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Danville couple’s MICRA measure files signatures

A Danville couple whose two children were killed by a drugged driver in 2003 submitted 840,000 signatures Monday to qualify a measure for November’s ballot that would raise California’s decades-old limit on medical-negligence awards and force doctors to check a statewide database before prescribing narcotic drugs.

Bob and Carmen Pack, and the attorneys’ groups backing them, needed to gather 504,760 valid signatures from registered voters by today in order to get the measure on the ballot.

“The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act will save lives and prevent families across California from having to endure the tragedies ours have by creating accountability and transparency in medical care,” Bob Pack said in a news release. “Voters should have the right to enact the patient safety protections the legislature has denied them for decades, including protections from drug abusing, drug dealing, and dangerous doctors.”

The measure would index for inflation the state’s cap on malpractice recovery – now fixed at $250,000 – for those without wage loss or medical bills. The Packs were entitled to recover only this $250,000 limit for each of their children’s lives; they note that $250,000 in 1975, when the cap was enacted as part of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), would be worth only about $58,000 today. Adjusted for inflation, the cap would now be around $1.1 million.

The measure also would require random drug testing of doctors to prevent physician substance abuse, and require that doctors use the state’s existing prescription drug database to weed out doctor-shopping drug abusers like the one who killed the Packs’ kids.

Medical organizations oppose the measure.

“A ballot measure that is certain to generate more medical lawsuits and drive up costs for every health consumer in California is the worst possible idea at the worst possible time,” California Medical Association President Dr. Richard Thorp said in a news release Monday. “This initiative is bad for patients, bad for taxpayers and bad for California’s entire system of health care delivery.”

Opponents note California’s independent Legislative Analyst found the measure could increase state and local government health costs by hundreds of millions of dollars per year. “If this measure passes, it will cost taxpayers, health consumers and local governments across our state a significant amount of money,” said Central Valley Health Network CEO Cathy Frey.

Opponents had banked about $31.3 million by the start of this year to fight the measure, while proponents had banked about $375,000.

Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2014
Under: ballot measures | 2 Comments »

More out-of-state tuition with ‘Six Californias?’

More than two-thirds of the University of California’s students would have to pay out-of-state tuition if voters approved Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper’s proposed ballot measure to split California into six states, a political consultant says.

That would cost them more than $2.5 billion per year, according to an analysis by Forward Observer, a Sacramento-based public-affairs strategy firm.

The analysis found the “Six Californias” measure would affect more than 109,000 students who suddenly would be attending a UC campus in other than the state in which they reside.

For example, if a student from Los Angeles attended UC Irvine just 50 miles away, the school would be free to charge an additional $22,878 in out-of-state “nonresident supplemental” tuition, Forward Observer concluded. UC Davis would have the largest percentage of students that would be forced to pay out-of-state tuition, at 78.1 percent; UCLA would have the lowest, at 55.1 percent.

“Jefferson California, a new state to be comprised of counties in the far north, would have not one campus in the University of California system if split off from the rest of the state as proposed,” Forward Observer CEO Joe Rodota noted in a news release. “Just how would a family from Redding or Chico feel about paying $36,000 in out-of-state tuition to send their son or daughter to UC Davis?”

“California needs serious solutions to difficult problems,” said Rodota, a former cabinet secretary to Gov. Pete Wilson. “Draper’s proposal may be provocative, but it isn’t a solution to anything.”

Draper, whom spokeswoman Anna Morris was “in back to back meeting appointments in LA” on Monday, has not yet responded.

UPDATE @ 9:52 A.M. TUESDAY: Morris got back to me moments ago with Draper’s comment. “That all depends on state compacts among the six,” Draper said. “Either there would be no change, or states would come up with cheaper and better solutions for their students.”

Meanwhile, West Sacramento Mayor Christoper Cabaldon suggests via Twitter that the new states could choose to join the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, so their students would pay only 150 percent of resident tuition in order to attend UC schools in other Californias. I’m sure that 50 percent increase over current tuition would sit well with everyone.

Posted on Monday, March 10th, 2014
Under: ballot measures | 2 Comments »

Draper puts $750k into ‘Six Californias’ measure

The venture capitalist who wants to break California into six states has put his money where his mouth is.

Well, some money, at least. Tim Draper of Atherton gave $750,000 to his “Six Californias” committee on Wednesday, according to a report filed Thursday with the Secretary of State’s office.

That’s not chump change for us ordinary folks, but it’s not a huge percentage of Draper’s sizable personal fortune. Nor is it nearly enough by itself to bankroll the paid petition circulation that would be needed to gather 808,000 signatures by mid-April in order to put the measure on this November’s ballot.

