Schwarzenegger Expected To Call November Special Election
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) at 5 p.m. Monday is expected to call a Nov. 8 special election, with several health-related ballot measures expected to be included on the ballot, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Wildermuth/Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/12).
Eight initiatives are expected to be on the ballot and five already have been certified, including a measure that would require health care professionals to notify a parent or guardian 48 hours before providing an abortion to an unmarried minor (Marelius, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/11). The Department of Health Services would be required to maintain detailed records of abortions performed on minors, although the records would exclude names. The measure also would impose civil penalties on individuals who coerce a minor to have an abortion (California Healthline, 5/11).
Other initiatives that likely will qualify for the special election include two measures intended to lower prescription drug costs for some state residents (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/11).
A proposed ballot measure sponsored by the Alliance for a Better California -- a coalition of labor unions, consumer groups and advocates for the elderly -- would require drug makers to provide discounts on medications to state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level.
Under the proposal, pharmaceutical manufacturers would be required to provide discounts or face exclusion from Medi-Cal. Supporters of the proposal say it would help the state use its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices.
The measure would provide discounts on prescription drugs to about 10 million California residents.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has submitted signatures for a measure that would ask drug makers to provide voluntary discounts to state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. The measure is modeled on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) California Rx proposal. The Senate Health Committee in April rejected a bill (SB 19) that would have enacted the proposal.
California Rx would have provided discounts to about five million state residents (California Healthline, 5/11).
Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (R) last month estimated that a special election would cost the state as much as $80 million but last week revised that estimate to $45 million because some counties already have elections scheduled for Nov. 8 (Marinucci/Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/13).
Democrats and labor groups on Monday plan to present Schwarzenegger with a list of other projects that could be funded with the $80 million cost estimate of the election, such as health insurance for 64,725 uninsured young adults in the state. They also will present a petition signed by 50,000 people opposing the elections, but "[n]o one, including the Democrats, expects the complaints to make a difference," the Chronicle reports (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/12).
If the election is called, it will mark the fourth consecutive year of statewide elections in California (Shaw, Stockton Record, 6/13).
According to the Ventura County Star, the "most important question Schwarzenegger must address" if he calls the special election is, "'Why the urgency' ... when there will be a regularly scheduled statewide primary election seven months later?" (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 6/13).
Kevin Spillane, a Republican political consultant, said, "In some ways, I believe the Democrats and the public employee union have more on the line than the governor. If he loses, it would be a tremendous setback and a loss of reputation. But I think he can sustain the loss better than they can -- if he's in it for the long haul and wants to run again. If they lose, it will be the first time in modern California political history where the public employee unions will have suffered a major setback on any of these issues."
Jaime Regalado, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs, said, "Nobody's going to come out of this unscathed," adding, "Both sides are probably going to be held in even lower esteem by voting Californians" (Delsohn, Sacramento Bee, 6/11).