An Initiative to End All Initiatives?

Patrick details the perils of direct democracy in a comment on my post on ballot initiatives: I live in California, where initiatives were introduced as ...
by | May 21, 2008

Patrick details the perils of direct democracy in a comment on my post on ballot initiatives:

I live in California, where initiatives were introduced as part of the good government initiative of the early 1900's.

They haven't exactly worked out that way. Most initiatives are put forth by special interest groups, sometimes to sabotage the very cause they are supposedly designed to promote.

Like Prop 99, the eminent domain reform measure on the June ballot. It is touted as the "good" eminent domain reform ballot measure, as opposed to Prop 98 the "bad" eminent domain initiative, or so Prop 99's supporters would have you believe. It was sponsored by the League of Cities, and has so many loopholes that it does little to nothing to reform eminent domain. For example, it only protects single family homes, not commercial property which is more often than not what is taken by cities in eminent domain. Private property protection under Prop 98 by contrast is much more comprehensive.

Or take Prop 103, the insurance reform issue from a few years ago. It changed the California Insurance Code to allow banks to sell insurance, but it failed to remove the same prohibition from the Financial Code; it took laywers and courts to sort that mess out.

My fantasy is an Initiative to End All Initiatives; a ballot initiative that would eliminate the ballot initiative as a form of law-making.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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