California’s legislature is moving a bill forward that will throttle back the ability to place citizen initiatives on the statewide ballot. As noted in Ballot Access News on May 10th in a post entitled “California Democratic Legislators Advance Bills Injuring Ballot Access for New Parties, Initiatives,” the bill is nearing passage by both houses of California’s legislature:
“On May 9, the California Senate passed SB 168, which makes it illegal to pay circulators on a per-signature basis, if they are working on initiative, referendum, or recall petitions. On the same day, the Senate passed SB 448, which forces circulators of those kind of petitions to wear a button that tells whether they are paid or volunteer. These bills also passed on party line votes, with all Democrats voting “yes” and all Republicans voting ‘no.'”
The impact of this legislation, which is expected to pass the Assembly and get signed by California Governor Brown, will be to double (or even triple) the price of successfully placing a citizen initiative onto California’s state ballot. Anyone who has tried to raise money to qualify a state ballot initiative knows what an advantage the powerful special interests have in this high-stakes political niche, whether they are public employee unions or large corporate interests. Only grassroots organizations with limited access to funding, from taxpayer groups to progressive organizations, are negatively impacted by this legislation.
From Citizens In Charge, a website dedicated to protecting the initiative process across the U.S., here’s more on how SB 168 is going to undermine the ability of Californians to do anything about their out-of-control, over-paid government worker unions who are systematically consolidating their absolute domination of California’s state and local governments:
Citizens in Charge Opposes California Senate Bill 168, March 15, 2011 – “SB 168 bans ballot committees and individuals from paying people who circulate petitions for initiatives, referendums and recalls on the basis of the number of signatures they collect. It would mean that a person who paid his daughter $100 if she’d work until she gathered 100 signatures could spend a year in jail, and his daughter up to six months. Campaign committee members of a group that awarded a free dinner at a local restaurant for the volunteer who collected the most signatures that day could likewise be arrested and incarcerated or fined. There are several important reasons to reject SB 168. The legislation will drive up the cost of petitioning a measure onto California’s ballot. Because paying petition circulators by the signature gives them an incentive to work harder, it is the most cost effective means available.”
SB 168 is not the only way that powerful public employee unions are moving to protect their power and preserve the overmarket pay and benefits they have “negotiated” with the politicians they elect. Another bill moving through California’s state legislature will restrict the ability of local governments in California from declaring bankruptcy (ref. AB 506 text), which is virtually the only way they can get out from under literally tyrannical collective bargaining agreements.
The idea that SB 168, which will preserve the ability of corporations and unions, who will still have ample financial resources to file initiatives, but will edge out of the field grassroots organizations, should put completely to rest the idea that these unions represent “working people,” or are trying to “save the middle class.” They are America’s version of Soviet Russia’s nomenklatura, a bureaucratic elite that enjoys special privileges. Through their pension funds which confiscate the earnings of private sector taxpayers for the benefit of government workers, these public employee unions are accomplices of Wall Street, and they are in collusion with the very largest corporations to eliminate competition.
The agenda of the leadership of public employee unions, whether or not they admit it even to themselves, is to create a nation where they have empowered the corporate monopolies, the super-rich, and their growing ranks of government worker protectors, while maintaining a precarious symbiosis with a similarly multiplying but impoverished, minimally productive class of citizens who who pay zero (or negative) taxes and have been rendered utterly dependent on government entitlements. Those who remain, outnumbered, outspent, and outvoted, nonetheless drive the economy and improve our lives through their job-creating entrepreneurship, disruptive innovation, perilous risk-taking, and unrelenting hard work. Yet they are left to be tainted and taxed into oblivion, because they are the evil “capitalists.”
Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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