In California, ‘consent of the governed’ is sent down the drain

The United States was founded on the idea that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” That’s in the Declaration of Independence.

But when government officials conceal information from the public or defy the will of the voters, they can’t claim to have the consent of the governed. They’re not exercising “just powers.” They’re exercising raw power.

On that subject, a couple of things in California need your immediate attention.

The first involves the New Motor Voter Act, Assembly Bill 1461. Under that 2015 law, everyone conducting a transaction at the Department of Motor Vehicles is automatically registered to vote, if they attest that they’re eligible and they don’t opt out. The law acknowledges that ineligible people might become registered through this process. It states that this isn’t a crime.

But how is it corrected when it happens? That’s the subject of regulations, published in February, that Secretary of State Alex Padilla is now proposing to change.

A person who becomes “inadvertently registered” is supposed to voluntarily send in a written request to cancel that voter registration. But under the proposed new rules, the required words, “I declare that I was inadvertently registered to vote” are replaced with “I would like to cancel my voter registration.”

The February regulations said, “The record of an inadvertent registration that is canceled pursuant to this Article shall be retained,” but in the new proposed regulations, that language has been deleted.

So there will be no records, no data, and no paper trail if anyone ever wants to know whether the New Motor Voter law has caused ineligible people to become registered voters.

If you’d like to let the secretary of state know what you think about the proposed changes, you can submit written public comments right now, as long as they arrive by 5 p.m. on Monday. Send them by e-mail to with a copy to The phone number is 916-695-1571, if you have any questions.

The second matter that needs your attention is Senate Bill 231, which just passed the state Senate by a vote of 23-10 and moved on to the Assembly.

SB231 would redefine “sewer” to include stormwater, a sly trick to allow the cost of stormwater projects to be added to property tax bills without voter approval.

Proposition 218, passed in 1996, said local taxes, fees and assessments had to be approved by voters, with three exceptions: water, trash and sewer fees. In 2002, a state appeals court ruled that the definition of “sewer” did not include stormwater.

SB231 is the second attempt by Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, to reverse the court’s ruling with a state law.

The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, a coalition of 33 cities, said if SB231 becomes law, stormwater projects could add a potential $1,400 a year to a resident’s property tax bill. People could lose their homes.

“Instead of respecting the will of the voters who passed…

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