Nice down payment, though, especially given that when asked on Monday how much he was willing to spend on this, Draper had replied, “as little as possible.” He also had said he knew several other people who were eager to contribute to the measure, but he refused to name them; so far, Draper remains Six Californias’ only donor.

Posted on Friday, February 28th, 2014
Under: ballot measures, campaign finance | 2 Comments »

GOP record of ‘Six Californias’ backer Tim Draper

Venture capitalist Tim Draper – the man behind a proposed ballot measure to split California into six states – seemed discomfited when a reporter at his news conference Monday cited his history of funding conservative causes, but it’s a well-documented history nonetheless.

Tim Draper“I don’t fit into either political party,” said Draper, a registered Republican. But a review of his political spending over the past decade shows a clear preference for GOP candidates and causes – and that’s since the $20 million he spent on his own unsuccessful school voucher initiative in 2000.

Now he’s pushing this “Six Californias” measure – or is he? He’s holding news conferences about it, but said Monday he’d like to spend “as little as possible” from his own pocket to put it on the ballot and support it; he also claimed to have others willing to bankroll the measure, but refused to name them. He wouldn’t say whether he’s aiming for this year’s ballot – which would require a herculean signature drive essentially by mid-April – or waiting for 2016.

Draper did say Monday that he had discussed the measure by phone at some point with Gov. Jerry Brown; asked whether Brown had expressed any support (or said it sounded crazy), Draper replied, “Gov. Brown is a very open-minded, creative guy… He’s governing a state that is ungovernable and I think he sees that.

Asked Tuesday what the governor thinks of Draper’s plan, Brown spokesman Evan Westrup replied that “while we generally do not comment on pending ballot measures, the proposal has serious practical challenges.”

Draper gave generously over the years to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s various campaigns and causes. Spokespeople for Schwarzenegger didn’t return emails Tuesday seeking his opinion of Draper’s new effort, and Schwarzenegger himself didn’t respond to a tweet asking the same.

IF this did really make it onto the ballot, and IF Californians could be convinced it was a good idea, what would the practical effects include? Well, for one thing, California’s monolithic 55 electoral votes – awarded “winner-take-all” to whichever presidential candidate wins the state’s popular vote – presumably would be split among the six new states, putting some of them within the GOP’s reach for the first time in more than 25 years.

See a list of Draper’s political contributions since 2003, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Under: ballot measures | 4 Comments »

Delay for marijuana legalization initiative

A proposed marijuana-legalization ballot initiative, spearheaded in part by a San Jose cannabis collective’s founder, will be delayed as supporters gather more input.

Americans for Policy Reform, a new nonprofit dedicated to grassroots legislative reform, submitted a first iteration of its “Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014” to the Secretary of State’s office in October. The group spent a year gathering input from people within California’s marijuana movement and from others, using it to compile an “open source” document to legalize the drug.

But apparently that wasn’t time enough. The proponents issued a news release Wednesday saying they’re still “coordinating meet-and-greet events throughout California to gather ideas and support before the last realistic date to file for the 2014 California General Election.” They intend to file final amendments with the state during the first week of December.

The Secretary of State’s office had submitted the measure’s first draft to the Attorney General for preparation of an official title and summary, which was expected to be ready around Dec. 23. But amendments will delay the title and summary’s completion, and only after that completion can proponents start gathering petition signatures to place the measure on next November’s ballot.

“We have been working very hard to include everyone in the drafting of the MCLR language,” co-proponent Dave Hodges said in the news release. “This latest outreach demonstrates our commitment to an open, inclusive process to legalizing marijuana in California.”

One of those meetings is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the All American Cannabis Club, 1082 Stockton Ave. in San Jose, of which Hodges is founder.

Supporters say the proposed initiative would give Californians freedom to use, grow, transport and sell cannabis subject to reasonable regulation and taxation in a manner similar to alcohol. It will comply with recent Justice Department guidelines, clarify California’s medical marijuana law, generate millions in new tax revenue and save law enforcement resources while preventing distribution to minors; growing on public lands; profits from going to criminal enterprises; violence and firearm use in cultivation and distribution; and drugged driving, the group claims.

Posted on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Under: ballot measures, marijuana | No Comments »

NJ hedge fund prez bankrolls anti-AB 1266 effort

A hedge-fund manager from New Jersey has contributed another $50,000 to the campaign to repeal California’s new law that gives transgender K-12 students rights such as access to the restrooms and locker rooms that they choose.

Wedding AnniversaryThis latest contribution, made Nov. 1 and reported Monday, brings Sean Fieler’s total contributions to the “Privacy for All Students – Stop AB1266” committee to $200,000 – almost as much as all other contributors to that committee have given so far.

