower the current 14-year cap (six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate) to 12 years, but allow officials to serve their time consecutively in one house or split between the Assembly and the Senate. The measure didn't make the deadline for the November ballot.

BIRTHDAY: Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, turns 43 today.

Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer hold narrow leads over their Republican challengers with more than three months of campaigning to come before the November election, a new Public Policy Institute of California poll has found.

The poll, conducted during the first weeks of July, found that Attorney General Brown, the Democratic candidate for governor, is virtually tied with Republican Meg Whitman, leading 37 percent to 34 percent among likely voters with 23 percent still undecided.

PPIC also found Boxer, a three-term U.S. senator, leading Republican Carly Fiorina 39 percent to 34 percent with 22 percent undecided.

The margins are similar to those in other recent polls, but PPIC's survey found substantially more undecided voters than the others.

The PPIC poll was geared to environmental concerns and found that Brown and Boxer both hold large leads among voters who consider environmental issues "very important."

Opponents of Proposition 14 plan to file a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court tomorrow seeking to block the state from transitioning to a "top two" primary system.

The lawsuit targets Senate Bill 6, the bill implementing the "top-two' primary system that was approved with 53.8 percent of the vote in the June primary. The initiative, placed on the ballot as part of the February 2009 budget deal, replaced the current party primaries with a system in which candidates of all parties run on the same primary ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to a run-off.

The opponents said in a press release that the lawsuit will argue that the measure disenfranchises voters' rights by eliminating write-in candidates and discriminates against candidates from parties not recognized by the state.

As The Bee reported this spring, minor party organizers and candidates are concerned that they could lose their ballot-qualified status under the new system. Candidates from such parties would be left with listing "no party preference" on the ballot.

The complaint is being filed by six voters, including ballot access proponent Richard Winger, a vocal critic of the initiative. It was unclear late Wednesday who is funding the legal challenge.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association has filed a lawsuit challenging the wording of the ballot language for Proposition 23.

The measure would suspend AB32, the 2006 law requiring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, until the state unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent of below for four consecutive calendar quarters.

The lawsuit claims that the ballot label and title and summary prepared by the attorney general's office, which you can read here, falsely implies that the measure would suspend "air pollution control laws," not just AB32, and does not accurately reflect the purpose of the initiative.

The suit cites Attorney General Jerry Brown'ssupport for AB32 as a sign of bias and claims that supporters have been asking the attorney generals' office to update the language since the title and summary was approved for circulation in February.

Opponents of the measure called the lawsuit a legal stunt aimed at distracting voters from the measure's intention to "kill California's job-creating clean air and energy standards."

The suit was filed Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court by HJTA President Jon Coupal, a major supporter of the initiaitve. Ballot language challenges must be resolved by Aug. 9, after which the Secretary of State Official Voter Information Guide is sent to the printer.

Read the lawsuit here .

San Francisco Sunset.JPGAmerica's ideological warriors, ranging from Ralph Nader on the left to Grover Norquist on the right, will take part, beginning Friday, in a five-day conference in San Francisco on global trends in direct democracy.

It's a fitting topic for a fitting locale, since California is the epicenter of making public policy through ballot measures, including a new batch on the November ballot.

Participants in the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy will come from six continents, more than 30 countries and 27 U.S. states and will be held at the University of California's Hastings College of Law.

As part of the conference, the Citizens in Charge Foundation will release preliminary findings of its report on fraud in the initiative and referendum process. More information on the conference is available here.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Transamerica tower, at left, dominates the skyline as the sun sets on the city of San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. (AP Photo/ Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Monday he's against reducing the state's supermajority budget vote requirement to a majority threshold, essentially voicing his opposition to Proposition 25 on the November ballot.

The Republican governor spoke during a "budget roundtable" he convened at the offices of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. In response to a question on ballot initiatives, he first said taxes and fees should not be increased by a majority vote, a restriction the California Chamber of Commerce is attempting to strengthen in Proposition 26. He then said he's not only against approving taxes and fees on a majority-vote basis, but also a state budget.

"Even doing the budget, I even don't believe in doing the budget by a simple majority," Schwarzenegger said. "Because if you do a budget by simple majority, again, there is one party that will make all the decisions. I think it needs the input of both of the parties because you can see the first thing (Democrats) did was come up with borrowing or a tax increase."

Schwarzenegger said he would wait until after he signs the budget to unveil his positions on ballot initiatives. But his comments suggest he opposes Proposition 25 and supports Proposition 26. He also has been vocal in his opposition to Proposition 23, which would suspend the state's 2006 law restricting greenhouse-gas emissions in California.

The governor played to the business crowd, asserting that the state should pursue more tax credits and incentives for companies. He suggested he would seek to expand credits for the film industry.

The governor also said he wants to pursue "tort reform" and particularly cited cases in which parties sue to block construction projects because of environmental review requirements. That issue has emerged as an annual budget negotiating point for Republicans.

Update (11:40 a.m.): Of the governor's comments, Proposition 25 consultant Gale Kaufman responded that the two-thirds vote requirement "isn't working for him, the last time I checked. For him to say Proposition 25 doesn't work when he can't get a budget done on time is absolutely crazy. This is a simple reform, a simple answer, and someone has to take charge of getting this budget done on time."

The latest spokesperson against Proposition 23? Actor Edward James Olmos.

The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund and Californians for Clean Energy Jobs have released a new 30-second spot -- in English and Spanish -- with Olmos making the case against the ballot measure, which would suspend AB 32, California's landmark law to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The campaign says there are no immediate plans to air the spot on television.

View the spot in English below. For the the Spanish version, click here.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this morning criticized opponents of the state's landmark greenhouse gas reduction law as "greedy oil companies from Texas," and he promised to fight Proposition 23, their bid to roll the law back.

"These are greedy oil companies from Texas," Schwarzenegger said at a meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners at the Sacramento Convention Center. "They want to come in here and tell us in California what to do, so they can sell their oil and they can continue polluting the world, they can create all of the health hazards, and send the kids to the hospitals, and have them use, you know, inhalers and all of those kinds of things. They want to continue on with that."

Schwarzenegger said, "But we're not going to go for that."

He said, "If the special interests push me around, I'll push back. I will push back all the way."

The governor called on audience members to work in their own communities to promote alternative energy and greenhouse gas reductions, saying national reform must start at a "grassroots level."

The California Democratic Party has decided not to take a position on Proposition 19, the November ballot measure to legalize and allow regulation of marijuana for recreational use.

While major candidates on the party's ticket and many law enforcement groups are opposed to the measure, supporters and some observers say the initiative could drive young and progressive voters to the polls. That, they say, would propel Democratic candidates to victory.

A push to endorse Proposition 19 at the party's executive board meeting in San Jose fell short of the 60 percent vote needed for approval, according to Calitics' Robert Cruickshank, an attendee who supports the measure.

The party opted not to vote on a position on the Proposition 18, the $11 billion water bond some officials are trying to push to the 2012 ballot. Members also voted to endorse Assemblyman Tom Torlkakson over former school district superintendent Larry Aceves in the nonpartisan superintendent of public instruction contest.

The full list of the party's proposition positions is posted after the jump.

The California Labor Federation has announced its positions on propositions slated for the November ballot:

YES:
Proposition 21 (parks funding)
Proposition 24 (repeals corporate tax benefits)
Proposition 25 (majority vote on budget)
Proposition 27 (redistricting commission repeal)

NO:
Proposition 20 (redistricting commission for Congress)
Proposition 23 (suspend AB 32)
Proposition 26 (supermajority vote on fees)

NEUTRAL/NO POSITION:
Proposition 19 (marijuana)
Proposition 22 (protect local funds)

*CLF did not provide a stance on the $11 billion water bond, which some lawmakers are seeking to move to the 2012 ballot. Spokesman Steve Smith wrote in an e-mail that the organization would vote on whether to back the bond "in a few months" if it remains on the ballot.

This post was updated with a comment from Smith.

BB BUDGET 03121.JPGOpponents of Proposition 25 are taking aim at the language of the initiative to lower the two-thirds legislative vote requirement for passing a budget, saying the measure is written in a way that could allow tax increases to be approved by a majority vote.

Proposition 25 proponents say the measure would lower the vote threshold for passing a budget and suspend legislators' pay when the budget is late -- not allow a majority vote for approving taxes. The intent language introducing the proposed constitutional amendment contends that, too, declaring: "This measure will not change the two-thirds vote requirement for the Legislature to raise taxes.

But opponents say the actual operative language of the measure, which you can read here, effectively permits raising taxes with a majority vote.

"This is not a check and balance on the Legislature, this is a carte blanche for more taxes," Teresa Casazza, president of the California Taxpayers Association, said today at a roundtable with reporters.

Guv hopefuls Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman are in a statistical dead heat, with the Democratic attorney general leading his Republican rival among likely California voters by just one point, according to a Field Poll released today.

Brown polled at 44 percent, Whitman at 43 percent. Another 13 percent are still either undecided or support other candidates.

The results come from a telephone survey of 1,005 likely voters conducted between June 22 and July 5. The margin of error on the Brown-or-Whitman response is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

Whitman has gained ground since pollsters began asking in October about hypothetical matchups, though she lost the three-point advantage over Brown that she posted in March before she ramped up her on-air primary campaign against Steve Poizner.

One thing the poll suggests? The barrage of attacks from both camps is affecting voters' views of the candidates -- the more they hear, the less they like.

Pacific Gas & Electric officials said today that the company won't support Proposition 23, a November ballot measure that would suspend implementation of the state greenhouse gas emission reduction law until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for a year.

From Bee colleague Rick Daysog:

The state's largest for-profit utility said that it supports a "thoughtful and balanced" implementation of AB 32 to combat the problem of global climate change and spur growth in clean-tech jobs and investments.

"We at PG&E are committed to helping California make progress on both its environmental and economic goals, moving us toward a low-carbon economy while minimizing the impact on customers as we make this necessary transition," said Peter Darbee, Chairman and CEO of PG&E.

Read the full story here.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today he will work to postpone the vote on the $11.1 billion water bond, now on the November ballot, to 2012 to "avoid jeopardizing its passage."

"After reviewing the agenda for this year, I believe our focus should be on the budget -- solving the deficit, reforming out of control pension costs and fixing our broken budget system," he said in a statement. "It's critical that the water bond pass, as it will improve California's economic growth, environmental sustainability and water supply for future generations."

The statement from Schwarzenegger, one of the primary backers of the measure, comes as lawmakers are reportedly considering putting up a vote to bump the bond off the November ballot. Lawmakers approved the bond as part of last year's package of water policy and infrastructure bills.

UPDATE 3:42 p.m.: The campaign backing the water bond has issued a statement in support of the delay:

"The water bond represents a truly comprehensive solution to fix the problems in the Delta, increase conservation and recycling, and expand the availability and quality of water supplies in every region of the state," Jim Earp, co-chair of the coalition backing the bond, said in a statement. "We're confident that when presented to voters, they will approve the measure. However, in light of the economic situation, we agree with the governor and legislative leaders that the best timing for the water bond is in 2012. We support postponing the bond to 2012."

UPDATE 4:15 p.m.: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg also supports pushing back the bond.

"Given the challenges currently facing California, I agree with the Governor the water bond should be postponed," he said in a statement.

State lawmakers are considering pulling the $11.14 billion water bond from the November ballot, instead putting the measure on the 2012 ballot.

Fresno Bee colleague E.J. Schultz reports:

The concern among some bond supporters is that, with the state already mired in a $19.1 billion budget deficit, voters aren't in the mood to assume more debt. Assembly Member Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, confirmed that "unofficial discussions are occurring" and said he would support a delay.

