BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON
          ELECTIONS AND CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
                              Senator Ben Allen, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:             AB 1100        Hearing Date:    6/16/15    
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          |Author:    |Low                                                  |
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          |Version:   |3/24/15                                              |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|Darren Chesin                                        |
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                      Subject:  Ballot initiatives: filing fees

           DIGEST
           
          Increases the fee to submit a proposed state ballot initiative  
          to the Attorney General (AG) for preparation of the circulating  
          title and summary from $200 to $8,000.

           ANALYSIS
           
          Existing law: 

          1)Defines a circulating title and summary to mean the text that  
            is required to be placed on the petition for signatures that  
            is either of the following: 

             a)   The summary of the chief purpose and points of a  
               proposed initiative measure that affects the Constitution  
               or laws of the state, and the fiscal impact of the proposed  
               initiative measure; or, 

             b)   The summary of the chief purpose and points of a  
               referendum measure that affects a law or laws of the state.  


          1)Requires the proponents of a proposed initiative or referendum  
            measure to submit the text of the proposed measure to the AG  
            with a written request that a circulating title and summary of  
            the measure be prepared, prior to circulating the petition for  
            signatures.  Requires proponents of any initiative measure, at  







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            the time of submitting the text of the proposed initiative  
            measure to the AG, to pay a fee of two hundred dollars ($200),  
            which shall be placed in a trust fund in the office of the  
            Treasurer and refunded to the proponents if the measure  
            qualifies for the ballot within two years from the date the  
            summary is furnished to the proponents.  If the measure does  
            not qualify within that period, the fee shall be paid into the  
            General Fund of the state. 

          2)Requires the AG upon receipt of the text of a proposed  
            initiative measure, and after the public review period, to  
            prepare a circulating title and summary of the chief purposes  
            and points of the proposed measure.  Specifies that the  
            circulating title and summary shall not exceed 100 words. 

          3)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:

          1)Increases the fee to submit a proposed state ballot initiative  
            to the AG for preparation of the circulating title and summary  
            from $200 to $8,000.  (See Comment #2 below, the author's  
            agreement to an amendment that would instead set the fee at  
            $2,500 to be adjusted bi-annually to reflect changes in the  
            Consumer Price Index.)

           BACKGROUND
           
           Attorney General's Process for Preparing Ballot Titles and  
          Summaries  .  Before circulating a state initiative measure,  
          initiative proponents must first submit their proposal to the  
          AG's office.  Upon receipt of the proposed measure by the AG, a  
          30-day public comment period begins.  Additionally, the  
          proponent(s) may amend the initiative until close of business on  
          the 35th calendar day after receipt.  Before the AG can issue  
          the circulating title and summary, the AG must request the  
          preparation of a fiscal impact report prepared jointly by the  
          Department of Finance (DOF) and the Legislative Analyst. These  
          agencies have 50 calendar days following receipt of the proposed  
          measure from the AG to prepare the fiscal estimate. 









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          Within 15 calendar days following the receipt of the fiscal  
          impact report, the AG is required to issue an official  
          circulating title and summary to the proponent(s).  A copy of  
          the official circulating title and summary is provided to the  
          SOS and the Legislature on the official summary date, the same  
          date it is sent to the proponent(s). 

          Under current law proponents must pay a $200 fee to the AG, a  
          fee that is placed in a trust fund in the office of the  
          Treasurer and is refunded in full to the proponent(s) if the  
          initiative qualifies for the ballot within two years after the  
          summary has been issued to the proponents.  If the measure fails  
          to qualify the fee is immediately paid into the General Fund of  
          the state.

           Background and Purpose of the Fee  .  The purpose of the $200  
          filing fee is two-fold. Primarily, the fee exists to discourage  
          the submission of frivolous proposals; secondly, the fee is  
          intended to defray some of the administrative costs to the state  
          associated with processing initiatives. 

          The existing fee was established in 1943 and has never been  
          increased.  When adjusted for inflation that $200 is now  
          somewhere between $2,500 and $3,000, depending on whose rate of  
          inflation figures are used.

