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Politicians are always, to some extent, thinking about voters and voting. Typically voters exist as a constant but vague presence hovering in the background, informing pols’ every move.

But lately, voters have become more of a direct concern.

This week, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced he won’t appeal a decision that gives thousands of felons released under realignment the right to vote.

“If we are serious about slowing the revolving door at our jails and prisons, and serious about reducing recidivism, we need to engage – not shun – former offenders,” Padilla said, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Padilla has his hand in other measures before the Legislature aimed at expanding voter rolls, including the measure written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that would automatically register voters through the DMV.

Another bill he’s sponsored would make major changes to the voting process by letting counties eliminate most polling places and instead mail ballots to voters, which they could either mail back or return to a drop-off location. San Diego County already does this for some elections, under a pilot program created by Gonzalez.

Thanks to the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, other politicians were thinking about the act of voting this week. Assemblywoman Shirley Weber told KPBS the measure was the most significant law passed in the 20th century. Former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher wrote a blog post about the importance of voting, and said his class at UC San Diego this fall will focus entirely on the Voting Rights Act. Not everyone in the Legislature is pleased about efforts to expand voting access – last week I highlighted a video from Assemblyman Brian Jones in which he knocks some of those efforts.

Here in San Diego, how and whether to boost turnout has also been a source of tension between Republicans and Democrats.

Dems would like to see the city nix the rule that allows a candidate to win an election outright by netting more than 50 percent of voters in the low-turnout June primaries. Republicans argue Democrats should simply work within the rules and make their message more appealing to voters.

Atkins’ Next Move

The Union-Tribune’s Logan Jenkins tackles the rumor that’s been floating among San Diego politicos that there’s a beef brewin’ between Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and state Sen. Marty Block.

The whispers: Block made a deal not to run for re-election, and Atkins planned to stroll into his seat in 2016. No deal, Block told Jenkins – that never happened, and he’d be “disappointed” if Atkins decides to go head to head with him rather than waiting until he’s termed out in 2020.

Atkins, however, seems to have left the door open to a showdown: “I’m open to possibilities,” she told Jenkins.

On KPBS, Atkins confirmed – again – that she has no interest in running for mayor. She also said that California needs to come up with a new formula for funding roads since the current gas tax isn’t cutting it.

A New Twist in the Legislature-Board of Supes Musical Chairs Game

Lots of local legislators eye the San Diego County Board of Supervisors as a next act — state Sen. Joel Anderson is currently challenging Supervisor Dianne Jacob, and Sen. Marty Block and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein were rumored to be mulling bids (Mainenshein’s chief of staff recently shot that down).

A new proposed state constitutional amendment would expand the opportunities available on San Diego County’s Board of Supes by increasing “the number of county supervisors from the constitutional minimum of five to seven in counties that have 2 million residents or more.”

The thinking behind the amendment, being proposed by Artesia state Sen. Tony Mendoza, is that “residents of California’s largest counties will get a more representative and responsive county government,” according to Cal Watchdog.

Business Buckles Down Against Civic SD Bill

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s push to pass a bill that would give San Diego’s City Council final authority over development decisions made by Civic San Diego – a city-owned nonprofit that makes planning decisions downtown – was immediately unpopular with City Hall and the city’s business leaders.

This week we got an idea of just how unpopular. When the bill went before a state Senate committee, a caravan of San Diego leaders, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer, made the trip to argue on Civic San Diego’s behalf.

CityBeat reported that from May 15 through the end of June, the local Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Partnership spent $21,250 lobbying against the bill. That’s just a little bit less than the Chamber of Commerce spent lobbying against 37 different bills in the first six months of the year. The Downtown Partnership hadn’t spent anything lobbying in Sacramento this year before this.

Golden State News

 CHIANG-MENTUM. (L.A. Times)

 California still has the highest pension debt in the nation, a fact that will loom large in the debate over the pension reform measure co-written by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio. (Sac Bee)

• California’s burning: What the hell are you going to do about it?” (Sac Bee)

 The state is falling short of its recycling goals, but pending legislation might help. (Desert Sun)

 Fewer California homes are being flipped. (Capital Public Radio)

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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