|Early Tuesday afternoon, the four legislative leaders released a statement announcing that they will not pursue changes to California's redistricting process or system of term limits this year.|
In a joint statement from Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman and Assembly Republican leader George Plescia, the leaders said "There is no question about the need to reform...but given the tremendous impact any proposal crafted by the Legislature this year could have on politics and policymaking in our state, we feel it is the best course not to pursue a sweeping reform package in the waning hours of the legislative session."
The Legislature had faced a Friday deadline to place a potential measure on the November ballot.
The decision to scrap the effort comes after the leaders created a special conference committee this month to consider redistricting and term-limits reform. Private polling circulated around the Capitol in recent months has shown that any ballot measure that combined the two reforms would face an uphill battle with the state's voters. Last week, the president of U.S. Term Limits, Paul Jacob, came to Sacramento and threatened that if the Legislature tried to toy with term limits, his organization would fund a retaliatory measure stripping legislators of their tax-free $153 per diem.
The four leaders reiterated in their statement that they are committed to pursuing similar reforms in the future.
"Make no mistake, our caution in crafting a reform package this year does not in any way diminish our determination to fix a broken system. We stand committed to revisiting redistricting and term limits reform in the next legislative session – to once and for all craft responsible, bipartisan political reforms for the people of California," they said.
It is unclear how the joint decision impacts the Democratic leadership's pledge last year to take up redistricting and place it on the ballot. Update: Perata's office says that the redistricting bill by Sen. Alan Lowenthal will still be taken up on the floor of the Senate and that redistricting is not dead, but the effort to combine term limits and redistricting is. Also unclear is how the Legislature, whose membership will change by some 30 percent next year, would tackle the complex task in a new session with so many new members.