Proposed Ballot Measures Could Expand State Lawmakers to 12,000 or Split California into Six States

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What is a California Republican mover and shaker to do in a state whose demographics indicate that Democratic political control is probably going to continue for the foreseeable future?

Well, how about cutting up the nation’s most populous state into tiny little states or diluting an individual state politician’s power by adding thousands of extra politicians to the statehouse mix?

Both of those proposals, in the form of ballot initiatives, have been proposed by rich Republicans as ways to make the political system more responsive to the will of the people . . . and, as a bonus, dilute the power of ruling Democrats.

Rancho Santa Fe venture capitalist/real estate mogul John Cox’s proposal is the more advanced of the two. Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced last week that supporters of Cox’s “Neighborhood Legislature” initiative had been cleared to begin collecting the necessary 807,000 signatures to get it on the ballot in November.

Cox’s Rescue California Foundation has until May 19 to round up the names. If successful, voters could choose an entirely new form of state governance. The state would be divided into neighborhood districts, which would elect 12,000 representatives. This “working committees” would then select the 40 senators and 80 Assembly members sent to Sacramento. Each neighborhood district would represent 10,000 people in the Senate and 5,000 people in the Assembly.

The Senate and Assembly would still draft legislation, but, except for emergency bills, their handiwork would have to be approved by the gang of 12,000. Cox says career politicians would be defanged, lobbyist influence would be decimated and the people would be newly empowered. He has pledged $500,000 to make it happen.

Cox sought the Republican nomination for president in 2008, but dropped out early in the race. The Chicago native also ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. Senate and the House.

Another venture capitalist, Tim Draper, has another plan for fixing California. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur wants to divide California into six states. A new horizontally-sliced map would contain, from north to south, the states of:

Jefferson (including the pot-growing counties of Mendocino and Humboldt);

North California (with 13 counties, including Sacramento, Yuba, Marin, Napa and Sonoma);

Silicon Valley (from Bay Area beaches to the Sierra Mountains, including Monterey and Santa Cruz);

Central California (east of Silicon Valley, including Fresno, San Joaquin and a lot of dust);  

West California (including Los Angeles and Santa Barbara); and

South California (including San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange County and Riverside.

The initiative, which is about to be submitted to the secretary of state, would give voters in any given county an opportunity to leave their designated state and attach themselves to another state they are contiguous with.

Draper is the founder and managing director of the global venture capitalist firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and was an early investor in Skype, Hotmail and Baidu. He is also founder of Draper University of Heroes, a school for entrepreneurs, where students are given copies of libertarian Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” upon admittance. Like Donald Trump’s formerly-named Trump University, it is not a university or an accredited school.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Should Legislature Expand to Shrink Special Interest Power? (by Michael Gardner, U-T San Diego)

Proposal Seeks to Expand California Legislature from 120 to 12,000 (by Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times)

Inflate the Legislature (by Steven Greenhut, City Journal)

Tim Draper Wants to Split California into Pieces and Turn Silicon Valley into Its Own State (by Gregory Ferenstein, TechCrunch)

Californians Could Vote to Split Themselves into Six New States (by Eric Mack, Forbes)

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