Proposition 50 is a constitutional amendment that will appear on the June 7, 2016 ballot in California. If approved by voters, Proposition 50 will allow the Senate or Assembly to suspend a legislator without pay – an important response when lawmakers are accused but not yet found guilty of violating the law and breaching the public trust. Proposition 50 was placed on the ballot with overwhelming support from the Legislature. The author of the proposal, former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, asked the California Forward Action Fund to provide information on the measure to voters.
Proposition 50 Endorsements
League of Women Voters
California Common Cause
The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board
The Mercury News
The Daily Journal (San Mateo)
San Diego Union-Tribune
Summary of Proposition 50
Proposition 50 would give the Legislature clear authority to discipline Senators or Assembly Members by suspending them without pay. Law makers should be able to hold their own colleagues accountable if they breach the public’s trust. This commonsense measure was placed on the ballot with strong bipartisan support.
Proposition 50 Ballot Argument
VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 50—ALLOW THE LEGISLATURE TO SUSPEND MEMBERS WITHOUT PAY
Proposition 50 would amend the state Constitution to give the California Legislature clear authority to suspend members of the Senate or the Assembly without pay.
The measure is a simple and straightforward way for lawmakers to hold their own colleagues accountable for breaching the public’s trust.
Currently, the California Constitution does not make it clear that the Legislature can suspend its members without pay. This issue came to light in 2014 when three state senators – all charged with criminal offenses – were suspended by a resolution of the Senate.
But those members continued to receive their salaries – more than $95,000 a year – because it was not clear that the Senate had the authority to suspend their pay, as well.
The incident frustrated lawmakers who wanted to hold their own members accountable, and angered the public, which saw it as another example of how lawmakers are shielded from the consequences of their own actions and play by a different set of rules than everyone else.
“It's an aggravating situation that allows full pay for no work,” opined the San Francisco Chronicle, urging lawmakers to fix the loophole.
The Legislature took it upon themselves to do just that. Lawmakers wrote and passed – overwhelmingly and with strong bipartisan support – this constitutional amendment and placed it before voters for their approval.
The constitutional amendment would require the Assembly or the Senate to pass a resolution declaring why the member is being suspended. And to guard against political misuse, the resolution would require the higher threshold of a two-thirds vote for approval.
The National Conference of State Legislatures believes the power to discipline and expel members is inherent to a legislative body. That power has long been a staple of American democracy. It is common practice in most states.
The California Legislature has the power to expel members, and it should have the authority to suspend them without pay should the circumstances warrant.
Californians want and deserve a government that is worthy of their trust. Voters have passed many political reforms in the last decade to improve the governance in California, but more needs to be done to restore the public trust.
Proposition 50 is a commonsense step that would give lawmakers the authority to police their own, which is the right next step to holding all lawmakers accountable for serving the public interest.
That’s why fair-minded Californians support Proposition 50.
Helen Hutchison, President, League of Women Voters of California
James P. Mayer, President/CEO, California Forward