Few things stir emotions in California politics quite like ballot measures.

But heading into 2018, it’s not clear which initiatives will make it to the ballot, writes CALmatters columnist Dan Walters in his Dec. 24 column.

There are 37 potential 2018 initiatives that have been cleared for signature gathering, and several others are in the works, writes Walters. Perhaps the most controversial would remove Proposition 13’s property tax limits on commercial property.

But, Walters opines, “(h)ow many and which ones make it to the November ballot” are yet to be determined.

That said, Walters’ 57 years of reporting leads him to believe that voters will have to decide on a likely “potpourri of special interest gambits, ideological symbolism and serious governance proposals.”

GOP Candidates for Governor Sponsor Ballot Measures

Interestingly, Gavin Newsom, the leading Democratic contender to succeed termed-out Jerry Brown as governor, elevated his image by sponsoring measures to crack down on gun ownership and legalize marijuana in 2016.

In addition, both Republican gubernatorial candidates are sponsoring 2018 ballot measures. Businessman John Cox wants to increase the size of the Legislature and change how it is elected. Assemblyman Travis Allen hopes to repeal California’s gas-tax hike.

Walters notes that “through 2016, just 376 of 1,952 proposed measures qualified for the ballot and voters passed scarcely a third of those – 132.”

But, adds Walters, “That seemingly low number doesn’t tell the whole story of how the initiative process has impacted the state. Much of the state budget, for example, is driven by two successful initiatives, the iconic Proposition 13 property tax limit in 1978 and the Proposition 98 school finance law a decade later.”

For those who wonder how California’s ballot initiative process came about, here’s the history ala Walters:

“Originally created 105 years ago as a check on corrupt or inattentive legislative bodies – the Southern Pacific Railroad virtually owned the state Legislature at the time – the initiative was used sparingly until suddenly morphing into a powerful political tool and a lucrative industry for professional signature-gatherers, fundraisers and campaign consultants.”

To read the entire column, click here.




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