However, some lawmakers who have spent years seeking to get the measure before voters might be reluctant to approve a delay.

"Those of us that worked on it wouldn't want to wait," said Assembly Member Mike Villines, R-Clovis. "It is time to go forward."

Click here to read the full story.

ha_perez_villaraigosa43941.JPGLos Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed concerns Monday about an initiative that would prevent the state from taking local government funds, even though he previously signed a letter endorsing the proposal now slated as Proposition 22 on the November ballot.

During a Capitol press conference to promote nearly $1 billion in additional local government funds in the Assembly Democratic budget, Speaker John A. Pérez said he opposed the ballot measure because it was an example of ballot-box budgeting that ties the hands of state officials.

Villaraigosa, a former Democratic Assembly speaker, jumped in and said he agreed with that position.

"We are so constrained by initiative, by structural frameworks, that make it very difficult to proceed ahead," Villaraigosa said.

When asked to clarify his position on the initiative, Villaraigosa said, "No, I'm not supporting it, either."

Yet he was one of nine big-city mayors to have signed a letter in March expressing support for the ballot proposal. Proposition 22 would prevent the state from borrowing or taking money from local government accounts, a response to a budget decision last year to borrow $2 billion from local governments and take $1.7 billion from local redevelopment agencies.

When pressed again, Villaraigosa said, "I haven't seen that initiative. I haven't read it. I'm not for governing by initiative, either. I may want to protect local government funding. I've been here a lot. And I'm pretty loud in my advocacy here. You know, I'm not a shrinking violet when it comes to defending my town. But, you know, I'm also not a demagogue."

Villaraigosa press secretary Arielle Goren said in a follow-up phone call that the mayor does support Proposition 22 and that it was "unclear to him that anyone was referring specifically to this measure" during the press conference.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, right, answers questions from the press as he is joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday, June 28. They were touting the Assembly Democrats' budget proposal. Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today the numbers assigned to those ten measures that have qualified for the November ballot. Here is the line up:

Proposition 18 - Water bond.
Proposition 19: - Legalize and tax marijuana.
Proposition 20 - Redistricting for Congress.
Proposition 21 - Vehicle license fee for parks.
Proposition 22 - Bans state from borrowing or redirecting local funds.
Proposition 23: Suspends AB32.
Proposition 24: Repeals corporate tax benefits.
Proposition 25: Majority vote for passing a budget.
Proposition 26: Two-thirds vote for approving fees.
Proposition 27: Eliminates redistricting commission.

California voters will be pummeled this fall by both sides of a complex, high-stakes political battle over how the state's legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization seats are divvied up for the next decade.

Two years ago, voters approved Proposition 11, which shifted legislative and Board of Equalization redistricting from the Legislature to an independent commission, heeding Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and political reformers. They said it was a conflict of interest for lawmakers to be drawing their own districts after the decennial census, pointing to a bipartisan gerrymander of districts after the 2000 census.

As the 2010 census winds up, the 14-member independent commission is being selected via a complex process conducted by the state auditor's office.

Congressional districts were omitted from Proposition 11 because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional members vowed to spend heavily to defeat it if they were included.

A few weeks ago, however, Charles Munger Jr., a wealthy Stanford University scientist whose father is the partner of tycoon Warren Buffet, qualified a measure for the November ballot that would give congressional districting to the independent commission as well.

As the Munger measure was being circulated for signatures, a group of Southern California Democratic congressmen, headed by Howard Berman, launched a counter-measure that would abolish the independent commission altogether and return redistricting authority to the Legislature.

An initiative aimed at curbing the practice of using fee increases to generate revenue for general purposes has qualified for the November ballot.

Under the initiative, called the "Stop Hidden Taxes" measure, new fees and charges, as well as plans to reallocate tax dollars, would need a two-thirds vote for approval.

"The ongoing behavior of disguising taxes as fees at both the state and local level must end," Teresa Casazza, president of the California Taxpayers' Association, said in a statement. "If allowed to continue, these tax-like fees will inappropriately add to the tax burden faced by taxpayers."

Nine measures, including an initiative to lower the vote requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a majority, have qualified.

An initiative to lower the legislative vote threshold for passing a budget from two-thirds to a majority vote has qualified for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified the measure today after projections based on a random sample of initiative petitions showed backers of the "On-Time Budget Initiative" turned in enough signatures to meet the valid voter signature requirement for snagging a spot on the ballot.

"Year after year, the state budget is late and legislators are not held accountable. Nine days ago, the legislature failed for the 23rd time in 24 years to submit a budget to the Governor by the June 15 constitutional deadline," Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. "If passed, no longer will 14 legislators be able to hold up the budget to satisfy the desires of corporate interests."

The measure is supported by nurses, teachers and other unions. Today is the deadline for measures to qualify for November. Eight have been certified so far.

An initiative to repeal corporate tax breaks that lawmakers approved in the past two years has made it on the November ballot.

The measure, backed by the California Teachers Association, targets tax benefits that would give businesses more flexibility in calculating their tax liability. The campaign reached the 477,369 valid voter signature projection needed to qualify based on a random sample of petition signatures.

It's the seventh measure that Secretary of State Debra Bowen has certified so far for the Nov. 2 ballot. Today is the deadline for voter initiatives to qualify for the ballot.

The Schwarzenegger administration unveiled a "Vision California" report today that urged the state to wean itself from sprawling residential patterns and auto-dependent transportation, that appears aimed at countering a newly qualified ballot measure.

The measure, sponsored by a coalition of oil companies and conservative groups, would suspend implementation of Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 legislation that requires California to lower its use of carbon-based fuels and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions, until the state's unemployment rate drops dramatically. The jobless rate, now over 12 percent, would have to fall consistently to 5.5 percent if the measure is approved by voters.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has denounced the November ballot measure and vowed to defeat it at the polls. His administration's new report contends that California must cope with its ever-rising population by shifting to denser, transit-oriented development patterns and says that doing so will dramatically lower the cost of living in the state, citing both AB 32 and Senate Bill 375, another new law aimed at implementing higher-density development patterns.

The push-back document is a joint project of Schwarzenegger's Strategic Growth Council, an interagency coordinating group, and the High-Speed Rail Commission, which is planning a bullet train link between Southern and Northern California.

"Vision California is an unprecedented effort to explore the role of land use and transportation investments in meeting the environmental, fiscal and public health challenges facing California over the coming decades," the document declares, adding, "By clearly expressing the consequences of different scenarios, Vision California can inform the policy and programmatic decisions that will drive California's infrastructure investments."

The full report can be found here.

UPDATED 5:02 p.m. with comment from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Californians heading to the polls in November will vote whether to derail the state's landmark greenhouse gas emission law.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced this afternoon that the measure to delay Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 law mandating the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, has qualified for the ballot. Proponents, who needed to submit at least 435,000 valid voter signatures to make the cut, reached the threshold for qualifying through the random sample process.

The measure, called the California Jobs Initiative, calls for delaying implementation of the regulations until the state unemployment rate -- which currently hovers at about 12 percent -- drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

A measure to ban the state from dipping into local government coffers to balance the budget has secured a spot on the November ballot.

The "Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010" would prohibit the state from borrowing or redirecting cash from local government property taxes, gasoline taxes, local transit and redevelopment funds and other locally-issued taxes to close the budget gap. Proponents turned in more than 1.2 million petition signatures to meet the 694,354 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot.

"California voters have repeatedly supported statewide measures that dedicate the gas taxes we pay at the pump for transportation improvements," campaign co-chair Jim Earp, executive director of the California Alliance, said in a statement. "Despite this, year after year the Legislature exploits every loophole it can find to borrow or outright raid these critical funds. This measure will once and for all protect gas taxes from future raids and insure they are used to improve our roads, highways and transit systems - just like the voters intended."

Proposals to tap into local revenues to balance the budget have been challenged in the past, with local redevelopment agencies suing the state over plans to siphon funds from local government coffers.

Five measures, including the water bond approved by the Legislature, have been certified for the ballot so far. All initiatives slated for November must be certified by the Secretary of State by June 24.

This post was updated at 1:43 p.m. with a statement from the campaign.

A measure to change current term limit laws for state legislators looks unlikely to appear on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen directed county election officials today to conduct a full verification of voter signatures on petitions submitted by proponents, a process likely to extend past the June 24 deadline for qualifying 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.

Brown at Microsoft.JPGWhile the state Republican and Democratic parties have opposed the voter-approved open primary measure Proposition 14, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown expressed support Tuesday for the idea, saying it could help break partisan gridlock paralyzing Sacramento.

When asked by The Bee in March about the initiative, Brown refused to take a position.

Brown was in Mountain View on Tuesday to announce an eight-point plan for investing in renewable energy technology, which he says will create more than half a million green jobs. He opened his remarks to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group by lamenting polarizing partisan politics. He then segued into Proposition 14, which would advance the primary's top two vote-getters to the general election, regardless of their party affiliations.

The ballots haven't even all been counted yet for the propositions up for vote in Tuesday's primary, but another measure has been cleared for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today that proponents of the "State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act" were projected to have submitted enough valid voter signatures to qualify.

The measure, backed by the California State Parks Foundation, would enact a $18 vehicle registration fee to fund state parks. In return, California motorists subject to the fee would get free admission to the parks. Proponents turned in more than 760,000 signatures in hopes of hitting the roughly 434,000 needed to make it on the ballot

The proposal is the fourth measure slated for the November ballot. Initiatives to legalize and regulate marijuana and expand the Citizens Redistricting Commission to include redrawing congressional districts have already qualified, and the Legislature has also approved placing an $11 billion bond for water infrastructure projects on the ballot.

Petitions for seven more measures have been submitted for signature verification. The deadline for the secretary of state to certify measures for the November ballot is June 24.

BabinProp16.jpeg

Rex Babin is the political cartoonist for The Bee. You can see a collection of his work here.

Voters rejected two business-backed measures that would have changed the electric power and auto insurance industries in California.

With all precincts statewide reporting, PG&E-backed Proposition 16 was failing with 52.5 percent no votes. No votes on Proposition 17, sponsored by Mercury Insurance, accounted for 52.1 percent of the total.

Proponents of the measures were still holding out hope, with thousands of absentee ballots yet to be counted.

Shannan Velayas, a spokeswoman with the secretary of state's office, said the number of absentee ballots varies from county to county, so the state does not now know how many are out there. She said it's in the "tens of thousands." Counties have until July 9 to report final absentee totals.

Opponents of Propositions 16 and 17 said they were confident, given the numbers. Out of about 3.85 million votes cast, Proposition 16 trailed today by about 185,000 votes. Proposition 17 was failing by about 156,000 votes.

Disgruntled California voters have blown up their election system by approving Proposition 14, which tosses out the current political party-based primary system in all but presidential races.

With 48 percent of precincts statewide reported, the measure was ahead with 57 percent of voters in favor of it and 43 percent against.

Although results were not official, California's main and minor political parties were already talking about a strategy to file a lawsuit against Proposition 14, Cres Velluci, Green Party state press secretary, said late Tuesday night.

Backed strongly by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Proposition 14 calls for a new "open" primary, in which all candidates for an office - except those in presidential primaries - appear on a ballot given to voters regardless of party registration.

Under the system -- which Washington state has already adopted -- the top-two vote getters who emerge from a primary square off in a general election, even if they are from the same political party.

UPDATE 4:57 a.m.: With 98 percent of precincts reporting, the measure is losing 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent.

Proposition 16, touted by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as a voter-empowering measure but scorched by critics as a power grab by the utility, was being defeated by a narrow margin early this morning, with both sides saying the final result might not be known for days.

