Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown signs bill raising California’s ballot initiative fee

Voters cast 2012 ballots in the county registrar’s office in downtown Modesto.
Voters cast 2012 ballots in the county registrar’s office in downtown Modesto. Modesto Bee file

California’s citizen democracy is about to get more expensive.

Punctuating a debate about deterring frivolous ballot measures, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday announced signing a bill hiking the cost of filing a ballot initiative from $200 to $2,000. The tenfold increase, which takes effect in January, marks the first time the fee has risen since 1943.

Lawmakers backing Assembly Bill 1100 argued it would ensure people pursue only serious proposals, pointing to a broadly reviled initiative submitted this year that sought to execute homosexuals. Attorney General Kamala Harris won a court’s permission to block that measure.

But critics warned of closing an avenue to voter participation, saying a higher fee would further move the initiative process from its goal of citizen empowerment to an outlet for wealthy special interests. Brown did not offer any comment on his decision.

Other bills Brown announced signing included:

▪ Senate Bill 186, which allows California community colleges to suspend or expel students for sexual assaults that occur off campus.

▪ Senate Bill 633, which imposed new rules on when products can bear a “Made in U.S.A.” label.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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