Capitol Alert

Democrats have history of fiddling with election rules for party benefit

Anthony Rendon, center, stands with Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon after he was sworn in as the new Assembly speaker on March 7, 2016, in Sacramento.
Anthony Rendon, center, stands with Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon after he was sworn in as the new Assembly speaker on March 7, 2016, in Sacramento. rpench@sacbee.com

Legislation California Democrats introduced Monday to help state Sen. Josh Newman survive a recall election isn’t the first time in recent years they and Gov. Jerry Brown have teamed up to change voting rules to gain advantage before an upcoming ballot.

In 2011, lawmakers required all voter-qualified initiatives to appear on November ballots. Until then, such measures could appear on ballots throughout the year.

This provision was pushed by Democrats who said it made sense to have ballot measures go before voters in November because that’s when the most people vote. Critics, however, contended that the bill was really an attempt to undermine a pending ballot measure that would have made it harder for public employee unions to get campaign money from members’ paychecks.

Had the change not been made, the initiative would have been on the June 2012 primary election ballot, when Republicans generally make up a higher proportion of the electorate than they do at general elections in November. That fall, Proposition 32 failed with 43.4 percent of the vote.

And in June 2012, lawmakers passed a budget-related bill that shifted the order of how measures appear on the ballot. The result? A tax increase sponsored by Brown jumped atop the November 2012 ballot, far above its original place below other tax proposals. Proposition 30 passed with 55.4 percent of the vote.

The new legislation Senate Democrats put forth this week as part of the budget package has taken flack from proponents of the recall effort such as former San Diego councilman Carl DeMaio. It would add so many months to the current time line of certifying a recall election for the ballot that the vote would likely happen at the regularly scheduled June 5, 2018 election, when competitive primaries for governor, treasurer and other offices will help drive Democratic turnout.

Newman can only stand to benefit from a later recall election, and more so, from being on a regularly scheduled ballot. Elected by just 2,498 votes last fall, he can’t expect the turnout for a special election to be in his favor, the way he can the turnout for a regular election.

The vote can come up as soon as Thursday.​ If passed and signed, it would take effect immediately.

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WORTH REPEATING: “I am very confident that the key to that objective are Republicans.” – Gov. Jerry Brown on his push to renew the cap-and-trade climate program beyond 2020.

GETTING LOUDER: Secretary of State Alex Padilla will testify today at the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting in support of a proposal to move up the 2020 California presidential primary from June to at least March. Padilla has been at the forefront of this effort, looking to give state voters a greater voice in the presidential selection process. The hearing starts in Room 444 at 9 a.m.

EMITTING LESS: The new Joint Committee on Climate Change Polices Chairman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, wants you to have a stake in your own future. Today at 3 p.m., he’s hosting the first in a series of informational and oversight hearings regarding the California Air Resource Board’s 2030 Target Scoping Plan, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below their 1990 levels. You can drop in at the State Capitol, Room 127, or watch the livestream here.

IN MEMORIAM: The city of Vacaville celebrates the life of Steve Hardy, former Senate Governmental Organization consultant and California School Employee Association lobbyist, who died in mid-May. Hardy also was former mayor of Vacaville and the former director of the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The service begins at 11:30 at the Ulatis Community Center in Vacaville.

YIELD TO RUNNERS: You might have seen the annual running of the California Highway Patrol Academy’s cadets this morning in the five-mile stretch between CHP Academy in West Sacramento and the California Peace Officers’ Memorial near the State Capitol. Don’t worry – there’s no emergency. Instead, they’re running both to celebrate their graduation and to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of law enforcement heroes.

MUST READ: If you want to know how your tax money is being spent, check out this breakdown of the budget deal.

LUNCH AND A SHOW: If you’re feeling like a long lunch, stop by Westminster Presbyterian Church to hear pianist I-Hui Chen play such hits as Debussy’s “Isle of Joy,” Bach’s “Italian Concerto” and Tchaikovskiy’s “Adagio” from The Sleeping Beauty. The concert, part of a Wednesday series at the N Street church, begins at noon.

RACE TO THE (GOVERNOR’S) HOUSE: Though Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon’s been giving us a run for our money, we know exactly the position Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is gunning for come the end of his term – the man wants to be governor. He’s made it clear with recent fundraising efforts, much like the one tonight at San Francisco’s Hilton Financial District. Join Newsom and supporters like Mayor Ed Lee at 6 p.m.

Rennie Svirnovskiy: @RennieYS

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