California Call for a Limited Constitutional Convention (2010)

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A California Call for a Limited Constitutional Convention was intended for the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, but on February 12, 2010, its backers announced that they were pulling the plug on the effort to qualify it for the ballot.[1]

The Bay Area Council, a group of business executives, was a primary sponsor of the proposed ballot initiative and Voters Allowed to Petition For A Constitutional Conventions, a companion ballot proposition. They had supported efforts to hold a California constitutional convention for some time through educational efforts such as a February 2009 summit/gathering on this subject in Sacramento.[2]

The Bay Area Council's effort to support getting this measure on the ballot was dubbed Repair California. Common Cause, the Courage Campaign and the Lincoln Club of Orange County also supported the effort.[3]

In mid-February 2010, supporters of the measure first indicated that their effort was in danger of not being able to collect the signatures it would need to qualify for the November ballot because they had not so far been able to attract the needed funds to conduct a large-scale paid signature-gathering effort, and they ultimately said the project was dead.

One notable aspect of the effort was that it faced opposition from several of the state's most powerful petition drive management companies.[4]

Text of measure

Ballot title

Calls a Limited Convention to Propose Changes to State Constitution. Initiative Statute.[5]


Calls convention to propose changes to state Constitution related to government, state spending and budgeting, elections and lobbying. Provides that proposed changes to constitution or laws become effective only after approved by voters in statewide election. Forbids changes to taxes or fees, marriage, abortion, gambling, affirmative action, freedom of the press or religion, immigration rights, and the death penalty. Establishes rules for selecting convention delegates to reflect a diverse range of citizens. Requires selection of delegates and conduct of convention to be open and public.[5]

Estimated fiscal impact

One-time increase of state government spending up to $95 million to administer a constitutional convention. Potentially major changes in state and local governments if voters approve the convention’s recommendations, including higher or lower revenues or greater or less spending on particular public programs.[5]




  • Thomas Elias. He said the measure is "backed by Google and other high-tech giants that finance the Bay Area Council business lobby" and urges that people refrain from signing the petition to put it on the ballot. He also said, "Why is this a bad idea? For one thing, despite sponsors' pious claims that their measure would limit action by that convention to fixing the state's budget and ballot initiative processes, cutting the influence of special interests on elections and government, bettering relations between state and local governments and making government more efficient, there's room here for enormous mischief."[6]


A poll conducted by EMC Research for Repair California in mid-September 2009 found that 69% of approximately 1,000 polled voters said they would vote "yes" on the question of whether California voters should be able to call a convention.[8] 71% also said they would then vote "yes" on calling a constitutional convention.

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements, Petition blocking

In order to qualify the measure for the ballot, Repair California would have had to collect 433,971 valid signatures in 150 days on each of the two convention-related amendments they were supporting. John Grubb, a spokesperson for the Bay Area Council said that supporters of the two propositions had been planning to qualify them for the ballot without using paid circulators.[3]

Petition drive companies

Repair California in early February 2010 said that their effort to collect the required signatures for this measure and for Right to Petition for Conventions, its companion measure, had run into a petition blocking effort.[9] They accused five petition drive management companies in the state of being behind an effort to stop them from being able to collect signatures. The activities they said they have learned of include "shouting down their volunteers, destroying valid signatures and intentionally submitting fake signatures."[10]

Repair California had sent cease-and-desist letters to several firms it believed were engaging in these activities, including:

Fred Kimball of Kimball Petition Management said that he opposed the initiatives and indicated to a newspaper that he had warned "the independent supervisors who manage signature-gatherers that he will blacklist them if they work for the constitutional-convention measures."[11]

Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies said, "This is the first time I have heard of the petition firms taking a position on an initiative in this way. These firms typically won't circulate two competing measures, which makes sense, but they rarely turn down business."[10]

Fred E. Foldvary of the California Progress Report decried the opposing petition drive management companies as "signature-gathering oligopolists."[12]

See also

External links

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Additional reading