Fieler, of Princeton, N.J., is president of Equinox Partners and chairman of the board of the American Principles Project, a conservative 501(c)(3) “founded to reinvigorate and restore those principles that made our country great. We take pride in leading the conversation, defending and promoting the universal truths that we are all ‘created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’” Fieler also has been a prolific donor to efforts opposing same-sex marriage.

AB 1266 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, requires that a K-12 pupil be permitted to take part in sex-segregated school programs, activities and facilities including athletic teams and competitions, consistent with his or her gender identity and regardless of the gender listed on that pupil’s records. Though the law applies to a wide range of access, conservative opponents have dubbed it the “bathroom law.”

The Assembly approved it 46-25, the state Senate approved it 21-9, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law Aug. 12. The law will take effect Jan. 1, unless its opponents succeed in placing a repeal referendum on the ballot.

We don’t know yet whether they succeeded. Referendum supporters had until Nov. 10 to gather and submit valid signatures from at least 504,760 registered voters in order to put this on the ballot; hitting that mark usually requires gathering about 700,000 signatures to be safe. The Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 20 that they had gathered about 500,000. Southern California Public Radio reported Sunday that supporters said they’d submitted 620,000 signatures.

Posted on Monday, November 11th, 2013
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, Tom Ammiano | 11 Comments »

Efforts to roll back abortion laws start circulating

Supporters can start circulating petitions for two ballot referenda to overturn a pair of abortion-access laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Thursday.

Brown on Oct. 9 signed into law AB 154 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, so nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants with special training can perform abortion by aspiration — in which the uterus’ contents are suctioned out — which is the most common kind of first-trimester abortion. The Assembly passed the bill on a 50-25 vote in May, and the state Senate passed it on a 50-25 vote in August, with most Democrats and no Republicans voting for it.

Brown also that day signed AB 980 by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, which requires the repeal of any sections of the California Building Standards Code that treat primary-care clinics differently if they do abortions.

With dozens of new abortion restrictions enacted in other states this year, California stood alone in passing laws to increase access.

Bowen said Thursday that proponent Laurette Elsberry can start circulating petitions for her measures to roll back these new laws. The attorney general’s official titles and summaries for these measures are:

REFERENDUM TO OVERTURN LAW ALLOWING SPECIFIED LICENSED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS TO PERFORM EARLY ABORTION PROCEDURES. If signed by the required number of registered voters and timely filed with the Secretary of State, this petition will place on the statewide ballot a challenge to a state law previously approved by the Legislature and the Governor. The law must then be approved by a majority of voters at the next statewide election to go into effect. The law would permit a nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant with a valid license and training to perform specified early abortion procedures. (13-0029.)

REFERENDUM TO REIMPOSE DIFFERENT STANDARDS ON CLINICS PROVIDING ABORTION SERVICES THAN ON OTHER PRIMARY CARE CLINICS. If signed by the required number of registered voters and timely filed with the Secretary of State, this petition will place on the statewide ballot a challenge to a state law previously approved by the Legislature and the Governor. The law must then be approved by a majority of voters at the next statewide election to go into effect. The law would repeal regulations that impose different building and licensing standards on clinics providing abortion services than on other primary care clinics. (13-0030.)

Elsberry – who voter registration records indicate is a 75-year-old Republican from Sacramento – has until Jan. 7 to gather and submit valid signatures from at least 504,760 registered voters for each measure.

Posted on Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, Jerry Brown | 4 Comments »

Danville dad’s MICRA initiative starts circulating

A Danville man whose two children were killed by a drugged driver in 2003 can start circulating his proposed ballot measure that would raise California’s nearly 40-year old limit on medical-negligence awards and force doctors to check a statewide database before prescribing narcotic drugs, the Secretary of State’s office said Thursday.

The start of petitioning moves the ball forward in what could be one of next year’s costliest ballot-measure battles.

Here’s the official title and summary prepared by the Attorney General’s office:

DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING OF DOCTORS. MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE LAWSUITS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires drug and alcohol testing of doctors and reporting of positive test to the California Medical Board. Requires Board to suspend doctor pending investigation of positive test and take disciplinary action if doctor was impaired while on duty. Requires doctors to report any other doctor suspected of drug or alcohol impairment or medical negligence. Requires health care practitioners to consult state prescription drug history database before prescribing certain controlled substances. Increases $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages in medical negligence lawsuits to account for inflation. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State and local government costs associated with higher net medical malpractice costs, likely at least in the low tens of millions of dollars annually, potentially ranging to over one hundred million dollars annually. Potential net state and local government costs associated with changes in the amount and types of health care services that, while highly uncertain, potentially range from minor to hundreds of millions of dollars annually. (13-0016.)

