Legislature bringing defeated Prop. 31 back to life

Walking deadMarch 14, 2013

By Wayne Lusvardi

The voters spoke. Now the California Legislature is working to defy them.

Proposition 31 was the only ballot initiative involving government reform that was defeated at the polls on Nov. 6, 2012.  Now it’s coming back from the dead, zombie-like, in the state Legislature in a package of three bills: SB 1, SB 11 and SB 33.

Proposition 31 was presented as a good-government reform. But on CalWatchdog.com last August, I was the first to report that it really was a proposal to get around local city councils and county boards of supervisors by creating unelected regional councils. The councils then would decide where to spend state revenues that are shared with local governments: school funds, state road funds and vehicle license fees.

The Legislature would have taken over some of the functions of local governments with unelected, quasi-government councils.

When the facts came out, Proposition 31 was opposed by the political Left because it could have authorized the Legislature to take over the California Coastal Commission, the Lake Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and local unified school districts. It was opposed by the political Right because local city councils in conservative cities would no longer have had any say on where state revenue sharing funds were spent in their cities.

Three bills

SB 1 is by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. It proposes an unelected regional government called “Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities.”  There would be no way that taxpayers could elect, recall or replace any of the members of these authorities.  In essence, they would become an unaccountable and duplicative layer of sovereign government that would do the bidding of the Legislature. SB 1 is pending a public hearing in the State Senate Governance and Finance Committees.

SB 11 is by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills. It calls for a state emergency to promote hydrogen fuel vehicles, fueling stations and networks by a state-created commission funded with increased smog abatement fees, vehicle registration fees and tire disposal fees. Once again, this commission would be appointed by the Legislature and could usurp local control of where such stations would be located.  The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee will be hearing this bill soon.

SB 33 is by state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis and is the worst of all three. It would establish infrastructure-financing districts that could approve bonds without any voter approval. Redevelopment would be reincarnated at the local level, this time run by the Legislature. Home rule would be lost. The number one priority of SB 33 would be to further sustainable communities strategies to reduce greenhouse emissions. SB 33 will be heard by the State Senate Governance and Finance Committees.

Destroying local control

The goal of all these bills is to partly replace local government with regional government.  Such unelected regional government councils would force wealthy suburbs to give up some of their state revenues to disadvantaged cities and school districts or face revenue reductions from the state.

Another function of these bills would be vote buying: Democratic state legislators would be able to buy votes in local Republican districts. The result might be what is called “fusion government,” where the Democratic Party exercises power in unelected districts without any legitimate consent of the governed.

The Roman Republic fell when a Triumvirate of three powerful leaders, Julius Caesar, Pompey and Marcus Crassus, grabbed power in a coup without any legal status. The California republic — representative government — might be weakened to the point of nonexistence by these three bills.

Thank the California Federation of Republican Women for alerting voters to this “sneaky” package of bills.


Write a comment
  1. Patrice Boivin
    Patrice Boivin 14 March, 2013, 06:16

    Sorry to see that… looks like your state’s government is out of control.

    If it’s not bureaucrats, it’s politicians.


    Reply this comment
  2. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 14 March, 2013, 07:09

    This is clearly a mandate to complete the efforts started in the early 60s for the name to make sense:

    The Socialist Soviet Republic of California

    Reply this comment
  3. stolson
    stolson 14 March, 2013, 07:54

    These bills are dangerous. They are an outgrowth of the Agenda 21 proposals to have regional govt form overtake local and county controls. The sustainable part is where monies go from the so-called wealthier communiites to the less wealthy ones (redistribution) to enable cities to expand apts. and other green endeavors (follow thr money). It is a giant foot in the door to outside control using the dimwits in the CA legislature to be the foot soldiers for them. People need to wake up.

    Reply this comment
  4. surfpunk
    surfpunk 14 March, 2013, 09:55

    one bay area!, I live in open space, no one can or will explain how my property rights wont be taken away from me .Agenda 21 is moving right along even without redevelopment .CEQA reform sounds like a great idea,but dont get fooled.CEQA is the only tool we cwill have to slow down the great train,the new mixed use instaslums.do your homework,force the REPUBS. to stop looking the other way.

    Reply this comment
  5. us citizen
    us citizen 14 March, 2013, 10:57

    The repubs in this state are a bunch of pansy assed idiots. No wonder they have no clout here. How about starting to play dirty like the dems?

    Reply this comment
  6. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 14 March, 2013, 16:51

    Regional government makes far more sense than the multitude of cities and towns we currently have, each with its own mayor, council, city manager and little fiefdom. Consolidating services would save the same tax money so many of you here on CWD whine about wasting nearly every day of the week.

    One regional government for each county would be about right for our state, ensuring efficient services for police, fire, waste, water, and general government. It’s the wave of the future.

    Ok, now back to whining about the decisions made by your local city council.

    Reply this comment
  7. Hondo
    Hondo 14 March, 2013, 18:55

    One of the founding principles of the republic is taxation with representation. Yes, it is a bit inefficient, but the leaders are accountable. Yes, there is corruption in our system. But that corruption will grow exponentially when there is no accountability.
    As much as I dislike Jerry Brown, I’m sure he will veto these bad bills if they hit his desk.

    Reply this comment
  8. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 15 March, 2013, 09:59

    Each of the proposals above would create nothing more than a subcommittee or commission of the legislature itself. Therefore, your claim about “taxation without representation” is empty, Hondo. We elect our legislators who, true to the republican form of government required by our Constitution, enact laws for the governance of our state.

    The point of these proposals is that there are effective and efficient methods to do these things without having multiple local subgroups whose members all fancy themselves the Lincoln of their day.

    Reply this comment
  9. exurbiachronicles
    exurbiachronicles 21 March, 2013, 08:13

    “…they want to be led, and they wish to remain free. As they cannot destroy either the one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once.” DeToqueville
    More on regionalism…
    Soft Despotism, Regionalism, and the Future of the Suburbs

    Reply this comment

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