The seesaw content saw the measure getting 51 to 52 percent voter approval in early returns after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Shortly after 11:15 p.m., however, no votes edged into the majority.

With 9,730 precincts of 22,894, or 42.5 percent, reporting, no votes accounted for 51 percent of the total.

Becky Warren, a spokeswoman Yes on 16, said the outcome might not be determined for awhile, but added, "Right now, we're still positive and optimistic."

Richard Stapler, a spokesman for No on 16, agreed that vote totals might take days to sort out, but he was pleased that no votes had pulled ahead before midnight: "Things are definitely starting to break our way. If things stay like this, it's a victory for democracy and consumers."


This test program for public campaign financing for one statewide office appeared to be headed for defeat.

With about a quarter of the votes counted, Proposition 15 was going down 57 percent to 43 percent.

Passage would create a voluntary program allowing candidates for secretary of state to run publicly funded campaigns in 2014 and 2018

The program would be bankrolled by $6 million raised every four years, primarily from lobbyists, lobbying firms and lobbying employers.

The California Nurses Association, the California Clean Money Campaign and other supporters argued that special interests have corrupted state politics and that public funding would let elected officials focus on public issues and make it easier for non-wealthy candidates to run.

Opponents, including the California Chamber of Commerce-backed California Business Political Action Committee and many lobbying groups, said public funds should be spent on services and that special interests could still donate to other fundraising efforts.

Voters approved Proposition 13, an earthquake-retrofit measure, by a wide margin.

Current law allows earthquake safety upgrades on unreinforced buildings to escape increases in property tax assessments for 15 years.

Proposition 13 would remove the 15-year limit and extend the exclusion until the property is sold.

State lawmakers voted unanimously to put the measure on the ballot, saying it would encourage property owners to retrofit buildings for earthquakes and reduce workload for tax assessors. There was no organized opposition.

This Mercury Insurance-bankrolled measure, which again asked voters to set rules governing auto insurance and its pricing, appeared to be headed for victory.

With about a quarter of the vote counted, the measure had support from 53.5 percent of voters.

Current law lets car insurers offer discounts to "continuous," long-standing customers. This measure would let insurers extend these discounts to other companies' customers.

Mercury Insurance, the California Chamber of Commerce and other supporters said it would let insurers compete more aggressively, drive down premiums and save motorists money.

Opponents, including Consumer Watchdog and Consumers Union, called the measure an assault on a 1988 law that protects motorists who didn't previously have insurance coverage and said it would impose surcharges of up to $1,000 on motorists who don't qualify for discounts.

Mercury was the measure's biggest backer by far, contributing more than $15.9 million by June 3.

Proposition 16, the Pacific Gas and Electric Co.-backed measure that would make it more difficult for public power agencies to expand into new territory and discourage municipalities from starting their own utilities, was hanging on to a slim lead tonight in early statewide returns.

Yes votes accounted for 51 percent of the total with 13 percent reporting.

Proposition 16 - formally known as the Taxpayers Right to Vote Act - was put on the California ballot as a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote before a public utility could extend service to new customers or new territories.

From the beginning, it was spearheaded virtually single-handedly by San Francisco-based PG&E, which spent more than $45 million to persuade voters to approve it.

Some public policy analysts contended that the massive effort by PG&E dated to 2006, when the state's biggest for-profit utility spent $13 million persuading local voters to reject the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's attempt to expand into PG&E's territory in eastern Yolo County.

Proposition 16 opponents pointed to comments PG&E CEO Peter Darbee made earlier this year to investors as smoking-gun evidence that SMUD's 2006 campaign prompted PG&E to guard its territory with a ballot measure.

PG&E countered that Proposition 16 was simply good policy for situations in which millions of electric customers and taxpayer dollars are on the line.

Disgruntled California voters have blown up their election system by approving Proposition 14, which tosses out the current political party-based primary system in all but presidential races.

The measure was far ahead in returns, with about 60 percent of votes in favor and 40 against with more than 20 percent of precincts reported.

Backed strongly by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Proposition 14 called for a new "open" primary, in which all candidates for an office - except those in presidential primaries - appear on a ballot given to voters regardless of party registration.

Under the system - which Washington state has already adopted - the top-two vote getters who emerge from a primary square off in a general election, even if they are from the same political party.

"I am thrilled California voters have decided to make a historic change and give equal access to the same ballot for all by passing Proposition 14," Schwarzenegger said in a statement Tuesday night. "This sends a clear message that Californians are tired of partisan gridlock and dysfunction and want a system where representatives put what's best for California ahead of extreme partisan doctrine."

Jason Olson, director of Independent Voice, a group that backed that measure, predicted that more decline-to-state voters would turn out for primary elections with the Proposition 14 approach. Independent voters are now about 20 percent of all California's registered voters. .

"We don't want to be confined by the parties when it comes to who we decide we want to vote for," Olson said.

Right now, if independents want to vote in a California Democratic or Republican primary, they can request one of those party's ballots.

Olson and other supporters of Proposition 14 said the measure would lead to more moderates running for office. The typical system, they said, produces politicians loath to negotiate and take positions that might alienate bedrock Democratic or Republican primary voters.

Supporters also said a top-two system would help minor parties advance candidates.
But that is not the position of California's major parties, the Democratic and Republican, nor the smaller Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties.

They all oppose the top-two system, arguing it limits voters' choices in a general election.
John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, said the system "makes for mischief," and would disappoint voters by forcing parties to pour more money into elections to appeal to a range of voters in primaries.

Open primaries give candidates more freedom in identifying themselves and mislead voters, Burton said. He said "it's a serious thought" that the Democratic Party might file a lawsuit if it passes.

Republican Party spokesman Rob Griffith said suing "isn't the Republican Party way of doing things," but that the party also believes voters' choices would be limited.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, about one-third of all California's legislative and congressional district races could end up with two candidates from the same party - mostly Democrat - as rivals in general elections.

This post was updated at 10:35 p.m. with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's comments.

Early returns show that California voters may have embraced Proposition 14, which tosses out the current party-based primary election system in favor of an "top two" open primary.

With 9 percent of precincts now in, the measure was far ahead with more than 60 percent of votes in favor and 39 percent opposed.

Backed strongly by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Proposition 14 called for a new "open" primary, in which all candidates for an office - except those in presidential primaries - appear on a ballot given to voters regardless of party registration.

Under the system - which Washington state has already adopted - the top two vote-getters who emerge from a primary square off in a general election, even if they are from the same political party.

That revolutionary approach doesn't bother Jason Olson, director of Independent Voice, a group that backed Proposition 14.

The group contends that with an open primary, more decline-to-state voters - 20 percent of California's registered voters - would turn out for primary elections.

"We don't want to be confined by the parties when it comes to who we decide we want to vote for," Olson said.

Right now, if independents want to vote in a California primary, they have to request a ballot from a particular party. Not all parties allow "decline to state" voters to participate.

Olson and other supporters of Proposition 14 said the measure would lead to more moderates running for office. The typical system, they said, produces politicians loath to negotiate and take positions that might alienate bedrock primary Democratic or Republican voters.

Supporters also said a top-two system would help minor parties advance candidates.

But that is not the position of California's major parties, the Democrats and Republicans, nor the smaller Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties.

They all oppose the top-two system, arguing it limits voters' choices in a general election.

John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, said the system "makes for mischief," and would disappoint voters by forcing parties to pour more money into elections to appeal to a range of voters in primaries.

Open primaries give candidates more freedom in identifying themselves and mislead voters, Burton said.

He said "it's a serious thought" that the Democratic Party might file a lawsuit if it passes.

Republican Party spokesman Rob Griffith said suing "isn't the Republican Party way of doing things," but that the party also believes voters' choices would be limited.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, about one-third of all California's legislative and congressional district races could end up with two candidates from the same party as rivals in general elections.

Proposition 16, the Pacific Gas and Electric Co.-backed measure that would make it more difficult for public power agencies to expand into new territory and discourage municipalities from starting their own utilities, has a slight lead tonight in early statewide returns.

Yes votes accounted for 52 percent of the total with 1,695 precincts of 22,894, or 7.4 percent, reporting.

Proposition 16 -- formally known as the Taxpayers Right to Vote Act -- was put on the California ballot as a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote before a public utility could extend service to new customers or new territories.

From the beginning, it was spearheaded virtually single-handedly by San Francisco-based PG&E, which spent more than $45 million to persuade voters to approve it.

Some public policy analysts contended that the massive effort by PG&E dated back to 2006, when the state's biggest for-profit utility spent $13 million persuading local voters to reject the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's attempt to expand into PG&E's territory in eastern Yolo County.

Proposition 16 opponents pointed to comments PG&E CEO Peter Darbee made earlier this year to investors as smoking-gun evidence that SMUD's 2006 campaign prompted PG&E to guard its territory with a ballot measure.

Critics -- which included the League of Women Voters of California, the Agricultural Energy Consumers Association and the California Tax Reform Association -- characterized Proposition 16 as a blatant power grab, a move by PG&E to safeguard its monopoly in areas where it already provides service.

While it contains various exceptions, current law generally requires only that municipal utilities obtain a majority vote in the new territory they are proposing to serve.

Proposition 16 called for municipal utilities seeking to expand to obtain a two-thirds vote in both the area they already serve, and the one into which they want to move - a supermajority that opponents claimed PG&E competitors would never be able to obtain.

PG&E countered that Proposition 16 was simply good policy for situations in which millions of electric customers and taxpayer dollars are on the line. The utility said voters should have a say about public entities getting into the power business.

Measure supporters included the California Taxpayers' Association and the California Chamber of Commerce. The Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce came out against it, however.

PG&E spent millions on an advertising campaign that stressed voter and taxpayer rights. The utility insisted that consumers need to have a rightful say in how they receive electric power and how public dollars are used.

To that end, PG&E paid for TV commercials and home mailings to hammer home the message that citizens needed to defend their power at the ballot box.

Public utilities such as SMUD could not compete with PG&E's spending. SMUD noted that it was forbidden to spend public dollars on a ballot initiative.

Yet SMUD pushed back in other ways. Its board formally opposed Proposition 16, and SMUD was among a group of California public utilities that filed suit in March in an unsuccessful attempt to disqualify Proposition 16 from the ballot.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen said today there will be an "army of lawyers" looking at the constitutionality of Proposition 14 if the measure is approved today.

Under the "top two" primary system, candidates of all party affiliations would run on one primary ballot. Only the top two vote-getters would advance to a general run-off election. The change does not impact presidential contests.

Proponents, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, say the change would increase voter choice and turnout in primary contests. They also argue that more moderate politicians would be elected because candidates would have to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate.

But critics say only allowing two candidates and eliminating write-in ballots in the general limits voter choice and that some minor parties would be locked out of the political process.

A similar system enacted in Washington state was upheld by the Supreme Court, but some aspects of the challenge are still being litigated. In California, leaders from the major and minor parties, who oppose the measure, and some ballot access advocates appear poised to file a lawsuit if Proposition 14 passes.

As California voters decided today whether to approve an experiment in public financing of campaigns, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Arizona from distributing money to candidates under its system, a model for California's Proposition 15.

Proposition 15, if approved today, would create a pilot program in public campaign financing, initially involving only the secretary of state's office in 2014 and using funds from a new $375 per year registration fee on the Capitol's 1,000-plus lobbyists.

Arizona has a more advanced public campaign financing system called "Clean Elections." A federal judge overturned it, but the 9th DIstrict Court of Appeal approved it and now the Supreme Court will weigh in.

