Coming Initiative Tsunami

Jan. 8, 2010

By KATY GRIMES

Fifty-one initiatives have been cleared for the ballot, two are pending and nine have failed to qualify as of December 30, 2009.

Two of the proposed initiatives that failed to quality are the “Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing of Legislators” and the “Requirement for Legislators to Certify That Have Not Accepted a Bribe or Engaged in Illegal Vote Swapping.”

The other proposed initiatives that failed to qualify are : “Part-time legislature,” the “denial of public benefits for persons who cannot verify lawful presence” in the state, the “Reinstatement Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry,” “Tax on Employers Who Collect Life-Insurance Benefits Upon the Death of Former Employees,” “Limits On Voting without state-issued identification” and the “Tax on Pension Distributions and Health Care Benefits.”

Below is a rundown of some of the initiatives that have cleared for the upcoming ballots:

1406 Prohibits Voting By Those Who Fail to Provide Government-Issued Identification.

This initiative requires valid government-issued identification to vote. It also invalidates mail-in and provisional ballots unless an elections official verifies the last four digits of the voter’s identification with corresponding government records. Without proper identification, a ballot will be cast as provisional.

The initiative also establishes that ballots from absent military personnel are timely postmarked by Election Day.

The initiative was in the news recently when its key proponent, Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, sued Attorney General Jerry Brown for writing what he called “misleading” and “slanted” language in the ballot initiative. The Attorney General’s Office rewrote the language and the lawsuit was dropped.

Will Smith, chief of staff to Runner, said that it was necessary to put this on the ballot “because the state Legislature has repeatedly defeated attempts to make it a requirement to show identification to vote, in order to combat voter fraud.” Smith explained that, “the opposition claims that there is no voter fraud to support such a measure, because district attorneys statewide do not have the resources to prosecute individual cases of voter fraud, a lack of prosecution is not evidence of no crime.”  Smith added, “With ID required for everything from renting a movie, to using a credit card, to flying on a plane, requiring identification to vote is not a burden on the individual or unreasonable.”

Opposition to 1406 has come primarily from ACORN (Association of Community Organizations For Reform Now) according to Runner’s office. Phone calls and emails to statewide ACORN offices were not answered.

But Attorney General Brown offered this statement when battling Runner over the initiative description: “Sen. Runner fails to acknowledge the troubled history of voting in our country where some have erected discriminatory barriers including poll taxes, literary tests and requirements that one own property in order to vote.  Sen. Runner justifies his new restrictions based on claims of widespread fraud, but empirical evidence is to the contrary; such cases are extraordinarily rare…These restrictions are all new, and they derive from Sen. Runner and his partisan allies…”

1379: Eliminates the law allowing married couples to divorce.

Described on the initiative Web site as “safeguarding marriage from the evils of divorce,” the 2010 Marriage Protection Act appears to be satirically banning divorce in the state of California. The bill’s proponent John Marcotte has described the movement as “a natural extension of the 2008 California Marriage Protection Act, a.k.a. Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage.”

Karen England of the conservative Capitol Resource Institute said that her understanding is that the goal of the initiative is “to attempt to expose the hypocrisy of pro-marriage leaders and Proposition 8.” England said she “would rather work toward fixing no-fault divorce in the state if the goal is really pro-marriage.”

The initiative’s proponent did not return calls or emails.

1404 Imposes Political Contribution Restrictions on Public Employee Labor Organizations.

This initiative seeks to stop public employee labor organizations from using member dues for contributions to political campaigns or committees unless the actual employee provides prior annual written consent on a particular form.

In conjunction, initiative 1403 Makes Illegal the Use of Public Employee Wage Deductions for Political Activities.

This initiative amends the California Constitution to make it illegal to deduct political contributions from public employees’ wages.

Initiative proponent Mark Bucher, who co-authored a 1998 paycheck protection initiative, explained, “The need to put this initiative on the ballot stems from public employee unions using employer payroll systems to help fund politicians.” Bucher said, “Since unions use government to exist, then politicians should not be taking money from unions. The system works only because legislators authorize unions to take employee dollars and then the politicians receive about one-quarter right off of the top.”

Opponents of the measure have not committed publicly yet, and are thought to be the state’s public employee unions.

Supporters are also scarce according to Bucher. “Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, is the only legislator to endorse the measure thus far,” said Bucher. “This is because all politicians take public employee union contributions, and they are uncertain what ramifications their opposition may have,” he added.

Calls to the SEIU for comment were not returned.

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  1. Pete Rincon
    Pete Rincon 11 January, 2010, 15:19

    As consevatives, we tend to lose the public opinion battles by sating what we believe is wrong and what we are trying to accomplish. Prevent voter fraud, excessing control of election results by unions, highjacking of union employee dues for political purposes without the consent of union employees, etc. What we should do, and I would recommend to Senator Runner’s staff is to attempt to re-word the title of 1406 as a voter registration issue. We have all sorts of initiatives to register voters, what better place than at the voting booths? You want to vote and don’t have a registered state ID, lets sign you up so you can vote, either conditionally until a valid ID is issued, or on the next election in the county, but bring your newly issued ID with you.

    Regarding 1403 and 1404, I would encourage the proponents to put a positive spin on this make it attractive to the union employees. Call initiative 1403 the union member dues protection act. Call, 1404 something like the Public Employees right to free political choice act. Explain that under the current system, public employees give away their right to a different policial choice they might have different from their union leadership. There are any number of examples, but union employees do not always have a free choice, if they want to excercise their choice over the union’s choice they have to dig deep into their own pockets, when the union has taken that money and spoken on the employees’ behalf. This is not the way things should be done in a free society. The employees should have the choice to use the money taken from their paycheck by the union, to direct it to policies or candidates of their choice, not that of the union leadership or the union should not take their money period.

    Bottom line, as conservatives we get too caught up in what we want to change and forget we need to make things appealing to the electorate. We name to brand initiatives and programs for what they are, efforts to allow citizens to control their own destiny and not have that power hijacked by organizations purporting to be on their side, when in fact they only seek to impose their will upon all of us.

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  2. Onur
    Onur 24 April, 2012, 21:26

    Ouch!! For all the talk about the government’s role in heatlh care, the most encouraging thing I see happening is business doing what they have to do focusing on ways in which they can get their people working on heatlhy lifestyles to eliminate the root cost problem. Yes, the uninsured and unchecked lawyers are an issue, but mostly it’s people not taking responsibility for their heatlh thinking that modern medicine will take care of all issues without a steep cost.

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