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Report #024-2008  -  February 6, 2008 - Wednesday
California Elections:
* Proposition 93 Term Limits Change Defeated
* Major Impact on Democratic Legislative Leaders
* Coming Change In Legislative Leadership
* Impact On State Budget & Policy
* Warren Furutani Wins Special Assembly Election
SACRAMENTO  (CDCAN)  - Though national attention was focused on "Super Tuesday" and the presidential election, the political leadership of the State Capitol has been turned on its head, with California voters rejecting Proposition 93, a ballot initiative that would have changed the term limits state law by reducing the total number of years a person can serve in the Legislature from 14 to 12 years, but allow a person to serve that entire time in one house. 
If Proposition 93 would have passed, it would have meant that 34 members of the Legislature who are termed out this year could have served anywhere from an additional 4 to 6 years, including Assembly Speaker Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Perata. 
The proposition was backed by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (Democrat - Los Angeles), Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (Democrat - Oakland) and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and opposed by the state Republican Party and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. 
Voters also rejected by larger margins two propositions impacting the funding for transportation and community colleges.
Impact of Defeat of Proposition 93 on California Legislature
The defeat means that Assembly Speaker Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem and Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman, and 31 other legislators from both parties, will be forced out of the Legislature by November 30, 2008 - and a major change in the leadership of both houses that is likely to come much earlier than that.   
In past years in the Assembly, that change usually has occurred in mid-spring, with a likely battle for the speakership between Assemblymember Kevin De Leon (Democrat - Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Karen Bass (Democrat - Los Angeles)
In the State Senate, Sen. Darrell Steinberg (Democrat - Sacramento) and Sen. Alex Padilla (Democrat - Los Angeles) are likely contenders to succeed Perata - though the State Senate in past years has made its leadership change later in the session.  . 
The defeat of Proposition 93 also means that several former legislators who were termed out of the Senate or Assembly but had time left to serve in the other house, can continue their campaigns for the June 2008 state primary. This includes former Sen. Wes Chesbro who is seeking to replace Assemblymember Patty Berg (Democrat - Eureka), who, with the defeat of Proposition 93, will be termed out by the end of 2008.   
Impact to People with Disabilities, Seniors and Mental Health Needs
In both cases the impact of the coming change in legislative leaders will have dramatic impact on major decisions on the state budget and legislation that has impact on people with disabilities, mental health needs, seniors, their families and community organizations and workers that provide services and supports. 
Even if the present Democratic leaders remain in office until the end of the legislative session - they will wield far less power, influence and authority over their members. 
Policy-wise the likely potential successors to Nunez and Perata are similar and no major shifts in over-all policy are expected.  All four potential leaders have been strong supporters of services and programs for people with disabilities, seniors and mental health needs - with Steinberg in particular having a record as leader in the Legislature especially on mental health and autism issues. 
However what is likely to change is how the new leaders will end up making specific decisions on  the Governor's proposed budget, and also policy decisions impacting legislation. 
The make-up of some or all of committee chairs and membership could change this year - though major shifts don't appear likely unless there the battle for the leadership position in either house becomes bitter or close. 
Second Time A Charm: Warren Furutani Wins Special Election for 55th Assembly Seat
Meanwhile, Democrat Warren Furutani, as expected, easily won the run-off to win the vacant Assembly 55th District seat, winning 70% of the vote (see below for details of the election results). 
No Republican ran in the primary in December or the run-off for the seat that was vacated last August 21, 2007 by Laura Richardson, who resigned the office after winning a special election to Congress.  Furutani will take office as soon as the election results are made official, though will have to stand for election for a full two year term in the June 2008 primary and the November 2008 general election. 
Furutani, an Asian American and member of the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees and a staffer in the Assembly Speaker's office in Los Angeles, previously ran unsuccessfully for the seat against Laura Richardson in a bitter and close June 2006 primary. 
Richardson later won the November 2006 general election, but ended up serving in the Assembly barely 8 months before running for 37th Congressional seat made vacant by the death of Juanita Millender-McDonald in June 2007. 
