"From condoms for porn industry actors, to legalization of ferrets, to property taxes and minimum wage, it’s a classic California political season," says Republican strategist Beth Miller.
The state Attorney General's Office has received more than 80 measures so far, partially because it only costs $200 to file one. The current list includes a cigarette tax and the repeal of California's plastic bag ban, as well as intiatives that would declare California a state and ban shellfish.
Democratic political strategist Gale Kaufman says what separates the serious from the fanciful are hundreds of thousands of signatures.
"By signatures, I mean registered voters from different parts of the state," Kaufman says. "In order to make sure you don’t have duplicates or you don’t have people who aren’t registered, it’s a difficult process."
Kaufman says campaigns should have up to $3 million on hand for the process and predicts only a dozen measures will do so.
Miller says it’s more difficult than usual to pick which ones.
"More than any other election, there’s more moving pieces this year," Miller says.
Initiatives need fewer signatures than usual, due to low turnout last election. Adding to the uncertainty, a new law will allow proponents to withdraw their initiatives, for instance if lawmakers pass legislation that covers the same ground.
Both strategists expect the newest initiatives to make the cut. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s gun control proposal would create background checks for ammunition buyers and ban high-capacity magazines.
Billionaire donor Charles Munger wants to require lawmakers to post bills for 72 hours before taking a final vote.
Of course, Miller points out whatever measures do qualify face a further winnowing.
"There are many who will have the money to qualify the measure, but may not have the money to run a real, effective campaign to communicate to the voters," Miller says.
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