Laws governing the initiative process in California

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Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Petition summary
1.2.4 Fiscal review
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of California may initiate legislation as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment. In California, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. The California State Legislature may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or legislatively-referred state statutes. Referred amendments require a 2/3 vote of each chamber.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the scope and content of proposed initiatives. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

In California, each proposed measure must address only one subject.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 8 (d)

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

In California, an initiated measure may not apply differently to different political subdivisions (cities, counties, etc...) based on the approval/disapproval of the measure in those subdivisions. Similarly, a measure may not treat subdivisions differently based on the percentage of voters approving or disapproving of the measure.

More generally, a measure may not make any of its provisions dependent on a certain percentage of voters approving or disapproving of the measure.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 8 (d, f)

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of California ballot measures

If two or more measures conflict, the measure receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes supersedes the other. This provision was clarified in Taxpayers to Limit Campaign Spending v. Fair Political Practices Commission (1990). The court determined that:

When two or more measures are competing initiatives, either because they are expressly offered as "all-or-nothing" alternatives or because each creates a comprehensive regulatory scheme related to the same subject, section 10(b) mandates that only the provisions of the measure receiving the highest number of affirmative votes be enforced.[1]

The court argued that combining initiatives piecemeal could lead to outcomes unintended by voters. A notable example of such unintended consequences occurred in Oregon in 1908.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 10 (b) & Taxpayers to Limit Campaign Spending v. Fair Political Practices Commission

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[2][3][4]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

Prior to circulation, proponents must submit the full text of the measure to the California Attorney General's Initiative Coordinator along with a request for a summary, contact information, a signed statement certifying that the proponents are qualified electors, and a $200 deposit, refundable upon qualification for the ballot. They must also sign and submit a statement promising not to use the signatures for any purpose except the initiative.

  • An example of a petition application can be found here. (Certifying statements are not included.)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Section 9001

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

Proponents may seek the assistance of the Office of the Legislative Counsel in drafting the measure prior to filing it with the Attorney General. In order to receive assistance, they must submit 25 signatures from qualified electors. In addition, the office must determine that there is a "reasonable probability" that the measure will qualify for the ballot.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Government Code, Section 10243

Petition summary

See also: Ballot measure summary statement

Once proponents have submitted all the required materials, the Attorney General must draft a brief (100 word) circulating title and summary. He or she must also assign the measure a unique identifying number. This number is not the same as its number on the ballot. The Attorney General has 15 days to complete the petition language. This period begins after the measure has received a fiscal statement (when applicable).

Once the measure has been submitted, sponsors may submit amendments to their proposal before the summary is prepared. These amendments restart the 15-day period and must include a new summary/title request signed by all proponents. Technical or non-substantive changes do not restart the 15-day period.

  • A sample petition can be found here.
  • A list of recent measures cleared for circulation can be found here. (Includes petition language)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Sections 9002 & 9004

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

If the measure will have a fiscal impact, a fiscal estimate is drafted jointly by the Department of Finance and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. This estimate is included along with the summary and circulating title.

  • A list of recent measures cleared for circulation can be found here. (Includes fiscal estimates)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Section 9005

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: California signature requirements

In California, the number of signatures needed to qualify a measure for the ballot is based on the total number of votes cast for the office of Governor. For initiated constitutional amendments, petitioners must collect signatures equal to 8% of the most recent gubernatorial vote. To place a statute or veto referendum on the ballot, signatures equal to 5% of this vote are required.

Year Amendment Statute Veto referendum
2011-2014 807,615 504,760 504,760
2007-2010 694,354 433,971 433,971
2003-2006 598,105 373,816 373,816
1999-2002 670,816 419,260 419,260
1995-1998 693,230 433,269 433,269
1991-1994 615,958 384,974 384,974
1987-1990 595,485 372,178 372,178
1983-1986 630,135 393,835 393,835
1979-1982 553,790 346,119 346,119
1975-1978 499,846 312,404 312,404
1971-1974 520,806 325,504 325,504

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 8 (b)

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

There is no distribution requirement in California. As such, any proportion of the required signatures may be collected from any county or congressional district.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 8

Restrictions on circulators

Circulator requirements

See also: Petition circulator

In California, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating.[5] Each initiative petition contains a mandatory circulator affidavit. A circulator is not required to sign these affidavits before a public notary, however he/she must swear to and sign a statement, under the penalty of law, that he/she personally witnessed every act of signing the petition.[6] According to California Elections Code, Sec. 102 and 2101, those circulating petitions are required:[7][8]

  • to be a citizen of the United States
  • to be at least 18 years of age or older
  • to be a resident of the state
  • to not be in prison or parole for conviction with a felony.

Once circulation is completed, the signatures must be submitted to and filed with the county or city in which the signatures were collected. All petition sections circulated in a county or city must be turned in together.[9]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Elections Code, Sec. 100-106, California Elections Code, Sec. 9021 & California Elections Code, Sec. 9030(a)

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

California does not prohibit paying circulators by the signature. In 2011, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 168 which would have instituted such a ban, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Section 9021

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

California requires signature gatherers to be qualified state voters and, thus, residents.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Section 9021

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

In California, each petition must carry the following notice, "THIS PETITION MAY BE CIRCULATED BY A PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER OR A VOLUNTEER. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK." However, circulators are not required to volunteer their paid/unpaid status.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Section 101

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. However, in June 2011, the California First District Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Ni v. Slocum prohibiting electronic signature collection in California. Verafirma founder Michael Ni filed the suit, challenging San Mateo County's rejection of an electronic signature in favor of Proposition 19. In its decision, the court ruled that the term "affix," as used in California law, implies a physical signature.[10][11][12][13]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Section 100 & Ni v. Slocum

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines, 2014 & California suggested deadlines

Once petition sponsors have received the summary from the Attorney General, they have 150 days to collect signatures and file their petitions. If sufficient signatures have been gathered, the measure is presented to voters at the next general election at least 131 days after the measure is certified for the ballot.

California signatures can be checked by random sampling or by a full count, depending on the outcome of the random sample check. If the signatures require a full check, the verification process will take additional time. In 2008, for example, the deadline for submitting signatures for the November ballot was April 21. However, if a full check was required, the operative deadline was in February. Given the uncertainties involved in the verification process, sponsors in California must allow time for the process as they plan their initiative campaign.[14]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Sections 9014 & 9016

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

Once signatures have been collected, they must be filed with the county elections officials in the county where they were collected. Some of the rules for signature filing are:

  • All the petition sections submitted in a single county must be filed at the same time.
  • Once filed, petitions may not be amended except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
  • Only the proponent(s) of an initiative measure, and persons authorized in writing by one or more of the proponents, may file initiative petitions.

Once the signatures are filed, county election officials have eight working days to determine the total number of signatures submitted in their county and report the total to the Secretary of State. If the raw, statewide count is equal to 100% (or more) of the total number of signatures needed to qualify the proposition, the Secretary of State notifies county officials that they are to verify a random sample of their signatures within 30 working days. Specifically, the county officials are to randomly select 500 signatures or 3% of the signatures, whichever is greater. (In counties where 500 or fewer signatures were submitted, the county must inspect all the signatures for validity.)

Once a county election department has inspected the required number of signatures, they must report the percentage of valid signatures to the Secretary of State. After the Secretary of State's office has collected information about validity rates from all counties where signatures were filed, the office projects the total number of valid signatures based on the random sample.

  • If this calculation determines that the number of valid signatures is less than 95% of the number of required signatures, the Secretary of State issues a "failure notice," which declares that the proposition has failed to qualify for the ballot.
  • If the calculation determines that the number of valid signatures is greater than 110% of the required number of signatures, the Secretary of State certifies that the proposition has qualified for the ballot "without further verification."
  • However, if the calculation determines that the number of valid signatures on the petition falls somewhere between 95%-110%, the Secretary of State instructs county election officials to inspect each signature filed in their county. This process if known as a "full check." County election officials are required to complete the check within 30 working days of being notified by the Secretary of State.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Sections 9030-9035

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

Once a petition has been found sufficient, the Secretary of State directs the Attorney General to draft a ballot title, summary, and ballot label. The ballot title and summary may differ from those used during circulation. The ballot title and summary are accompanied by a condensed fiscal impact statement prepared by the Legislative Analyst and reviewed by a citizen panel for readability. The ballot label is, in turn, a condensed (less than 75 words) version of the title, summary, and fiscal statement.

Since the ballot language is also included in the state's voter pamphlet, it is subject to a 20-day public display period during which the public may challenge the ballot language.

In addition, each measure receives ballot arguments for and against. These arguments can be drafted by proponents, citizen groups, and individuals. The Secretary of State selects the official arguments from among those submitted. Priority is given to arguments based on their author(s)--first to proponents, second to citizen groups, and third to individuals. Once arguments have been selected, their authors draft rebuttals to the opposing arguments.[15]

  • An example of state ballot language can be found here.
  • An example of ballot arguments can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Sections 9050-9053 ; Sections 9060-9069 ;Section 9087 & Section 9092 & California Government Code, Section 88003

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

California ballot measures require only a simply majority of the votes cast for or against them.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 10 (a)

Effective date

In California, approved measures take effect on the day after the election unless otherwise specified by the measure.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 10 (a)

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

Challenges to the ballot language for a measure should be filed in Sacramento County District Court.[16]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Section 9092 & Section 88006

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

The California State Legislature may not amend or repeal an approved measure without submitting the change to voters. However, a ballot measure may include a clause waiving this protection.

