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Lawmakers should read bills, not smoke crack

For a glimpse of how many Californians seem to feel about our state’s elected officials these days, take a look at some of the proposed ballot measures now being circulated for petition signatures.

Bradley Philip Morisoli, president of a Livermore construction company, is circulating a proposed constitutional amendment providing that the Governor and Legislature would be automatically removed from office if the Legislature fails to approve a budget by June 15 or if the governor fails to sign a budget by June 30; it also requires that a quarter of their salaries be withheld until a budget is completed for the following fiscal year. Anyone removed from office under this measure would be barred from being elected or appointed to state office for the following two years. Morisoli has until next Monday, July 27 to submit 694,354 petition signatures, but he told me today the prognosis “is pretty much terminal.” He had put up a Web site in hope that some like-minded, deep-pocketed patron would step forward to pay for signature collectors, but nobody ever did. “I’m sure it caught the interest of the Legislature and the Governor there for a while,” he said. “There needs to be some accountability for these guys.”

Gabriella Holt, who unsuccessfully sought the 54th Assembly District seat last year, is the proponent of a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the Legislature – full-time since 1966 – to a part-time basis. The Legislature would be in session no more than 95 days per year, convening in early January for up to 30 days and again in early May for up to 60 days; it could reconvene for up to five additional days to reconsider bills vetoed by the governor. Holt has until Dec. 7 to gather 694,354 petition signatures; learn more about it here.

Internet entrepreneur Jerrol LeBaron of Tujunga (Los Angeles County) is circulating a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit state lawmakers from voting on a bill until they’ve certified under penalty of perjury that they’ve read and understood it; they’d also have to swear they haven’t received a bribe or engaged in illegal vote swapping. He has until Dec. 14 to file his 694,354 signatures. Learn more about it here.

And, my personal favorite: Dorothy Cummings and Gary Ellis of Lake Arrowhead (San Bernardino County) are circulating a proposed statute requiring that all state lawmakers on the first day of each regular legislative session be tested for drug and alcohol use, and be forced into rehab if they’re using (medical marijuana excepted); a second positive test after rehab would lead to forfeiture of the lawmaker’s office. We’ll see if they can get 433,971 signatures by Dec. 10 from people who believe this year’s budget process was unduly affected by lawmakers being whacked out of their gourds.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • John W

    Anybody proposing an amendment requiring that voters certify that they have read and understand the initiatives before voting? Or that they agree to a tax on themselves for any spending obligation they vote for? Or that they actually know the names of the candidates for an office (without peeking at the ballot first) before voting on that office?

    My uber amendment would be to sunset every voter initiative currently on the books (yes, EVERY) that has fiscal implications (bond obligations excepted) and to start over so that the current generation of taxpayers is not unduly visited upon by the choices of previous generations.