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WHAT ABOUT INITIATIVES?
When we looked at the Initiative situation several months back it seemed the prospects for a proliferation of ballot issues were daunting. It appears that may have been a poor prediction. Only three signature approved initiatives are on the June ballot, including the California Fair Elections Proposition 15 which is partially sponsored by the League. The other two issues on the June ballot were placed there by the Legislature.
The only things on the November ballot at this time are a bond issue and an initiative regulating marijuana sales. An initiative requiring congressional districts be drawn by the new state redistricting commission is undergoing signature verification. But what of the other 80 initiative petitions out for signature?
The Secretary of State web site on April 15 identifies 10 initiatives that have failed to qualify. Two initiatives had previously been withdrawn. There are 16 more initiatives that have qualification deadline in April, five of which relate to repealing Proposition 8 and approving same sex couples marriage. Other than one relating to changing the two-thirds vote requirement in the legislature to a simple majority none seems to have much broad-based appeal. However, a similar initiative is on the “failed to qualify” list.
We might ask why so many proposed initiatives fail to end up on the ballot. Are there so many that none gain traction, even with professional signature gatherers? Does the significant duplication of proposed initiatives confuse prospective signatories? Are citizens becoming disenchanted with the entire democratic process? Are Californians viewing the initiative process as just another example of a dysfunctional government? We are going to have to wait until after the election to see what the talking heads think. As for me, it is just a part of the California electorates’ continuing failure to rationalize the way we govern ourselves. – Jack Murray