Citizen Legislature

Citizen Legislature Act » Initiative Proposed for NOV 2012 Ballot

SACRAMENTO, CA Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) and Taxfighter Ted Costa of People's Advocate have submitted a proposal to the office of the Attorney General calling for a part-time Citizen Legislature." The initiative, if qualified with enough signatures from registered voters, will appear on the November 2012 election ballot.

The California legislature is ship-wrecked and needs to be re-structured. Since switching to a full-time body in the 1960s, the Legislature has steadily deteriorated, infiltrated by professional politicians, beholden to special interests, and has sunk to a 'whatever it takes' gang -- where anything goes to remain in power.

"Unfortunately, what was sold to voters at the time as an 'upgrade' - a full-time, highly paid professional legislature to deal with Californias vast size and economy --has proven to be a terrible decision, reminding us again of the warning that 'power corrupts', Grove continued.

The Grove-Costa initiative proposes that the legislature may only meet for 90 days per year, with exceptions allowed for emergencies called by the Governor. It also calls for a two-year budget, with the first of the two years in each legislative session to be strictly for adopting a two-year budget. The measure dramatically lowers legislator's salaries to $1,500 per month from almost $8000 per month, and limits per diem and travel expenses.

Most other legislatures, even from the more populated states, meet for just enough time to handle the peoples business, explained Grove. Then the legislators return to their districts and their regular jobs to live under the rules they make like regular citizens - that's why it is titled 'The Citizen Legislature Act'. This is truly public service. In California, however, legislators are paid far more than most other states and have acquired an elitist mentality to governing; passing too many laws, taxing and regulating working people into bankruptcy, riding roughshod over the moral standards of ordinary people, and even passing harsh laws that they exempt themselves from following. They are out of touch with every day Californians trying to earn a living, run a business, provide for their families and make ends meet," Grove stated.

"This initiative will bring our elected officials back to reality; it will get them away from the seductive atmosphere of the Capitol Dome, get them back home with family, neighbors and work and give them a better chance, as a Citizen Legislator, to serve their constituents best interests, she added.

And to those who argue that we need the supposed professionalism of fulltime, highly paid, well staffed legislators, I suggest they focus on the low rankings California now wallows in. Our once golden state, now ranks 49th out of the 50 states in employer friendliness thats why jobs are leaving. That ranking, combined with bottom rankings in such basics as schools and roads all point to complete failure. If fulltime legislating gives us broken highways, shortened school days, higher taxes and perpetual debt, then lets get these folks out of the capitol and safely back home, Grove explained.

This restructuring of state lawmaking also contains additional provisions that Grove and Costa maintain are critical to the 'Citizen Legislature'
model; for example, it requires a five year waiting period before termed-out, retired, or defeated legislators may be appointed to any state-paid governmental position. It also requires the same five year ban on accepting paid employment as a lobbyist of state government.

These provisions reduce the common practice of termed-out legislators simply finding their next soft-landing spot at taxpayer expense, or worse,
Grove explained. Instead of elected politicians serving us, it has for too long been the other way around. Our high-paid professional legislators have become just too expensive. It's time to change our state government at its core and demand that our elected officials serve our needs and stop living above the law," concluded Grove.

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