Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Federal Challenge To Prop. 209 Filed

Talking Points Memo reports here (from the AP).

Monday, February 15, 2010

County Can Bargain Over Union's Support For Binding Arbitration Initiative

In DiQuisto v. County of Santa Clara (here), the Court of Appeal held that Santa Clara County did not violate Stanson v. Mott, 17 Cal. 3d 206 (1976), and its progeny, when it negotiated with a couple of employee unions over their potential support for an initiative that would have imposed binding arbitration on the county. The court held that the arbitration initiative was a permissible subject of bargaining under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, and that the county's discussion of the measure in collective bargaining was not impermissible electioneering.

One interesting fact about the case is that the parties spent a lot of time at trial trying to prove, or disprove, whether the county offered higher wages as a quid pro quo for the unions' "political silence" vis-a-vis the initiative (which failed at the ballot box). The trial court held that there was no quid pro quo, a finding which the court of appeal held was supported by substantial evidence. But why would it matter? If the initiative was a permissible subject of bargaining, as the court (correctly) held, the county can bargain about it, and quid pro quos, perceived or real, are part and parcel of the bargaining process. Focussing on the quid pro quo issue, while superficially appealing, seems to be a distraction from the real, and much more interesting, issues at stake.

The Hidden Significance of People v. Kelly

In People v. Kelly (here), the California Supreme Court held that a statute limiting the amount of marijuana that a person could possess under Prop. 215 was an unconstitutional amendment to that initiative. The holding wasn't a big surprise--indeed, by the time the case got to the Supreme Court both the defense and the prosecution agreed that the statute was unconstitutional. The reason is simple: because Prop 215 didn't contain a quantity limit on how much marijuana someone could possess for their personal medical needs, the Legislature couldn't provide one, since to do so would abridge the rights granted by the initiative.

What's more interesting, though, is note 19 of the decision, where the Court questioned some of the broad language in earlier lower court decisions that had given a very expansive reading of what constitutes an impermissible amendment. The Court made clear in this footnote that, despite the language in cases such as Franchise Tax Bd. v. Cory, 80 Cal. App. 3d 772 (1980), the Legislature is free to clarify initiatives, or legislate on the same general or a related subject, as long as the new statute doesn't "take anything away" from the existing initiative. This is sure to be a fruitful area of litigation in the future.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Con-Con Effort Put on Hold

Says this article from the Sacramento Bee. Turns out the Bay Area Council, or its donors, didn't come through with the money necessary to qualify the measures for the ballot.

Governor Resubmits Maldonado Nomination

To avoid a costly court fight, the Governor has resubmitted his nomination of Abel Maldonado for Lieutenant Governor, according to this article from the Sacramento Bee. Perhaps this time he will get a clear up-or-down vote from the Assembly.

Do We Have A Lieutenant Governor?

The Senate voted to confirm Abel Maldonado for Lieutenant Governor, but the Assembly vote was 37-35. Is he confirmed? Looks like the issue is headed for court. Here is the Sacramento Bee story and here is Dan Walters' opinion piece.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is the Con-Con Running Out of Steam?

Or, as least, money? That's what this article from the Sacramento Bee implies. Perhaps this explains the Los Angeles Times article posted yesterday, which touted Prop. 11, and a forthcoming budget initiative, as the cures for California's system of governance.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Steve Westly and Fred Keeley on Constitutional Reform

Steve Westley, the former Controller, and Fred Keeley, the County Treasurer of the County of Santa Cruz, offer the open primary initiative (Prop. 14 on the June ballot) and a new budget reform initiative being prepared for the November ballot, as the key to California constitutional reform, in this piece from the Los Angeles Times.