Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Should Proposition 49 be allowed on the ballot?

The controversial 2010 Citizens United decision striking down some campaign finance limits has generated much objection and protest among liberals.
The controversial 2010 Citizens United decision striking down some campaign finance limits has generated much objection and protest among liberals. Abaca Press

One of the odder episodes of last year’s election cycle was Proposition 49, the advisory ballot measure that would have asked California voters if Congress should overturn Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 ruling allowing unlimited independent campaign spending.

Spurred on by Capitol protests that triggered dozens of arrests, lawmakers approved the non-binding question, which Gov. Jerry Brown begrudgingly allowed onto the ballot without his signature. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association promptly sued, however, arguing that it was an illegitimate exercise of legislative power and a cynical ploy by Democrats to boost voter turnout in a low-profile election. The California Supreme Court preemptively blocked the proposition, stating more time was needed to determine its legality.

Oral arguments for the case will take place in San Francisco at 9 a.m., then the court has 90 days to issue a ruling on whether advisory ballot measures are allowed under the California Constitution.

Though the initial decision to remove Proposition 49 from the ballot was not a determination of its validity, there is at least one vocal critic on the bench likely to find against it. In a concurring statement, Associate Justice Goodwin Liu wrote, “Our Constitution makes no provision for advisory questions because such polling of the electorate by the Legislature is in tension with the basic purpose of representative as opposed to direct democracy.”

DOLLARS AND CENTS: In August, Brown promised his support for SB 358, which aims to close gaps in the state’s equal-pay policies, and now he’s following through with a bit of flare. Joined by state and local leaders, he will sign the bill at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond at 10:30 a.m. SB 358 strengthens existing law by requiring that women be paid the same for doing “substantially similar” work, while in the case of lawsuits, employers will have to prove they are paying a male worker more for “legitimate” reasons, such as seniority or merit. (What other legislation is Brown still considering before his Oct. 11 deadline to act? Check out our updated gallery.)

BATTLE BREWING: With an effort to raise California’s minimum wage stalling in the Legislature for the second straight year, advocates have turned their attention to putting a measure on the 2016 ballot that would increase the hourly rate to $15. Are San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf about to get on board? They will announce a “plan to lead a major statewide initiative campaign to tackle income inequality,” 10:45 a.m. at Rickshaw Bagworks in San Francisco. Both cities are already undergoing boosts to their local minimum wages: San Francisco is moving to $15 an hour by 2018, while Oakland recently raised its rate $12.25.

SHAKE IT OFF: Another big earthquake is always looming in California. So will the state be ready when it hits? An informational hearing by the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management will explore the dangers and planning requirements for emergency quake response, 9:30 a.m. at the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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