Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Commentary: Two Arcane Ballot Measures Show Need for Reform
dan_walters
By Dan Walters, CalMatters Commentary
Published 6 years ago on
October 11, 2018

Share

There’s a symbiotic relationship between two of the 11 statewide ballot measures facing voters next month, Propositions 8 and 11.
Both would have voters decide very narrow union-management conflicts in two relatively small medical service sectors — with sponsors of both claiming that passage would reduce health care costs. And both set a very dangerous precedent.


Opinion
by Dan Walters
CALmatters Columnist

Proposition 8, sponsored by unions, purports to limit profits in clinics that provide dialysis treatments to sufferers of kidney failure. The providers, of course, oppose the measure.
Proposition 11, sponsored by ambulance companies, would allow them to require ambulance crews to remain on call during meal and rest breaks. It draws opposition, not surprisingly, from unions.
Both are obviously important to the interests that support and oppose them. However, it’s foolish to expect November’s nine-plus million voters to make even semi-informed decisions about their provisions, much less understand how dialysis clinics and ambulance services operate, or should operate.

Petty Conflicts Don’t Belong on Ballot

The initiative process should be confined to matters of more widespread and fundamental importance to the welfare of 40 million people. We’ve had relatively petty conflicts in ballot measures before, but these two take it to another level.
They are there because any interest group with a few million bucks and an ax to grind can qualify a ballot measure, regardless of their merits. Placing measures on the 2018 ballot was especially easy because a record low voter turnout at the last gubernatorial election in 2014 lowered the threshold of required signatures on initiative petitions for this year’s election.
Turnout will be somewhat higher this year for a variety of reasons, so qualifying measures in the future will be a bit more difficult, or expensive. Nevertheless, Propositions 8 and 11 have now shown the way and voters can expect to see more similarly arcane proposals in years to come.
Gov. Jerry Brown rightfully vetoed a bill to ban initiative promoters from paying for signature-gathering by each name they collect. That’s not to say, however, that the initiative process couldn’t benefit from some judicious changes, such as raising the signature threshold.

Raising Required Petition Signatures Might Help

Currently, a statutory initiative must obtain signatures of registered voters equal to 5 percent of the total vote for governor in the previous election, or 8 percent if it’s a constitutional amendment.
For this year, that meant 365,880 valid names for a statutory initiative and 585,407 for a constitutional amendment. Those are pretty small numbers, given the state’s more than 19 million registered voters.
Raising the required percentages by half — perhaps 8 percent for statutes and 12 percent for constitutional amendments — might discourage the misuse of the system for issues that cannot be fairly and rationally decided by voters.
Toughening the signature requirements also is important because the Legislature – perhaps to its regret – recently decreed that sponsors of initiatives can pull them off the ballot even after they’ve qualified, giving them leverage to demand legislative “solutions” to their issues.
The genteel form of extortion allowed by the new rules happened for the first time this year and we’ll see more of it in the future. But if initiative sponsors want to game the newly revised system, they should face higher entry fees by being compelled to collect more signatures.
Perhaps we should have a two-tiered signature threshold, providing access to legislative leverage only to those who collect a much-higher number of signatures — pay to play, as it were.
CALmatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.

DON'T MISS

The Cost to Inform California Voters? $118,000 a Page for Official Guide

DON'T MISS

Top Russian Military Officials Are Being Arrested. Why Is It Happening?

DON'T MISS

Delta Tunnel Water Project May Finally Be Nearing a Historic Decision

DON'T MISS

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

DON'T MISS

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

DON'T MISS

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

DON'T MISS

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

DON'T MISS

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

DON'T MISS

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

DON'T MISS

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

UP NEXT

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

UP NEXT

Opinion: Likelihood of Trump Seeing the Inside of a Cell Is Increasing

UP NEXT

California Supreme Court Weighs Two Cases That Could Limit the Ballot Initiative Process

UP NEXT

Newsom Says No New Taxes, Yet His Budget Has Billions in New Levies on Businesses

UP NEXT

How the Beatles Empowered a Research Genius to Save Millions of Lives

UP NEXT

A Radical Lesson From El Salvador to Solve Fresno Housing & Homeless Crisis

UP NEXT

How California’s Bursting Budget Morphed into a $45 Billion Deficit in Just Two Years

UP NEXT

Hydrogen vs. Electric Batteries: A Case For Fresno’s Transportation & Ag Future

UP NEXT

Netanyahu’s Misguided Gaza Strategy Threatens Israel’s Future: Fareed Zakaria

UP NEXT

Opinion: How Urban Renewal Ruined Everything

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

1 day ago

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

1 day ago

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

1 day ago

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

2 days ago

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

2 days ago

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

2 days ago

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

2 days ago

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

2 days ago

UCLA Police Arrest Young Man for Alleged Felony Assault in Attack on Pro-Palestinian Encampment

2 days ago

UAW Files Objection to Mercedes Vote, Accuses Company of Intimidating Workers

2 days ago

The Cost to Inform California Voters? $118,000 a Page for Official Guide

What’s the cost of democracy in California? Sameea Kamal CalMatters If we calculate that based just on the pages informing the state’s 22...

5 hours ago

5 hours ago

The Cost to Inform California Voters? $118,000 a Page for Official Guide

5 hours ago

Top Russian Military Officials Are Being Arrested. Why Is It Happening?

5 hours ago

Delta Tunnel Water Project May Finally Be Nearing a Historic Decision

1 day ago

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

1 day ago

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

1 day ago

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

2 days ago

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

2 days ago

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend