Part-Time Legislature Initiative Faces Uphill Battle

 

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, the legislator pushing for a part-time Legislature, told reporters this past week that she isn't worried that only $85,000 has been raised for the drive thus far.

"We are meeting with donors," said Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield.  "We're very encouraged by some of the meetings that we've just had in the last few days."

It has been weeks since the signature-gathering campaign began and Grove's largest donation was $30,000 from her own Assembly account.  However, no contributions have come from key Capitol interest groups, wealthy political activists, or the state's two major political parties.

Grove contends that a part-time Legislature would reduce the time that lawmakers would have to inflict damage on the state.  She said she is optimistic about raising $2.6 million from business owners and others frustrated by the thousands of bills that lawmakers propose each year, some targeting frivolous issues.

Grove's proposal would reduce the legislative year from nine months to three, cut lawmakers' annual pay from $95,000 to $18,000, require legislators to adopt two-year state budgets, and bar officeholders from accepting state employment or appointment to a state post while serving in the Capitol or for five years afterward. Grove has teamed with Ted Costa of People's Advocate and Republican political consultant Mark Abernathy in pushing the initiative, which must gather 807,615 signatures by July 2 to qualify for the November ballot.

Opponents have already fired bullets at Grove.  They requested this past week that she voluntarily reduce her $95,291 salary and per diem payments of $142 per day while the Legislature is in session.  Former Democratic Assemblyman Dario Frommer, now a Los Angeles attorney, said that Grove would be more credible if she would "practice what she preaches."

Grove said that she accepted more than $26,000 in per diem last year to keep it out of the hands of the Assembly's Democratic leader. She said she donated nearly all of it to nonprofit groups or community projects.

Lawmakers currently are required to be in Sacramento nine months per year, so Grove said that she accepts her $95,291 salary to help defray expenses of maintaining a capital residence.

Frommer has joined forces with Democratic political strategist Steve Maviglio, former spokesman to Assembly Speakers Fabian Núñez and Karen Bass, to lead opposition to Grove's initiative.