Assembly Republicans said Wednesday they will introduce a constitutional amendment that would close what they call a potential loophole making it easier to enact local tax measures.
The announcement comes on the heels of a California Supreme Court ruling on Monday that local ballot initiatives imposing new taxes for specific purposes may need only a simple majority of voters to approve.
The new proposal would prevent influential interest groups from using initiatives to pass "pet projects and programs," Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) said at a state Capitol news conference.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and mayors from other large cities in the state urged state lawmakers Wednesday morning to pass major legislation to address California’s housing problems.
“For us, the biggest problem we all face is our housing crisis,” Garcetti said at a news conference outside the Capitol. “Too many people can't afford the housing that they're in. And too many people aren't in housing at all.”
Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers are trying to finalize a package of legislation to increase funding to build low-income housing and ease local regulations on home building. Legislators could vote on a series of bills as early as this week, and face a Sept. 15 deadline before they depart for the year.
Concerned about low voter participation in local elections, state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge) proposed Wednesday that the order of future ballots be flipped so that local contests would be first and presidential or gubernatorial races would be last.
The state recently mandated that most cities and school districts hold their elections during statewide and national election dates.
Portantino said that in the November election, many people voted for president because that contest was it at the top of the ballot and state offices and ballot measures came next. Only some make it through the end of the long ballot, where there are elections for city councils and school boards.
The leader of California's state Senate on Wednesday sharply criticized a call from Sen. Dianne Feinstein for "patience" with President Trump, suggesting it was tantamount to being "complicit" in his behavior.
The comments by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) offer a glimpse into the vastly different approaches by two leading California Democrats to Trump's first few months in office.
"It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable — especially Democrats, not be complicit in his reckless behavior," de León said in a written statement, first reported by San Francisco's KQED public radio.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday said now more than ever President Trump should work to unite and heal the country.
“The one thing he needs to do, in my view, is bring this nation together, and he hasn’t done that,” Feinstein said at a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco.
Feinstein, a Democrat, talked about her support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for people brought to the country illegally as children. She called on Trump, who is considering rescinding the program, to allow these immigrants to stay.
In response to the deadly rally in Charlottesville this month, the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday approved two resolutions urging state and local law enforcement agencies to treat violent acts by white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups as terrorist attacks.
Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), chairwoman of the committee and author of the resolutions, has also amended a bill to expand the penal code related to hate crimes. If approved, protections under current state hate crime laws would extend to anyone acting in defense or support of those already covered, including minorities, the disabled and members of the LGBTQ community.
State Democrats remain short of the votes they need to pass a key part of the package of legislation aimed at addressing California's housing crisis.
Three Democrats in the Assembly told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday afternoon they remained undecided on Senate Bill 2, a measure that would add a $75 fee on many real estate transactions to fund low-income housing development.
SB 2 requires a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Assembly to pass. Assuming no support comes from Republican lawmakers, Assembly Democrats can't afford to lose any members of their caucus.
Sixty-one percent of voters said they didn't like the idea of switching to a system of "voter centers" and all-mail ballots, according to the poll released on Tuesday by UC Davis' California Civic Engagement Project.
"Voters are not initially receptive to vote centers," said Mindy Romero, the project's founder, during a presentation in Sacramento.