California Hikes Ballot Initiative Fee to $2,000

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Hoping to ward off future misguided efforts to cure California of its ills – including the gay scourge – through the electoral process, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday raising the fee to circulate ballot petitions from $200 to $2,000.
     Authored by state Assembly members Evan Low, D-Campbell, and Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, AB 1100 requires anyone hoping to circulate petitions to get an initiative on the ballot to pay a $2,000 fee before the state attorney general will consider creating a title and summary of the proposed initiative.
     The new law comes after Orange County lawyer Matt McLaughlin’s efforts earlier this year to get what he called the “Sodomite Suppression Act” before Golden State voters in the 2016 election.
     McLaughlin wanted voters to decide on changing the state’s penal code to make same-sex sodomy “for purposes of sexual gratification” a capital crime, punishable by “death by bullets to the head or by any convenient method,” according to his proposed initiative.
     And because of California’s wacky initiative process – which allowed anyone with an idea and $200 to get petitions circulating around the state – state Attorney General Kamala Harris had the constitutional duty to prepare McLaughlin’s petition for circulation.
     Harris balked, however, and sued McLaughlin in Sacramento Superior Court. In her 8-page filing, she called the proposed initiative “patently unconstitutional on its face.”
     Earlier this summer, the court killed McLaughlin’s petition – agreeing that it was unconstitutional and that spending government time or money preparing it for voter approval would “waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public and tend to mislead the electorate.”
     And since the filing fee for such petitions hasn’t changed since the 1940s, Low and Bloom set out to change it – originally proposing an $8,000 fee. The men noted that the actual cost to prepare petitions for circulation averages $8,251.
     Republicans and voters-rights groups choked on the $8,000 figure, which the state Senate dropped to $2,000 when it passed the bill last month.
     Brown signed the bill without comment.
     “It has been over 72 years since this aspect of the initiative process has been updated. This reform is overdue,” Low said. “We live in California, the cradle of direct democracy, but we also need a threshold for reasonableness. And this bill will do just that.”
     Lucky people who filed in time to have voters consider their initiatives at the low price of $200 include a man who wants the California state flag flown above the U.S. flag since the state is the true leader of the free world; a man who wants all spousal support outlawed; and an individual who believes the legal drinking age in the state should be lowered to 18.

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