Once ballot measures are certified for the ballot, they are submitted to the legislature. The legislature has no control over the measure or whether it appears on the ballot. However, California law requires the legislature to hold public hearing on the measures at least 30 days prior to the election.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 10 (c) & California Election Code, Sections 9034

Re-attempting an initiative

California does not limit how soon an initiative can be re-attempted.[17]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 8

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for California ballot measures

Some of the notable features of California 's campaign finance laws include:

  • California defines a group of individuals in support or opposition of a ballot measure as a committee, a group led by an elected official as a controlled committee, and a group that send direct mail to defeat four or more ballot measures as a slate mailer committee.
  • California has strict laws on how groups can spend funds in the effort to support or defeat a referendum.
  • There is an optional expenditure limit with the California Secretary of State.
  • California has a law against slander and libel in campaign advertisements.

State initiative law

Article II of the California Constitution addresses initiatives.

Division 9 of the California Elections Code governs initiatives.

External links

References

  1. Taxpayers to Limit Campaign Spending v. Fair Political Practices Commission, Opinion, November 1, 1990
  2. NCSL, "Drafting the Initiative Proposal," accessed May 19, 2011
  3. NCSL, "Preparation of a Fiscal Analysis," accessed May 19, 2011
  4. NCSL, "Preparation of a Ballot Title and Summary," accessed May 19, 2011
  5. Secretary of State, Statewide Initiative Guide
  6. Leginfo.ca.org, "California elections code - Sec. 104" accessed September 9, 2013
  7. Leginfo.ca.org, "California Elections Code, Sec. 9021," accessed September 9, 2013
  8. Leginfo.ca.org, "California Elections Code, Sec. 100-106," accessed September 9, 2013
  9. Leginfo.ca.org, "California elections code - Sec. 9030(a)" accessed September 9, 2013
  10. Metropolitan News-Enterprise, "C.A. Rejects Bid to Count Online Signature on Initiative Petition," July 5, 2011
  11. Ballot Access News, "California State Court of Appeals Construes Election Code to Bar Electronic Signatures on Petitions," July 1, 2011
  12. Ballot Access News, "Electronic Signatures on Petitions Case Argued in California State Court of Appeals," May 10, 2011
  13. Mercury News, "Attention, voters. You better start practicing your e-signature," May 7, 2010
  14. Suggested initiative deadlines from the California Secretary of State
  15. California Secretary of State, "About Ballot Arguments," accessed March 3, 2012
  16. NCSL, "Preparation of a Ballot Title and Summary," January 2002
  17. NCSL, "Banning Same or Similar Measures from the Ballot for a Specified Period of Time," May 2009


Ballot law
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State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2012
2.1.2 2011
2.1.3 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in California.

Proposed changes by year

2014

See also: Changes in 2014 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the California State Legislature:

Simple icon time.svg AB 1117: Requires the Secretary of State to provide on the agency's Web site an electronic mail address at which the proponent of a proposed initiative or referendum measure may submit a copy of the petition for the measure in portable document format. Provides that, after receiving the petition, the petition is to be made available to the public through a hyperlink on the Web site that can be downloaded and printed. Requires a specified disclaimer that makes the petition available to the public. This bill was carried over from 2013.[1]

Simple icon time.svg AB 882: Amends existing provisions regarding recall petition. Provides that if 500 or more signatures are submitted to the elections official, the election official may verify, using a random sampling technique, either 3% of the signatures submitted or 500 signatures, whichever is greater. This bill was carried over from 2013.[1]

Simple icon time.svg SB 477: Declares the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would prohibit a political campaign committee from accepting large contributions made for the purpose of supporting a statewide initiative ballot measure until the committee has first received a significant number of small individual contributions made for the same purpose. This bill was carried over from 2013.[1]

Simple icon time.svg AB 400: Requires a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition circulated by a paid circulator who is paid by a committee to include a disclosure statement identifying the persons from whom the committee received the 5 largest cumulative contributions in support of the measure and the name of their employer, if 2 or more of these contributors have the same employer. Requires this disclosure statement to be updated as specified. This bill was carried over from 2013.

Simple icon time.svg ACA 6: Increases the vote requirement of votes cast for the electors to amend the Constitution by an initiative measure to 55%. Permits the electors to repeal a previously adopted initiative or legislative amendment to the Constitution, including certain subsequent amendments to the constitutional amendment, by an initiative measure passed by a majority vote. This bill was carried over from 2013.

Simple icon time.svg AB 510: Requires that a committee file a report if they pay any amount to an individual for his or her appearance in an advertisement to support or oppose the qualification, passage, or defeat of a ballot measure if the advertisement states or otherwise communicates that the individual is a practitioner or member of a profession having expertise or specialized knowledge relating to the subject of the measure. This bill was carried over from 2013.

Simple icon time.svg SCA 6: Proposes an amendment to the Constitution to prohibit an initiative measure that would result in a net increase in state or local government costs, from being submitted to the electors or having any effect unless and until the Legislative Analyst and the Director of Finance jointly determine that the initiative measure provides for additional revenues in an amount that meets or exceeds the net increase in costs. This bill was carried over from 2013.

