Cal Chamber flip-flops on Proposition 93

What a difference a year makes.

On February 15, proponents of a term limits initiative gathered to unveil a new initiative to change the state’s term limits law. The first proponents were Democrats and Republicans, labor groups and business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce.

"We support term-limits reform and we support this initiative. The whole point is to bring stability to the Legislature," said Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce. "The public can support this if there is a united voice behind it. But if there's dissension among the policymakers, voters are going to question that."

Today, however, the Chamber announced it was opposing Proposition 93. A written statement from Zaremberg today stated, “It is unfortunate that the February ballot does not offer voters the opportunity to consider redistricting reform that would provide for fair elections in conjunction with Proposition 93. The CalChamber Board of Directors believes that term limits reform without redistricting reform is not the comprehensive political reform California needs.”

Sources familiar with the vote say a driving force against Proposition 93 was former Gov. Pete Wilson, who is a member of the chamber board. Wilson announced his own opposition to Proposition 93 earlier this week.

Chamber spokeswoman Denise Davis said of the February statement, “When that statement was made, the hope was term limits and redistricting were together.” The failure of the legislature to come to an agreement of redistricting reform, she said, was the core reason for the Chamber’s opposition.  

“We’re disappointed the Chamber of Commerce made this decision through the prism of issues other than the policy of Proposition 93," said Yeson 93 spokesman Richard Stapler. "The passage of Proposition 93 will make the state Legislature more efficient and effective — sound research makes that clear."

With today’s announcement, the chamber becomes the second major interest group to reverse its stand on Proposition 93. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association had even opened its checkbook to the Yes on 93 campaign, to the tune of $100,000, but changed its position last year.

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