SACRAMENTO - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Think Long Committee for California chair Nicolas Berggruen and others to sign legislation - SB 1253 - to increase public participation in the initiative process and provide better information to voters on ballot measures.
"California's century-old initiative process is a hallmark of our electoral system and today we're taking an important step to modernize and strengthen direct democracy," said Governor Brown.
The legislation, authored by Senate pro Tem Steinberg, requires the Secretary of State's office to post on the Internet and regularly update the top 10 donors of the committees in support and opposition of an initiative. The measure introduces a 30-day public review period at the beginning of the initiative process. Proponents can amend the initiative in response to public input during that review period. The signature gathering period would also be extended to 180 days instead of the current 150 days.
"SB 1253 improves the initiative process in a simple but profound way. By allowing an initiative proponent to withdraw their measure closer to the election, it allows for the possibility of reasoned compromise and a better result between the people's elected government and the people's initiative alternative," said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
"SB 1253 strengthens the integrity of the initiative process, which is uniquely influential in California political life. It introduces transparency of funding while also enabling broader debate and public review so that measures can be modified before they go to the ballot, avoiding unintended consequences," said Think Long Committee for California chair Nicolas Berggruen.
"California's initiative process leaves little room for alternatives and compromises in making public policy. SB 1253 changes the timetable in a way that allows the Legislature to engage with proponents and find ways to implement legislative solutions. We look forward to participating in the new process and encouraging Californians to do so," said president of the League of Women Voters of California Helen Hutchison.
"Common Cause is pleased to stand with Governor Brown and a broad coalition of organizations to support SB 1253. SB 1253 will give voters the chance to see what initiatives are about early in the process, address flaws if there are problems with the language, and get easy access to information about who is backing the initiatives. SB 1253 modernizes the initiative process to put voters back in driver's seat," said California Common Cause executive director Kathay Feng.
"Too often, ballot measures are confusing and poorly written, but there is no chance for initiative backers to make even the most routine changes. This legislation makes common-sense improvements that will help voters understand what their votes mean and enable them to make informed decisions," said former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and Think Long Committee member Ronald George.
Governor Brown signed SB 1253 in his office today, joined by a number of the bill's supporters (pictured left to right,) including: Think Long Committee for California senior adviser Nathan Gardels, California Forward chair Lenny Mendonca, League of Women Voters of California senior director for program Trudy Schafer, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Think Long Committee for California chair Nicolas Berggruen, California Common Cause executive director Kathay Feng, California NAACP president Alice Huffman and Former Assembly Speaker and Think Long Committee for California member Robert Hertzberg.
For full text of the bill, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
Photo Credit: Kelly Huston, Office of the Governor.
SB 1253 Signed by Governor
Press release issued by Governor Jerry Brown's office
California Common Cause, California Forward, California NAACP, Think Long Committee for California