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MAJ STATE CAPITOL.JPGA Democratic political strategist and a former Democratic assemblyman will help lead opposition to a proposed ballot initiative that would reduce California's Legislature to part-time.

Political consultant Steve Maviglio, former spokesman for Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, said today that he has joined forces with Burbank attorney Dario Frommer, a former Assembly majority leader. Fundraising has not yet begun, Maviglio said.

The group will butt heads with Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, and with Ted Costa, the head of a political watchdog group, over the duo's proposed constitutional amendment.

The secretary of state's office gave the green light Monday for proponents of the proposal to begin collecting the 807,615 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot.

Backers hope to encourage the election of citizen legislators who have outside sources of income and are not so politically ambitious that they become overly dependent upon powerful special interests.

The measure calls for the nation's most populous state to meet three months per year -- and for lawmakers' pay to be cut from $7,940 per month to $1,500 per month -- or $18,000 annually.

The initiative also would require legislators to adopt a balanced, two-year budget by June 15 of each odd-numbered year -- and to forfeit salary and per diem for each day it is late.

Lawmakers would be barred from accepting state employment or appointment to a state post while serving in the Capitol or for five years afterward.

Maviglio said that a part-time Legislature would discourage many good candidates from running and would lead to a more corrupt Legislature, with many lawmakers having outside jobs that conflict with issues at the Capitol.

"You'd end up with more inexperienced legislators who lack the ability to tackle the state's major challenges," he said.

PHOTO CREDIT: The California state Capitol in Sacramento, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008. Michael Allen Jones / Sacramento Bee file photo



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