Assemblyman Tim Donnelly
August 23, 2012

[Publisher's Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from Assemblyman Tim Donnelly

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If I handed you a nice clean glass of water, but let one droplet of poison fall in the glass, would you drink it?

Of course not; you would have to throw out the whole glass.

Unfortunately, it appears the Republican Party took a giant gulp at the California Republican Convention last weekend. The GOP was handed a nice batch of budget reforms in Proposition 31 and they took the bait, endorsing this deadly concoction. What the party failed to notice before signing on is that the proposition contains a liberty-killing Constitutional amendment - one that sets the groundwork for implementation of Agenda 21. In a nutshell, Agenda 21 is a scheme to impose nanny-policies at every level of government, using the green agenda for cover.

On its face and in several analyses, Proposition 31 seems to be your run-of-the-mill reform proposition, but tacked onto the end is a Constitutional amendment that creates a massive expansion of government power with terms that sound really "nice".

Starting on Page 12, Section 7, Proposition 31 supplants the intended purpose of government, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence, to secure our inalienable rights as Americans to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” with this frightening set of “goals" that open the door for a profound level of government intervention. Local governments are tasked in this proposition with coming up with "action plans" to create a prosperous economy, quality environment and community equity. These are to be accomplished according to the amendment, by increasing employment, improving education, decreasing poverty, decreasing crime, and improving health.

Many of these items sound nice after a quick glance until we consider what the intended role of government is and how this expands that role far beyond what is proper and necessary. We have seen throughout time that government's idea of decreasing poverty is to redistribute wealth; its idea of a quality environment is to crush businesses under AB 32 and other regulations and when they have finally caused all the businesses to flee or shut down, the only way government will promote a prosperous economy is to tax us even more to bail out or subsidize the industries it favors. Under the guise of "improving health," for instance, New York took on the role of parent and banned sugary drinks. Under the guise of creating a "quality environment," cities from San Francisco to Pasadena have banned or imposed fines on plastic grocery bags.

This is not just a step in the wrong direction; it is a monumental leap toward destroying a free market and cementing socialism into our Constitution. Terms like “Action Plan” and “Accountability Act” sound great, but in this case, they are purposefully used to confuse rather than inform the voter. While there are a number of worthwhile reforms included, specifically allowing the legislature to override the governor’s executive order, Proposition 31 opens up a hole massive enough for this unelected board to drive a truck through.

Items this important should not be put into the hands of government - the one industry that continues to grow while it is effectively bankrupt and its customer base consistently gives it a disapproval rating of 70% or higher. We already have an oversight board, it is called the citizenry - they are not satisfied. This proposition takes power reserved to the people and places it in the hands of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats shrouded in secrecy.

While I am generally on the opposite side of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other government unions, its oppose recommendation is correct this time (although it has very different reasons for opposing). The few worthwhile reforms in the proposition would place some limitations on government union power, but we should reserve these pieces and introduce them again, without granting license for government expansion. The cost this time, is far too high.

I urge the California Republican Party to reverse it's position, and I urge every Californian to vote no on this confusing, misguided, and potentially destructive proposition.

The lesson to all of us is, when making a decision this important - read the fine print.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly represents the 59th District which includes portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties.