There is disingenuous, there is deceptive and then there is the labor-backed legislation that purports to reform the ballot initiative process.

That bill, SB 1094, would impose a requirement that 5 percent of all signatures submitted to qualify statewide initiatives and referenda be gathered by volunteers.

In a Sacramento Bee oped that was almost Trumpian in its lack of connection with reality, state labor chief Art Pulaski argued that this bill was based on good intentions. The people would get a voice in the process, he wrote. The bill would somehow respond to voter confusion at long ballots, like this November’s ballot of 17 statewide measures (and many more local ones), and protect the initiative process from fraud and deceit in signature gathering. He even invoked Gov. Hiram Johnson’s supposed original intention for a noble process (This is historical hokum—Johnson created and used a nasty, conflict-ridden expensive process very much like the one we have today–though you can’t blame Pulaski when media people keep repeating this nonsense).

And worst of all, Pulaski suggested this volunteer requirement would push back against special interest power in the initiative process.

Oh, please.

The bill is designed for the opposite purpose: to boost the power of special interests, especially labor.

Requiring volunteer signatures adds more complexity and costs to an already expensive process. Signatures obtained by volunteers cost more than those obtained by professional circulators; volunteers are less efficient. Which is why they aren’t used.

So the bill will make the process even more exclusive –only for those people and interests with big money. Like Pulaski’s labor movement. And the way it’s written, it advantages labor. Which interest will be able to assemble “volunteers” most easily? Labor, which can have members volunteer their time for ballot measures.

Essentially, this bill does the exact opposite of what Pulaski and its backers argue: it makes an ugly inaccessible process even worse.

If labor was interested in reform – and in bringing volunteers back into the process – there are any number of changes it could pursue. For example, you could lower the number of signatures required to make the ballot. Or you could permit Internet signature gathering. Or, even better, increase the amount of time for signature gathering. The current six-month time limit makes professional circulators the only way to go. But if you raised the limit to 18 months or 2 years or even 4 years (as a handful of states), a true, grassroots movement could qualify measures.

But labor, and the Democrats it supports, don’t want the people to have greater access to the process. They don’t want the grassroots. They’ve consistently moved to limit access to the process. It was labor and the Democrats who are themselves responsible for this November’s crowded ballot—they pushed through legislation to move all initiatives to November ballots a few years ago.

This legislation is about taking a process to which labor has exclusive access and making that access more exclusive. And you know what – exercising your power is the American way.

But don’t insult our intelligence by claiming that this is public-spirited reform.