--Steve Lopez for the LA Times identifies many causes for concern about the Mercury-supported Proposition 17. While we already covered the report that the Department of Insurance released that found that the insurance company committed many infractions as well as discriminatory practices. A spokesman for Mercury said the report was unfair in its estimate and stated, “These are not issues that evidence misconduct or dishonesty, which was why we settled for $300,000, which is well below what things can be settled for. . . ."
Lopez cheekily responds, “That says a lot about the company, doesn't it, trying to put a positive spin on a $300,000 fine for seven infractions of state regulations? Maybe Mercury could have run an ad during the Super Bowl: Mercury: We're not as bad as you might think."
Read the whole article here.
--Joel Fox from Fox and Hounds covers the slit roll property tax measure, which he writes appears to be dead for this election cycle since the CTA decided against spending its energy on it in favor or repealing corporate tax breaks. Read up on it here.
--John Wildermuth, also from Fox and Hounds, provides a recap of the money that is flowing into this election season’s initiatives. He argues, “The mother of all the initiative battle could come from a new effort to ban public employee unions from using dues for political purposes without direct approval by their members.” Read his analysis and the funding summary here.
As already mentioned (see coverage here), Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda is attempting to circulate a ballot initiative that would suspend AB 32, a law aimed at reducing California’s green house gas emissions, and notably is an environmental effort that Governor Schwarzenegger wants to be part of his legacy. While Logue is talking the talk about putting a stop to AB 32, the Sacramento Bee reports that “Logue has not yet started gathering signatures and his drive is gasping for money – lots of it. He says he has $600,000 in commitments, but none has been collected, and $1 million more is needed.”
While the California Chamber of Commerce has taken no position on the initiative, Gov. Schwarzenegger is making sure it is understood that he wants AB 32 to continue and hopes that Logue’s initiative will not gain any traction. Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, which supports AB 32, was also critical of Logue by alleging that he was partial only to the businesses that bankrolled his election: “He's bought, sold and paid for by the polluting industry.”
Is an open primary system the cure-all to the immobilizing and partisan nature of politics in Sacramento? While voters will get to weigh in on the matter on June’s ballot through Proposition 14 – which creates the "top-two" primary – the Public Policy Institute of California just released a report that essentially contends that an open primary won’t be the all-encompassing corrective its advocates hope for, but it will likely instigate a more moderate Legislature. Eric McGhee, the report’s author, said, “People should temper their expectations. It's not a panacea for partisanship.”
The Capital Journal for the LA Times summarizes the goal and intent of Proposition 14 as follows: “Starting in 2012, there would be only one primary ballot, and it would be open to all candidates and voters. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, would advance to the general election, similar to the way local officials are elected in California. […]The goal is to force candidates to appeal to a wider range of voters than they currently do in party primaries dominated by ideologues.”
The bottom-line: There is no quick-fix to improve California’s political landscape and if there were to be any beneficial outcomes from Proposition 14, it would be modest at most. Voters will have to decide if it’s the best route to take while party officials will likely hope that the initiative is turned down to maintain the status quo.
The Constitutional reform campaign, spearheaded by the efforts of Reform California, a group that was looking to gather the requisite signatures to place two convention-related measures on the ballot, announced recently that it’s “pausing” its signature-gathering efforts.
Why are matters not looking so good for the campaign? It comes down to money. According to campaign finance records, the campaign has raised less than $500,000 so far and is in need of a lot more funds to propel the signature process forward to meet the deadline for placement on November’s ballot. Reform California’s Chief campaigner, John Grubb, told KQED that he is hoping someone will be kind enough to step in with more money so that the funding can catch up with the signature-gathering. KQED also reports that the campaign has only gathered about 140,000 signatures so far and that a greatly reduced staff will work for another 30 days before officially quitting entirely.
The fate of these two measures certainly does not look promising when one considers that the campaign needs 694,354 signatures for the first measure and 433,971 for the second, which ideally should be submitted by mid-April, the Capital Alert reports.
(See more coverage here).
The legalization of Internet gambling has been a subject of great debate in California and the debate took a step further as a legislative committee on Feb. 9 considered a proposal to let Californians “use their laptops and iPhones to legally wager in an intrastate Internet gambling network run by tribes and card rooms and taxed by the state,” the Sacramento Bee reports. California could certainly cash in big by taxing legal online gambling, as it is estimated that about 1 million Californians are currently involved in illegal online bets. “We feel the games should be controlled by the tribes and the state - and taxed," said Robert Martin, chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.
However, the chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians argued against legalization and even went so far as to say his tribe would consider withholding $42.5 million in annual casino revenue-sharing payments if the state were to follow the path of legalization.
The Press Enterprise reports that no consensus was formed after a lengthy session in the Senate. While the California Tribal Business Alliance concluded in a study that the state could receive as much as $50 million through legal online poker, it remains to be seen whether or not legislators will take steps forward to legalizing such gambling, especially as budget pressures end up in shortfalls across the state. That being said, it is likely that proponents will take the route of pressuring legislators due to the access they have as opposed to the costly initiative process.
Recent blog posts
- Campaign Fundraising and Expenditures
- Proposition 31 Pushes for More Accountability
- Registered to Vote? Now Available Online
- The Latest: Secretary of State Updates
- Smoke and Mirrors: New Prop 30 Ad
- Fact Checkers Counter First Prop 30 Ads
- Voters Feeling Undecided on Tax Measures? New PPIC Poll Shows Shaky Voter Support
- New Prop 32 Ad
- Opponents of Prop 32 Outspend Supporters
- Prop 38 Backer Prepares for “Big Air War”