The initial effect of the Supreme Court's action, however, will be to block distribution of funds to candidates in Arizona's Aug. 24 primary election, including those running for governor, and probably those in the Nov. 2 general election since the court will not hear the appeal until it reconvenes in October.

The Goldwater Institute sought the Supreme Court review. "At minimum, I think we've succeeded in stopping the violation of our clients' first amendment rights for this election cycle," Goldwater Institute attorney Nick Dranias said. "The blocking of matching funds continues until they reject or accept our appeal."

Dranias said the Goldwater Institute has until late August to file its appeal.

A coalition of political reform groups support Proposition 15. Capitol lobbyists have strongly opposed its new fees and threatened to challenge them in court if the measure is approved.

California voters will decide the fate today of Proposition 14, the far-reaching initiative backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that dissolves the current party-based primary system.

Known as the "open" primary or "top-two" proposal, the measure would change the current system of electing party nominees to a contest that selects the two top vote getters. Those two top vote getters could be from the same political party. They would face off in a general election.

Except for presidential primaries, voters would get one ballot with all candidates competing in a primary race rather than a party-based ballot. Supporters of the measure say it could encourage candidates take less partisan positions because they would have to appeal to a greater spectrum of voters.

California's Democratic and Republican parties are against the measure, arguing that it would limit voters' choices in a general election. The Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties also oppose Proposition 14.

Following an onslaught of spending, TV ads and mailers, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will learn today whether its drive to approve Proposition 16 has paid off.

Proposition 16 - formally known as the Taxpayers Right to Vote Act - was put on the California ballot as a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote before a public utility could extend service to new customers or new territories.

From the beginning, it was spearheaded virtually single-handedly by San Francisco-based PG&E, which had spent more than $45 million as of last week to persuade voters to approve it.

Some public policy analysts contended that the massive effort by PG&E dated back to 2006, when the state's biggest for-profit utility spent $13 million persuading local voters to reject the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's attempt to expand into PG&E's territory in eastern Yolo County.

Big spending hasn't translated into big leads for the campaigns for two ballot measures up for vote in tomorrow's primary, according to a SurveyUSA poll released today.

The phone survey of 1,250 Californians who either have voted already or plan to vote found that voters are still split on Propositions 16 and 17, two measures that have pit well-financed support campaigns against relatively cash-strapped opposition efforts.

Pacific Gas & Electric, has poured about $46 million into its campaign for Proposition 16, the constitutional amendment that would require two-thirds voter approval on proposals for a public utility to expand services to new customers or new territories using public funds or bonds.

That's more than 460 times the cash raised by opponents and nearly two-thirds of the total money raised for and against measures on the June ballot.

Still, the poll found that while 41 percent said they were certain they would vote yes on Prop 16, 45 percent were certain they would vote no and 14 percent were undecided.

On Proposition 17, the Mercury Insurance-bankrolled measure to allow auto insurers to consider a motorist's coverage history in determining rates, 43 percent said they were certain they would vote yes, 39 percent certain they would vote no and 18 percent undecided. Mercury has funded the measure to the tune of $16 million. Opponents in that race have collected about $1.5 million.

The California Voter Foundation has added up the cash collected to support and oppose the five propositions on the ballot next week, finding that the campaigns have racked up a combined $69.7 million.

Nearly two-thirds of that cash came from Pacific Gas & Electric, which has poured $46 million into the campaign for Proposition 16, a constitutional amendment that would require two-thirds voter approval on proposals for a public utility to expand services to new customers or new territories using public funds or bonds.

"PG&E's spending to support Prop. 16 has eclipsed all other proposition spending this election season," the foundation's president, Kim Alexander, said in a statement.

To put the big-dollar blitzes in perspective, the combined total raised for the ballot measures is about $10 million less than what GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman had blown through as of the last reporting period.

The foundation has compiled a list of the top donors for each measure here. You can find all campaign finance reports at the Secretary of State's website.

Two cash-strapped minor parties have pooled resources to air television ads against Proposition 14.

The 15-second spots, airing in Sacramento and San Francisco this week and Los Angeles early next week, charge that proponents of the measure are lying when they say the "top two" primary system will increase voter choice. Instead, the ad says, it will boost the "two big money politicians" into the two slots for the general election run-off.

As we reported earlier this month, the minor parties oppose the June ballot measure and are concerned about being locked out of the general election and losing ballot qualified status if it passes.

The ad, which is funded by the Green and Peace and Freedom parties, won't exactly be blanketing the airwaves -- the buy was less than $10,000 -- but the campaign said the spots will air on cable across the state, including on CNN and MSNBC.

Meanwhile, the deep-pocketed Yes on 14 campaign has been airing radio advertisements for several weeks, and a recent poll suggests votes will fall in their favor. Sixty percent of voters support the change, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released May 19.

Watch the spots below:

Opponents of Proposition 17 are leveling yet another charge of discrimination against Mercury Insurance, the auto insurer bankrolling a June ballot measure to allow companies to use coverage history in determining insurance rates.

The latest victims? Cougars.

They don't mean Mercury Cougars. They don't even mean big cats.

They're talking about women of a certain age married to younger men.

Cougar dating expert Lucia -- apparently no last name needed -- is headlining a Los Angeles news conference this morning at Mercury Insurance on Wilshire Boulevard, sponsored by the No on 17 campaign. More "cougars" and their "cubs" are expected to be in attendance.

We're guessing the rate difference has something to do with the fact that most of those "cubs" are under 25, so they would be subject to higher rates under most circumstances.

But we're curious about what they're calling the "Mercury Cougar Clause."

PPIC: Steve Poizner has gained ground on Meg Whitman, according to the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll.

Whitman, who earlier posted a 50-point lead, is now up by nine points, with 38 percent of likely GOP gubernatorial primary voters backing Whitman and 29 percent supporting Poizner.

Other interesting nuggets from the survey after the jump:

Sixty percent of voters support a proposed overhaul California's primary system, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Proposition 14, placed on the June 8 ballot by the Legislature as part of last year's budget deal, would replace the current party primaries with a system where candidates of all party affiliations run on the same primary ballot. The two candidates who receive the most votes, regardless of party, would advance to the general election.

Twenty-seven percent of voters said they did not support the measure, and 13 percent are undecided. The results show a four-point uptick in support since the pollsters last asked likely voters about the measure in March.

Support was notably higher among independents and self-described "moderate" voters. About two-thirds of respondents from those groups said they would back the measure.

With the statewide primary fast approaching, all eyes have been on candidates and measures going before voters June 8.

But with the general election still more than 170 days away, the battle over the $11.14 billion water bond that legislators placed on the November ballot has already begun.

"The war is on," said Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, after a Capitol press conference today to kick off the campaign opposing the bond.

A bipartisan group of legislators slammed the legislation as flawed policy that will throw California deeper in debt without providing a real fix to the state's water woes.

"This is a multibillion dollar boondoggle with 19th-century solutions for a 21st-century problem," said Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, a vocal opponent of the bond. "It just won't work."

Supporters of a proposed initiative to repeal corporate tax benefits approved by the Legislature announced today that organizers are turning in more than 800,000 petition signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Proponents of the California Teachers Association-backed measure need about 435,000 valid voter signatures to make it on the ballot. If all the measures submitted for signature checks so far qualify, Californians could vote on at least 10 measures in November.

Measures slated for November must be certified by June 24.

It's not often you find labor unions, anti-tax groups, consumer attorneys, the Democratic, Republican, Green, Peace and Freedom, Libertarian and American Independent parties all singing the same political tune on the campaign trail.

But that coalition of strange political bedfellows has come together in opposition to Proposition 14, the "top-two primary" measure slated for the June ballot.

California School Employees Association President Allan Clark and Republican Party officials Keith Carlson and Jon Fleischman announced today the creation of two campaign accounts opened to raise money to oppose Prop 14. A third effort, "Stop Top Two," was launched in recent weeks by a coalition of minor parties.

Though they don't typically see eye-to-eye on issues, Clark, Carlson and Fleischman all believe the proposal for the general election to include only the top-two vote getters of a primary that includes candidates of all party affiliations would limit voter choice.

Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, transferred $50,000 last week from his Senate campaign account to a committee to oppose Proposition 14.

As The Bee has reported, the very vocal opposition to the "open primary" proposal has yet to show significant signs of life when it comes to raising cash to back a campaign. The California Republican Party has launched a No on 14 Web site, but has yet to contribute to one of four accounts opened to oppose the measure, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, the Yes on 14 committee's bank account continues to grow, reporting raising more than $3 million. That number can be expected to increase later this month, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hosts two high-dollar fundraisers for the campaign. Sponsors for the May 24 reception at Mix Downtown and the May 18 dinner at his Brentwood home will shell out up to $50,000.

Supporters of an initiative aimed at curbing the practice of using fee increases to generate revenue for general purposes plan to turn in 1.1 million signatures to qualify their measure for the November ballot.

Under the initiative, which you can read here, new fees and charges, as well as plans to reallocate tax dollars, would need a two-thirds vote for approval.

Elections officials have until June 24 to determine whether the measure submitted the nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures to snag a spot on the ballot.

The submission of this initiative sets the stage for a possible budget battle at the ballot box. The campaign, which calls itself "Stop Hidden Taxes," is turning in its initiative petitions the same week as backers of a campaign to lower the legislative vote requirement on passing a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.

Supporters of a proposed initiative to lower the legislative vote threshold for passing a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority plan to submit 1.1 million signatures to election officials in hopes of qualifying the measure for the November ballot.

Elections officials have until June 24 to determine whether the measure meets the 694,354 valid voter signature mark to make it on the ballot.

Read the proposed initiative here.

An initiative to add redrawing congressional districts to the duties of the Citizens Redistricting Commission has qualified for the November ballot.

The Voters First Act for Congress would give the job of redrawing congressional district lines every 10 years to the 14-member citizen panel created under Proposition 11, approved in 2008. The first-of-its-kind commission is currently tasked with drafting state legislative and Board of Equalization districts.

The campaign to qualify the measure, bankrolled by super-rich Charles T. Munger, Jr., submitted to elections officials 1,180,623 voter signatures earlier this year. A random sample check projected that the number of valid voter signatures in the batch exceeded the 694,354-signature threshold for qualifying.

Proponents could have company in campaigning for changes to the redistricting process. A competing measure to give the task of drawing districts back to the state Legislature has received major funding from members of California's congressional delegation and appears on track to try to qualify for the ballot.

The Voters First Act for Congress is the third measure to make it on the November ballot, joining an initiative to legalize marijuana and the legislative-approved $11 billion water bond.

Former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz has signed on as honorary co-chair of Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, a coalition opposing a proposed ballot measure to suspend the implementation of AB32, California's landmark law to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Shultz, a prominent Republican, said in a statement that the proposed initiative would derail "California's innovative effort to stimulate movement toward a cleaner and more secure energy future."

"This misguided proposition will seriously harm our effort to encourage the growing entrepreneurial ventures that hold the promise of important change toward cleaner energy," he said in the statement.

"As a former Secretary of State, I see our dependence on foreign oil as one of the greatest threats to national security, and the Dirty Energy Proposition would undermine efforts to break that dependence."

The measure, which has received significant backing from a Texas-based oil firm and Occidental Petroleum, would suspend AB32 until the unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for a year. As we noted in today's AM Alert, the initiative campaign, California Jobs Initiative, plans to turn in today 800,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Proponents needed about 435,000 valid voter signatures to make it on the November ballot.

Shultz's position on AB32 puts him at odds with one candidate he is supporting in the upcoming elections -- GOP gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman. Whitman backs suspending the implementation of AB32 for one year, although she has stopped short of endorsing the initiative.

