Part of the Bay Area News Group

Constitutional Convention measure in the works

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 5:50 pm in Election reform, Political events.

After sitting through a daylong presentation put on by coalition of business leaders and government reform groups in Sacramento, it seems increasingly likely that voters will see on the ballot in 2010 two measures that would lead to the California Constitutional Convention since 1879.

What is a Constitutional Convention? It’s a group of people charged with developing recommendations for amendments to the state’s Constitution, all of which must be ratified by the voters. How those members are chosen and the scope of their work is still up in the air.

Californians may not realize it but they frequently amend their Constitution through the initiative process.

As the Bay Area Council and its partners — the Center for Governmental Studies, Common Cause, Courage Campaign and League of Women Voters and others — envision it, this convention would focus primarily on governance reforms designed to help resolve some of the state’s intractable problems.

This is scary stuff to people who fear that well-intentioned reforms could carry unintended consequences and leave the state in shambles.

But most of the crowd gathered in Sacramento today seemed to feel that the state is already in shambles thanks, in large part, to voter-approved initiatives that carved out dollars for everything from education to public safety to roads but left state leaders with decision-making authority only over 7 percent of the budget.

Potential reform topics include …stripping the two-thirds voting threshold to pass a state budget, extending or eliminating term limits, proportional representation in the Legislature, automatic reviews of the efficacy of every single state agency, modifications to Prop. 13 that would end protections for businesses, campaign finance reform and merging the bicameral Assembly and Senate into a single legislative body.

Also on the table are reform to the initiative process itself, such as creating a means by which the Legislature could directly pass measures deemed worthy or at least hold hearings and suggest language changes.

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, is carrying a Constitutional Convention bill but almost nobody believes it can secure the necessary two-thirds vote to pass.

“I think you have to change the system from the outside,” DeSaulnier told the group this afternoon in Sacramento. “I compare governance in this state to the Winchester House. The initiatives are like rooms but they were built without any hallways so we can’t get to them.”

DeSaulnier moderated an interesting and humorous panel of former state legislators such as Elihu Harris of Oakland, Guy Houston of San Ramon and William Bagley of Marin County.”Those of us in office are knuckleheads and idiots but once you bcome a former legislator, you are the proverbial Yoda,” DeSaulnier joked.

Houston called for the griup to consider as one of the reforms a plan to lower the sales tax rate but expand it to include many services that are not taxed today. He said it would produce the same revenue but as a broader base, it would provide a more stable and reliable source of money for state.

As a side note, ex-State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata was supposed to be on the panel but he never made it; DeSaulnier jokingly speculated that Perata must be stuck in traffic because he can’t drive as fast as he did when he was in office.

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  • Kevin

    Californians for a State Constitutional Convention facebook group:

    http://tinyurl.com/ConCon

  • http://sacbee.com CAW916

    Why change the system to give one party complete control? In case someone fails to mention these, here is what I think we should do:

    1. Ban all political parties.
    2. Ban campaign contributions from special interest groups.
    3. Make legislature positions unpaid volunteers.
    4. Repeal the Dills Act.
    5. Establish performance-based lifetime civil service employment.
    6. Establish a financial code of ethics for all lawmakers
    7. Require financial management training for all politicians in government.
    8. Only native born Californians can be Governor.
    9. Most importantly, ban the Big 5. Five people should never have this much power.

    Sounds like a good start to me.

  • http://UnboundedEducation@yahoo.com Michael F. Sarabia

    The proposal is eminently reasonable.
    I will put a copy in my web site.
    Thanks.
    Mike

  • mercedes diaz

    what state constitution? the goverment of california doesn’t care about the constitution for years now the state goverment for political reasons has allowed the violations of my civil libirties and contitutional rights both federal/state. for those same reasons i am filling a law suit against the state under title 18 u.s.c. 241, 242, 245 and title 42 u.s.c. section 14141. they have used me as a training tool for the homeland security department training of the public sector under the patriot act.