Richardson, continuing the bitterness of the June 2006 primary, ended up endorsing another candidate - Mike Gipson, a local city councilmember,  to succeed her in the December 2007 primary.  Furutani won that primary in December with 48.81% of the vote, but needed to win a majority of the vote to avoid a run-off. 
Furutani's election doesn't change the control of the Assembly, but does bring the Assembly membership back up to its full 80 members, with Democrats holding 48 seats and Republicans holding 32.  (Democrats control the 40 member State Senate with 25 seats to the Republicans 15). 
Latest Results of Key State Propositions
With 96.1% (22,217 of 23,109 ) precincts reporting as of February 6, 2008, at 09:00 AM (red indicates if the proposition lost or won):
Proposition 93 -  Limits on Legislators' Terms in Office
Yes: 3,077,373  (46.5%)
NO: 3,532,127  (53.5%) 
Proposition 91 - Transportation Funds
Yes: 2,660,054  (41.9%)
NO: 3,683,643  (58.1%)
Proposition 92 - Community Colleges Funding Fees
Yes: 2,789,400  (42.6%)
NO: 3,747,831  (57.4%)
Propositions 94-97, the initiatives dealing with the Indian Gaming Compacts, all passed. 
Latest Returns for the 55th Assembly Seat:
100% (239 of 239) precincts reporting as of February 5, 2008 4:00 AM (red indicates winner)
Turn-out was 43.29% or 73,942 ballots cast out of 170,793 registered voters in the 55th Assembly District 
WARREN FURUTANI (Democrat) - 41,518  (69.84%)
Charlotte Sadiyah Gibson (American Independent) - 9,153  (15.40%)
Herb Peters (Libertarian) - 8,775  (14.76%)
Latest Returns of the Democratic Presidential Primary
With 96.1% (22,217 of 23,109 ) precincts reporting as of Feb 6, 2008, at 09:00 AM (active candidates on the ballot in capital letters - winner of the primary in red)
Joe Biden - 15,114  (0.3 %)
Dennis Kucinich - 19,886  (0.5 %)
BARACK OBAMA - 1,690,307  (42.4 %)
Bill Richardson - 16,493  (0.5 %)
HILLARY CLINTON - 2,068,837  (51.9 %)
Chris Dodd  - 6,569  (0.1 %)
John Edwards - 167,373  (4.2 %)
Mike Gravel - 6,479  (0.1 %)
Latest Returns of the Republican Presidential Primary
With 96.1% (22,217 of 23,109 ) precincts reporting as of Feb 6, 2008, at 09:00 AM (active candidates on the ballot in capital letters, winner of the primary in red)
MIKE HUCKABEE - 261,276  (11.6 %)
Duncan Hunter - 12,055  (0.5 %)
Alan Keyes - 9,274  (0.4 %)
Sam Brownback - 1,978  (0.0 %)
John H. Cox - 2,580  (0.1 %)
Rudy Giuliani - 114,942  (5.1 %)
JOHN McCAIN - 955,211  (42.1 %)
RON PAUL - 96,544  (4.2 %)
MITT ROMNEY - 768,338  (33.9 %)
Tom Tancredo - 3,237  (0.1 %)
Fred Thompson  - 45,446  (2.0 %)
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MANY THANKS to Parents Helping Parents, UCP of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, Work Training, FSNC, Foothill Autism Alliance, Arc Contra Costa, Pause4Kids, Manteca CAPS, Training Toward Self Reliance, UCP, California NAELA, Californians for Disability Rights, Inc (CDR) including CDR chapters, CHANCE Inc, , Strategies To Empower People (STEP),  Alta California Regional Center, Harbor Regional Center, Tri-Counties Regional Center, Asian American parents groups, Resources for Independent Living and many other Independent Living Centers, several regional centers, People First chapters, IHSS workers, other self advocacy and family support groups, developmental center families, adoption assistance program families and children, and others across California