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JohnCox.JPG Looking for your state legislator? Check the house next door.

That's the promise one Republican who attended the GOP's state party convention in Sacramento was touting over the weekend as he promoted a proposed ballot initiative to create what he's calling a "Neighborhood Legislature."

Under the measure, each of the state's 120 state legislative districts would be broken into 100 precinct-level mini districts. The change would mean that each legislator is elected by several thousand voters instead of several hundred thousand. The number of lawmakers serving in the Legislature wouldn't go up under the measure. Instead, the 100 candidates elected within the mini-districts would caucus to select one person to serve and vote in Sacramento.

John H. Cox, a businessman and investor backing the change, acknowledges that the idea is unconventional and, perhaps "counter intuitive," but he said breaking down state representation would break "the connection between money and being elected" and make lawmakers more accountable.

"This idea takes money out of the equation," he said. "No legislator should need any money to get elected after the Neighborhood Legislature is enacted because the only way you get to go to Sacramento is you first win a really tiny district, which is your neighborhood, and then you have to persuade 99 other people, a majority (of them), that you're the guy who should go there."

Cox submitted language for the same change in 2011, but dropped the effort because efforts to qualify what would become Proposition 32, a campaign fiance measures that would have lessened unions' political sway, and other proposals "sucked up the oxygen."

He plans to resubmit his plan for the 2014 ballot and intends to put $500,000 of his own money into the qualification drive. While gathering the voter signatures to make the cut can cost more than $1 million, Cox said he expects his proposal to attract a lot of grassroots support.

PHOTO CREDIT: John H. Cox, the proponent behind an initiative to create a "Neighborhood Legislature" in California. Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee.


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