Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Legislators who won seats in special elections propose reimbursing counties for those costs

Legislature Special Elections

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

In this Feb. 16, 2012, file photo, Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, poses in her Capitol office in Sacramento, Calif. Torres received 44 percent of the vote in a special election for the 32nd Senate District seat. She faces Ontario Mayor Paul Leon, a Republican , who received 26 percent, in a May 14 runoff election.

Two state legislators have proposed sparing counties the multi-million dollar costs of special elections to fill state and federal office vacancies, shifting those costs  back to California taxpayers. 

The state paid for such elections from 1993 through 2007, when counties were made to pick up the tab.

Sen. Norma Torres (D- Pomona) has introduced a bill to require the state to pay the costs of the 13 special state and Congressional elections held around California in 2013, plus future special elections. She won office in a special election in 2012.

Senator Andy Vidak, a Central Valley Republican whose own special election last year cost more than 2-million dollars, wants more. His bill would reimburse counties for the 40 special elections held since 2008, when the state stopped paying election costs.

List of state and Congressional special elections

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan said his agency has spent more than $12 million on all special elections in the past decade.

It's unclear if there is enough support for either bill.

A similar bill introduced last year by then-State Sen. Bill Emmerson stalled. Emmerson resigned in December and a special election to replace him - scheduled for next month - will cost Riverside and San Bernardino counties more than a million dollars.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg has called for a constitutional amendment that would eliminate special elections and place the power to appoint replacements in the governor's hands.

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