Thursday, May 28, 2015

SB 163, Bob Hertzberg’s “Vote-from-Home” bill, emerges from the suspense file

SB 163, a bill by California State Senator Robert M. Hertzberg which would provision each registered California voter with a mail-in/absentee ballot during voting periods, passed 5-2 during today’s meeting of the California State Senate Appropriations committee.  The committee took the bill out of the “suspense” file where it had been since May 4th, and voted “do pass, with amendments.” 

The two Republicans on the committee, Jim Nielsen and Patricia Bates, voted “no” on the bill, while the five Democrats all voted “yes.”  Those Democrats were Ricardo Lara, Jim Beall, Jerry Hill, Connie Leyva, and Tony Mendoza.

According to Wikipedia, there are 25 Democrats, 14 Republicans, and one vacancy in the California State Senate.

Once the amendments are incorporated into the official transcript of the bill, it will go to “the desk” and then to “the floor” to be considered by all 40 California State Senators.

The bill has to pass out of the Senate by June 5th, according to staff at the committee.  Also according to staff, the bill’s author, California State Senator Robert M. Hertzberg, will decide when to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

If it passes a floor vote in the Senate, it will go to the State Assembly for further consideration.

Watch Etopia News for further coverage of this bill, which would make California a de facto “vote-by-mail” state, while simultaneously demonstrating former California Assembly Speaker and current Senator Hertzberg’s continuing mastery of the legislative process in Sacramento.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

SB 163, Bob Hertzberg’s “Vote-from-Home” bill, may or may not be voted out of the “suspense” file on Thursday

SB 163, a bill authored by California State Senator Robert M. Hertzberg (D-18th) that would order the provision of vote-by-mail/absentee ballots to all registered voters in California, will meet its fate at a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee scheduled to convene on Thursday, May 28th, “upon adjournment of Floor Session” in the John L. Burton Hearing Room (4203) in the State Capitol.

Along with almost 300 other bills, this piece of legislation is in the committee’s  “suspense” file and the purpose of this committee session is to either pass these bills on their way forward or retain them in the suspense file indefinitely, until the session ends or they are plucked out of that status at some unknown and uncertain future time.

Staff at the committee said that the votes go pretty fast, but are impossible to predict beforehand.

Etopia News reached out to members of the committee for comment on this bill and their intentions regarding its future.  Sergio Reyes, Communications Director for Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) replied as follows:

“I have confirmed that Senator Leyva does not yet have a public position on SB 163 (Hertzberg), as the bill is currently on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s suspense file and Senator Leyva is still reviewing all information regarding the bill prior to making a final decision on SB 163.”

Not much has been written or spoken about this bill, but it deserves more attention than it’s getting.  It's gotten more coverage on Etopia News than anywhere else.  Follow Etopia News for the latest on SB 163. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Senator Hertzberg’s “Vote-from-Home” bill, SB 163, is put on the “suspense” calendar

By a unanimous 7-0 vote, the California State Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday decided to place California State Senator Robert M. Hertzberg  (D-18th) ‘s bill to require all registrars of voters to send mail-in/absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state on the “suspense” calendar, where it will remain in limbo until it is possibly re-considered on May 28th.

An analysis of the bill, prepared by the staff of the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee, mentions some problems with it, including the likelihood that sending everyone an absentee ballot that some would neither cast by mail nor bring to the polling station would mean that more “provisional” ballots would have to be used, causing additional expense and delay.

Senator Hertzberg’s office declined to comment.

Here is a list of Senate Appropriations Committee members:

Friday, May 1, 2015

SB 163, Hertzberg “Vote-from-Home” bill, faces Appropriations Committee hearing on May 4th

SB 163, a bill that could radically change the composition of the voting electorate in California, is up for a aye or nay vote on Monday, May 4th, at a hearing of the California State Senate Appropriations Committee in the State Capitol set to commence at 11:00 am  Pacific Daylight Time in the John L. Burton Hearing Room (Room 4203)

Earlier articles in Etopia News ("Bill to provide all voters with “absentee ballots”moves forward in California State Senate" and "OC RoV Kelley’s estimate sets cost of SB 163 at around 40 million dollars") have highlighted aspects of this under-reported-upon legislation, which would require each California county to provide an absentee ballot to each registered voter therein. 

Ray Sotero, Communications Director for California State Senator Robert M. Hertzberg (D-18th), author of this bill, told Etopia News on Friday that the counties already send sample ballots to all registered voters and that under SB 163 those deliveries would also include a mail-in/absentee ballot, thereby saving money overall.

According to Jennifer Douglas, an Appropriations Committee staff assistant, the results of the committee's financial and other research findings will be available outside the hearing room “ten or fifteen minutes before” the start of the hearing at 11:00 am.

Hertzberg, formerly the Speaker of the California State Assembly and a solar entrepreneur, believes that his plan will lead to a more representative democracy and give the people a greater voice in their own governance.

Here is a list of Senate Appropriations Committee members: