In California, voters are allowed to promote ballot initiatives on almost any subject, including those that can fundamentally change the state constitution. Here are some initatives that are currently in circulation as of November 18, 2009. Only a few will make it to the ballot, but it is interesting to see what changes some want to see in the law.
Here’s what your neighbors may be voting on in the next election if the promoters of these initatives gather enough signatures. Can you trust the voters with your rights? The “power of the majority” can cut both ways, which is why I believe that there are certain rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution which the “majority” cannot touch. However, given the recent California Supreme Court decision on the marriage cases, every right is apparently up for grabs, including, ironically, the right to divorce. Editor
The links are to the Secretary of State’s website where you can download the full text of the proposed initatives.
Reinstates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Summary Date: 06/22/09 Circulation Deadline: 11/19/09 Signatures Required: 694,354
Proponent: Charles Lowe (800) 778-2998
Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Provides that the initiative is not intended, and shall not be interpreted, to modify or change the curriculum in any school. Clarifies that the initiative is not intended, and shall not be interpreted, to mandate or require clergy of any church or religious institution to perform a service or duty inconsistent with his or her faith. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Over the long run, this measure would likely have little fiscal impact on state and local governments. (09-0011.) (Full Text)
Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing for Members of the Legislature. Initiative Statute.
Summary Date: 07/13/09 Circulation Deadline: 12/10/09 Signatures Required: 433,971
Proponents: Dorothy Cummings and Gary Ellis
Requires all legislators elected subsequent to passage of this initiative to be tested for the illegal use of drugs and the “habitual use of alcohol.” Prevents a legislator who tests positive from performing his or her official duties or from getting paid until that legislator completes a substance abuse program at his or her own expense. Requires a legislator to permanently forfeit his or her office upon a second positive test. Provides exception for use of medicinal marijuana under a doctor’s care. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Probably no significant change in state costs in most years. (09-0014.) (Full Text)
Changes California Law to Legalize, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana. Initiative Statute.
Summary Date: 09/08/09 Circulation Deadline: 02/05/10 Signatures Required: 433,971
Proponent: Joe Rogoway, Omar Figueroa, and James J. Clark (415) 946-5591
Repeals state laws that make it a crime for people 21 years old or older to use, possess, sell, cultivate, or transport marijuana or industrial hemp, except laws that make it a crime to drive while impaired or to contribute to the delinquency of a minor. Expunges state convictions based on the repealed marijuana-related laws. Requires state and local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana. Requires taxes to be spent on education, healthcare, environmental programs, public works, and state parks. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Savings in the several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major new excise, income, and sales tax revenues related to the production and sale of marijuana products. (09-0022.) (Full Text)
Eliminates the Law Allowing Married Couples to Divorce. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Summary Date: 10/23/09 Circulation Deadline: 03/22/10 Signatures Required: 694,354
Proponent: John Marcotte
Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the ability of married couples to get divorced in California. Preserves the ability of married couples to seek an annulment. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Savings to the state of up to hundreds of millions of dollars annually for support of the court system due to the elimination of divorce proceedings, and the use of the right professionals for divorce appeals is a good option for this.
. (09-0026.) (Full Text)
Requires Public Schools to Offer Christmas Music. Initiative Statute.
Summary Date: 10/30/09 Circulation Deadline: 03/29/10 Signatures Required: 433,971
Proponents: Merry Susan Hyatt and David Joseph Hyatt
Requires public schools to offer an opportunity for students to listen to or perform Christmas music during the holiday season. Requires schools to notify students’ parents or guardians twenty-one days before the music will be played or performed so that students can opt-out of listening to or performing the music. Provides that a civil lawsuit may be brought to enforce these requirements. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Probably minor annual costs to school districts. (09-0030.) (Full Text)