Democrats in the legislature plan to add language to SB 1039 that would rearrange the order propositions will appear on the ballot. No question, the reason for this is to move the governor’s tax measure to the top of a pile of measures that have qualified for the November ballot and separate it from the other tax measures on the ballot.

The proposed SB 1039 would order the measures in the following way:

First come bond measures, followed by constitutional amendments, legislative measures, statutory initiatives, and finally referendums.

Of the measures that have qualified for the ballot so far, this law would leapfrog the governor’s tax proposal, a constitutional amendment, over a half-dozen earlier qualified measures to second on the list.  Only a water bond would be ahead of the tax proposal and for months there has been talk of removing the water bond from this ballot. If that is accomplished – and it surely will be with this obvious power play going on – the governor’s tax increase will be the first proposition the voters see on their ballots.

When the Secretary of State announced last week that the governor’s tax measure qualified for the ballot, that same day she also certified that two other tax measures qualified. As I pointed out in Fox & Hounds, traditionally measures are put on the ballot in sequential order in which they qualify for the ballot meaning the tax measures would appear one after another. Political experts feel multiple tax measures could turn the voters off to passing taxes.

This bill would disrupt that order.

To make the bill effective immediately without resorting to the need for a two-thirds vote to declare the bill an emergency statute, the Democrats added a sneaky provision to allow them to use Proposition 25 so that this maneuver would succeed.

Proposition 25 was the measure that permitted a majority vote to pass the budget. It also contained language that any bills providing appropriations related to the budget can pass by majority vote and take effect immediately.

SB 1039 contains funding of $1000 for the Secretary of State to “implement” the requirements of the bill and then declares the bill is an appropriation related to the budget.

Exactly what the $1000 is needed for besides allowing for this bald-faced chicanery isn’t clear.

The bill claims that the re-ordering of the propositions will promote the public interest by putting measures with long term effects such as bonds and changes to the constitution first.

This is a similar argument Democrats used in moving initiatives to the November ballot and away from the June primary. The reason for that change was pure politics. They were afraid the Special Interest Money initiative would fare better in June.

The reason for this bill is pure politics. They want the governor’s tax measure to be considered first before voters get frustrated with marking the ballot for so many measures and not encumbered by being listed next to other tax initiatives.

Perhaps the governor and Democratic legislators ought to consider that all the time they spend on gaming the system to get a favorable result means that their actions are not in the public interest.

The voters will catch on. As Mr. Lincoln said, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”