Simple icon time.svg SB 121 Requires a corporation that has shareholders located in this state and that makes a contribution or expenditure to, or in support of or in opposition to, a candidate, ballot measure campaign, or a signature-gathering effort on behalf of a ballot measure, political party, or political action committee to issue a report on the political expenditures of the corporation in the previous fiscal year, and to notify shareholders prior to each political contribution.[1][2]

2013

See also: Changes in 2013 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the California State Legislature:

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg AB 1117: Requires the Secretary of State to provide on the agency's Web site an electronic mail address at which the proponent of a proposed initiative or referendum measure may submit a copy of the petition for the measure in portable document format. Provides that, after receiving the petition, the petition is to be made available to the public through a hyperlink on the Web site that can be downloaded and printed. Requires a specified disclaimer that makes the petition available to the public.[1]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg AB 882: Amends existing provisions regarding recall petition. Provides that if 500 or more signatures are submitted to the elections official, the election official may verify, using a random sampling technique, either 3% of the signatures submitted or 500 signatures, whichever is greater.[1]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg SB 477: Declares the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would prohibit a political campaign committee from accepting large contributions made for the purpose of supporting a statewide initiative ballot measure until the committee has first received a significant number of small individual contributions made for the same purpose.[1]

Defeatedd SB 654: Requires proponents of an initiative or referendum measure to disclose specified counties in which petition circulation is planned and requires the Attorney General to prepare translations of the measure title and summary under certain circumstances based on the counties proposed for signature collection. SB 654 was approved in legislature and vetoed by the governor.[1]

Approveda AB 354: Requires the impartial analysis prepared for a local ballot measure to clearly indicate whether the measure was put on the ballot through a citizen petition drive or by the city council, county supervisors, district board of directors or the governing body of the relevant local jurisdiction.[2][3]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg AB 400: Requires a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition circulated by a paid circulator who is paid by a committee to include a disclosure statement identifying the persons from whom the committee received the 5 largest cumulative contributions in support of the measure and the name of their employer, if 2 or more of these contributors have the same employer. Requires this disclosure statement to be updated as specified.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg ACA 6: Increases the vote requirement of votes cast for the electors to amend the Constitution by an initiative measure to 55%. Permits the electors to repeal a previously adopted initiative or legislative amendment to the Constitution, including certain subsequent amendments to the constitutional amendment, by an initiative measure passed by a majority vote.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg AB 510: Requires that a committee file a report if they pay any amount to an individual for his or her appearance in an advertisement to support or oppose the qualification, passage, or defeat of a ballot measure if the advertisement states or otherwise communicates that the individual is a practitioner or member of a profession having expertise or specialized knowledge relating to the subject of the measure.

Defeatedd AB 857: Deletes provisions providing that a person who is a voter or is qualified to vote in California is authorized to solicit signatures on an initiative or referendum petition, and requiring that person to declare under penalty of perjury that he or she is a voter or is qualified to register to vote in the state. AB 857 was approved by the legislature but was vetoed by the governor.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg SCA 6: Proposes an amendment to the Constitution to prohibit an initiative measure that would result in a net increase in state or local government costs, from being submitted to the electors or having any effect unless and until the Legislative Analyst and the Director of Finance jointly determine that the initiative measure provides for additional revenues in an amount that meets or exceeds the net increase in costs.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg SB 121 Requires a corporation that has shareholders located in this state and that makes a contribution or expenditure to, or in support of or in opposition to, a candidate, ballot measure campaign, or a signature-gathering effort on behalf of a ballot measure, political party, or political action committee to issue a report on the political expenditures of the corporation in the previous fiscal year, and to notify shareholders prior to each political contribution.[1][4]

2012

See also: Changes in 2012 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the California State Legislature:

Defeatedd AB 1648: Requires that a candidate or ballot measure appearing in the slate mailer be designated by an asterisk if the slate mailer organization or committee primarily formed to support or oppose one or more ballot measures that is sending the slate mailer has received payment to include the candidate or ballot measure in the slate mailer.

Defeatedd AB 2220: Requires an additional paragraph further detailing a ballot measure's impact on state funding to be added to the legislative analysis of the measure.

Defeatedd AB 2294: Makes technical, non-substantive changes to existing law authorizing a person who is a registered voter or who is qualified to register to vote in this state to circulate an initiative or referendum petition anywhere within the state.

Defeatedd ACR 95: Bill description/summary: "This measure would propose that the electors of the state vote at the next statewide general election on the question of whether to call a convention for the purpose of revising the California Constitution."

Defeatedd SB 1296: This bill would require the Legislative Analyst, instead of the Attorney General, to prepare the ballot title and summary for all measures submitted to the voters of the state and would require the Legislative Analyst, instead of the Department of Finance and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, to prepare any fiscal estimate or opinion required by a proposed initiative measure. The bill would also remove the requirement for the legislature to prepare an argument against any ballot measure it submits to the public.

