California Proposition 45, Extended Terms in Office via Petition (March 2002)

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California Proposition 45 was on the March 5, 2002 statewide ballot in California along with five other statewide ballot propositions. It was an initiated constitutional amendment that was defeated.

If Proposition 45 had been approved, it would have allowed local voters to petition the California Secretary of State to permit their incumbent State Senator or Assembly Member who is termed-out to run for re-election to that same office at the next election or elections (in the case of the Assembly), thereby allowing the legislator to serve up to an additional four years in office.

The goal of Proposition 45's supporters was to extend, or soften, the term limits on members of the California State Legislature put into place in 1990 with Propostion 140.[1]

The petition drive to place the measure on the ballot was spearheaded by then-California State Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco).

Election results

Proposition 45
Defeatedd No2,790,15357.7%
Yes 2,049,348 42.3%
Election results provided by the California Secretary of State's office (dead link)'

Constitutional changes

California Constitution
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If Proposition 45 had been approved, it would have:

The new Section 21 would have said:

Section 21

Local Legislative Option. Local legislative option is the power of the voters residing in an Assembly or Senate district to exercise an option to allow their term-limited state legislator to stand for re-election for an extended term(s) in office, not to exceed a total of four years, notwithstanding Article IV, Section 2(a) of this Constitution. (a) Local legislative option may be exercised only one time per lawmaker.

The new Section 22 would have said:

Section 22

(a) Exercise of the local legislative option is initiated by delivering to the Secretary of State a petition invoking the right of the people to re-elect a legislator who would otherwise be ineligible for re-election by reason of Article IV, Section 2(a).

Proponents have 90 days to circulate petitions and must submit petitions for verification at least 30 business days prior to the first day candidates may file declarations of intention to become a candidate for legislative office. (b) A petition invoking local legislative option must be signed by electors of the district equal in number to 20 percent of the ballots cast for that office in the last general election for which the local legislative option is sought. (c) Only electors registered to vote in the district in which the legislator is serving at the time the petition is filed, or following a redistricting, in the district in which the local legislative option is sought, may sign the petition. (d) Legislators permitted to run under this section may run only in the district in which they are currently serving, or if that district is changed pursuant to redistricting, then in the successor district whose lines include the larger portion of the former district. (e) Local voters may exercise this option to extend the time that a legislator would otherwise be permitted to serve by a period of four years. (f) The petition must be in substantially the following form:

We the undersigned registered voters of the ___ Assembly [or Senate] district hereby invoke our right pursuant to Article II, Section 21 of the California Constitution to vote for or against [here list the legislator by name] at the next election(s) for that office, but not to exceed a total of four years. Our reasons are as follows: [here set forth reasons in no more than 200 words]

(g) Petitions shall be submitted to local election officers who shall certify the signatures to the Secretary of State in the same fashion as initiative petitions are certified. As soon as sufficient valid signatures are certified, the Secretary of State shall so advise local election officials, who shall place the name of the certified legislator on the ballot in the same fashion as if he or she were not subject to Article IV, Section 2(a).

Text of measure


The ballot title was:

Legislative Term Limits. Local Voter Petitions. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.


The question on the ballot was:

"Should the California Constitution be amended to allow voters to submit petitions to permit their incumbent legislators to run for re-election and to serve for a maxiumum of four more years beyond their presently allowed terms?"

Ballot summary

The ballot summary prepared by the Attorney General of California said:

  • Allows registered voters in legislative districts to submit petition signatures to permit their incumbent legislator to run for re-election and to serve for a maximum of four years beyond the presently allowed two four-year terms for State Senators and three two-year terms for members of the Assembly, if a majority of voters approves.
  • Option can be exercised only once per legislator.
  • Legislator can run under option only in district where legislator currently serves.
  • Petitions must be filed before the end of legislator’s final term.
  • Provides for signature verification.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • Counties would incur unknown costs to verify petition signatures, potentially up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars every other year on a statewide basis.
  • The state would incur little or no costs to track the eligibility of re-election candidates.

Campaign strategy

Polling showed strong support for term limits from voters of both parties. To respond to this popular sentiment but also rollback the limits, the strategy adopted by the supporters of Proposition 45 was to allow voters in each legislative district to decide whether their own representative should be given an additional four years in office.

According to a review article in "Campaigns and Elections," a national political magazine [2]:

The political benefits of this new approach were two-fold. First, the initiative could be marketed as a means of restoring local control to voters by giving them the ability to extend or impose term limits only if they saw fit. More brazenly, because this initiative did not repeal term limits, its supporters began to pitch it as a way to "preserve and protect" those limits to voters. Quickly, they signed up most of the state's political establishment, lobbyists and other Capitol interests as supporters.</blockquote>

Campaign donations

Supporters of the amendment massively outspent opponents of the amendment, by a margin of $9,622,033 to $1,039,500.[3]


Some of the larger donors to the unsuccessful campaign to pass Proposition 45 were:

  • California Democratic Party: $3,265,189
  • Former Leaders for an Effective Government: $850,000
  • California Correctional Peace Officers: $445,000
  • Regency Outdoor Advertising: $320,000
  • California State Council of Service Employees: $250,000
  • Jerry Perenchio: $250,000
  • Ameriquest Capital Corporation: $200,000
  • California Teachers Association: $200,000.[4]


Nearly all of the money spent to defeat the measure ($1,031,000) came from Americans for Limited Terms.

See also

External links