The Bay Area Council, a collection of business leaders, joined a coalition of partners in Sacramento yesterday to launch a campaign to create a voter-authorized constitutional convention in California.
At a news conference held at the state Capitol, the group kicked off the Repair California campaign by asking the state Legislature to place two measures on the ballot for the November 2010 election to create a voter-driven convention.
If legislators do not place the measures on the ballot, organizers also have the option of collecting enough signatures to put it on the ballot through the initiative process.
The call for a constitutional convention, a gathering of delegates who would meet with the purpose of revising the state constitution, comes a day after California voters rejected five of the six propositions put forward in a special election by the state.
The first of the two measures proposed by the campaign would allow voters to directly call a constitutional convention, while the second would actually call for a convention that would be limited to dealing with the budget, the election system, and government oversight.
"We do not make this move lightly," Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, said in a prepared statement. "The severity of our problems and the unlikelihood that existing Sacramento structures can provide a solution mean now is the time for decisive action."
The last constitutional convention in the state took place in 1878 and created the current system, according to the Repair California Web site.
The makeup of a potential constitutional convention has not been stipulated by the state except that delegates would have to geographically represent proportionate amounts of population, according to Repair California.
To get the measures on the ballot for November 2010, the Legislature will have to approve it by a two-thirds majority. Otherwise, the Repair California campaign has to collect nearly 800,000 by Sept. 25 to submit the proposed measures to the state attorney general.
"We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to fix our state," Wunderman said. "We cannot waste a crisis."