Defeatedd SCA 19: Transfers the responsibility for writing ballot titles and summaries from the Attorney General to state legislative analyst. Sponsor Jean Fuller contends that the process would be better handled by a nonpartisan official. Attorney General Kamala Harris has been criticized for her handling of state ballot measures.[1]

Approveda California Assembly Bill 1499 (2012): Alters the appearance of ballot items so that all proposed constitutional amendments and bond measures, whether proposed by the legislative referrals or by citizen initiatives, would now appear near the top of statewide ballots.[2] The bill was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on June 27, 2012 and a lawsuit against it was filed shortly after.[3] The bill is similar to SB 1039

2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the California State Legislature:

Defeatedd California Assembly Bill 1021: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This bill would, based on the fiscal analysis by the Department of Finance and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, that a measure which would establish a new or expanded program costing more than $1,000,000 per in any year without providing new revenues or eliminating existing programs to offset those costs, require that specified language be provided to the Attorney General which may be included in the circulating title and summary advising that the proposed initiative does not include sufficient funding to pay the cost of the measure. Existing law directs the Legislative Analyst to prepare an unbiased fiscal analysis of a measure that is included in the ballot pamphlet stating whether the measure would result in increased or decreased costs to the state and an estimate of those costs or savings.[1]
Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Assembly Bill 1232: Makes a minor change to the wording of Section 101 of the Elections Code.
Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Assembly Bill 481: AB 481 would require petition circulators to wear a badge designating whether they are a paid or volunteer worker. The law, known to opponents as a "scarlet letter law," specifies that the terms “paid circulator,” “paid signature gatherer,” “volunteer,” or “volunteer signature gatherer” must be printed in at least 30 pt. font on the badge. Similar language must also appear on the petition sheets. The bill has been passed out of committee.[2][3] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.
DefeateddCalifornia Assembly Bill 65: "If the Legislative Analyst determines that an initiative measure on the ballot would have a fiscal impact on the General Fund for which additional revenues in an amount that meets or exceeds the net increase in costs are not provided, a statement be included in the ballot pamphlet that the initiative measure will have an impact on the state's General Fund, which will affect the ability of the Legislature to provide funding for enumerated General Fund purposes." Sponsor: Mike Gatto
Defeatedd California Assembly Bill 651: AB 651 would require every group that hires petitions circulators to register with the state and pay a fee. It would additionally require that these groups review state law governing signature collection with petition circulators. Groups would have to provide signed statements verifying that this review had taken place. The bill additionally bans circulator contracts that make pay contingent on the measure's qualifying for the ballot.
Approveda California Assembly Bill 732 (2011): Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This bill would, for state bond measures that are submitted to the voters for their approval or rejection, require the summary of the Legislative Analyst's estimate of the net state and local government fiscal impact to include an explanatory table of the information in the summary."[4]
Defeatedd California Assembly Const. Amendment 5: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This measure would, until January 1, 2020, prohibit an initiative measure from being submitted to the electors or from having any effect if the initiative measure appropriates state funds for any purpose in an amount exceeding the amount appropriated for that purpose for the 2004–05 fiscal year by more than $250,000 unless the measure provides for additional state revenue or offsetting savings in a total amount that is not less than the amount of the appropriation...This measure would also, until January 1, 2020, prohibit the Treasurer from offering for sale or issuing general obligation bonds unless the measure that authorized the sale or issuance of the bond provides for additional state revenue or offsetting savings in an amount necessary to repay the bond, including principal and interest payments."[5]

Defeatedd California Assembly Const. Amendment 6: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This measure would require the Legislative Analyst and the Director of Finance to review an initiative measure not later than 15 days after its qualification for the ballot, and report the results of the review to the Secretary of State. This measure would prohibit an initiative measure that the Legislative Analyst or the Director of Finance determines would result in a net increase in state or local government costs exceeding $5,000,000, other than costs attributable to the issuance, sale, or repayment of bonds, from being submitted to the electors or having any effect unless the Legislative Analyst, the Director of Finance, or both, as applicable, determine that the initiative measure provides for additional revenues in an amount that meets or exceeds the net increase in costs. This requirement would provide for an annual adjustment to the amount of that cost threshold, and would not apply to costs incurred due to a provision of an initiative measure that reduces tax revenues, or due to the administration of such a provision."[6]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Assembly Const. Amendment 7: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This measure would prohibit an initiative measure that would result in a net increase in state or local government costs other than costs attributable to the issuance, sale, or repayment of bonds, from being submitted to the electors or having any effect unless and until the Legislative Analyst and the Director of Finance jointly determine that the initiative measure provides for additional revenues in an amount that meets or exceeds the net increase in costs."[7]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Assembly Const. Amendment 9: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This measure would require that an initiative that would increase the current vote requirement for an action by either the electors or by the Legislature, or would impose an extraordinary vote requirement for the amendment of an initiative statute by the Legislature without approval by the electors, itself receive the same affirmative vote percentage in order to be approved by the electors."[8]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Assembly Const. Amendment 10: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This measure would instead authorize the Legislature to amend orrepeal an initiative statute, effective 4 years or more after the date the initiative statute is approved by the voters, unless the initiative statute allows that action by the Legislature at an earlier date. The measure would require that an amendment or repeal of an initiative statute by the Legislature be passed by a percentage of the membership of each house that exceeds the percentage of voters that approved the initiative statute or, if applicable, that approved the most recent amendment of the initiative statute."[9]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Assembly Const. Amendment 11: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This measure would increase the vote requirement from a majority to 55% of the votes cast for the electors to amend the Constitution by an initiative measure, except that this measure would permit the electors to repeal a previously adopted initiative or legislative amendment to the Constitution, including certain subsequent amendments to that constitutional amendment, by an initiative measure passed by a majority vote."[10]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Assembly Const. Amendment 12: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This measure would require the Secretary of State to transmit a copy of an initiative measure certified for the ballot to each house of the Legislature no later than 176 days prior to the election at which the measure is to be voted upon. Within 30 days, the Legislature may propose an amended form of the initiative measure by adopting a concurrent resolution." If the proponent(s) accept these changes the amended form of the measure would appear on the ballot.[11][12]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Assembly Const. Amendment 19: ACA 19 proposes a measure substantially similar to ACA 12. However, it further provides that certified initiated statutes can be amended and adopted by the Legislature. The passage and amendment of the statute would be subject to the approval of the proponents and would be required to further the purposes of the measure. Statutes passed in this manner could only be amended or repealed with a two-thirds vote for the first six years and by a simple majority after that.[13]

