California Giving Voters a Say on Citizens United

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — The California state Assembly passed a bill Thursday to place an advisory measure on the November ballot that — if passed — would task lawmakers with proposing a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
     Senate Bill 254, authored by state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, is the latest salvo in California’s fight against the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling rolled back a previous ban on corporate spending in federal elections and opened the door to unlimited corporate money going into super PACs to influence elections, candidate selection and policy decisions.
     Super PAC funding by corporations and other organizations has since surpassed $1 billion, with more than $600 million of that coming from just 195 donors, according to Allen’s office.
     “People across the political spectrum are frustrated and want to weigh in about the unchecked power of money in politics,” Allen said in a statement. “It is one of the most potentially harmful issues affecting politics and our system of governance, and Californians deserve to have their voices heard on it.”
     His bill places an instructional measure on the November ballot. If passed by voters, the measure authorizes California’s elected officials to use any constitutional means necessary to overturn Citizens United — including proposing and ratifying an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
     Allen’s bill passed the Assembly on a 48-26 vote.
     This is not the first effort of Golden State lawmakers to take down Citizens United. In 2014, they passed an identical bill that would have appeared as Proposition 49 had the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association not challenged it, arguing the Legislature has no authority to place advisory measures on the ballot.
     The California Supreme Court ordered the measure removed from the ballot while it heard the challenge.
     Earlier this year, the state’s high court ruled that the Legislature can place advisory measures on the ballot when they involve potential amendments to the U.S. Constitution and ordered lawmakers to draft a new bill.

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