Sunday, May 08, 2016

Proposition 50

Until recently, State Senators and Assembly Members had only one codified way to discipline a fellow legislator: Expulsion. This required a two-thirds majority of the legislature and brought an early end to that person's term in office. The last time this happened was 1905.

In 2014 three State Senators got themselves into a heap of trouble. Two were indicted for corruption, and one for fraud. The other senators, not wanting to wait for the results of the trials, decided that they could suspend the senators until their criminal cases were dismissed. A suspension had never happened before, but the move was found to be legal. However, the one thing they couldn't do was suspend the three Senators' paychecks or benefits. That means that the alleged criminals continued to receive their salary, even though they could not vote.

Prop 50 would allow the Senate and Assembly to suspend one of their own by a two-thirds vote, as well as stop the legislator's pay and benefits during the suspension.

The opposition contends this is ploy to allow the majority to exact political retribution on some members by suspending them for indefinite periods of time, thereby violating the legislator's right to due process. Consequently the member's entire district will be left without representation, as their legislator cannot vote. While this may be true, it does not change the fact that suspension is already the law of the land. This bill is about an insignifigant amount of money (the legislator's salary) and the appearance of being "tough on crime".

Your Political Friend says, "whatever", and then votes YES.


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