March: Six Initiatives Fail to Qualify; Six Begin Collecting Signatures

March was a mixed bag for ballot measures: Six failed to gain the signatures needed to qualify while six others won the green light to begin collecting signatures.

It’s unlikely any of the six measures that began collecting signatures in March will appear on the November ballot although a temporary tax increase backed by Gov. Jerry Brown is attempting to collect the necessary 807,615 valid signatures by June 28.

To make the deadline, more than 1 million signatures must be submitted to local registrars of voters for verification in early May – a daunting task. Brown got the go-ahead to collect on March 16.

The measure increases the sales tax by ¼ of a cent for four years and increases state taxes for seven years on joint filers earning $500,000 by 1 percent, joint filers earning $600,000 to $999,999 by 2 percent and those with more than $1 million in taxable income by 3 percent.

Brown continues to also collect signatures on a previous temporary tax increase plan in an effort to qualify it as a back up.

The other measures placed in circulation in March would prevent the sale of any of the remaining $9.95 billion in bonds to build a state high speed rail line, cap state spending, allow medical marijuana users to form “patient associations,” grant partial or full property tax exemptions for disabled veterans and their families and declare that corporations are not persons.

Creating medical marijuana patient associations and halting further spending on a high sped rail line are statutory changes requiring 504,760 signatures.

Among the measures not making the cut was a 10 percent tax on oil and natural gas extracted in California. The estimated $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion raised would have been divided between public schools and universities with K through 12 receiving 40 percent.

Also failing to qualify were measures to cap the pensions of public officials, prevent candidates and elected officials from using campaign funds to pay for legal expenses, prohibit candidates, judges, government advisors and elected officials from voting on issues that would “disproportionately benefit themselves” or except themselves from legislation or policy they enact and allow state and local government to sue some products not made in the United States.

The law requiring California to use only US-made products has been ruled unconstitutional.

Mid August is the deadline for the latest initiatives in circulation to submit their signatures.

Of the proposed spending cap, the Legislative Analyst and Brown’s Department of Finance say “ state spending for ongoing programs — such as schools, community colleges, universities, health and social services and corrections –may have to be reduced in certain years, potentially by billions of dollars.”

On the plus side, the measure “could result in more state funding for reduction of bond debt, particularly in the near term, and, in the future, more one-time funding for schools and community colleges, budget reserves and taxpayer refunds.”

The “Corporations Are Not People Act” declares that corporations are indeed not persons in an apparent attempt to reduce corporate spending on political campaigns.

Among the initiative’s findings and declarations are that “corporate personhood is a legal fiction which devalues and is demeaning to human life. Human beings are inherently degraded to a lesser status than is tolerably appropriate so long as corporations are allowed to pose as people and enjoy the same right which real people possess.”

Additionally, “candidates pursuing elected office who accept money from corporations to fund their political campaigns are not fully committed to honoring the needs of dignified people.”

The Secretary of State’s website shows 66 initiatives cleared for circulation.


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