State Assembly Passes Initiative Reform on Bipartisan Vote

Sacramento CA – Today the California State Assembly passed Senate Bill 1253, the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act (BITA) with bipartisan support (55 ayes – 23 noes). The initiative reform bill is authored by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and is co-authored by Senators Galgiani, Leno, Lieu and Wolk as well as Assembly Members Gatto, Mullin, Quirk-Silva, and Ting.

The bill will make important improvements to the initiative process by creating clearer initiatives, simpler ballots and better information for California voters.

“The bill has unusual bipartisan support from groups across the political spectrum,” said Kathay Feng, Executive Director for California Common Cause. “At a time when all we see is partisan divide, California Common Cause is proud to have helped pull together a broad coalition that found common ground for reforming our broken initiative system.” BITA is supported by a diverse group of organizations that includes the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, California NAACP, California AARP, Think Long Committee for California, California Forward, and the California Chamber of Commerce, among others.

This bill speaks to the concerns of California voters who want reliable and understandable sources of information that clearly describe the issues and proposed solutions. It will give voters more accessible information about who is behind each initiative, allow legal flaws to be corrected in initiatives before appearing on the ballot, and simplify the ballot by allowing proponents to withdraw initiatives.

“In an era of spiraling initiative campaign costs, this bill will make sure that voters see who is really funding initiatives,” said Sarah Swanbeck, Legislative Affairs Advocate with CA Common Cause.

Under the proposal, backers of an initiative would lose no power and have nothing taken away from them – in fact, they would gain added power. Currently, initiative backers can’t make corrections and changes and can’t work out a better proposal with the Legislature that would potentially save themselves money and taxpayers money down the road.

BITA now heads back to the Senate for a concurrence vote and, following that, to the Governor for his signature.