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California Legislature Considers the Indirect Initiative

Published on June 30, 2009, by in General.

Three bills in the California legislature propose the Indirect Initiative. The Indirect Initiative combines the initiative with state legislative action.

The bill most favorable to the initiative process is SCA 16, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord). Currently, initiatives to change a state law require signatures equal to 5% of the last gubernatorial vote, and then they go on the ballot. SCA 16 would provide that if proponents of a statutory change submit petitions with 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, at that point their proposal would go to the legislature. The legislature might then enact the proposal, although the legislature would be free to alter it, and then the initiative proponents could decide whether they are satisfied with the legislature’s changes. If the initiative backers didn’t like the changes, they would be free to get more signatures (2% of the last gubernatorial vote).

SCA 16 has a hearing in the Senate Elections Committee on July 7.

ACA 13, by Assemblymember Ed Hernandez (D-Baldwin Park) is the least favorable to the initiative process. Proponents of an initiative would be required to collect 5% of the last gubernatorial vote, as under current law. Then the legislature would look at the proposal and possibly change it. If the legislature rejected the idea, or changed it in ways unacceptable to the proponents, the proponents would then need to go back on the street and collect signatures equal to another 5% of the last gubernatorial vote. ACA 13 passed the Assembly Elections Committee on June 26 and is now in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assemblymember Hernandez’ hostility to the initiative process is revealed in another of his bills, ACA 14. It would provide that only five initiatives would go on any ballot. The first five to qualify would be accepted; all others would be rejected, and all of the proponents’ signatures would go to waste. If they wanted it on a future ballot, they would need to start all over again getting signatures. ACA 14 has not made any headway.

SCA 10, by Senator Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego), is somewhat in the middle of the other two bills. It retains the existing number of signatures for initiatives, and when the proponents gather those signatures, the legislature would look at the measure and possibly change it and pass it. If the legislature did not pass it, or if the legislative changes are not acceptable to the sponsors, no more signatures would be required. However, the legislature’s criticisms of the measure would be printed in the Voters Handbook. SCA 10 passed the Senate Elections Committee on June 16 and is now in the Senate Approproations Committee.

3 Responses

  1. Michael Seebeck

    Interesting. The only problem with these bills is that it allows the legislature to change them, which most likely will not satisfy the initiative proponents (and probably allows such atrocities as gut-and-amend). They would be better if the changes were advisory in nature only. Based on that idea, SCA 10 looks like the best of the bunch.

    Now if we can just limit each legislator to 5 bills and the session to 120 days instead of two years…

  2. Richard

    All 3 bills are proposed state constitutional amendments, so even if any of them passes, then they go on the ballot to see if the voters like them. And if they do pass, the legislature can’t change any aspect of them later, unless the people approve of the changes.

  3. Cody Quirk

    Let me guess, the legislature doesn’t like the people to have the power to control the laws and constitution of California. And the passing of Prop. 8 last year is the reason why the Democrats are now trying to take the people’s democratic right away through these bills.

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