  • MERCEDES DIAZ

    DON’T YOU THINK THAT ALL OF THIS IS KIND OF LATE IN THE GAME. FOR 7 YEARS I LOOKED FOR HELP EVERYWHERE THE FEDERAL GOVERMENT THE STATE THE CITY OF CORONA EVERY ACLU OFFICE I COULD FIND AND ALL TO NO AVAIL NOW 7 YEARS LATER YOU GUYS GET TOGETHER TO FIX WHAT? WHAT CANN’T BE FIXED OR GIVEN BACK TO ME OR MY SON’S. CAN YOU GIVE ME BACK THE LAST 7 YEARS OF TORTURE I HAVE SUFFER OR WHAT EVER LIFE I HAVE LEFT. YOU CAN FIXED WAS BROKEN INSIDE OR EVEN UP TO TODAY 7/3/09 STOP THIS HARASSMENT THAT I AM STILL SUFFERING. THE HATE I FEEL FOR HUMANITY, THE PAIN, THE LONELINESS I HAVE LIVED. AND I ASK WHY? WELL IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW I’LL GIVE YOU A LITTLE HISTORY.MY NAME IS MERCEDES DIAZ YES THAT ONE THAT HAS BEEN THE VICTIM OF BUSH/FEDERAL GOVERMENT AND THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. I AM THE PERSON FOR WHOM EX-PRESIDENT BUSH DECIDED TO VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND THEN THE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA FOLLOWED BY ALLOWING THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA SPECIALLY THE AREA OF RIVERSIDE COUNTY MORE SPECIFIC CORONA TO BECOME A TERRORIST TRAINING CAMP. YES A TERRORIST TRAINING CAMP THAT WHICH SUPOUSEDLY THE PATRIOT ACT WAS TO FIGHT. FOR THE LAST 7 YEARS I HAVE BEING TERRORIST BY MY OWM NEIGHBORS AND THOSE PEOPLE THAT ONCE I CONSIDERED FRIENDS AND SOLD THEIR SOULS FOR WHAT FOR MONEY AND BENEFITS PROVIDED BY THE FEDERAL/STATE/LOCAL GOVERNMENT YES, THE GOVERNMENT/POLITICIANS THAT WERE ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE TO SERVED AND PROTECT THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY. MY QUESTION IS WHERE WERE THEY WHEN FOR YEARS I HAVE WRITTEN LETTERS,EMAILS, PHONED LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO HELP ME BUT THERE WAS NO ONE TO BE FOUND ANYWHERE. I DON’T KNOW WHY NOW ALL OF SUDDENTLY I AM ABLE TO ACCESS A WHOLE BUNCH OF WEB SITES LIKE YOURS BECAUSE IN THE PASS I WASN’T ABLE TOO. WELL THAT IS A STUPID QUESTION WHEN I KNOW FOR A FACT THEY HAVE HAD ME UNDER COMPLETE SURVEILLANCE DAY AND NIGHT NOT ONLY FOLLOWING ME AROUND 24/7 BUT MY CELL PHONE, HOME PHONE, COMPUTER, CAR, EVEN INSIDE MY OWN HOME THEY HAVE BEING MONITORING MY EVERY MOVE. I DON’T KNOW IF YOU CAN IMAGINE WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO HAVE NO PRIVACY OF ANY KIND TO BE TAKING A SHOWER AND HAVE THE FEELING THAT YOU ARE BEING WATCHED TO WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO THE SAME FEELING. I AM SORRY FOR ALL OF THIS BUT I NEED TO UNLOAD SOME OF WHAT I BEING HOLDING INSIDE BECAUSE I HAD NO ONE TO TALK TOO ABOUT THIS SITUATION AND NOW I HAVE JUST REACH THE END OF THE ROPE I AM TRYING TO HOLD ON BUT I DON’T KNOW IF I WILL BE ABLE TO. I AM GOING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING THAT PROBABLY NO ONE KNOWS BECAUSE I AM SURE THAT THEY HAVE STATED WHAT EVER THEY WANTED PEOPLE TO BELIEVE. THE REASON THIS ATROCITY WAS PERPETRATED AGAINST ME IS THAT AFTER 25 YEARS OF MARRIAGE I FOUND OUT I WAS MARRIED TO A JERK BY THE NAME OF NELSON E. DIAZ SR. WHO HAPPEN TO BE INVOLVED WITH SOMEONE WHOM I CONSIDERED A FRIEND HER NAME IS ANA FLORES OF PERRIS CA WHOM I BE-FRIENDED AFTER SELLING HER PARENTS AND UNCLES THEIR HOME, WELL IT TURNS OUT THAT FLORES HAS A COUSIN BY THE NAME OF DANIEL PRIETO WHO APPARENTLY IS VERY INFLUENTIAL IN WASHINGTON DC POLITICS AND THROUGH THEIR PLANNING AND CONSPIRACY THIS WHOLE PROGRAM CAME TO BE AND ALL BECAUSE I DECIDED TO CONFRONT THEM AND FILE FOR DIVORCE. YES, THAT IS WHAT I WAS GUILTY OFF, THE REST WAS JUST ABUSE OF POWER JUST A SIMPLE BANDETA AGAINST ME. EXCUSE MY SPELLING.

    THANKS FOR NOTHING

  • MERCEDES DIAZ

    WHAT STATE CONSTITUTION WE NO LONGER HAVE ONE SINCE THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA AGREE TO PARTICIPATE WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERMENT/BUSH ON HIS VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND MY CIVIL LIBERTIES. I HAVE BEING SUFFERING THEIR VIOLATION FOR THE LAST 7 YEARS. DON’T YOU THINK IS TOO LATE NOW? WELL FOR ME IT IS…….THANK YOU FOR NOTHING

    MERCEDES DIAZ
    CORONA CALIFONIA