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Carol Platt Liebau

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John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is an Assemblyman representing the 70th District in Orange County. Mr. Campbell is the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. He is the only CPA in the California State legislature and recently received a national award as Freshman Republican Legislator of the Year. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods and Lake Forest. He can be reached through his Assembly website and through the website for his California Senate campaign.

Get Ready For An Initiative Avalanche
Liberal constituencies will fight change...
[John Campbell] 11/1/03

In just over 2 weeks, the new Governor will be sworn in and the same old legislature will be called into special session. Democrats who have been used to ignoring Republicans and doing whatever they want will now have to get the bipartisan support of at least one Republican (the Governor) to pass anything. Republicans who have been used to playing the role of only criticizing proposals and voting no will now be able to move proposals which the new Governor supports and defend against criticism and vote aye. In other words, everyone's role has changed and the dynamics in Sacramento are dramatically different.

But sometimes people have trouble adopting to new changed roles. Some liberal constituencies, seeing the signature disappear in the Governor's office are running to create initiatives to do everything from lowering the vote threshold on tax increases to increasing property taxes on commercial property. The Governor-elect, on the other hand, has made it clear that if the agenda he articulated during the campaign cannot be passed through the legislature, then he will go directly to the people to get it done. That could mean initiatives on everything from worker's compensation insurance to the repeal of the non-citizen's driver's license bill.

There is a scenario under which we could see literally dozens of initiatives on the March and November 2004 ballots. This could lead to a voting public throwing up their hands and voting everything down as they did with the 2 initiatives on the recall ballot. Then we will have done no more harm, but we will not have done any good either. There are approximately 40 initiatives in some form of discussion right now.

But, there is no question that we need major, significant structural reform in the state to right many of the wrongs of the last 5 years. These kind of reforms are usually constitutional amendments which means that the people have to vote them in the constitution no matter what. An example of this is the spending cap constitutional amendment that I have been working on for the last couple of years. Putting this limit on the growth of government must be in the constitution to be effective and therefore the people must vote on it. And we must do it soon to prevent a reoccurrence of the overspending of the last 5 years.

So, too many initiatives would be bad. But we must have quite a few to achieve the fundamental reform that we need and which the Governor-elect wants to do. Let's hope that all of us in the legislature understand our new roles, and that we do as much as we can legislatively and take to the ballot only that which we must.

May the Lord bless those who have lost possessions or loved ones in the recent fires. May any who intentionally started these fires be brought to justice. And may we all learn from this to help make future such calamities less devastating.



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