BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                     AB 535

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          Date of Hearing:  May 6, 2015


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair

          535 (Grove) - As Introduced February 23, 2015

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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          This bill establishes the following additional requirements for  
          title and summaries prepared by the Attorney General (AG) for  
          all statewide measures submitted to the voters, as well as for  
          initiative petitions:


                                                                     AB 535

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          1)Be written in clear and concise terms, understandable to the  
            average voter, and in an objective and nonpartisan manner,  
            avoiding the use of technical terms whenever possible.

          2)If the measure imposes or increases a tax or fee, the type and  
            amount of the tax or fee must be described.

          3)If the measure repeals existing law in an substantial manner,  
            that fact shall be included. 

          4)If the measure is contingent on the passage or defeat of  
            another measure or statute, that fact shall be included.

          The bill also requires the Legislature to provide the AG with  
          sufficient funding to fulfill the AG's responsibility for  
          preparing ballot titles and summaries, including the use of  
          plain-language specialists.

          FISCAL EFFECT:

          The AG could incur an ongoing General Fund cost of up to  
          $336,000 for two full-time positions-one deputy AG and one legal  
          secretary-associated with an expected increase in litigation due  
          to the additional requirements for ballot title and summaries.  
          Given the cyclical nature of initiatives and ballot  
          propositions, this level of cost might not by incurred every  

          The AG's Office notes that, though the bill only amends the  
          provisions of Elections Code Section 9051, which describes the  


                                                                     AB 535

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          requirements for ballot title and summaries, the AG is required  
          to apply the same requirements for the circulating title and  
          summaries it prepares for initiative petitions. Typically there  
          are far fewer of the former compared to the latter.

          The AG also notes that, even though it currently has a  
          well-developed body of case law with respect to the requirements  
          in Section 9051, it still typically receives 10 lawsuits during  
          the ballot litigation public display period. The AG argues that  
          the bill adds several new "statutory hooks" for proponents to  
          challenge its title and summaries, which will lead to more  
          litigation overall and more complex litigation. Finally, the AG  
          believes that, initially there will need to be appellate  
          decisions to establish precedent. 


          1)Purpose. When the AG is drafting the title and summary for a  
            proposed initiative measure, current law requires the AG to  
            give a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the  
            measure in such language that the ballot title and summary  
            shall neither be an argument nor be likely to create  
            prejudice, for or against that proposed measure.  This bill  
            adds substantial new requirements on how a ballot title and  
            summary must be drafted. The author indicates that the bill is  
            intended to result in ballot titles and summaries that are  
            neutral and not likely to create prejudice for or against a  
            measure as well provide relevant information and be  
            understandable to the average voter.

          2)Opposition. The California Federation of Teachers and the  
            State Building and Construction Trades Council argue the bill  
            will complicate and impinge on the AG's responsibility to  
            prepare the most legally accurate title and summary.


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          3)Prior Legislation. SB 1253 (Steinberg)/Chapter 697, Statutes  
            of 2014, which made significant changes to the initiative  
            process, contained the provisions of AB 535. These provisions  
            were removed prior to the bill passing off Suspense from this  

          Analysis Prepared by:Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916)