From the contemptible (“Sodomite Suppression Act”) to the retaliatory to make a point (“Intolerant Jackass Act”) to the corny (“The President of California Act”), California’s initiative process seemed to have gone off the deep end recently prompting some legislators to propose initiative reform measures. Let’s not react in haste.
Most initiatives don’t qualify for the ballot, many don’t even bother getting one petition signature. Many times the filings are all about gaining attention for the proponent. But a swift reaction to highly publicized measures that are going nowhere can result in damage to the important role the initiative process has to play in this state.
There are times that the legislature doesn’t act when it should. With the initiative process, the people can take action. The initiative process came about because special interests (read: the railroads) at the beginning of the twentieth century controlled the legislature. Reforms to the legislative process itself would not come from the legislature, which would lose power because of certain reforms. A recent example is creating a redistricting commission to take the re-drawing of legislative districts out of the hands of the self-interested elected officials.