The war on democracy is ongoing. One of the ironies some folks note is that the biggest opponents of citizens’ direct say in government tend to be sitting Democratic politicians. But Democrats who earnestly support democracy can take heart, for not only can they remind Republicans of recent GOP-led jihads against initiative rights, but Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, just vetoed an initiative-silencing bill in California.
Of course, it was concocted by labor unions for their benefit, and was supported by Democrats in the Assembly, but still: Huzzahs for Jerry Brown!
Assembly Bill 857, advanced by Cupertino’s Paul Fong, would have placed hurdles on the petitioning process by limiting the paying of petitioners to qualify initiatives for the ballot. The vetoed law, if enacted, would have required 10 percent of valid signatures to be volunteers. But “volunteer” included union workers who were, in fact, being paid to circulate petitions.
And that was one of the governor’s complaints about the weaselly legislation.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association had gone on record opposing the measure, charging that it would have made the process more difficult for most groups with its cumbersome record-keeping requirements. And another part of the bill, as Neal Hobson summarized at Citizens in Charge,
would have established a right for any California citizen to sue the sponsors of initiative petitions by claiming they had turned in any fraudulent signatures. Whether such charges could be substantiated or not, the resultant litigation could bankrupt initiative campaigns with legal fees.
Devious political minds obviously cooked up this bill. Exclude Gov. Brown from that designation.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.