Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"Ballot selfies are illegal, but this Bay Area legislator says they shouldn't be"

Good to talk with Christine Mai-Duc for this article

The ban on ballot photos is meant to prevent vote-buying and voter coercion, where a photo might serve as proof of how they voted. Jessica Levinson, president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School, says while she agrees the law is problematic in the digital age, changing it might have the unintended consequence of making it easier for organizations or employers to pressure voters.
“An employer could say, ‘Oh, we’re all voting for this today, really looking forward to seeing your ballot on Facebook later,’” Levinson said.
Still, Levinson says, boosting voter turnout in California is going to be a heavier lift than loosening selfie rules.
“If it takes you seeing a friend posting a selfie from the voting booth to get you to the ballot box," she said, "then we still have other problems.”

California Lawmakers Show Up Friday For 'Per Diem Day'

Great to speak with Bed Bradford of Capitol Public Radio for this

Floor sessions usually take place on Mondays and Thursdays, but with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday approaching, the state Senate and Assembly pushed their last meeting back to Friday.

That ensures members can receive a daily per diem for hotel and travel expenses through the weekend--including Monday's holiday.

The California Constitution allows state lawmakers to receive a daily stipend for hotel and travel expenses—except when the Legislature spends more than three days in recess. The current rate is $173 a day.

At roughly 200 session days per year, that amounts to more than $34,000 annually, in addition to lawmakers' base salaries. Some members opt out, particularly legislators who live near the Capitol and have fewer travel expenses.

The off-day session is colloquially known as “Per Diem Day." Loyola Law School political ethics professor Jessica Levinson questions the practice.
"I completely understand everyone wants to make sure they’re compensated for their time, but whenever lawmakers are paid, it’s our money," says Levinson. "When you see them playing calendar tricks, it feels like lawmakers are really just trying to make sure they collect some extra tax dollars."