With nothing left to do this legislative session except sit and wait for Gov. Jerry Brown to act on hundreds of bills (check out our roundup of measures to watch), it’s rather quiet around the halls of the Capitol. The rest of the state, however, is alive with the sound of paid signature gatherers inviting passersby to qualify scores of ballot initiatives for next November’s election.
Four are already eligible: a referendum on the statewide plastic bag ban passed by lawmakers last year, a reversal of 1998’s Proposition 227 restricting bilingual education in public schools, a measure to protect a multibillion-dollar federal revenue stream for California hospitals from legislative interference, and a $9 billion school bond.
Another 64 proposals are in various stages of completion. Thirty-seven of them have already been cleared for circulation; they cover everything from requiring condoms for porn performers to ending spousal support, from overhauling California’s reasonable use of force laws to flying the state flag above the stars and stripes, from increasing the Legislature by tenfold to rebranding our governor as a president.
Many of these fine ideas will fail to make the cut, of course, but the ballot may still be stacked with big battles. Marijuana supporters are making another major legalization push; unions are lining up behind efforts to increase the tobacco tax, raise the minimum wage to $15 and extend the Proposition 30 education taxes; and opponents are seeking to overturn California’s new mandatory vaccinations law. Issues like public pensions, the death penalty and campaign finance disclosure are also in the mix.
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And never count out those scrappy ferret lovers, who have turned to the initiative process after years of failed of attempts to legitimize their pets through the Legislature.
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, who turns 33 today.