CMA Capitol Insight: Oct. 26, 2015

October 26, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy 

CMA Capitol Insight is a biweekly column by veteran journalist Anthony York, reporting on the inner workings of the state Legislature.

On the election horizon

With the informal deadline for ballot measures for the 2016 campaign fast approaching, there remain very different ideas among those who want to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Conventional wisdom would dictate that unless these forces untie behind a single measure, any effort to legalize pot could be in jeopardy.

One of the main efforts in the pot fight is being backed and financed by Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and former Facebook executive who is now dipping his feet into the waters of California politics.

A draft of the Parker initiative obtained by The Sacramento Bee indicates that proposal will call for a 15 percent tax on sales of recreational pot. The measure would also allow Californians 21-and-over to possess up to an ounce of pot and grow six marijuana plants.

A rival proposal offered by a group called Reform California has different taxation rules, and seeks to extend workplace protections to recreational pot users. That measure is being backed by forces who pushed Proposition 19, the 2010 measure rejected by California voters that would have legalized recreational pot sales and use.

In a different kind of election news, Sacramento will be looking for a new mayor next year, after Kevin Johnson announced he will not seek a third term in 2016. Johnson has been dogged in recent weeks by old allegations of sexual misconduct raised by a woman who was 15 years old at the time of the alleged incident.

Not seeking a third term “was an incredibly difficult choice, but one that I feel confident about,” Johnson said in a statement. “As I’m sure there will be much speculation on this, let me proactively say that I am not leaving for another specific job or position. While there are many intriguing opportunities out there (and I’m excited to explore them) I honestly don’t know what’s next for me.”

As far as what’s next for Sacramento, Councilwoman Angelique Ashby has already announced her candidacy, but all eyes are on Darrell Steinberg, the former leader of the state Senate who served on the Sacramento City Council before his time in the Legislature. Steinberg would be an immediate front-runner if, as expected, he decides to enter the race. Steinberg has also expressed interest in running for state attorney general, a post that could become vacant in 2017 if current AG Kamala Harris is elected to the U.S. Senate. In that case, Gov. Jerry Brown would appoint a successor to fill the rest of the term. Voters would then elect someone to a full four-year term in 2018.


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