On September 10, the California Senate passed AB 857, a bill to require that statewide initiative petitions are not valid unless at least 10% of the signatures were collected by unpaid volunteers. The bill has been amended since it passed the Assembly, so it needs to return to the Assembly for another vote. The legislature will adjourn for the year on September 12 or September 13.
If the bill is enacted and signed into law, it is certain that it will be challenged in court. In 1988, in Meyer v Grant, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Colorado’s law banning paid circulators. The decision was unanimous. The basis for the decision is that banning paid circulators makes it very difficult for initiatives to qualify. If AB 857 required 1% or 2% of the signatures to be collected by volunteers, it could probably be upheld, but it seems unlikely that 10% will survive a court test. The bill originally required 20%, but on September 6 was amended to 10%.