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Wednesday, Oct 4, 2023

Legislators Throw Confusion Into Balloting

Legislators Throw Confusion Into Balloting Capitol Punishment By Gregory N. Lippe What does the sale of surplus state property have in common with an open primary? If this question was asked of you, my guess is that many would say: “Is this some kind of joke?” and many others would say: “they have absolutely nothing in common.” To the first response, I would say: “Unfortunately it is not a joke” and to the second response, I would say: “normally these two subjects would have nothing in common, but now, due to a quick and possibly deceptive move on the part of our legislators, both issues will appear in the same ballot proposition in November.” In recent years there has been much discussion about the pros and cons of partisan politics. In previous months’ columns, I have cited a number of examples where legislators continue to follow strict party lines in voting on bills regardless of whether the bills are good or bad for jobs and businesses. Upon interviewing legislators, I was told that the main reason for this voting behavior is the fear of losing the support of one’s party when needed for either reelection or to back legislation that is important to that legislator’s constituents. The result is that whether a particular legislator is a conservative, moderate or liberal, those in the party with the highest-ranking positions will determine his or her vote. Many believe that this situation can be significantly mitigated by the adoption of an “open primary.” These people who favor an open primary have successfully petitioned to place an initiative on the ballot in November. The initiative requires that primary elections for state and federal candidate offices be open to all voters regardless of party registration. It further states that the two candidates receiving the most votes for an office in the primary, whether or not from the same party, would then be listed on the general election ballot. If a candidate receives a majority of the votes cast in the primary, he or she would be elected. Finally, the initiative requires party consent to allow identification of candidates’ parties on the general election ballot. In November, the decision as to an open primary is in the hands of the people. Or is it? Apparently, those who depend on partisanship to keep their jobs weren’t willing to trust the people on this one, so they decided to confuse the issue a bit. Now there will be two propositions on the November ballot that will affect the decision regarding an “open primary.” The first is the people’s initiative that I explained above. The second is a Senate Constitutional Amendment, SCA 18. SCA 18 combines two completely unrelated provisions. The first provision, which is expected to have widespread acceptance, requires the proceeds from the sale of surplus state property, which would otherwise be deposited in the General Fund, to be used to pay principal and interest on the Economic Recovery Bonds ($15 billion Proposition 57 bonds) and, once those bonds are paid off, to be placed in the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties. The second provision makes it explicit that any political party that participated in a primary election has the right to have its candidate who received the most votes in the primary included on the general election ballot. This provision is in complete opposition to the open primary initiative. If both propositions (the open primary initiative and the Senate’s SCA 18) pass, the one with the most votes will win. Thus by voting for a proposition to use proceeds from the sale of surplus state property to pay off bonded indebtedness, the voters will be canceling out their votes for the open primary initiative. Was SCA 18 introduced and passed for the purpose of deceiving the voters so the legislature can keep their partisan jobs? Each of you will have to make your own decision. Some additional items to consider are: -SCA 18 passed through two committees and both houses in record time (10 days) to meet the ballot inclusion deadline of June 24, 2004. -A constitutional amendment, unlike a bill is a means for the legislature to take an issue directly to the people and bypass the governor. -The administration already has the power to direct the proceeds from the sale of state property to pay off bonded indebtedness. A constitutional amendment is not needed for this purpose. Valley Legislators Voting for SCA 18 Senate: Alarcon, Kuehl, Margett; Assembly: Frommer, Koretz, Levine, Montanez, Strickland. Valley Legislators Voting Against SCA 18 Senate: McClintock; Assembly: Pavley, Richman. Anti-business bills The following are the anti-business bills that I have chosen to profile this month: -AB 1723: Provides that employers may not require or permit employees to work during any legally mandated meal or rest periods, that employers must provide legally mandated meal and rest periods, that the duty to do so is an independent obligation of the employer and that employee assent is unnecessary. This bill adds an additional burden on California employers buy establishing a new affirmative duty on them to ensure that each employee takes every meal and rest break permitted under law. The result is increased cost of doing business and a disincentive to creating jobs. Status: Passed Assembly May 27, 2003. Passed Senate Sept. 10, 2003, held at Senate desk. Valley Legislators voting for bill: Assembly: Frommer, Koretz, Levine, Montanez, Pavley; Senate: Alarcon, Kuehl. Valley Legislators voting against bill: Assembly: Richman , Strickland; Senate: Knight, Margett, McClintock. -SB 1903: Provides unemployment compensation benefits to workers unemployed due to a labor dispute. Potential increased costs of doing business due to higher costs of unemployment, resulting in job losses. Status: Passed Senate May 24, 2004, currently in Assembly. Valley Senators voting for bill: Alarcon, Kuehl, Scott. Valley Senators voting against bill: Margett, McClintock. Gregory N. Lippe, CPA, is managing partner of the Woodland Hills-based CPA firm of Lever, Lippe, Hellie & Russell LLP (LLHR) and a director of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA).

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