Senate leader’s endorsement of Prop. 63 ammo measure lacks backstory

Kevin de LeonWhen Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon endorsed Proposition 63 last week, he didn’t mention the endorsement was conditional.

This summer, the Los Angeles Democrat ushered through the Legislature a measure that substantially amends in advance the ballot measure’s ammo regulation provisions — a move a Prop. 63 spokesman at the time called “sickeningly cynical.”   

For about a year now, de Leon has been in a political feud with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Prop. 63’s primary proponent. The two fought over who had better ideas for gun and ammo control and what lawmaking avenue was more appropriate: the Legislature or the Ballot Box. And at least for now, de Leon won. 

None of this was mentioned in the endorsement. 

“Earlier this year, our Legislature passed the most sweeping and important package of gun safety laws in the nation, increasing nationwide momentum and grass-roots outcries for common-sense safeguards against gun violence,” de Leon wrote in a statement. “I endorse Proposition 63 because we must send a powerful and united message to the national Gun Lobby that California will not capitulate to political bullying or compromise the public safety.”

Critics cry foul

Republicans in the Assembly tried to fight de Leon’s bill as it moved through the Legislature, arguing on procedural grounds, and were easily overruled. In an interview this week, Assemblyman James Gallagher, an attorney by trade, called de Leon’s actions “ridiculous,” adding the Los Angeles Democrat is “trying to change what might be the will of the voters.”

“The voters are being asked to vote on something right now that, if passed, [the Legislature is] going to change the language,” said Gallagher, a Nicolaus Republican.

Gallagher opposes both Prop. 63 and the de Leon bill, but said the procedure matters: “Is that the kind of precedent that we want to set?”

Legal analysis

But, in fact, it may be legal.  

“I don’t think I have seen this before, but it looks legit to me,” said Frederic Woocher, an elections law specialist at the Los Angeles law firm Strumwasser and Woocher, who has no connection with either the ballot measure or the legislation. 

Prop. 63 does allow for legislative amendments, as long as they “further the purposes” of the measure and pass by at least 55 percent. According to Woocher, since the Legislature has the power to amend the measure, and since the legislation won’t go into effect until after Prop. 63 would pass, this is akin to passing the legislation next year — like postdating a check. 

“Under this admittedly unusual circumstance, I believe it would constitute a valid amendment to Prop. 63 under the initiative’s provisions allowing for amendments (again, this assumes that it ‘furthers the purposes’ of the initiative),” Woocher said. 

But is it transparent?

Where Gallagher and Woocher disagree most though, is whether the Legislature’s move is transparent. Gallagher said that the voter-fatigue inducing, 17-measure ballot and accompanying voter guide already make the process cumbersome on voters — adding pending legislative amendments makes matters worse.

“It’s bad enough that you have this huge voter pamphlet; let alone to have to go ‘Oh, well, also the Legislature may have passed a bill that’s going to change this language,'” Gallagher said.

But Woocher argued that because the Legislature took action prior to the November election, and the Legislative Analyst’s Office was able to consider the amendments in its analysis, interested voters will have the opportunity to become fully versed.

“The amendments may not be reflected in the title and summary per se … but I think it is not unreasonable to expect interested voters to review the entire Voters’ Pamphlet, which includes the Leg Analyst’s more in-depth and explanatory analysis of the expected impacts of the measure’s passage,” Woocher said. 

A spokesman for Kevin de Leon did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

6 comments

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  1. Queeg
    Queeg 27 October, 2016, 17:29

    Comrades

    They come for your guns, your religion, your treasure…….

    Reply this comment
  2. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 28 October, 2016, 06:18

    More reasons to vote NO on 63 the more the liberal lunatics like DeLeon support it the more we need to oppose it

    Reply this comment
  3. Mr. Pickle
    Mr. Pickle 28 October, 2016, 14:32

    Well, here we go again. Are these legislators retarded or what?.
    The legislature can make all the regulations, rules, and laws they want on firearms and ammo, but the BAD GUYS COULD CARE LESS! Again, the only folks these stupid, duplicative laws harm, is the firearm owners that play by and follow the rules & laws..
    IF we just ENFORCED the existing laws, their would be NO reason to continue to make more, EXCEPT for the legislators could chalk up another one in the old “Bill Mill” as a notch on their gun belt. (No pun intended.) Stupid is as Stupid does……..

    Reply this comment
  4. Mike
    Mike 28 October, 2016, 21:08

    Have a message in voicemail from Governor to vote no on Prop 53, it will put the nail in his choo cho. Vote yes on Prop 53 and tell Brown FU.

    Reply this comment
  5. milton
    milton 29 October, 2016, 04:53

    It would not surprise me if De Leon takes money from Mexican drug cartels.

    Reply this comment
  6. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 31 October, 2016, 09:23

    Give the part of Stupidfornia back to mexico below the Sate of Jefferson let the idiots in southern Stupidfornia after all they were dumb enough to pass propistions protecting cougars and making pountry pens more comfortible and to reelected Moonbeam Brown again

    Reply this comment

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