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Steinberg: Revamp California’s Initiative System

Aired 4/20/12 on KPBS News.

The leader of the State Senate is calling for several changes to California’s century-old initiative process.

There are three changes Steinberg wants to make. First, allow the legislature to place a basic initiative, as opposed to a constitutional amendment, on the ballot through majority vote. Right now, it requires a two-thirds supermajority and last year, Republicans blocked a vote on Governor Jerry Brown’s tax proposal.

“I don’t think the minority party should trump the will of the people – and that’s what occurs now when you can’t even, with a majority vote, place a question before the voters," said Steinberg.

Second, Steinberg wants to allow a measure’s proponents to negotiate with the governor and legislature to either amend the initiative, or pass a law without going to voters at all. And finally, the senator proposes letting lawmakers amend or repeal an initiative after 10 years. Steinberg says he’s prepared to put his proposals on the 2014 ballot using the initiative process.

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