Defeatedd (Vetoed) California Senate Bill 168: SB 168 would ban pay-per-signature in the State of California. Violation of the law would constitute a misdemeanor offense. Current law does not prohibit the practice, but it does require that petition forms include a notice indicating that the circulator may or may not be a volunteer. Sponsor: Ellen Corbett. The California State Legislature passed SB 168, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it.[14] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.

Approveda California Senate Bill 202 (2011): Bill description/summary: SB 22 would require all elections on ballot propositions to take place only in Novembers of even-numbered years. This language was added to SB 22 shortly before it was passed by the California State Legislature in early September 2011. Prior to adding that language, the original bill, which was filed in February 2011 would have changed the filing fee for filing a ballot title from $200 to $2,000.[15]
Defeatedd California Senate Bill 334
Defeatedd California Senate Bill 448: SB 448, much like the recently shelved AB 481, would require petition circulators to wear a badge designating whether they are a paid or volunteer worker. Unlike AB 481, the bill also requires the badge to identify where in California the circulator is registered to vote. While the law does not require the circulator to be registered, unregistered circulators would be identified as "NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE." The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D), placed AB 481 in the "inactive file" after a house committee passed SB 448. SB 448 has already passed the California State Senate.[16][17] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.
Defeatedd California Senate Bill 5: SB 5 would allow the proponent of a successful ballot initiative to join in the legal defense of that measure if its constitutionality were challenged. Sponsor: Tom Harman
Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Senate Const. Amendment 4: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "This measure would prohibit an initiative measure that would result in a net increase in state or local government costs other than costs attributable to the issuance, sale, or repayment of bonds, from being submitted to the electors or having any effect unless and until the Legislative Analyst and the Director of Finance jointly determine that the initiative measure provides for additional revenues in an amount that meets or exceeds the net increase in costs."[18]
Defeatedd California Senate Const. Amendment 5: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "The California Constitution conditions the imposition of a special tax by a city, county, or special district upon the approval of 2/3 of the voters of the city, county, or special district voting on that tax...This measure would alternatively condition the imposition, extension, or increase of a parcel tax, as defined, by a school district, community college district, or county office of education upon the approval of 55% of its voters voting on the proposition, if the proposition meets specified requirements."[19]

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg California Senate Const. Amendment 9: SCA 9 would permit the legislature to repeal or amend initiated statutes after 3 years. However, a change or repeal would require a majority in both houses that exceeds the margin of victory for the statute in question. The bill would not apply to past measures.

  1. California State Legislature, AB 1021 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  2. California Assembly Bill 481, as amended
  3. California Assembly Bill 481, Bill History
  4. California State Legislature, AB 732 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  5. California State Legislature, ACA 5 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  6. California State Legislature, ACA 9 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  7. California State Legislature, ACA 7 as introduced, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  8. California State Legislature, ACA 9 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  9. California State Legislature, ACA 10 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  10. California State Legislature, ACA 11 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  11. California State Legislature, ACA 12 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  12. Sacramento Bee, "Legislators push to alter Capitol's business-as-usual," December 20, 2010
  13. California State Legislature, ACA 19 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  14. Senate Bill 168, Bill information
  15. California State Legislature, AB 732 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  16. California Assembly Bill 448, Bill History
  17. California Assembly Bill 481, Bill History
  18. California State Legislature, SCA 4 as Introduced, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011
  19. California State Legislature, SCA 5 as Amended, "Legislative Counsel’s Digest," accessed July 11, 2011


2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing the initiative process



The following bills were introduced in the California Legislature:

Approveda California Assembly Bill 2101 (2010): AB 2101 would prohibit any person convicted of an elections fraud offense from accepting employment as a paid voter registration deputy or petition circulator. The proposal passed the California Assembly on May 6, 2010 by an unanimous 74-0 vote[1]. The bill advanced out of Senate Committee on June 15, 2010[2][3]. The Senate approved the bill by an unanimous 34-0 vote on August 9, 2010, with amendments made to the bill. The Assembly approved the Senate version of the bill on August 12, 2010, by a 78-0 vote, and awaits the Governor's signature[4].

