It is not enough that the Democrats control almost 2/3’rd of the California Legislature, now they want to hamper California citizens to use the initiative and referendum process to act as check on their political power.
Democrats in the Legislature are trying to make it harder for Californians to pass their own laws at the ballot box, saying the state’s century-old initiative process has been hijacked by the special interests it was created to fight and has perpetuated Sacramento’s financial woes.
In the waning weeks of this year’s lawmaking session, legislators will push bills to raise filing fees, place new restrictions on signature gatherers and compel greater public disclosure of campaign contributors.
One measure would allow the Legislature to propose changes that would appear on the ballot alongside an initiative even if its sponsor rejected them. Another would give the Legislature the right to amend or repeal initiatives that pass, after four years have gone by.
Such changes would severely weaken what little leverage Republicans and their allies still have in California after last year’s election, which solidified Democratic control of the Capitol.
But Democrats say their efforts have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with moderating “direct democracy” gone wild.
“I don’t want to get rid of the initiative process,” said state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), one of the effort’s leaders and author of a proposal to make signature gatherers wear badges showing they are paid to collect names. “I just want it to work better.”
Republicans and their supporters are crying foul, saying Democrats just want to maintain the status quo.
The sad fact is that the Democrats have controlled the Legislature for decades in California and without a strong Republican Governir to veto bills, California would have been in a worse fiscal mess. Remeber when Gray Davis was Governor?
The initiative and referendum act as a check on the exuberance of California Democrats to spend the California treasury blind.
The proposed changes “are basically attempts to … blame the process because you are kind of losing the game,” said Shaun Bowler, an initiative expert at UC Riverside.
Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Linda), vice chairman of the lower house elections committee, called the initiative legislation “the height of arrogance.” Democrats “own the Legislature,” he said, “and they are making it impossible for the people to rise up and say enough is enough.”
The bills are just a blatant power grab by Democratic Legislators and should be rejected. But, will Democrat Governor Jerry Brown have the guts to veto the legislation?