Is Direct Democracy Under Attack in California?

Loren KayeSometimes it seems that nobody likes California’s direct democracy — except the voters.

Some legislators seem to resent it. During the last legislative session (and the fifth time since 2009), lawmakers approved a bill that would have prohibited proponents of an initiative, referendum or recall from paying petition circulators on a per-signature basis.  Had the governor signed the bill, it would have prohibitively raised the costs to qualify statewide ballot measures.

Now the referendum power has come under fire from a different direction. A proposed constitutional amendment is awaiting action in the state Senate to change the historic burden of proof for passing a referendum, thereby constraining the ability of voters to reconsider a bill passed by the Legislature.

The frustration over the attempted recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, easily turned back by the governor, has elicited proposals by legislators to raise the bar on recalling elected officials.

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Loren Kaye
Loren Kaye was appointed president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education in January 2006. He has devoted his career to developing, analyzing and implementing public policy issues in California, with a special emphasis on improving the state's business and economic climate. He also was a gubernatorial appointee to the state's Little Hoover Commission, charged with evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies and programs. Kaye served in senior policy positions for Governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, including Cabinet Secretary to the Governor and Undersecretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency. See full bio.