California Gov. Jerry Brown has about a week and a half to decide whether to sign or veto legislation that would put substantial burdens on groups aiming to collect signatures for ballot initiatives, while exempting unions from the stringent new rules.

The measure, Assembly Bill 857, would require 10 percent of signatures for any given ballot initiative to be collected by volunteers, rather than by paid signature gatherers. The number of signatures supporters need to turn in is based on the number of votes in the last gubernatorial election; that means groups would have to rely on volunteers to gather a little more than 50,000 of the 504,760 valid signatures required to get an initiative on the ballot.

It is more or less a given that state legislators don’t like it when the public interferes with “their” lawmaking. This is even more so for legislators in California, where citizens of the Golden State have enjoyed the right to initiate and refer laws since 1911.

Three times in recent years, California legislators have passed facially unconstitutional, thinly-veiled machete attacks on citizen initiative and referendum rights, only to be dis-armed by Governor Jerry Brown’s veto pen.

Michigan’s Legislature enacted “Right-to-Work” legislation this week, sparking renewed debate about public policy regarding unions. Here’s a quick review of recent ballot measures having to do with organized labor.


Ohio “State Senate Bill 5” Veto Referendum, Issue 2 (2011)

A proposed ballot initiative would guarantee Colorado workers a secret ballot in union elections. The measure is a response to proposed federal legislation that would eliminate secret ballot elections in favor of a “card check” system. Critics of the federal plan say that without a secret ballot workers would face intimidation from union leaders to join a union.

Read the story on Face the State

The Missouri House has voted to send a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to a secret ballot in union elections on to a final House vote. Missouri joins 12 other states that are considering guaranteeing secret ballot elections in response to the proposed federal legislation that would allow unions to be certified without using secret balloting.

Read the story from the Kansas City Star