Would-be reformers have filed an initiative that, if adopted by voters, would make the California Legislature one of the largest – if not the largest – legislative bodies in the world. The Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act (NLRA) would require one Senator for every 10,000 Californians and one Assembly representative for every 5,000. This would mean that the Senate would increase from 40 to 3,850 members while the Assembly would balloon from 80 members to 7,700.
The stated goal of this proposal is to reduce the influence of special interests, make our system more democratic and provide greater access to legislative representatives.
While proponents of NLRA may have their hearts in the right place, the plan raises a number of concerns. Special interests, who spent $48.5 million to lobby in just the first quarter of this year, are not likely to be deterred by the greater numbers of lawmakers. Lobbyists, and those interests which employ them, will still have the capacity to track all the members and, because the numbers will provide a certain amount of anonymity, bribery and influence peddling could very well may be more difficult to detect. On the other… Read More