Californians Right to be Wary of Proposed Reforms

Mon, Nov 11 2013 by Neal Hobson

San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Steven Greenhut wrote at last week that “Californians will need to pay close attention” to proposed reforms of the state’s initiative process, arguing that, “Unfortunately, some recent initiative reforms have been more about self-interest — about rigging the football game, if you will — than about helping the public have a more fair and informed political debate.”

Noting that Californians have enjoyed the power of the initiative for 102 years, Greenhut explained that even though some questionable special interests have “proposed” some questionable initiatives for their own benefit, the initiative process in the Golden State remains a critical check by the people on their legislature.

“Initiatives have a salubrious effect,” points out Steve Frates of Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute. Despite the occasional flawed or misguided initiative effort, he believes that legislators are given pause when drafting bills, knowing the people have this power at their disposal.

Greenhut concluded that, “There’s a good argument for reform, but the wrong reforms could leave voters, as Hiram Johnson put it, without ‘the means by which they can protect themselves.’”

Meanwhile, at a Public Policy Institute of California event last week, former Speaker Willie Brown, once the self-described “Ayatollah of the Assembly,” told an audience that, “Democracy requires reasonable debate among people who have been designated as representatives” and “usually well informed.” Brown added that “People in this state are out to lunch” in supporting their initiative rights.

Reason: Steven Greenhut – Has Direct democracy Outlived Its Usefulness?

LA Times: George Skelton – Initiative reform needed in California,0,2916861.column#axzz2kNBym1gQ