Leaders of a drive to suspend California's landmark greenhouse gas emissions law claim they will submit enough voter signatures Monday to place the issue before voters.

The California Jobs Initiative Campaign will submit more than the required 435,000 voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot, spokeswoman Anita Mangels said.

"We're headed to the ballot," she said.

The campaign targets Assembly Bill 32, pushed four years ago by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders to require California to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The proposed initiative would suspend AB 32 until the state's unemployment level drops to 5.5 percent for at least a year.

The signature-gathering campaign has been led, in part, by a Texas-based oil firm, Valero, and by Occidental Petroleum and the conservative Adam Smith Foundation.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has contributed another $1.25 million from his ballot measure committee to the Proposition 14 campaign, according to campaign finance filings with the Secretary of State.

Schwarzenegger has called the "open primary" measure on the June ballot one of his top two ballot issues this year (the other being the water bond slated for November). He has already put $500,000 from his ballot measure account into the campaign.

Proponents of an initiative that would block the state from dipping into local government funds plan to turn in 1.1 million signatures to elections officials this week in hopes of qualifying their measure for the November ballot.

The "Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010" would prohibit the state from borrowing or redirecting cash from local government property taxes, gasoline taxes, local transit and redevelopment funds and other locally levied taxes to close the budget gap.

Proposals to tap into local revenues to balance the budget create a perennial battle between lawmakers and local officials and agencies. Last year's July budget plan to take $2 billion in redevelopment funds from local governments was challenged with a lawsuit from local redevelopment agencies.

Backers need 694,354 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. All initiatives slated for November must be certified by the Secretary of State by June 24.

With today's signature submission, voters are looking at up to six measures on the November ballot so far. That count includes two that have already been certified: the $11 billion legislative-approved water bond and an initiative to allow the legalization of marijuana.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the $2 billion in redevelopment money was borrowed and would be repaid. The state plans to repay an additional $2 billion in property taxes that was borrowed under the budget.

One of the key questions in the debate over the June ballot measure Proposition 14 is what sort of candidate might prevail under an "open primary" system.

Proponents say switching to a "top-two primary" system, where candidates of all political parties run in a primary and the top two vote-getters advance to a general election, would result in more moderates being elected.

While that could be the case, according to a report released today by the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies, the change could also result in voters in many districts having to choose between two members of the same party in the general election.

The study found that if Prop 14 is implemented, decline-to-state and third-party voters could give a boost to the more moderate candidate for close contests in districts that would likely produce general election match-ups between two candidates from the same party.

Unsurprisingly, the report found that districts most affected by the proposed primary system change would be super-majority districts -- those where one party has a voter registration advantage of at least 25 percentage points.

CGS broke down the registration and voter-turnout figures for recent primary elections and found that more than one-third of general election races could end up being fought between two members of the same party. Most of those single-party contests would be between two Democrats (largely in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area). Just two of the races analyzed in the study would have resulted in a general election between two Republicans.

The report also found that campaigns would be "significantly more expensive" under Proposition 14, mainly because candidates would have to campaign to a broader base of voters, as opposed to just voters in their party, in the primary.

Click here to read the full report.

Proponents of a proposed initiative to alter legislative term limits delivered more than 1 million signatures to county elections officials today.

Today was the deadline for the campaign, "Californians For a Fresh Start," to turn in the nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures needed to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

The initiative would create a 12-year cap on legislative terms, allowing lawmakers to serve 12 years consecutively in one house or split time between the Assembly and the Senate. Currently, lawmakers can serve up to 14 years -- three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate.

The changes would take effect for officials elected beginning in 2012, so current lawmakers and candidates elected this year would not be affected.

"Californians know our current system has created a merry-go-round of politicians looking ahead to the next office instead of focusing on the state's complex issues. By reforming term limits, we will get a fresh start with lawmakers who will gain independence from lobbyists, develop expertise and be accountable to the people who elect them," Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President Gary Toebben and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor/AFL-CIO Executive Secretary/Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo, co-chairs of the campaign, said in a statement.

Another initiative appears to be on its way to qualifying for the November ballot.

Proponents of a measure to fund state parks delivered about 760,000 signatures to elections officials yesterday, according to the San Jose Mercury News. They needed 433,931 valid voter signatures to qualify.

The proposed initiative, backed by a coalition of environmental groups, calls for using revenues raised by an increase in the annual vehicle registration fee to fund state parks.

Alert readers can expect to see a flurry of ballot measure activity in the coming weeks as proponents scramble to turn in their petitions in time to qualify. All measures for the November ballot must be certified by June 24.

GAS VALERO11.JPGGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday rebuked oil companies Valero and Tesoro for financing an effort to suspend the state's greenhouse gas reduction law, labeling the companies "greedy."

The governor made his remarks during a press conference on the Capitol's east steps to promote the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

Valero, based in San Antonio, Texas, has given $500,000 so far toward a signature-gathering drive to suspend Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 law requiring California to roll back greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. Tesoro, also based in San Antonio, has contributed $100,000.

The effort is not restricted to out-of-state companies. Two California-based oil firms, Tower Energy Group and World Oil Corp., have each given $100,000 as well.

Auto insurance giant Mercury Insurance Group dropped another $1.75 million into the campaign war chest of its June measure to allow auto insurers to consider a motorist's coverage history in determining rates.

Yesterday's donation, reported in campaign finance filings to the Secretary of State, brings the company's total contribution to Proposition 17 to $5.25 million.

Mercury and other backers say the measure, "Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates," would allow insurers to extend premium discounts available for existing customers to drivers who want to switch carriers. Critics point out that it would also allow insurers to hoist higher rates on motorists seeking insurance for the first time or those who had a lapse in coverage.

The contribution was made the same day Insurance Commissioner and GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner said investigators had found that the company might have overcharged "thousands" of Californians. Bee colleague Dale Kasler has more on that story here.

Haim Saban, the entertainment mogul behind Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, has loaned $2 million to a campaign to repeal the Citizens Redistricting Commission established under Proposition 11.

The Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act, drafted by former Fair Political Practices Commission Chairman Daniel Lowenstein and backed by Democratic Rep. Howard Berman and his brother Michael, a Democratic consultant, would return the post-census job of redrawing state legislative and Board of Equalization districts to the Legislature. Proposition 11, which passed with about 51 percent of the vote in 2008, transferred that job to a 14-member citizen panel.

The loan, reported Friday to the Secretary of State, gives the campaign a boost as the deadline closes in for submitting the nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures needed to to qualify for the November ballot. Initiatives must be cleared for the ballot by June 24, but the Secretary of State recommends that proponents turn in their petitions by Friday April 16 to give the counties enough time to determine whether proponents will meet the signature requirement.

Saban, a big Democratic donor who has also given to GOP guv-hopeful Meg Whitman and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,, had contributed $200,000 to the Yes on 11 campaign in 2008. But he now joins more than a dozen Democratic members of California congressional delegation who have written big checks to the campaign.

The Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act would also undercut a dueling effort to expand the commission's responsibilities to include redrawing the lines for congressional districts. Proponents of that measure, which is bankrolled by mega-rich Stanford physicist Charles T. Munger, Jr., have submitted more than 1.1 million petition signatures in hopes of hitting the 694,354 valid voter signature requirement for qualifying for the November ballot.

This post was updated at 4:10 p.m. with Haim's 2008 contributions.

A push to put a repeal of Proposition 8 on the November ballot has fizzled, as proponents announced today they failed to collect the nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures to qualify their proposed initiative.

"Our signature collection effort may have fallen short, but we stand tall as being the only statewide campaign that fought for repealing Proposition 8 in 2010," Sean Bohac, Chair of the Restore Equality 2010 Statewide Advisory Panel, said in a statement.

The group, Restore Equality 2010, had split with Equality California, one of the state's largest gay-rights advocacy groups, on when to put a repeal of the 2008 Proposition 8 on the ballot. EQCA and other groups decided last year to hold off on ballot action until 2012, saying that strategy would allow more time to build support and that the measure would likely fare better during a presidential election year, when more younger voters hit the polls.

Proponents of the 2010 proposed initiative said they plan to join forces with the other gay-rights groups pushing to legalize same-sex marriage in 2012, beginning a signature-collecting drive to qualify a measure in summer 2011.

"Our campaign is now focused on 2012, and that effort starts today," Bohac said in the statement. "We will continue to fight for marriage equality every year until the battle is won."

Though proponents cited recent polls showing majority support for same-sex marriage as a sign of momentum, critics said the measure's failure shows Californians have accepted the results of Prop 8.

"Efforts to repeal Prop 8 failed because the majority of Californians do not want to revisit this issue: Even the minority of Californians who voted against Prop 8 have accepted that the majority rules and moved on to other issues," said Brian Brown, executive director of National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage.

This post was updated at 2:27 p.m. with a statement from Brian Brown.

California's 99-year-old initiative process has earned a B+ grade in a 2010 scorecard rating the access voters in various states have for placing measures on the ballot.

California was one of three states to receive a B+ grade from the Citizens In Charge Foundation, which supports the expansion of initiative and referendum process. Just two states, Ohio and Missouri, scored an A-, the highest grade given.

California's initiative process lost points because of the 150-day window for collecting the 433,971 valid voter signatures for statutory initiatives and 694,354 signatures for constitutional amendments needed to qualify a measure for the ballot.

"Petition sponsors need ample time to collect the (required number of) signatures needed to qualify, and California's short five-month period does not allow enough time," the Virginia-based group wrote, advocating for extending the circulation period to nine months.

The group also criticized California's ban on enlisting nonresidents to gather petition signatures.
Click here to read the full scorecard.

A San Mateo judge has rejected an initiative petition signature captured using an iPhone touch screen, dealing a setback to the technology's proponents, who say it could help low-cost, grassroots initiative campaigns qualify for the ballot.

In line with a tentative ruling issued last month, San Mateo Superior Court Judge George Miram ruled that the initiative petition signature submitted by a founder of Verafirma does not meet the requirements for petition signatures set out in the state's election code.

Miram wrote in the order, dated last Friday and filed Monday, that the electronic petition did not meet requirements for "an elections official to determine whether the voter personally affixed their signature to the petition" without additional information.

The state Public Utilities Commission today toughened up its rules governing formation of local electric power buying organizations, making it more difficult for privately owned facilities to hinder their creation and operation.

The new policy was issued two months before voters decide the fate of Proposition 16, a ballot measure sponsored by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. aimed at making it more difficult to create "community choice aggregations" (CCAs) or create and expand publicly owned utilities.

Proposition 16 would require two-thirds local votes before communities could take those steps. PG&E has pledged to spend tens of millions of dollars to pass it.

University of California Professor George Lakoff, who's been arguing with Attorney General Jerry Brown over the official title assigned to his proposed ballot measure that would lower the legislative vote on budgets and taxes, is changing course.

Lakoff, in an e-mail to supporters, said today he is withdrawing his "California Democracy Act" measure, which would change two-thirds vote requirements in the state constitution to simple majorities. He will rewrite it and resubmit it for a new title.

Brown, the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for governor, assigned this title to the Lakoff measure: "Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass a Budget or Raise Taxes from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority."

Lakoff and his backers complained, however, that by including the phrase "raise taxes," the title would prejudice voters and make it more difficult to attract support. Lakoff contends that the purpose of the measure is not to raise taxes, but to bring majority rule to the state's fiscal politics.

"At present," Lakoff wrote, "many of those who volunteered and have signed the petition for the first version are joining me in writing to the attorney general for an accurate title and summary. If we get an accurate title and summary this time, we will seek funding for a professional effort on the second round."

