Defining the term "democracy" has long been a challenging proposition. Almost everyone agrees that a democracy is a government that reflects the will of the people, but questions about the data, about what structures are wise or useful to exploit or temper it will have been with us since the days of ancient Greece.  But to Harvey Rosenfield – founder of Consumer Watchdog and author of California's Proposition 103 – the answer is quite simple. Democracy does what Harvey Rosenfield wants. Everything else is, as he puts it in a recent Sacramento Bee "hijacking the democratic process."
What currently has Rosenfields dandering is a couple of bills, A.B. 2167 and S.B. 292, which appears to be making modest changes to the Prop 1
Given both the recent losses and the forecast for the growing risk of fire due to climate change, several property insurance companies have limited or stripped back the coverage in the most wildfire-prone parts of the state. As a new report from the reinsurance company Swiss Re suggests, this growing protection gap would be part of a global phenomenon: approximately 60 percent of the $ 75 billion in natural disaster losses seen in the first half of 2020 were uninsured.
The return of private insurance companies leaves many Californians with no other option than the state-sponsored insurance company for last resort, California FAIR plan. It appeals badly to the future of the state. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco recently estimated that 52 percent of economic activity in the 12th Federal Reserve District, which includes California and eight other Western states, originates in counties with a high risk of wildfire. An inability to ensure protection against property insurance entails a systemic financial risk for the West.
A.B. 2167 and S.B. 292 ensures that this crisis is dealt with by creating the action plan for the insurance market, which would apply to certain counties with large shares of the FAIR plan. The program would allow insurance companies that agree to adopt a significant number of policies in IMAP counties to submit prompt requests for adequate rates, which would be required to consider measures to restrict property and Community level. Price inquiries may also include the production of disaster models and the market cost of reinsurance, factors that are difficult or impossible to submit for consideration under the existing Prop 103 system. IMAP would realize that due to climate change, the risk of fire fires in the future may be significantly more serious than before.
The bills do not overturn Prop 103. Interest rate announcements would still be open to public comment. and would still be reviewed and regulated by the State Insurance Commission. But the bills would fine-tune the process somewhat to allow market forces to respond to what has been and threatens to continue to be a lack of insurance coverage. As it proposes to amend Prop 103, state law requires bills to pass two-thirds majorities in both chambers.
The good news is that they are well on their way to doing so. After approving the Senate Committees on Senate Insurance and Veterans Affairs unanimously in April 2019, S.B. 292 was approved unanimously by the full Senate in May 2019. It has since passed unanimously through the parish's insurance committee in May 2020 and was up today before the parish's appropriations committee.
A.B. 2167 was unanimously approved by the parish insurance committee in May and the parish appropriations committee in June, before concluding the entire assembly in 61-3 votes, also in June. It passed the Senate Insurance Committee unanimously on August 4 and will be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 19.
It really seems to be very democratic considering, not to mention overwhelming legislative consensus. But not enough for Mr. Rosenfield, who accuses the bills of being "quickly tracked to circumvent legislative scrutiny" because they have not been referred to the Senate judiciary for constitutional review.
The nature of the review Rosenfield is seeking is for the Judicial Panel to examine whether the bills "further the purpose" of the initiative. Because unfortunately, according to California law, it is not enough to achieve a super majority in both chambers. Any amendments to Prop 103 must also defend the objectives of Prop 103.
In order to be clear, with or without reference to the Committee on Legal Affairs, a decision on whether the legislation promotes Prop 103's objectives must ultimately be up to the courts to decide. In fact, Rosenfield called such a challenge "inevitable" as he asked Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins to delay a statement on the measure until 2021, when a new lawmaker will sit. To do otherwise, Rosenfield writes, is to "allow democracy to be another victim of the virus."
It is particularly rich to hear Rosenfield raise concerns about an undemocratic process, given how low a consideration he otherwise seems to have the democratic legislative process. For example, among the reasons Rosenfield is aware of legal challenges for A.B. 2167 and S.B. 292 are inevitable is that his group will almost certainly lead them. The fact that the passage means that both bills would have gained the support of a super majority of the people's representatives does not matter in that calculation.
Among the other concerns that Rosenfield raises in his Bee is that the bills are sponsored by the chairman of the Insurance Committee, Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) and the chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, Susan Rubio (D-West Covina). Proponents of the democratic process may think that the legislators who have been chosen by their colleagues to lead panels devoted to the subject of insurance are in fact the best placed to lead legislative efforts in the field of insurance. However, in Rosenfield's view, Rubio and Daly, as chairmen of the committees concerned, are seen as in decline.
And finally, there's the question that obviously sharpens Rosenfield's gears the most. The Senate Insurance Committee did not allow him to testify for as long as he wanted. As he writes in Bee :
Legislators should have allowed to hear views from the author of Prop. 103 on controversial legislation that would repeal parts of the 1988 initiative. But I was given exactly 20 seconds to explain why members should oppose AB 2167.
Of course, legislators were allowed to hear Rosenfield's views. He was also free to submit these views in writing, as we on R Street did. On the other side of the legislature, a spokeswoman for Parish Speaker Anthony Rendon told Politico in response to Rosenfield's complaint that her chamber "has offered an outstanding level of access to our committee hearings by telephone testimony, personal testimony and remote testimonies. over the state. "
The evidence is that it is not" democracy "that Rosenfield is seeking. Only a process that revolves entirely around him will do.
It will be remembered at this point what it is like to Prop 103 became law, highlighted by a proposal to reduce the car insurance level by 20 percent, was one of four insurance-related initiatives presented to voters in California in the November 1988 election. In the end, Prop 103 was the only one to pass, doing so by the narrowest margin and earned 51 percent of the vote.
But here, 32 years later, we face a set of public policy challenges that would have been completely foreign to the 1988 electorate, few of which had even had the term "global warming." Consider what it means that there is in fact no legislative path, not even with two – thirds of the majority of the people's representatives in both chambers of parliament, to undo the decision taken by the narrow majority of voters more than three decades ago.  Does that sound like democracy to you?