May 17, 2011

Another Defeat for California Initiative Reform

RATIONAL ELECTION reform is sometimes tough to come by. Whether it's the pressure of lobbyists, party differences or ego, good ideas don't always carry the day.

That's the case with California Senate Bill 334.

The bill was born out of the efforts of Trent Lange and the California Clean Money Campaign. That organization found an author for their initiative reform proposal in Senator Mark DeSaulnier. The logic behind the bill was pretty solid - voters should know who paid for signature gathering on ballot initiatives that qualify for the ballot and get printed in the State Voter Pamphlet.

The legislation required that the Secretary of State include in the ballot pamphlet a list of the names of the five largest contributors of $50,000 or more to the petition circulation drive that qualified an initiative for the ballot.

The Walnut Creek Democrat carried the bill and it's first stop was the Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee. The bill passed out of committee on a party vote - 3 to 2.

The next stop was the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. The hearing was May 16.

At that hearing, Senators placed the bill in the appropriations "Suspense file."

With that move, another initiative reform idea got defeated. (When a legislative proposal gets placed in the "suspense file," it normally means the fight is over. The bill is dead.)

Why does a good government piece of legislation that is pretty straight forward and not at all costly get defeated?

Politics, I suppose.

You decide.

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