"Live free or die." —The official motto of the U.S. state of New Hampshire, adopted by the state in 1945.
We the People...
ON THE NEIGHBORHOOD LEGISLATURE
For information on backer John Cox, click on the below link: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/03/neighborhood-legislature.html
Promoter John Cox explains the concept of "The Neighborhood Legislature":
Neighborhood Legislature could restore accountability
March 27, 2013
By Katy Grimes
Big spending on California politics has become one of the state’s largest industries. But the return on investment is lousy.
California’s political system has become so heavily manipulated by labor unions and other big money interests that the system is broken. Legislators have become professional fundraisers instead of managing public policy. And the individual voter no longer has much voice or influence.
It may sound farfetched, but the only way to fix this system is to expand it. California needs more lawmakers.
For democracy to work, it must be representative democracy. It must be a government of, by and for the people.
The Neighborhood Legislature
Last year Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, pushed an initiative for a part-time Legislature. She succeeded in bringing much needed attention to the broken system. And while it may not be the right fix for a state as large as California, Grove started many people thinking seriously about doable reforms.
One person is doing something about it as well. I met John Cox at the California Republican Party convention March 1. Cox, a businessman, radio host from Illinois and former Cook County Republican Party Chairman, is promoting a proposed ballot initiative to create a “Neighborhood Legislature.”
Approved for circulation in California for the November 6, 2012 ballot, the Neighborhood Legislature sponsors did not submit any signatures by the deadline. But they are working diligently on it again for 2014.
Under a Neighborhood Legislature, each of California’s 120 current legislative districts would be broken into 100 smaller districts. This would give California 12,000 legislative districts.
In each of the small districts, Cox said the neighborhood legislator would know most of his or her constituents. “Campaigns in the Neighborhood Districts would be door to door, face to face, voter by voter,” he said. “Social media, email and Internet campaigns will be key, and fundraising will be almost non-existent and of little effect.”
This could be the reason so many of California’s political elites aren’t crazy about the idea. Political consultants would be virtually unnecessary for legislative seats, and the current crop of political elites would have their power and influence greatly diminished. While this is appealing to liberty-loving Californians, those now controlling the state would lose out.
Changing the system would mean that each Neighborhood Legislator would be elected by only a few thousand voters — his neighbors — instead of 500,000 to 900,000 voters for the current districts.
Two tier system
Cox explained that, by using this two-tiered system, the actual number of lawmakers who serve in the Legislature in Sacramento would remain the same. And the 100 newly elected Neighborhood Legislators within the 12,000 districts would caucus and select one person to serve in Sacramento.
But there would still be plenty of accountability back home.
California: “Live free or die”
California’s current population is 38 million, represented by only 120 state legislators: 40 state senators and 80 Assembly members.
Compare that meager representation with New Hampshire. The “Live free or die” state is small, with only 1.3 million residents. However, New Hampshire has 424 elected legislators. Known as the General Court of New Hampshire, it consists of two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are 400 Representatives and 24 Senators.
Each member of the New Hampshire House, their version of our Assembly, represents only about 3,170 people, as opposed to the 465,000 in California state Assembly districts. Chances are, New Hampshire elected officials know most of their constituents.
Yet New Hampshire legislators review more than 1,000 bills every legislative session — and do it for $100 in pay and a mileage reimbursement. Granted, the state is smaller than California.
So what’s wrong with California?
It’s all about control. The fewer representatives California elects, the more control and power they have. Even within the legislative body, only a few of the 120 members are actually part of the elite, controlling class.
Far too few wield a big stick for a state the size of California. And that could explain why California is poised on the brink of disaster. Yet our Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown are increasing speed.
What real outreach looks like
The surest way to guarantee outreach to the many different ethnic and cultural communities in California is to increase the size of the Legislature. The Republicans keep talking about Latino outreach, but have been ineffective thus far. Latinos are voting more heavily Democratic than ever. Yet Latino legislators themselves are frustrated, especially on education reform, as the powerful Assembly and Senate leaders are heavily influenced by the public-employee unions and other special interests.
As long as too few legislators are elected to represent this growing state, the California Legislature will continue to be dominated by professional career politicians, who use the advantages of their offices to perpetuate their positions of power.
California voters tried to deal with this by voting to impose term limits in 1990. But in the ensuing years, the political class has done a work-around. Legislators instead merely move from public office to political appointments, and state boards and commissions. Many are even going back to their communities and running for local offices, proving that they cannot leave public office.
The concept of career politicians has become a very big problem in California. The question of who seeks to become a member of the Legislature in the first place anymore should make the voting public wary and take notice. The Legislature is no longer comprised of private citizens who work in the private sector.
