Friday, July 17, 2009

A constitutional convention for California?

From our editorial this morning:

If citizens and lawmakers pay attention, this summer they can benefit from work of a state commission putting finishing touches on ways to stabilize California revenues. In September, a citizen group seeking a rewrite of the initiative-bloated California Constitution promises to launch the process that could lead to a constitutional convention. Among ideas for a new document are modifications of the initiative, such as raising the number of signatures needed to qualify a proposition for the ballot.

California's last convention was in 1878 when a rewrite of the 1849 Constitution was completed. Voters approved it in 1879. California voters again OK'd a constitutional convention in 1933 during the Great Depression.

The Legislature refused to pass enabling laws that would make the convention happen. This time advocates say they'll use an initiative petition, wrapping enabling legislation into the measure submitted to voters, bypassing the current Legislature.

We urge Californians to be part of these reforms, not give up on their government. And we urge our readers elsewhere to study the lessons of California and use them for mid-course adjustments in how their states do the public's business.

It would be interesting if a constitutional convention that was ordered through initiative fiat ended up limiting the number or scope of ballot initiatives in California -- initiatives that are at least partly responsible for the state's runaway budget.

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