As Lakoff acknowledged, however, "the timeline will be tight" to qualify the measure for the November ballot: "The old petitions will not count. New petitions must be gathered, submitted, counted, and verified by June 24, and we cannot start until we get a new title and summary. Since it may take up to a month for the petitions to be counted, that does not give us much time."

Anti-tax and business groups have been gearing up for a multimillion-dollar campaign to defeat the Lakoff measure should it reach the ballot.

Its push to put a measure to call a constitutional convention on the ballot fizzled, but the business-backed Bay Area Council is jumping into battles over ballot measures heading before voters.

Here are the council's positions on five measures.

SUPPORT:

Prop 14: Open Primary Initiative
Prop 16: Vote Requirement for Local Electricity Providers
Prop 17: Auto Insurance Reform Initiative
Safe Clean Reliable Drinking Water Supply Bond (November)

OPPOSE:

Prop 15: California Fair Elections Initiative

The council didn't announce a position on Prop 13 (Limits on property tax assessment; seismic retrofitting of existing buildings).

Proposed ballot initiatives to allow California's state budget to be passed by a simple majority of the Legislature and to allow the state Senate and Assembly once again to draw their own district boundaries have drawn opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce.

Both initiatives have been cleared to gather voter signatures but have not yet qualified for the ballot.

The "Passing the Budget on Time Act" would reduce the current two-thirds vote requirement for passage of a budget and would require lawmakers to forfeit pay if they failed to pass a budget on time.

Chamber President Allan Zaremberg said the measure would give the majority party too much power and would eliminate the option of referendum for fees or fee increases that are part of a budget appropriation.

The Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act" would eliminate the voter-approved commission approved by voters in 2008 to draw state Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization districts.

"We simply cannot afford to return to a system where the politicians select their voters," Zaremberg said in a prepared statement. "It is not surprising that politicians are working behind the scenes to try to overturn meaningful political reform."

The deadline for gathering 694,354 voter signatures is May 10 for the budget-related initiative and July 5 for the redistricting measure.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger transferred $500,000 Friday from his ballot measure committee into the Yes on 14 campaign.

The measure would create a system where all candidates of all party affiliations run in one primary and the top two vote-getters advance to a general election. It has long had strong backing from Schwarzenegger, who says it is one of his top priorities on the ballot this year.

Though the campaign posted a negative balance of nearly $90,000 in the recent campaign filings, Schwarzenegger's contribution and a $250,000-plus check from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings give the campaign a big cash boost. Yes on 14 officials say they've been investing in gearing up the campaign and have secured even more cash contributions for the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, as we reported earlier this month, Prop 14 opponents, who say the measure limits voter choice, have yet to organize or show substantial financial commitment to their campaign.

Work developing electronic signature technology for initiative petitions has landed one Democratic consultant a spot on the California Federation of Labor's boycott list.

In a letter sent to affiliated unions, CLF Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski blasted Democratic consultant Jude Barry and his firm Catapult Strategies for "supporting the efforts of an anti-union committee" seeking to qualify an initiative that would require that unions get members' consent before using dues for political expenditures.

"It is outrageous that a 'democratic' consultant would support such anti-union efforts," Pulaski wrote.

The letter adds Barry and his firm to the group's "Do Not Patronize" list, meaning members are urged to boycott Barry's services and encourage all their colleagues to do the same.

But Barry, who has worked for CLF-backed candidates such as Rep. John Garamendi in the past, says his Democratic consulting firm isn't helping get that initiative on the ballot.

"It's unfortunate and inaccurate," he said. "I have not now, nor have I ever, worked for that campaign."

Barry is also a founding partner of Verafirma, a company pioneering the use of electronic signatures to qualify initiative petitions.

That company is leasing its technology for test-runs to four initiative campaigns, including the Paycheck Protection Act.

CLF director of communications Steve Smith said the group decided to put Barry individually on the list because "he's the one who's bringing the technology to the campaign."

"If Mr. Barry wants to make a fast buck from a campaign that is so clearly focused on trying to harm workers, that's his right, that's his choice, he can do that," he said.

But Barry said all Verafirma is doing is leasing the technology to the campaign and that he is not profitting from and was not involved in the contract. He said the company's goal of reviving the role of grassroots campaigns in the initiative process through spreading the use of the technology, as well as contractual obligations, prevented him from cutting ties with the campaign, even though he does not support the cause.

"Art Pulaski called me and asked for Verafirma to break the contract with the campaign," Barry said. " I wasn't familiar with it. But when I checked into the issue, it was clear that to do so without cause would be discriminatory and wrong."

The list, which Smith described as a "resource" for members looking for "who we feel shares or doesn't share the values of workers," includes a handful of state political consultants, as well as hotels and large corporations deemed by the group as anti-union.

This post was updated with a response from Barry adding that he did not profit from the contract.

03262010Babin.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.jpg

Rex Babin is the political cartoonist for The Bee. You can see a collection of his work here.

Voters heading to the polls in November will decide whether marijuana should be legally regulated and sold in California.

The ballot measure, which would allow for the sale and regulation of marijuana to residents 21 and older, was certified for the ballot yesterday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who said proponents had turned in enough valid signatures to make the cut.

Californians will also be picking a new governor, but it doesn't look like the measure will get any love from the major gubernatorial candidates in what is expected to be a heated campaign -- the three leading guv hopefuls oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

With the clock ticking for initiatives to qualify for the November ballot and the June primary less than three months away, big donors are dipping into their piggy banks to back their top political causes.

As we reported yesterday, a campaign to suspend AB 32 reported nearly $1 million in funding, including $500,000 from Texas-based oil company Valero. After the jump, find a roundup of some of the other major contributions reported to the Secretary of State this week.

A Texas-based oil company has contributed more than half of the nearly $1 million collected in a drive to suspend California's landmark greenhouse-gas emissions law, documents filed Thursday show.

Valero Services Inc. donated $500,000 to fuel a signature-gathering drive aimed at qualifying an initiative for the November ballot to suspend Assembly Bill 32, signed into law several years ago.

Much of the remaining $466,000 also has been donated by oil companies, documents show.

AB 32 requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association contributed $100,000 to the effort, as well as three other oil companies - Tesoro Cos., Tower Energy Group and World Oil Corp., according to the documents filed with the secretary of state.

Open primary opponents may not have enough money to mount a huge campaign against Proposition 14 this June, but Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner today ordered changes to the ballot summary and fiscal impact statement that lawmakers wrote for the measure last year.

Sumner ordered that the summary, which is the sole source of information for many voters, contain new wording to make it clear that political parties whose candidates don't finish in the top two in the primary will not be able to participate in the general election.

"This amendment is necessary," Sumner wrote, "to inform voters of a fundamental change that would occur if Proposition 14 is adopted: The elimination of the constitutional right of a political party that has participated in a primary election for a partisan office to participate in the general election for that office."

Also, Sumner declared that Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor didn't have enough information from county elections' officials to say that the measure would cause "no significant net change in state and local government costs to administer elections."

Instead, the summary should say "The data are insufficient to identify the amount of any increase or decrease in costs to administer elections," Sumner ordered.

California School Employees Association sued the Legislature, which placed the measure on the June ballot, seeking to strike language saying the measure "gives voters increased options" and "encourages increased participation."

On that point, Sumner actually expanded the title language, replacing "PRIMARY ELECTION PROCESS REFORM. GREATER PARTICIPATION IN ELECTIONS" to "ELECTIONS. INCREASES RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN PRIMARY ELECTIONS."

He said that change was needed "to clarify that "greater participation" refers to the voter's range of choices, not voter turnout."

Read Sumner's decision here.

The mystery is over: The campaign to suspend California's landmark greenhouse-gas emissions law will be led by an out-of-state oil refinery company and a California taxpayer advocacy group, newly filed documents show.

Valero Energy Corp. and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association were listed as principal officers in organizational documents filed with the state Friday to raise funds to shelve Assembly Bill 32, passed several years ago.

A signature-gathering drive began last week to qualify for the November ballot an initiative to suspend AB 32, which requires California to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, and public relations officials hired to assist in the initiative campaign consistently have declined to confirm reports that two Texas-based oil companies, Valero and Tesoro Corp., are financing the effort.

Public records filed Friday removed some of the mystery, identifying officers of the fundraising committee as Scott Folwarkow, Valero's director of government affairs in California, and Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

The records did not identify donors, however, and Coupal declined to discuss details, including Tesoro's reported involvement, pending the filing of other disclosure documents.

"I'm not at liberty to say who's going to be part of it," he said. "There are going to be a lot of businesses, big and small, that are under the yoke of AB 32 regulations. We'll have a broad coalition."

Named the California Jobs Initiative Committee, the effort led by Coupal and Folwarkow described itself in Friday's documents as a "coalition of taxpayers, employers, food producers, energy, transportation and forestry companies." Names of participating firms were not listed.

Steve Maviglio, spokesman for a coalition fighting the initiative, contends that the reason for the signature-gathering drive's secrecy has been fear of a backlash if voters knew that out-of-state oil companies were bankrolling the drive.

Opponents of AB 32 contend it could hurt California's economy and hamper unemployment by costing businesses billions to implement. Supporters counter that the measure is vital to the environment and to attracting a wave of "green technology" firms to the state.

The initiative, if passed by voters, would suspend AB 32 until California's unemployment level drops to 5.5 percent for at least a year.

A leader in pushing for a ballot initiative to suspend California's landmark greenhouse-gas emissions law said Wednesday that he now opposes the effort and is willing to write a ballot argument against it.

Ted Costa, of People's Advocate, said he continues to believe in the thrust of the initiative but that the signature-gathering campaign has been "stolen" by big-money interests that have not identified themselves publicly.

"You ruin the whole organization when you go through this kind of muck," said Costa, who helped craft an early version of the initiative but was elbowed out of the drive in the jockeying to recruit backers.

Two large Texas-based oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, are the key financiers behind the signature-gathering drive, according to sources. The campaign's public relations officials consistently have declined to confirm that.

Former Assembly Speaker and U.S. House hopeful Karen Bass has chipped another $30,000 into an effort to eliminate the Citizens Redistricting Commission established under Proposition 11.

Bass, who cut the contribution check from her Strengthening California Through Leadership ballot issues account, previously gave $20,000 to the Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act, which would give the responsibility of redrawing state legislative and Board of Equalization district lines back to the Legislature.

The campaign also reported a $50,000 donation from an account run by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and $5,000 from Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson's campaign coffers.

More than a dozen current House Democrats have reported giving more than $140,000 to the effort last month.

Members' moves to bankroll the measure to repeal the commission come as one of the major donors for Proposition 11 pours his own cash into a measure that would expand the citizen panel's responsibilities to include redrawing congressional districts.

Also from the campaign cash file:

• The California Teachers Association funnelled another $500,000 into a measure it is sponsoring that would repeal corporate tax benefits approved in last year's budget deal. This latest contribution brings the CTA's total investment in the proposed initiative to more than $1.2 million.

• The campaign committee for a proposed initiatve to ban the Legislature from borrowing cash from local transit and government funds to balance the budget reported $195,000 from the League of California Cities.

The three Republicans seeking to knock Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer out of her seat will trade blows in their first on-air debate today.

The noon debate on KTKZ AM's "The Capitol Hour" marks the first time the three primary candidates -- ex-U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell, former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina and state Assemblyman. Chuck DeVore -- face off on the issues.

The debate, moderated by Capitol Hour host Eric Hogue, will air at www.KTKZ.com.

DeVore and Fiorina will have a chance go for round two later in the day, when both appear at the L.A. County Young Republican Federation Candidate Forum.

