The California Capitol Building in Sacramento. Photo by Alex Wild [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
The California Capitol Building in Sacramento. Photo by Alex Wild [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Backers of an initiative to create an advisory group to explore establishing California’s autonomy from the United States have received permission to begin gathering signatures, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced.

Author Louis J. Marinelli told City News Service he and other backers of what they have dubbed “A New Hope for California” “want to see California become an autonomous region of the United States like Scotland in the” United Kingdom.

“If people are ready for California to be given the respect it deserves as a nation-state, yet remain part of the Untied States national system, this is the initiative for them,” Marinelli said.

“Otherwise, California can continue to be a donor state, paying more in federal taxes than we receive back in federal funding. This is the initiative for people to sign if they want California to be emancipated from federal control, regulation and taxation so that we can start putting California and Californians first.”

The initiative announced Tuesday would create a panel of government officials and private experts to explore establishing California’s autonomy from the United States.

The panel would be required to hold public hearings and take expert testimony, investigate impacts from California statehood, determine the impact of establishing autonomy, submit a monthly report on its activities to the Legislature and prepare an annual report of its findings.

The initiative would result in likely state costs of at least hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, according to an estimate prepared by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.

Valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — must be submitted by Oct. 26 to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot, according to Padilla.

If California were to receive autonomy, it would remain part of the U.S. and its residents would continue to hold U.S. passports, use the U.S. dollar, and host and serve in the U.S. military, Marinelli said. The state would assume control over its own trade, immigration, health care, education and other areas of domestic concern, he said.

Marinelli said another motivating factor behind the initiative is “that the United States of yesteryear is not the United States we live in today.

“We believe the (USA) Patriot Act is unconstitutional, yet it remains the law of the land,” Marinelli said. “Even though we completely support immigration reform and have filed our own immigration reform initiative for California, we take issue with the president’s use of executive orders to circumvent Congress on that matter.

“We have a police state developing across the country. Our civil liberties are at risk from the growing threat of mass government surveillance. The Supreme Court recently decided in Citizens United that corporations have free speech like individuals.

“All of these are extra-constitutional actions and/or policies that tells us that the U.S. Constitution is just a historical document with little practical value today.”

Marinelli is the president of Sovereign California, which has also filed initiatives that would change the title of governor to president; ban out-of- state financial contributions to state candidates and ballot measures; declare California’s bear flag as the national flag of California, requiring its display in position of first honor; and to establish a state agency to provide identification cards that provide a number of immigration benefits and protections to people without legal permission to be in the U.S. who pay state income taxes and meet other criteria.

Marinelli is also working to try to qualify the California National Party for the state ballot “as an alternative to the Democrat and Republican parties that are the root of our political problems both in the U.S. and in California.”

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