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California Power Producers Move to Block Reregulation Ballot Measure

California's Independent Energy Producers (IEP) have filed legal action with a state court seeking to block an initiative, which would effectively reregulate California's electricity industry, from being considered by voters during a Nov. 8 special election.

An initiative to rollback any vestiges of California's electricity industry restructuring qualified last month to be the eighth measure on a special election ballot that was recently called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a means of getting some of his political, economic and education reforms before the state's voters.

But in a lawsuit filed on June 28 with the Third Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal, the IEP said that the initiative "is void on its face because it seeks to amend through a statutory initiative the 'plenary power' conferred by the [California] Constitution on the Legislature over the jurisdiction and authority of the California Public Utilities Commission" (CPUC).

Specifically, the group of power producers said that California Constitution Article XII, section 5 confers "plenary power" on the state legislature "over the jurisdiction and authority of the CPUC 'unlimited by the other provisions of this constitution.'"

The IEP said that the use of a statutory initiative to "circumvent the constitutional power" of the legislature over the authority and jurisdiction of the state commission "must include a constitutional component excepting the initiative from Article XII, section 5. The initiative contains no such constitutional component."

The group said that this is "an urgent matter of statewide concern that requires prompt resolution and decision by this court in the first instance. Immediate resolution of the dispute is necessary to prevent the imminent waste of taxpayers' money by placing a statutory initiative, which the voters have no authority to adopt, on the November 8, 2005 ballot, and including the initiative in election materials for that election including the ballot and ballot handbook mailed to all voters."

The IEP said that after a hearing, the court should issue a peremptory writ of mandate "ordering respondent [California's Secretary of State] not to take any further action to place the initiative on the ballot for the November 8, 2005 special statewide election or any other election or to permit the counting or certification of the results of any votes on the initiative."

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