California would be best served by an elected body composed of citizens who served out of a sense of civic duty — who then went home at the end of their terms to live their lives in the private sector, as they did before serving in the Legislature.
It’ll never work…
Cox says the nay-sayers claim special interests could overwhelm small districts with community organizers. “But candidates can follow them door to door, making their own case and telling the truth,” Cox said. And neighborhood candidates would know their neighbors and the neighborhoods. Cox said they will be able to arm themselves with persuasive policy arguments instead of the usual trite slogans and sound bites.
Another argument against the Neighborhood Legislature is finding anyone to do the job for little or no pay. “Nonsense,” said Cox. “In a state of 38 million residents, we should be able to fund 12,000 interested citizens who are civic minded, and interested.”
Finally, Cox said constituent services and legislative staff cuts supposedly would be threatened by the Neighborhood Legislature. But Cox was quick to answer, “Instead of small numbers of district offices staffed by interns in a huge district, constituents will have access to a legislator they know and have a personal relationship with.”
INITIATIVE MEASURE TO BE SUBMITTED TO VOTERS
SECTION 1. DECLARATION OF FINDINGS
A. Our state Legislature does not serve the interests of the citizens. The Legislature only serves the special interests. Prior attempts at reform have all failed.
B. The problem is that our Legislative districts are too big and cost taxpayers too much money. Our Legislators represent too many constituents. The average assembly district in the other 49 states has approximately 50,000 citizens. The average assembly district in California is nearly 10 times larger – approaching nearly 500,000 citizens.
C. It is no wonder that most citizens have never even met their legislative representative, much less been asked their opinion on an important policy issue. We should not be surprised that our Legislators are not our neighbors and do not share our concerns about the future.
D. The primary concern of our current Legislature is staying in office as long as possible and appeasing the special interests that donate to their campaigns that keep them in office.
E. Our system of representative government requires a citizen Legislature.
SECTION 2. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
A. The size of legislative districts must be reduced so that Legislators represent the interests of their neighbors and not the special interests.
B. At the same time, the Legislature must function effectively and cost taxpayers less money. Procedures must be enacted to provide for the effective administration of legislative business and to protect taxpayers.
C. Therefore, the people hereby enact “The Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act.”
SECTION 3. THE NEIGHBORHOOD LEGISLATURE REFORM ACT
Sec. 1. The legislative power of this State is vested in the California Legislature which consists of neighborhood representatives elected to the Senate and Assembly, but the people reserve to themselves the powers of initiative and referendum.
Sec. 2. (a) The Senate shall be
comprised of representatives from neighborhood districts, as provided in
has a membership of 40 Senators shall be elected
for 4-year terms, 20 half to begin every 2 years. No Senator may
serve more than 2 terms.
The Assembly shall
be comprised of representatives from neighborhood districts, as provided in
has a membership of 80
members Assembly members shall be elected for 2-year terms. No
member of the Assembly may serve more than 3 terms.
(b) Election of members of the Assembly shall be on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years unless otherwise prescribed by the Legislature. Senators shall be elected at the same time and places as members of the Assembly.
(c) A person is ineligible to be a
member of the Legislature unless the person is an elector and
has been is
a resident of the legislative neighborhood district for
one year, and a citizen of the United States and a resident of California
for 3 years, immediately preceding the election.
(e) The Senate Working Committee shall be comprised of 40 Senators, chosen from among the neighborhood representatives elected within each Senatorial District. The Assembly Working Committee shall be comprised of 80 Assembly members chosen from among the neighborhood representatives elected within each Assembly District. One Member of the Working Committee shall be elected by majority vote of the neighborhood representatives from each Senatorial and Assembly District in an open meeting held pursuant to section 3(a). When a vacancy occurs in a Working Committee, the vacancy shall be filled by the neighborhood representatives from a Senatorial or Assembly District, as appropriate. The Senate and Assembly may remove a member of their respective Working Committee upon a rollcall vote entered into the journal, two thirds of the membership of the house concurring.
Sec. 3. (a) The Legislature shall
convene in regular session at noon on the first Monday in December of each
even-numbered year for the purpose of choosing which neighborhood
representatives will serve in the Working Committees of
and each house and each Working
Committee shall immediately organize. Each session of the Legislature shall
adjourn sine die by operation of the Constitution at midnight on November 30 of
the following even-numbered year.
(b) On extraordinary occasions the Governor by proclamation may cause the Legislature or both Working Committees to assemble in special session. When so assembled it has power to legislate only on subjects specified in the proclamation but may provide for expenses and other matters incidental to the session.
