On April 23, the California Senate Elections Committee passed SCA 16, a proposed state constitutional amendment. The amendment says when there is a vacancy in the legislature, there won’t be a special election, and the Governor will appoint someone from the same party. If the empty seat had been held by an independent, the Governor can appoint anyone of any partisan affiliation.
The bill needed three votes in the 5-member Committee, and only received three votes. The chair of the Committee, Senator Norma Torres, did not vote for SCA 16, even though she is a Democrat and the sponsor of the amendment is the Democratic President Pro Tem of the Senate, Senator Darrell Steinberg. The bill needs a two-thirds vote in each House, and is unlikely to pass the full Senate.
Jeff Hewitt, a city councilmember in Calimesa, California, and a member of the Libertarian Party, testified against the bill, and his testimony was quoted in this Los Angeles Times story. Gale Morgan, vice-chair of the state Libertarian Party, also testified against the bill. No other organization sent witnesses to testify against the bill, although Californians for Electoral Reform sent a spokesperson to point out that since the rationale for the bill is to save money, money could be saved if special elections used Instant Runoff Voting, to avoid two-round elections.