As a result of reforms enacted in the early 1900s allowing the voters to decide important policy issues, California has long been recognized as a national example of democratic self-government. When elected representatives in Sacramento ignore the will of the people, the voters can rein them in through the use of the initiative, referendum or recall process. This has been true for generations, regardless of which political party has been dominant in the state.
Now however, a proposal is circulating in Sacramento that would limit the people’s voice by granting the governor the power to fill legislative vacancies. The stated reason for this proposal is the $1 million price tag to fill an open seat in a special election.
The Legislature is currently dominated by a near super-majority. Isn’t that enough? If Governor Brown is allowed to fill legislative vacancies, the super majority might approach unanimity. Consequently, I doubt this proposal would have any chance, or indeed, would have been proposed at all, if the current governor was named Deukmejian or Reagan.
I’m all for saving money, but expanding the governor’s power and placing new limitations on direct voter control over the Legislature is not the answer. What price tag do we put on our representative republic? Legislators should be beholden to the people, not the governor.
By Calif. State Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R-75th District)