Extra resources for students of State and Local Government 180, an upper-division GE class in the Government Department at Sacramento State University
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
SF Chronicle: Governor vetoes bill banning paid signature gathering
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes bill banning some paid signature gathering
San Francisco Chronicle Political Blog
Posted By: Marisa Lagos Aug 01 at 06:55 PM
Gov. Jerry Brown smacked down a bill Monday that would have banned the practice of paying people for each signature they secure when working to qualify initiatives and other ballot measures. The governor vetoed SB168 by Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, which would have allowed signature-gatherers to be paid by the hour or day, but not per signature.
The bill was championed by liberal organizations and this newspaper's editorial page, who argued that the practice of paying per signature has led to misleading sales pitches by those gathering the signatures and undermined the very goal of the initiative process -- direct democracy -- by allowing those with the most money to dominate. But in a veto message, Brown said the bill's "unintended consequences" could be worse "than the abuses it aims to prevent."
"This bill would effectively prohibit organizations from even setting targets or quotas for those they hire to gather signatures. It doesn't seem very practical to me to create a system that makes productivity goals a crime," he wrote. "Per signature payment is often the most cost-effective method for collecting the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to qualify a ballot measure. Eliminating this option will drive up the cost of circulating ballot measures, thereby further favoring the wealthiest interests."
Supporters of the measure slammed the veto.
"This is a setback for reform in California," said Justine Sarver, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. "The measure would have eliminated a powerful incentive for fraud while protecting Californians' ability to participate fully in direct democracy."
Maybe they shouldn't be surprised -- the governor may have given a hint at his position last week when he mused, in response to a question, that the bill could make initiatives such as the one he is planning on taxes, more expensive.