Trigger clause (ballot measures)

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A trigger clause is any clause within a ballot measure that changes the effect or application of that measure based on outside factors. While many initiatives contain conditional provisions (e.g. applying a tax to soda and not juice), trigger causes effect the application of the measure itself.

For example, a measure may apply differently to different counties based on the approval or disapproval of the measure in those counties. (This particular type of clause is banned in California.) Also, a measure might specify alternative provisions if some of its provision are challenged or overturned by the courts. For example, a local pension reform measure in California included a clause that would have frozen municipal wages for five years if the measure was challenged in court. That clause was struck down by a state judge.[1]

Although trigger clauses can be used for benign purposes, they can also be used to threaten residents considering legal or electoral action against a measure by imposing additional costs on unsuccessful opponents.

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