California, Fix the Initiative System. Please?
Ah, the Golden State. From the shadier parts of Los Angeles to the quaint charm and lovely traffic of San Diego, the land of Silicon and Silicone has always been my favorite part of America. Though I love it, sometimes parts of the place disappoint me rather immensely.
Case in point, the states ballot initiative system, for those of you not in the know, in the American West, California, Washington and Oregon all have some form of this process. A resident of a state or a business can propose an initiative and with enough signatures, the legislation can be put up for a vote during state elections. Sounds like a good idea, but as the California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton once wisely said, it’s totally fucked up.
And as much as my fastidiously conservative friends will hate to hear me say this about someone with a liberal political bent, he’s right. The most recent example of his point being proven comes to us from Matthew Gregory, an Orange County lawyer who has, and this is not a joke, seriously proposed a law that will punish gays and lesbian people by execution with a gunshot to the head.
The proposal, known as the “Sodomite Suppression Act” (Because obviously.) would also fine those who distribute “Sodomistic Propaganda” a million dollars per offence, imprisonment of 10 years, or expulsion from the state outright, because this is 1833 and apparently that’s still done.
Now, as you can see. This sort of thing is a perfect example of the democratic experiment gone awry. Currently, if you want to propose a law, all you need is $200 dollars and signatures equal to five percent of the total amount of people who voted in the last statewide election. Yes, this ease that people have in proposing laws has been abused by several groups through the years.
In 2011, the state passed a law that required sites like Amazon to collect sales tax on people who buy things from them and reside in California. In response, the Seattle corporation launched a drive to get a referendum overturning the law onto the ballot. The eventually backed down after a compromise was reached that enabled the company to avoid paying taxes until 2012.
More recently, Silicon Valley Twit Tim Draper proposed an initiative to divide the state into six new ones. Thankfully, that failed. But like the proposal from the nutcase in Orange County, it was still taken seriously. Could you imagine the chaos that would occur if it were passed?
Bottom line is it’s time to radically overhaul and fundamentally transform the initiative process in my home away from home. Let’s raise the amount of signatures needed to at least 40 percent of those who voted in a previous election, ban the collection of signatures outside of highly frequented businesses and raise the fee for proposing a law from $200 to $10000 dollars.
In my view, I believe that these reforms would be a positive change for the state that I adore so much. Because if turnout is ever low in an election, laws like Mr. Gregory’s could be passed, terrifying the residents of the beautiful state and the entire nation as a whole.