Coming Initiative Tsunami

by CalWatchdog Staff | January 8, 2010 10:34 am

Jan. 8, 2010


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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