California petition beginning that would reform initiative process

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July 23, 2009

California: Turning the initiative process as a means to reform around on itself, Senator Ellen Corbett has constructed a bill, S.B.34, which would make it a "misdemeanor for a person to pay or to receive money or any other thing of value based on the number of signatures obtained on a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition and would prescribe penalties for doing so."[1] Corbett and other supporters have stated that implementing this policy would assure that the initiative process succeeds in what it was designed to do, enfranchise grassroots democracy and offset the power of monied interests. They further argue that by only allowing gatherers to get paid by the hour, initiatives will be approved according to its merit, rather than by how driven a gatherer is to make more money.[2]

Opponents hold that largely the opposite would happen. Paul Jacob, president of Washington's Citizens in Charge, said that this system is not a new development and has proven to be an effective way for normal people to get their issue on the ballot. He elaborated, saying, "It's a little like picking apples in an orchard. What you want is a certain number of apples, not a certain number of people picking apples."[2] For Jacobs, limiting incentives to get voters and legislatures to consider different issues would only lead to less people being heard, not more.

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