Approveda California Assembly Bill 1717 (2010): AB 1717 would allow voters to opt out by mail from receiving the official voter information guide that publishes ballot measures. The bill was approved by the California Assembly on April 12, 2010, by a 71-0 vote, and awaits action in the California Senate[5]. The bill was approved by the California Senate on June 24, 2010 by a 31-0 vote[6]. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law on July 6, 2010[7].

Defeatedd AB 6, sponsored by Lori Saldana. AB 6 would have required petition drive management companies to register each year with the government. The bill was approved by the California Assembly on May 28, 2009, by a 49-28 vote[8]. The bill was later approved by the Senate on a 21-15 vote on August 31, 2009[9]. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill on October 11, 2009[10].

Defeatedd AB 10: Would prohibit petition circulators from engaging in political activity on public property. The bill died in Legislative committee on January 31, 2009[11].

Defeatedd AB 319, sponsored by Roger Niello, would have the California Legislative Analyst's Office prepare the ballot title and ballot summary for ballot propositions, rather than the California Attorney General. The bill died in Legislative committee on January 31, 2009[12].

Defeatedd AB 436, proposed by Lori Saldana, would raise the state's initiative filing fee over a six-year period from $200 to $2,000[13]. AB 436 was approved by the California Assembly on a 47-28 vote on May 28, 2009[14]. The bill was approved by the California Senate on September 9, 2009 by a 21-18 vote[15]. The bill was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on October 11, 2009[16].

Defeatedd AB 1278: Would require to California Legislative Analyst's Office to disclose more information on fiscal impact statements and expand the requirement for an impact statement to any measure involving state bonding.

Defeatedd AB 1832: Would incrementally increase the filing fees for initiative petitions in California from $200 to $2,000 from 2011 to 2017. The bill was approved by the California Assembly on April 5, 2010, by a vote of 48-29[17]. The bill advanced out of Senate committee on June 15, 2010, and was approved by the Senate on August 21, 2010 by a 21-15 vote[18][13]. The bill awaits the Governor's signature[13].

Defeatedd AB 1968: Would require the California Legislative Analyst's Office and not the California Attorney General to prepare the ballot title and summary to any qualified ballot measure. The bill was defeated in committee on a final reconsideration vote on May 19, 2010[19].

Defeatedd AB 2088: Would eliminate signature verification for recall petitions with less than 500 signatures and allows temporary appointments for vacant positions in the event of a failed recall effort for the balance of the unserved term. The bill passed the Assembly on May 13, 2010 by an unanimous 76-0 vote[20]. The bill was approved by the Senate on August 26, 2010 by a 37-0 vote[21]. The bill awaits the Governor's signature.

Defeatedd ACA 3: Would allow voters to have the right to approve or deny bond measures over $1 million using state bonds. The amendment advanced out of Assembly committee on August 27, 2009, and is scheduled for a floor vote when the Legislature returns from summer recess[22][23].

Defeatedd ACA 5: Would require any ballot measure using state bonding to be approved on a 55% super-majority. The amendment advanced out of Assembly committee on August 27, 2009, and is scheduled for a floor vote when the Legislature returns from summer recess[24][25].

Defeatedd ACA 13: Would change requirements for indirect initiatives. The proposed measure would give the California Legislature more authority to approve indirect initiatives and increase signature requirements for initiatives not approved by the Legislature. The amendment passed the Assembly on June 1, 2010, by a 48-27 vote and is scheduled for a vote in the Senate when the Legislature returns from summer recess[26][27].

Defeatedd ACA 14: Would limit the number of initiatives placed on the ballot to 5 per an election cycle.

Defeatedd ACA 20: Would require the California Legislative Analyst's Office to write the ballot title and summary instead of the Attorney General.

Defeatedd ACA 21: Would required citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to earn a 2/3rds super-majority from the voters in order to ratify the amendment. The amendment was approved in Assembly committee on August 27, 2009, and is scheduled for a floor vote when the Legislature returns from summer recess[28].

Defeatedd ACA 1: Would allow a measure on the November 2010 ballot to approve a constitutional convention.

Defeatedd ACR 84: Would create a Constitutional Convention commission to revise the current process for adopting a constitutional convention.

Defeatedd SB 754: Would change the official title and summary written by the Attorney General to 100 words for ballot measures.

Defeatedd SB 795: Would make it a crime for petition circulators failing to disclose the official title and summary from the Attorney General when accepting signatures for initiative petitions.

Defeatedd SB 915: Would require filing fees of unqualified ballot measures to be deposited in the state's general fund.

