California is wild and crazy, fruity and nutty. Not in Hollywood, but in Sacramento.
The state’s enormous prison population — so large that the Feds recently ordered California to release overcrowded prisoners — feeds an otherwise expensive prison system, straining the state’s strapped budget.
So what did Golden State solons go and do?
They created a new crime.
Almost. Senate Bill 168 has passed both houses of the state’s General Assembly and sits on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.
The bill would make it “a misdemeanor for a person to pay or to receive money or any other thing of value based on the number of signatures obtained on a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition. . . .”
The penalties are up to a year in jail or a $25,000 fine or both.
What is the compelling reason to criminalize paying people for being productive and gathering more signatures, rather than less?
Fraud. Or so supporters say.
But instances of fraud on initiative petitions in California have dropped a whopping 78 percent over the last decade. Moreover, there’s no evidence that paying people on the number of signatures they gather induces fraud.
The Sacramento Bee urged Governor Brown to veto SB-168 and prevent it from “raising the cost of qualifying measures, freezing out less wealthy groups, and making direct democracy more of a captive of well-heeled interest groups.”
If you live in California, call the Governor’s office at (916) 445-2841 and respectfully ask him to veto SB 168.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.