Pack must collect valid signatures of 504,760 registered voters by March 24 in order to qualify the measure for next November’s ballot.

The California Medical Association, California Hospital Association, California Dental Association, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and Central Valley Health Network created a “Patients and Providers to Protect Access and Contain Health Costs” committee this summer to oppose the measure. The committee had banked at least $31.5 million by the end of August.

Bob and Carmen Pack will kick off the petition drive during a memorial gathering at 4 p.m. Sunday at Danville’s Sycamore Valley Elementary School and Park, marking the 10th anniversary of the deaths of their children, Troy, 10, and Alana, 7.

Posted on Thursday, October 24th, 2013
Under: ballot measures | 36 Comments »

Marijuana legalization ‘wiki’ measure proposed

A marijuana-legalization effort led by a San Jose cannabis collective’s founder submitted a proposed initiative Friday aimed at the November 2014 ballot.

The initiative is the first project of Americans for Policy Reform, a new nonprofit dedicated to grassroots legislative reform. The group for the past year has been gathering input from people within California’s marijuana movement and from others, using it to compile an “open source” document to legalize the drug.

“We started by soliciting input from roughly 1,000 members of the SaveCannabis.org forum,” Dave Hodges, founder of the forum and of San Jose’s All American Cannabis Collective, had said in August. “In addition to open meetings in San Jose and regular reports to the SaveCannabis.org forum, we created a Google document that literally anyone can see and contribute to. At each event, we requested specific input, and dozens of key advocates and legal advisers around the state provided recommendations and expertise.”

The group submitted the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014 to the state Attorney General’s office at 4:20 p.m. Friday, I’m told.

The AG must prepare an official title and summary; once that’s done, the Secretary of State’s office will clear the proponents to start circulating petitions to gather enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

“This is a breakthrough change for Californians and a serious issue for most. By using a public open source document, we were given great insight into what the real issues were and how to solve them,” Hodges said in a news release Friday. “It not only legalizes cannabis, but it also shows how it will be governed in an acceptable way that the majority of Californians can endorse.”

The group says the proposed initiative would give Californians freedom to use, grow, transport and sell cannabis subject to reasonable regulation and taxation in a manner similar to alcohol. It will comply with recent Justice Department guidelines, clarify California’s medical marijuana law, generate millions in new tax revenue and save law enforcement resources while preventing distribution to minors; growing on public lands; profits from going to criminal enterprises; violence and firearm use in cultivation and distribution; and drugged driving, the group claims.

Posted on Friday, October 11th, 2013
Under: ballot measures, marijuana | 2 Comments »

PPIC: It’s time to reform the initiative process.

California voters want to see some changes in the initiative process to connect it with the Legislature, increase disclosure of campaign funders and re-engage citizens, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California.

“These reforms are likely to have an impact beyond the initiative process,” PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare, the report’s author, said in a news release. “They hold considerable promise for increasing citizen engagement, encouraging voter participation, and building trust in state government.”

The report, Reforming California’s Initiative Process, notes that in the decade since the gubernatorial recall election, voters have been asked to weigh in on 100 state ballot propositions, 68 of which were citizens’ initiatives.

There’s been a sense that the century-old initiative process has run amok, becoming a tool of the same sort of special interests it was supposed to sideline – in May, 55 percent of California adults polled by PPIC believed the process is controlled by special interests. Yet PPIC polls have found both broad support for the process as well as for improvements to it.

Californians like the idea of expanding the Legislature’s involvement in the initiative process, so long voters remain part of the decision-making. PPIC found overwhelming majorities favor having a period of time that an initiative sponsor and the legislature could meet to seek compromise before a measure goes to the ballot. Overwhelming majorities of Californians also support a system of review and revision for proposed initiatives to try to avoid legal issues and drafting errors.

One way to set up such a system would be to revive California’s indirect initiative, in which sponsors bring their initiatives to the legislature after the required number of signatures has been gathered, the report suggests.

There’s also strong support for increasing public disclosure of funding sources; holding televised debates for initiative campaigns; having initiatives be renewable by voters after a certain number of years; allowing more time for volunteer-only signature gatherers to qualify a measure for the ballot; and creating an independent citizens’ initiative commission.

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California voters already have approved ballot measures to create a top-two primary system and a citizens’ redistricting commission, to change term limits, and to allow budgets to be approved with a simple legislative majority.

“In the last five years, Californians have taken bold actions to reform their state government,” Baldassare said. “Initiative reform — if pursued thoughtfully — could result in a brighter future for the state.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
Under: ballot measures | 7 Comments »