The war to derail California's landmark greenhouse emissions law is on, launched this week by an initiative signature-gathering drive reportedly bankrolled by two large oil companies.

Unlike most ballot measure campaigns, however, even Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue who helped craft the proposal is balking at identifying who is forking out big bucks.

Texas-based Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., both outspoken critics of national efforts to cap greenhouse gases, are primary financial backers of the California petition drive, key sources told The Bee.

The initiative would suspend California's landmark clean-air law, Assembly Bill 32, which was passed in 2006 and requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2006.

California law requires contributors and amounts donated to the petition drive to be identified in documents filed with the secretary of state, but not immediately. After initiative committees collect or spend $50,000 or more, they are obligated to report donors of $5,000 or more within 10 calendar days, said Roman Porter, executive director of the state Fair Political Practices commission.

Meanwhile, Logue and Ted Costa, two authors of the measure, are referring inquiries to the public relations and political consulting firm of Goddard Claussen, which will discuss the initiative but not its money.

"Right now, we're not commenting on funders," said Jennifer Dudikoff of Goddard Claussen. "We expect support from a very broad group of individuals, companies and associations who are currently concerned with keeping and creating jobs in California."

Steve Maviglio, spokesman for a coalition fighting the initiative, Californians for Clean Energy & Jobs, claims there is good reason for the opposition's secrecy: Voter backlash.

"It's not surprising that Texas oil companies want to run a stealth campaign because California voters don't want out-of-state polluters trying to buy their way onto the ballot," said Maviglio, representing a coalition of industry and environmental groups.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said today he is prepared to ask the Legislature to put California Forward's proposal to lower the vote requirement for passing a budget on the November ballot.

"I'm still waiting to hear from California Forward if they have finalized all the elements they have been tweaking, but I'm prepared to take it to (my caucus) rather quickly," Pérez said in an interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau.

Officials from the foundation-funded reform group said earlier this week that lackluster fundraising will likely sideline their push to qualify a pair of proposed initiatives encompassing various budget and governmental reforms, including lowering the vote requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.

The group, which would need to gather nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures for each measure by mid-May, is expected to make a decision tomorrow on whether to proceed with the qualification campaign.

Pérez, who also called for the change during his swearing-in ceremony, said he believes having a majority vote would provide more accountability and transparency in the budget process.

Officials from the reform group California Forward said today that unless deep-pocketed donors come through with pledges for big support, the campaign to qualify a package of their budget reform proposals for the November ballot could be put on ice.

California Forward Co-Chair Robert Hertzberg, a former Democratic leader of the Assembly, said today the group needed to secure a "few hundred thousand dollars" by week's end in order to move forward with an initiative campaign to qualify two budget reform measures, which include lowering the vote requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a majority vote.

"We're basically in the final throes of trying to get enough money to be able to put one or two of our measures on the ballot and collect signatures in this next week. If we get enough money, we'll go forward," he said. "We don't want to go out and spend money to get signatures unless we get enough money to actually qualify a measure."

Proponents have raised just about $132,000, according to campaign finance records, of the about $2 million organizers say they need to gather enough signatures to qualify the two measures.

February 25, 2010
AM Alert: Proposition 16

Remember that photo we took of Sen. Abel Maldonado and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just before Schwarzenegger nominated Maldonado for lieutenant governor a second time?

Check out the finalists in Capitol Alert's latest caption contest and vote for the one you think is the winner.

Both the Senate and the Assembly have scheduled floor sessions today, after which the Assembly Utilities and Senate Energy committees take up the matter of Proposition 16.

That's the measure bankrolled by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. that would require public utilities to get two-thirds of voters to OK providing service to new customers or expanding service to new territories using public funds or bonds.

So far PG&E has reported ponying up $6.5 million for the Yes on 16 campaign, including $3.5 million last year and $3 million on Jan. 22, according to Secretary of State filings.

Opposition is being organized by The Utility Reform Network and Local Power Inc. But it's a David and Goliath fight -- TURN has reported giving the No on 16 campaign only $21,500 so far.

Look for the joint hearing on Prop 16 in the Capitol's Room 4202.

Also today, Sen. Tony Strickland will be touting his SCA 29, backed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which the Thousand Oaks Republican says will "protect California families, taxpayers, and medical practitioners from socialized medicine policies."

According to the Legislative Counsel's Digest, the measure would block enforcement of a state or federal program that does any of the following:

• Requires people to get health care coverage.
• Requires health insurers to issue policies to all applicants.
• Requires employers to either provide health care coverage to employees or pay a fee or tax.
• Allows an entity created, operated, or subsidized by the government to compete with private insurers.
• Creates a single-payer health care system, unless voters approve it in a ballot measure.

Strickland's measure needs a two-thirds vote to pass. His news conference starts at 11 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 1190.

GOV2010: Republican candidate for governor Meg Whitman talks to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce at noon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Diego.

Faced with a steep cash shortage and a ticking clock to qualify for the November ballot, leaders of an effort to stage a constitutional convention said today they have "called it quits."

"We're going to take a hiatus on this issue," said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of Bay Area Council, a business group backing the movement. "We ran into a situation where we didn't have the money in the bank."

The announcement comes several days after a spokesman for the effort said they would significantly scale back their campaign unless several major deep-pocketed finance "angels" appeared.

The campaign, Repair California, reported raising about $350,000 in 2009 -- well under the $3 million to $3.5 million organizers estimated they'd need to collect the more than a million signatures needed to place their two measures on the ballot.

As the application deadline approaches for Californians seeking to serve on the Citizen's Redistricting Commission, a handful of California lawmakers are writing big checks to an effort to give the job of redrawing state legislative and Board of Equalization districts back to lawmakers.

Fourteen Democratic members of California's congressional delegation and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass have recently chipped in a total of $160,000 to a campaign account for a proposed initiative that would eliminate the 14-member citizen redistricting panel created by Proposition 11 , according to campaign finance filings reported yesterday.

Contributions included $25,000 from Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, $10,000 from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and $20,000 from Bass, who is expected to run for retiring Rep. Diane Watson's seat (Watson, too, chipped in $10,000).

The proposed initiative, the Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act, has been cleared for signature gathering and must collect nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The support comes as a proposed initiative to expand the responsibilities of the citizen commission to redrawing congressional lines sits on a big pot of cash. Charles T. Munger ,Jr. a big financial backer of Prop 11, has so far put more than $2 million into that effort, which congressional members aren't exactly pleased about.

Several other proposed ballot measures reported big cash boosts yesterday:

  • A proposed initiative to change California's term limit laws reported another $157,000 from a PAC run by the LA County Federation of Labor. The group gave the effort $100,000 in December.
  • The California Federation of Teachers dropped $700,000 into a campaign account for a measure to lower the two-thirds budget vote requirement to a majority vote.

Update: An earlier version of this post said 13 members and Bass had given a total of $150,000. We missed one $10,000 contribution in that count.


The California Teachers Association has pitched half a million dollars into a campaign account for its proposed ballot initiative to repeal tax benefits for corporations approved over the last two years.

The donation from the CTA's Issues PAC, reported to the Secretary of State today, comes several days after the CTA began gathering signaturesto qualify the measure for the November ballot. The CTA has also transferred $86,882 from a separate campaign account to fund the effort.

Another proposed ballot measure that got a cash boost today: the effort to raise funds for state parks by adding $18 to the annual vehicle registration fees.

The California State Parks Foundation reported giving $100,000 to a committee created to back the measure, which would give motorists free admission to the state's 278 beaches and parks In exchange for paying higher registration fees.

The committee, which reported having $233,000 in cash on hand at the end of the last filing period, has raised more than $500,000 since the start of the New Year.

The powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor is becoming increasingly active in the drive to place an initiative to alter California's legislative term limits onto the November ballot.

The federation has made two contributions totaling $150,000 the past two weeks to a committee supporting the term-limits measure, bringing the federation's cumulative contribution to $250,000.

Maria Elena Durazo, head of the federation, serves as treasurer of Californians For A Fresh Start, the committee leading the drive to qualify the measure for the ballot, state records show.

The group touts itself as the second largest labor federation of its kind in the country, representing more than 350 unions and more than 800,000 workers. Officials did not immediately return phone calls Friday.

The California Teachers Association plans to begin gathering signatures as soon as today for an initiative to repeal corporate tax benefits that lawmakers approved in the past two years, according to CTA political consultant Gale Kaufman.

The tax changes are worth an estimated $1.7 billion annually and scheduled to begin in 2011-12. Republicans said the tax measures would help stimulate the economy and advocated for their inclusion during budget deals struck in 2008 and 2009. The laws give companies more flexibility to apply operating losses to their tax liability and allow firms to calculate their California taxes based on a percentage of in-state sales rather than property and payroll.

CTA has formed a new committee called Taxpayers for Jobs and Against Corporate Handouts, into which the union transferred $86,882 on Wednesday from a 2009 committee that backed special election ballot measures. Kaufman said CTA wants to qualify the initiative for the November 2010 ballot.

Charles T. Munger, Jr., has dropped another $498,000 into his effort to expand the responsibilities of the Citizens Redistricting Commission to include redrawing congressional lines.

The donation brings the grand total Munger has reported chipping into the campaign account for his proposed ballot measure to $2,013,197.

Munger, whose father is a business partner of financier Warren Buffett, was one of the biggest backers of Proposition 11, the 2008 voter-approved initiative that took the post-census task of redrawing state legislative and Board of Equalization districts away from state lawmakers and gave it to a 14-member citizen panel.

Munger's measure, the Voters First Act for Congress, must collect 694,354 valid voter signatures by March 22 to qualify for the November ballot.

Meanwhile, another proposed initiative would give redistricting responsibilities back to lawmakers.

The Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act, filed by former Fair Political Practices Commission Chairman Daniel Lowenstein, is awaiting a title and summary from the Attorney General's office.

January 5, 2010
Babin: Pros and Con Cons

babinconvention.jpg

Rex Babin is the political cartoonist for The Bee. You can see a collection of his work here.

The developer of a proposed National Football League stadium in the City of Industry has pumped $300,000 into a campaign fund for a proposed ballot measure to change state term limits.

The committee, "Californians for a Fresh Start," reported a $300,000 donation from Majestic Realty Co. on Dec. 23.

The term limits fund also reported this month a $100,000 contribution from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Issues & Initiatives and $10,000 from a committee run by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Current term limit law, approved by voters in 1990, limit the total time someone can serve in the Legislature to 14 years -- three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate. The proposed ballot measure would limit the total time an individual could serve in the Legislature to 12 years, but would allow all of that time to be served in one house. The new rules would not apply to current members of the Legislature.

Sen. George Runner , R-Lancaster, decided to drop a lawsuit to force Attorney General Jerry Brown to rewrite the title and summary for a proposed ballot measure he has authored.

The suit, filed in October, alleged that Brown deliberately tried to mislead the public by writing a slanted summary and title for the Runner measure, which would require voters to show ID when they vote.

Runner had claimed the initial title and summary provided for the "Vote SAFE" initiative was and "factually wrong."

But after receiving a new title and summary for a revised draft of the initiative language, Runner has decided to drop his lawsuit.

"Brown's latest attempt at the title and summary for the Vote SAFE initiative is materially more accurate than the prior version," he said in a statement. "It's not perfect, but we believe we can move forward with the language in all but one respect."

Runner said he plans to resubmit one more revised version of the initiative to clarify a provision giving the county registrar of voters more time to count absentee ballots from military personnel stationed outside California.

That move gives Runner less time to gather the signatures he needs to qualify the measure for the 2010 ballot.