           Increasing Number of Initiatives and Ballot Summaries  .   
          According to the AG's office, there has been a steady increase  
          in the number of initiative proposals submitted for title and  
          summary in the last few decades.  The following illustrates the  
          increased number of filed initiative proposals: 

           47 from 1960 to 1969 

           180 from 1970 to 1979 

           282 from 1980 to 1989 
           391 from 1990 to 1999 

           647 from 2000 to 2009 

           240 from 2010 to April 21, 2015 

           Recent California Initiative Proposals  .  According to  








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          information obtained from the AG's office, between 2009 and 2013  
          there were 315 proposed initiative measures submitted for a  
          circulating title and summary.  Of those 315 initiative  
          proposals 27 qualified for the ballot.  Additionally, the AG  
          estimates that an average of 56 hours of staff time is  
          accumulated in the preparation of each title and summary.   
          Although the current fee is $200, the average proposed  
          initiative will cost the state more than $8,000.  Any costs for  
          preparing a title and summary that exceed the $200 fee are  
          ultimately covered by the General Fund.  

           COMMENTS
           
           1)According to the Author  :  AB 1100 will increase the ballot  
            initiative proposal fee from $200 to $8,000.  The $200 fee was  
            set in 1943 to cover the administrative costs by the AG to  
            analyze a proposal and prepare a title and summary.  According  
            to the Consumer Price Index, the value of $200 today is the  
            equivalent of $14.80 in 1943 dollars.  It has been 72 years  
            since this aspect of the initiative process has been updated.   
            This proposal is long overdue. 

          The $8,000 fee would cover the current estimated cost of  
            analysis and preparation of title and summary.  An analysis of  
            previous budget change proposals relating to the cost to  
            prepare title and summary for 315 initiatives from 2009-2013  
            totaled close to $2.6 million, an average of over $8,000 per  
            initiative.  As of early April, 16 initiatives have been  
            submitted to the AG for the 2016 ballot. 

          In late February, Matt McLaughlin, a Huntington Beach lawyer  
            admitted to the bar in 1998, submitted a ballot measure titled  
            the "Sodomite Suppression Act," that states LGBTs "be put to  
            death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient  
            method." The Act further states that offenders be fined $1  
            million, serve up to ten years in prison, and/or expelled from  
            the state. 

          The AG has since filed an action for declaratory relief from the  
            Supreme Court seeking authorization to not issue a title and  
            summary for the proposal.  If the court does not grant the  
            relief, the AG will be forced to issue a title and summary.  A  
            title and summary also allows McLaughlin to start collecting  
            365,880 signatures in order to get the initiative on the  








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            ballot.  The number of signatures needed is determined by the  
            number of voters who participated in the previous  
            gubernatorial election. This immoral proposal is the just the  
            latest - and most egregious - example of the need to further  
            reform the initiative process.

           2)Amendment  .  The author has agreed to an amendment suggested by  
            the committee that would more closely reflect the original  
            initiative submission fee as adjusted for inflation since its  
            inception.  The amendment would strike the $8,000 fee and  
            instead set it at $2,500 to be adjusted bi-annually to reflect  
            changes in the Consumer Price Index.  Specifically, the  
            amendment would read as follows:

          On page 2, line 22, strike out "eight thousand dollars ($8,000)"  
            and insert: "two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500)."

          On page 2, after line 27, insert:  The Attorney General shall  
            adjust the fee in January of every odd-numbered year to  
            reflect any increase in the Consumer Price Index rounded to  
            the nearest one hundred dollars ($100). 
                                           
                              RELATED/PRIOR LEGISLATION
           
          SB 202 (Hancock of 2011), as introduced, would have increased  
          the fee to submit a proposed state ballot initiative from $200  
          to $2,000. SB 202 was substantially amended in the Assembly and  
          when passed did not deal with initiative filing fees. 

          AB 1832 (Saldana of 2010) was similar to this bill, but raised  
          the filing fees incrementally. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed AB  
          1832. In his veto message, the Governor argued that although the  
          $200 filing fee may not be sufficient to deter frivolous  
          initiative filings, he "cannot support increasing the fee  
          ten-fold," and he stated that "[w]hile well-funded special  
          interest groups would have no problem paying the sharply  
          increased fee, it will make it more difficult for citizen groups  
          to qualify an initiative." 

          AB 436 (Saldana of 2009) was similar to AB 1832 and also was  
          vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

           PRIOR ACTION
           








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          |Assembly Floor:                       |46 - 28                    |
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          |Assembly Appropriations Committee:    |12 - 5                     |
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          |Assembly Elections and Redisticiting  |   5 - 2                   |
          |Committee:                            |                           |
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          POSITIONS
           
          Sponsor: Author     

           Support: Equality California 
                    Glendale City Employees Association
                    Organization of SMUD Employees
                    San Bernardino Public Employees Association
                    San Diego County Court Employees Association
                    San Luis Obispo County Employees Association

           Oppose:  California Taxpayers Association 
                    Consumer Watchdog
                    Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association 
                          
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