California Democrats seek legislative control over ballot measures
February 11, 2013
California Democrats hope to use their new supermajority to give the legislature more control over the initiative process. [Sac Bee]
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg plans to reveal initiative reform proposals this month, which may include removing the two-thirds vote requirement to put a tax increase on the ballot. Steinberg is also considering an “indirect initiative” proposal that would allow the legislature to amend initiatives or pass their own versions with agreement from the proponents.
“The biggest problem, I believe, is that there is not a real connection between the initiative process and representative government in a way that could make both representative government and the initiative product better,” Steinberg said.
Republican strategist Jennifer Kerns said Steinberg’s proposals “are aimed at squelching the voice of the people.”
“Given the fact that they’ve taken the supermajority back, I think they’re looking for as many ways to maintain a concentration of power in Sacramento as possible,” Steinberg said.
Supporters say initiative reform would allow the legislature to remove flaws from ballot measures and make the budget process more efficient by restricting “ballot-box budgeting.”
State Democrats did not like the fact that Proposition 30 faced competition last November from another tax measure proposed by a civil rights attorney. Molly Munger donated more than $40 million to the Proposition 38 campaign even though it lost in a landslide.
Steinberg is also considering reforms that would restrict high donor financing of initiatives.