"[Qualifying] for the 2012 election may not be a bad alternative when you consider how crowded the ballot might be in November 2010 with initiatives - as it is there are more than 40 initiatives on the streets now for signatures," he said.

Bee colleague Andy Furillo wrote about the suit earlier this year. Click here to read that story.

The state's biggest business lobbying group has taken a stance on 14 of the nearly 90 proposed initiatives that are vying for voter approval in 2010.

Among the measures that have snagged the support of the California Chamber of Commerce are proposals to create an open primary system, extend the responsibilities of the Citizens Redistricting Commission to redraw Congressional district lines and approve a $11.1 billion bond to fund water infrastructure projects.

Measures the Chamber won't support, according to today's announcement: a California Teachers Association-backed initiative that would generate cash for schools by altering Proposition 13 to increase taxes on commercial properties, a measure that would create a pilot program for public funding of the Secretary of State race and several additional tax-related initiatives.

View the full list after the jump. Click on the initiative title to see Chamber CEO Allen Zaremburg's comments on the measure.

Backers of a proposed initiative that would change the rate-setting rules for auto insurance carriers said today that they have gathered 720,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the 2010 ballot.

"The Continuous Coverage Auto Insurance Discount Act" would extend companies' ability to use a driver's insurance coverage history to calculate rates. Current law allows companies offer a loyalty or "persistency" discount to drivers who have held continuous auto insurance coverage under their plan, but prohibits carriers from extending the premium to new customers who were previously covered by competing companies.

Proponents say the change would make the market more competitive by encouraging consumers to shop around and lower rates for responsible drivers who maintain coverage.

"All this measure does is allows people to take that discount that they're already getting and transfer that to a different company," said Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the coalition backing the measure. "When you have all insurers able to offer all the same discounts, now you have more competition in the market. ... Competition is always a benefit for consumers."

The discount extension would not necessarily apply to drivers who had a lapse in coverage. That provision has prompted some consumer advocates to slam the measure as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" that would give companies more leeway in raising rates.

The California Teachers Association has not yet begun gathering signatures for two ballot initiatives to generate billions for public schools, but opponents already are lining up.

Joel Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee, said Wednesday that homeowners and small businesses would be hurt despite provisions designed to appease them.

"The folks behind this initiative want to raise taxes on a large scale, and to do that, everyone is going to have to pay the piper," said Fox, also a member of Californians Against Higher Property Taxes.

The two CTA measures would alter Proposition 13 to raise taxes on commercial property, either by assessing it at current market value every three years or by imposing an additional 0.55 percent ad valorem property tax.

Separately, both measures offer targeted tax breaks.

The California Teachers Association continues to grapple with whether to pursue either of two proposed ballot initiatives it filed this month to generate billions for schools from large businesses.

CTA President David A. Sanchez said a final decision will be made in January by the group's state council.

"They'll take a look at the two initiatives that we filed and they will give us further direction as to whether or not to proceed," Sanchez said Tuesday at a news conference lamenting the effects of this year's school budget cuts.

Supporters of legalizing same-sex marriage have launched an online signature-gathering campaign for putting an initiative to repeal Proposition 8 on the 2010 ballot.

The initiative, backed by a coalition called Love Honor Cherish, was approved for signature gathering today. Proponents must collect nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures by mid-April 2010 in order to ask voters to overturn Prop. 8, the 2008 ballot measure banning same sex marriage that passed with 52 percent of the vote

Organizers billed the new Web effort, www.SignForEquality.com, as the first time social networking has been used for an all-volunteer drive to qualify an initiative for the ballot. Visitors to the site can download petitions to sign, view volunteer training videos and connect with other volunteers and signature gathering efforts in their area.

"Everyone in California can sign for equality and do their part to repeal Prop. 8, even if it means just gathering your own signature, your husband's signature and your neighbor's signature and sending them in," Love Honor Cherish Executive Director John Henning said. "It just takes a few minutes and a postage stamp."

If the all-volunteer effort is successful, it will mark the first time since 1982 that proponents have qualified an initiative without relying on paid signature gathering, Henning said.

A coalition of groups supporting same-sex marriage submitted ballot measure language for a proposed initiative to repeal Proposition 8 to the Attorney General's office today.

The move marks the first official step toward asking California voters to repeal the law prohibiting same-sex marriage, which was approved with 52 percent of the vote during the 2008 election. If the proposed initiative is approved for circulation by the Secretary of State's office, proponents will have to collect nearly 700,000 valid signatures by April 2010 to qualify the measure for the ballot.

"We need to get our rights back. It's really just that simple," said John Henning, executive director of Love Honor Cherish, which is leading the effort. "People can't get married right now. Kids are growing up being told they cant get married. That's just wrong and we need to change that as soon as possible."

More than 40 groups, including the Los Angeles Chapter of Stonewall Democrats, the Latino Equality Alliance, the Mexican American Bar Association, and the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality have signed on to the campaign, according to a press release.

But supporters of same-sex marriage are not unified in the 2010 ballot measure push.

Equality California, one of the state's largest gay-rights groups, announced in August that it would wait until 2012 to try to ask voters to repeal the measure.

"We respect those pushing for a 2010 ballot measure and passionately share their end goal. However, for the first time in our history, our side gets to choose when we return to the ballot, rather than having the date set by our opponents. We believe we will be much more ready-and much more likely to prevail-at the ballot in 2012, and we are working tirelessly towards that outcome with our coalition partners," EQCA Marriage Director Marc Solomon said in a statement.

Officials from Equality California cited an expected high turnout of young voters, who are more likely to support same-sex marriage, in the 2012 presidential election as one of the primary factors in the decision to wait.

Henning said he believed the lower projected turnout for the midterm election would allow the group to run a more targeted campaign. He also said he believed placing the issue itself on the ballot could drive more young voters who support same-sex marriage to the polls.

Update 12:04 p.m.: Equality California Communications Director Vaishalee Raja wrote in an e-mail that the organization would back the 2010 measure if it makes it onto the ballot.

"If a measure qualifies in 2010, we will support its passage and encourage Californians to vote Yes while continuing to do all of the work we have done for the past decade to advance the rights of LGBT Californians," Raja wrote.

Update 12:22:

Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, which opposes same-sex marriage, issued a statement calling the initiative "a very bad idea that proposes to turn marriage upside down and rob children of the important role model that only a married father and mother can provide."

"Fortunately, it takes big money and lots of it to qualify this scheme to tear apart the special, constitutional institution of marriage between a man and a woman. While this gay-activist effort is likely to fail, pro-family Californians must remain vigilant because more attacks on marriage are coming," he wrote in an e-mail.

Proponents of a constitutional convention to change how the state is governed said today they plan to submit language for two related ballot measures to the state attorney general's office in mid to late October.

Repair California, the coalition backing the proposed initiatives, had previously said supporters would aim to submit the language by the end of this week, but organizers said they decided to take more time to finalize details.

After the attorney general's office prepares a title and summary for the measures, they must be approved for circulation by the secretary of state's office. The proponents will then have until April 16 to collect the 1.3 million valid signatures it needs to qualify the measures for the 2010 ballot.

Repair California Communications Director John Grubb said the group plans to use the extra time to consult with lawyers, academic experts and consultants in other states to hammer out the final details of the plan and ensure the language can stand up to legal challenges.

The message was unmistakable at the Public Policy Institute of California's noontime panel Thursday on voter attitudes: Californians are as mad as hell, and they're not going to take this anymore.

Capitol Alert has already reported the institute's "mad as hell" poll results -- 78 percent of respondents calling the state's budget situation a "big problem," a 30 percent approval rating for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and 21 percent approval for the Legislature.

Now comes the "not going to take this anymore" part, meaning screw-Sacramento ballot initiatives.

Political strategist Adam Mendelsohn, who's a Schwarzenegger consultant, brought up an initiative proposal filed Sept. 11 that would create a part-time Legislature and cut legislator pay by at least half. Mendelsohn predicted the new initiative could be a hit with voters especially because it would cut legislators' pay.

The policy institute, however, found that only 23 percent of poll respondents called creating a part-time Legislature a good idea.

"As you would imagine, cutting Legislature pay, your (poll) numbers spike dramatically," he said.

Media analyst Roger Salazar, who's worked with Democrats, said both the state Democratic and Republican parties would wage war against another initiative setting up primaries in which the top two vote-getters would face off in the general election, even if they come from the same party.

Salazar said California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton "has made it one of his top three priorities to defeat the blanket primary." The policy institute found 70 percent of poll respondents thought creating such a primary system was a good idea.

"There's very strong support according to the polling, but this is something that both parties are going to fight tooth and nail," Salazar said.

Veteran Los Angeles Times journalist George Skelton said the part-time Legislature initiative "has got a good shot" although "that would be a disaster for the state" because it would spur more corruption.

Skelton spared no words in summing up the public mood about Sacramento: "From the e-mail I get, they want to blow this place up. They want to hang all the legislators, kick them out of office, everything."

A group led by three former state lawmakers has formed to fight an effort to roll back the California Legislature to part-time status.

"Californians for an Effective Legislature" filed paperwork with the Secretary of State Wednesday opposing a proposed initiative that would cut the current legislative calendar to 90 days. The initiative proponents are circulating petitions and must collect nearly 700,000 signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot.

The bipartisan group opposing the measure is chaired by three former state lawmakers: Democrats John Laird and Dario Frommer and Republican Bob Naylor. The group argues a pared-down schedule would give interest groups more sway if lawmakers must address the state's problems under a compressed calendar.

"This initiative would seriously hamper the ability for the Legislature to tackle the challenges it faces because legislators would have less time-on-the-job and the public would have less input on legislation," Frommer said in a statement.

Supporters of initiative say the full-time Legislature, which has been in effect since 1966, has failed Californians and that a part-time body of citizen lawmakers would better represent and understand the needs of California families. The initiative proponent, Republican Gabriella Holt, is a former legislative candidate. She lost a bid for the Assembly in 2008.

"Full-time politicians are completely out of touch with the people they represent. By shortening the legislative season, we will take the power away from Sacramento and return it to our local communities to ensure that legislators have a better sense of the needs of their communities," reads a statement on the Web site for Citizens for California Reform, Holt's organization to support the measure.

Democratic consultant Steve Maviglio has signed on as the executive director of the committee. Maviglio, who served as a part-time legislator in New Hampshire, called the push for a part-time Legislature "another product of the right-wing crazy initiative factory."

"The notion of a citizen legislature is quaint, but California is a big state with big problems," he said in a statement.

A big financial backer of a successful ballot initiative to change the state redistricting process has submitted an initiative to the Attorney General's office that would expand the powers of the redistricting commission to include setting California's congressional districts.

The initiative proponent, Charles T. Munger, donated more than $1 million toward the passage of Proposition 11, the 2008 ballot measure that created a 14-member independent commission to draw the districts for state legislative and Board of Equalization seats. The state legislative redistricting process, which is undertaken every 10 years to reflect population shifts, was previously controlled by the Legislature. (Setting of congressional districts still is.)

"The Voters FIRST Act for Congress," which Munger is seeking to place on the 2010 ballot, would put redrawing congressional districts under the jurisdiction of the commission, an idea canned from the 2008 measure, which was approved with 50.9 percent of the vote. Among other changes, the initiative would also move up the 2011 deadline for the commission to finish the redistricting process.

Munger has asked the Attorney General's office to provide a summary and title for the initiative so he can begin seeking signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. Read the text he has filed here.

Update: KQED's John Myers has an interesting post on the proposed initiative, including a look at an aspect of the plan that would change the definition of "communities of interest" for the purpose of redistricting. You can read that post here.

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