Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: Proposed Amendment Aims to Hold Business Groups Accountable for Initiatives
In a bid to level the playing field, Democratic leaders have thrown their support behind a newly rewritten constitutional amendment, known as CA ACA13, which seeks to give business groups a taste of their own medicine. The proposed amendment would require any ballot measure that alters voter thresholds, similar to a recent initiative by a business group, to be approved by the same margin – a two-thirds vote.
The amendment has faced staunch criticism from the business coalition, who dub it a “cynical manipulation” that protects the status quo and stifles voter voices. Conversely, organized labor, represented by SEIU California Executive Director Tia Orr, has expressed support for the amendment, citing efforts to increase voter thresholds as part of broader anti-democratic initiatives across the nation.
For the amendment to become law, it must receive two-thirds votes in the Legislature, followed by the approval of voters through a simple majority. The involvement of Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas as a co-author suggests that the proposal may be prioritized by legislative Democrats.
Notably, similar attempts to impede taxes in the past have led to deal-making in Sacramento, such as the exchange of a business group’s initiative withdrawal for a ban on local soda taxes. The frustration stemming from business groups exploiting the direct democracy system has fueled efforts to reform California’s processes, including the introduction of legislation to overhaul the referendum process.
The proposed amendment comes at a time when there is a growing sentiment among legislators to address the influence of business groups and ensure a fair democratic process. By requiring business-backed ballot measures to pass by the same margin that they themselves seek, proponents of the amendment argue that it guarantees a more balanced and equitable system.
Critics, however, argue that it stifles the ability of voter initiatives to meaningfully impact important issues, protecting the status quo and limiting the power of citizens’ voices. As the debate takes center stage, the future of CA ACA13 remains uncertain, with both sides vying for support and eager to shape the future of California’s democratic processes.