ZocaloCalifornians’ initiative, referendum and recall process is as hot a topic for debate as ever. That’s apt, for this year marks the process’s 100th anniversary.

On October 10, 1911, Californians went to the polls to enact these democratic checks on government after Governor Hiram Johnson persuaded legislators to put them on the ballot. On October 10, 2011, I’ll be in Sacramento at an event sponsored by Citizens in Charge Foundation to celebrate the centennial.

As supporters of petition rights call on Gov. Jerry Brown to veto another attack on Californians’ initiative and referendum rights, anti-voter legislators hope that three is a charm.

Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob tells the story in his weekly column at

Pete Peterson of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy was spot on in his blasting of Democrat California Legislators’ systematic attempts to protect their majority control by smashing the state’s initiative, referendum and recall process.

With his veto of SB 448, California Governor Jerry Brown has rejected the state Legislature’s attempt to restrict citizen petitions for the second time in just over a month. Responding to the bill’s draconian requirement that petition circulators wear a badge while talking to voters, the Governor asked:

If it is acceptable to force paid signature gatherers to place identifying badges on their chests, will similar requirements soon be placed on paid campaign workers?

Clearly, Brown saw the absurdity of the badge proposal:

Supporters of initiative rights in California and beyond maintain hope that Gov. Jerry Brown will veto backwards legislation that would force any Californian petitioning her or his government to wear a large badge on their chest, a requirement dubbed a “Yellow Star Law.”

As we’ve reported, the badges required by SB 448 would display information about whether a petition circulator is paid or not: anti-initiative legislators hope that voters will be unlikely to sign petitions when they know the person collecting them is being paid to do so. Less measures on the ballot means less choice for voters, and in turn more power for legislators and the special interests that influence them.

As state Democrat Party leaders push yet again to restrict California voters’ access to their state ballot, a new poll finds the public wary of legislative action. According to the L.A. Times:

A June poll conducted by good-government groups found that although voters support bids for more transparency in the initiative process…they strongly oppose those that would give the Legislature more power.

Citizens in Charge president Paul Jacob sent the following message to California Governor Jerry Brown after the California Legislature went over the deep end and passed an absurd restriction on petitioners for the second time this year:

Dear Governor Brown,

Today I write to ask you to veto Senate Bill 448. If passed the bill would require citizens petitioning for an initiative, referendum or recall, and receiving any kind of compensation whatsoever, to wear a large badge on their chest saying, “PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER.”

The Sacramento Bee reports that the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 448 and sent it to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk yesterday. Brown now has 12 days to sign or veto the bill.

SB 448 requires only persons circulating initiative, referendum or recall petitions to wear a large badge or sign on their chest proclaiming that they are a “PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER,” if they are compensated in any way for their efforts.