Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Lawmakers Want to Amend This Prop? It’ll Take a “Super, Super, Super-Duper Majority”
gvw_calmatters
By CalMatters
Published 4 years ago on
October 11, 2020

Share

By Ben Christopher, CalMatters

A reader has asked us a question about a lesser-known provision buried in one of the year’s most controversial ballot measures:

If you haven’t already been blitzed with a dozen ads about it since you woke up today, Prop. 22 is the massively funded measure pushed by the likes of Uber and Lyft. It would exempt them from a state labor law requiring them to treat their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors.

At the bottom of the initiative’s text, there’s a proviso wrapped in a lot of legalese:

After the effective date of this chapter, the Legislature may amend this chapter by a statute passed in each house of the Legislature by rollcall vote entered into the journal, seven-eighths of the membership concurring, provided that the statute is consistent with, and furthers the purpose of, this chapter. 

Translated: If Prop. 22 passes, state lawmakers can only come back and change it if…

  • the change is “consistent” with what Prop. 22’s backers would want
  • seven-eighths of lawmakers agree

Geoff Vetter, a spokesperson for the Yes on 22 campaign, emailed that the high threshold ensures that “the legislature couldn’t completely undo the new law, but that there’s also flexibility in place to make tweaks in the future if that becomes necessary.”

It’s not at all unusual for ballot-measure writers to force state legislators to jump through hoops before they can monkey with the text of a voter-approved law. Many measures don’t allow legislative input at all.

Of the 24 states that put measures on the ballot, California is unique: By default, a law enacted by ballot measure can only be changed by another law enacted by ballot measure.

The exception to that rule: If crafters of the initiative explicitly say otherwise.

No surprise, many ballot measures do not say otherwise. Compared to that default, Prop. 22’s high bar for amendments actually gives the Legislature more influence than the norm.

Why allow legislative editing at all?

Mary-Beth Moylan, a professor at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento: “Sophisticated proponents appreciate that they may not be thinking of everything…They don’t want to go back through the process either. It’s really expensive.”

The decade-spanning ballot battle over chicken cage sizes offers a cautionary tale:

  • In 2008, voters OK’d a measure requiring farmers to let their animals stand up and turn around freely. Lawmakers could change the law afterward, but only if four-fifths agreed.
  • Farmers argued the proposition did not require them to go cage-free. Proponents of the measure disagreed.
  • Rather than try to convince legislators to goad some of California’s most powerful agricultural interests, the Humane Society put a new measure on the ballot to clarify.

A seven-eighths requirement would be an even steeper climb.

Inside the California Capitol, those types of margins are typically reserved for legislation that renames highways or protects puppies and kittens from being euthanized.

“I’ve looked at a lot of ballot measures over the years,” said Moylan, adding that a two-thirds majority is common.

But a seven-eighths “super, super, super-duper majority,” she said, “is new as far as I’m aware.”

About the Author

Ben covers California politics and elections. Prior to that, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state’s economy and budget. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has written for San Francisco magazine, California magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Priceonomics. Ben also has a past life as an aspiring beancounter: He has worked as a summer associate at the Congressional Budget Office and has a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

DON'T MISS

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

DON'T MISS

Indiana Fever Receives No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

DON'T MISS

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

DON'T MISS

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

DON'T MISS

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

DON'T MISS

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

DON'T MISS

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

DON'T MISS

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

DON'T MISS

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

UP NEXT

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

UP NEXT

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

UP NEXT

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

UP NEXT

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

UP NEXT

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

UP NEXT

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

UP NEXT

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

UP NEXT

Several Writers Decline Recognition From PEN America in Protest Over Its Israel-Hamas War Stance

UP NEXT

US Consumer Sentiment Falls Slightly as Outlook for Inflation Worsens

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

2 hours ago

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

2 hours ago

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

Local /

3 hours ago

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

3 hours ago

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

4 hours ago

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

4 hours ago

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

5 hours ago

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

5 hours ago

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

5 hours ago

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

6 hours ago

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

Alright, cats and kittens, straphang onto your beanies because I’m about to lay a news flash on you that’s so whimsically wild it coul...

31 mins ago

Fresno Monopoly Edition
31 mins ago

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

35 mins ago

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

39 mins ago

Indiana Fever Receives No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

2 hours ago

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

2 hours ago

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

Local /
3 hours ago

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

3 hours ago

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

4 hours ago

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend