Part-Time Legislature Initiative Filed

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Well, you had to know it was coming.

In the wake of yesterday's all-budget special election, a former candidate for the Legislature has formally filed an initiative to knock the California Legislature back to part-time status, more than four decades after it became a year-round affair.

"A full-time Legislature has failed the people of California," said proponent Gabriella Holt in a written statment. Holt, who lost a race for the Assembly from the Long Beach area last fall, filed the proposal today.

Such a filing doesn't mean much on its own; after a title and summary are prepared by the Attorney General, Holt would then have 150 days to collect 694,354 valid signatures.

The initiative calls for a 90 day legislative session each year -- 30 days beginning in January, and 60 days beginning in May. It would allow an additional five days for legislative sessions to reconsider any gubernatorial vetoes. It would take effect in December 2012.

It was 1966 when voters enacted Proposition 1A (ah, the numbers never change, do they?) to create the full-time Legislature, led by legendary Assembly speaker Jesse Unruh. Unruh said that the existing system back then had become difficult, comparing the work of the state to the complexity of special sessions and the like called to handle that work.

Holt is a Republican, but spokesperson Tom Kise says she's looking to enlist Democrats in the cause, too.

It's not surprising to see this initiative make its way into the system, given the sense that voters were angry yesterday for being asked to do the job of governing. And it comes on the same day others formally began a drive for a constitutional convention.

A lot would have to happen to make the part-time Legislature a reality... of course, similar hurdles existed in 2003, when voter anger plus a wad of cash to collect signatures led to one of the most poignant chapters in the state's political history.

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About John Myers

John Myers is Sacramento Bureau Chief for KQED Public Radio and "The California Report," heard daily on 23 public radio stations across the Golden State.

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