Defeatedd SB 1202, proposed by Mark DeSaulnier, would require that the California Voter Guide list the five top contributors to each ballot measure, and the amount of their contributions, as of 110 days before the day of the election. (Donations received by ballot proposition campaign committees in the last 110 days of a campaign would not be listed in the pamphlet.)[29]. The bill was approved by the California Senate on June 2, 2010 by a 21-14 vote[30]. An Assembly committee advanced the bill to a floor vote on August 4, 2010, and the full Assembly approved the bill on August 19, 2010, by a 52-26 vote[31][32]. The bill was returned back to the Senate and the Senate approved the final amendments on August 25, 2010 on a 21-11 vote[32]. The bill awaits the Governor's signature.

Defeatedd SB 1203, proposed by Mark DeSaulnier, requires paid initiative circulators to wear a badge. The badge must say in 30-point font, “Paid Signature Gatherer”. The badge must also say the name of the county in California in which the petitioner is registered to vote, and if the circulator is not registered, it must say, “Not Registered to Vote.”[33]. The bill passed the California Senate on May 28, 2010, by a 22-5 vote[34]. The bill was originally placed on inactive status by the request of Representative Charles Calderon on June 28, 2010[35]. The bill was moved from inactive status to being scheduled for a possible floor vote in the Assembly on August 19, 2010[36].

Defeatedd SCA 10: A senate version of ACA 13 that would change the requirements for indirect initiatives in California. The amendment was approved in Senate Committee on August 27, 2009, and awaits a floor vote when the Legislature returns from Summer recess[37][38].

Defeatedd SCA 14: Would ban ballot initiatives that result in a net increase in spending determined by the California Legislative Analyst's Office. The amendment was approved in Senate Committee on August 27, 2009, and awaits a floor vote when the Legislature returns from Summer recess[39][40].

Defeatedd SCA 16: A constitutional amendment switching requirements for indirect initiatives. The amendment allows legislators to switch, approve, or deny citizen initiated constitutional amendments and statutes. The amendment was approved in Senate Committee on August 27, 2009, and awaits a floor vote when the Legislature returns from Summer recess[41][42].

Defeatedd SCA 19: Would require a mandatory 15 year sunset period for ballot measures having a adverse impact on the state's general fund or special segregated funds.

Defeatedd SCR 3: Would authorize a constitutional convention in California on the November 2010 ballot.

  1. California Legislature "History of Assembly Bill 2101 (2010)
  2. California Legislature "Committee vote on AB 2101 (2010)," June 15, 2010
  3. California Legislature "Status of AB 2101"
  4. California Legislature "History of AB 2101 (2010)"
  5. California Legislature "Assembly vote of AB 436 (2010)
  6. California Legislature "Vote of AB 1717 (2010)-Senate," June 24, 2010
  7. California Legislature "History of AB 1717 (2010)"
  8. California Legislature "Vote of AB 6-Assembly(2009)"
  9. California Legislature "Vote of AB 6-Senate(2009)"
  10. California Legislature "Veto of AB 6 (2009)"
  11. California Legislature "History of AB 10 (2009-2010)"
  12. California Legislature "History of AB 319 (2009-2010)"
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Associated Press "Calif. eyes fee hike to file ballot initiatives," April 5, 2010
  14. California Legislature "Vote of AB 436-House(2009)"
  15. California Legislature "Vote of AB 436-Senate(2009)"
  16. California Legislature "Veto of AB 436 (2009)"
  17. California Legislature "Assembly vote of AB 1832 (2010)
  18. California Legislature "Committee Vote Summary of AB 1832," June 15, 2010
  19. California Legislature "History of AB 1951 (2010)"
  20. California Legislature "History of Assembly Bill 2088 (2010)"
  21. California Legislature "Status of AB 2088 (2010)"
  22. California Legislature "History of ACA 3 (2010)," July 25, 2010
  23. California Legislature "Status of ACA 3 (2010)"
  24. California Legislature "History of ACA 5 (2010)," July 25, 2010
  25. California Legislature "Status of ACA 5 (2010)"
  26. California Legislature "History of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 13 (2010)
  27. '"California Legislature "Status of ACA 13 (2010)"
  28. California Legislature "Status of ACA 21(2009-2010)"
  29. Associated Press, "Calif. lawmakers face deadline to pass legislation," May 30, 2010
  30. 'California Legislature "Vote of SB 1202-Senate(2010)"
  31. California Legislature "Committee Summary Vote of SB 1202," August 4, 2010]
  32. 32.0 32.1 California Legislature "History of SB 1202 (2010)"
  33. Ballot Access News, "California Senate Passes Bill to Require Circulators to Wear Badges," May 30, 2010
  34. California Legislature "History of Senate Bill 1203(2010)
  35. California Legislature "Status of SB 1203 (2010)"
  36. California Legislature "History of SB 1203"
  37. California Legislature "Status of SCA 10 (2010)"
  38. California Legislature "History of SCA 10 (2010)
  39. California Legislature "Status of SCA 14 (2010)"
  40. California Legislature "Status of SCA 14 (2010)
  41. California Legislature "History of SCA 16 (2010)"
  42. California Legislature "Status of SCA 16 (2010)"