(c) The Senate or Assembly may convene upon petition signed by twenty-five percent (25%) of the members for the purpose of removing a member of their respective Working Committee pursuant to section 2(e), or to provide direction or input to their respective Working Committee regarding any legislative matter.
(d) Except as provided in section 9.5, all legislative power provided for in this Article shall be exercised by the Senate and Assembly Working Committees and any reference to “Senate,” “Assembly,” “Legislature,” or “house,” herein means the Senate and Assembly Working Committees.
(e) The provisions of section 4(a), 4.5, 5, 13 and 15, including the provisions regarding ethics, and conflicts of interest, shall apply to all members of the Legislature, including the Senate and Assembly Working Committees.
(f) Notwithstanding section 8 of Article III, the compensation for each Senator and Assembly member shall be one thousand dollars ($1,000) per year, however, compensation for a member of the Senate and Assembly Working Committees shall be thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) per year. Notwithstanding section 4(b), neighborhood representatives shall be reimbursed for his or her actual travel expense attending legislative sessions and members of the Senate and Assembly Working Committee shall be reimbursed his or her actual travel and living expenses, not to exceed two hundred dollars ($200) per day. The Citizens Compensation Commission may adjust the salary and per diem of members based on the Consumer Price Index for California.
Sec. 6. For the purpose of choosing
members of the Legislature, the State shall be divided into 40 Senatorial and
80 Assembly districts to be called Senatorial and Assembly Districts. Each
Senatorial district shall be further divided into neighborhood districts of
populations of approximately 10,000 persons, as nearly equal as is practical.
one Senator and each Each Assembly district shall be further
divided into neighborhood districts of populations of approximately 5,000
persons, as nearly equal as is practical. choose one member of the
7.5. In the fiscal year immediately following the adoption of the Neighborhood
Legislature Reform Act
this Act, the total aggregate expenditures of
the Legislature for the compensation of members and employees of, and the
operating expenses and equipment for, the Legislature may not exceed an amount
equal to nine hundred fifty thousand dollars ($950,000) per member for that
fiscal year or 80 25 percent of the amount of money expended for
those purposes in the preceding fiscal year. whichever is less.
For each fiscal year thereafter, the total aggregate expenditures may not
exceed an amount equal to that expended for those purposes in the preceding
fiscal year, adjusted and compounded by an amount equal to the percentage
increase in the appropriations limit for the state established pursuant to
Article XIII B.
Sec. 9.5. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, except for urgency bills pursuant to section 8(d), a bill, including the budget bill, passed by both the Senate and Assembly Working Committee’s shall not be presented to the Governor unless the bill has first been presented to and approved by each house of the whole Legislature by the appropriate vote required for enactment of the bill. No amendment to a bill so presented may be offered, considered, or approved by either house of the whole Legislature. The whole Legislature may be convened for this purpose, or to override a veto pursuant to section 10, upon at least ten (10) days notice at any time by a joint resolution passed by both Working Committees.
This Act shall go into effect immediately upon its adoption by the voters and shall become operative as follows:
(a) Within 6 months, the Citizens Redistricting Commission that served in 2011 shall draw boundary lines for neighborhood districts based on the Senatorial and Assembly Districts approved in 2011. If no Senatorial or Assembly District was approved or enacted by the Citizens Redistricting Commission, the Supreme Court shall draw boundary lines for neighborhood districts pursuant to section 2(j) or section 3 of Article XXI.
(b) Elections shall be conducted and the Legislature convened pursuant this this Act in 2014. Any Senator serving an unexpired term in 2014 shall be deemed the neighborhood representative for this neighborhood district in which he or she resides without an election. If two or more Senators reside in the same neighborhood district, the Citizens Redistricting Commission shall assign each Senator to represent a neighborhood district nearest to his or her residence for the remainder of the term, without an election.
SECTION 5. SEVERABILITY/CONFLICTING MEASURES
(a) If any part of this measure or the application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications which can reasonably be given effect without the invalid provision or application.
(b) This measure is intended to be comprehensive. It is the intent of the People that in the event this measure or measures relating to the same subject shall appear on the same statewide election ballot, the provisions of the other measure or measures shall be deemed to be in conflict with this measure. In the event that this measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes, the provisions of this measure shall prevail in their entirety, and all provisions of the other measure or measures shall be null and void.
(c) If the voters amend the limitations on terms provided for in Section 2(a) of Article IV in June, 2012, then the limitations as amended shall apply to this Act.