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object(Timber\Post)#3742 (44) { ["ImageClass"]=> string(12) "Timber\Image" ["PostClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Post" ["TermClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Term" ["object_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["custom"]=> array(5) { ["_wp_attached_file"]=> string(14) "OP_202XXOP.pdf" ["wpmf_size"]=> string(5) "87801" ["wpmf_filetype"]=> string(3) "pdf" ["wpmf_order"]=> string(1) "0" ["searchwp_content"]=> string(13659) "Public Policy Institute of California The California Initiative Process— How Democratic Is It? Instituted in 1911, the statewide initiative process was a Progressive Era reform that allowed citizens to enact legislation directly.That reform was a response to the perceived influence of corporate interests on the state legislature at that time. Reformers main- tained that the initiative process was a suitable remedy for a government that was beholden to those interests. Since the 1970s, California has come to rely heavily on direct Figure 1. Initiative Measures Circulated, Qualified, and Adopted, 1912–2000 democracy to make major policy decisions. During that time, the number of initiatives per ballot has almost tripled (Figure 1), and voters have used direct democracy to decide the fate of such issues as drug 400 350 300 250 Circulated Qualified Adopted enforcement, property taxes, envi- 200 ronmental regulation, bilingual education, and affirmative action. Some observers have concluded that the 150 100 initiative process is replacing the 50 legislature as the most important law-making institution in the state. 0 1912–1919 1920–1929 1930–1939 1940–1949 1950–1959 1960–1969 1970–1979 1980–1989 1990–2000 California’s growing reliance on the initiative process has raised a host of policy questions, some of Although the number of initiatives circulated has grown considerably, the percentage of those qualifying and adopted has fallen. which have been addressed by the PPIC surveys and other research publications. (For more information on these publications, please visit www.ppic.org.) Do Californians like the idea of using initiatives to make public policy? Seventy percent of Californians surveyed in 2000 believed that making laws and changing public policies through initiatives is a “good thing.”1 Nearly 60 percent liked the fact that a majority of voters can use the initiative process to make permanent changes in the state’s constitution. Most Californians (56 percent) believed that policy decisions made through the initiative process are probably better than those made by the governor and the legislature.Voters across political parties, regions, and racial and ethnic groups shared this view. Do initiatives raise issues that might otherwise be ignored? Most Californians surveyed in 1998 thought so (Figure 2). Twenty-two percent strongly agreed, and 51 percent somewhat agreed, that citizens’ initiatives bring up important public policy issues that the governor and state legislature have not adequately addressed. Figure 2 5% 6% 16% 22% Do Californians want a more or less powerful initiative process? Many would like direct democracy to be more powerful than it is now. Forty-two percent of those surveyed in 1999 said they would like the initiative process to have more influence on public policy than the governor or the legislature have. 51% Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know Are Californians satisfied with the current initiative process? Citizens’ initiatives bring up important public policy issues that the governor and state legislature have not adequately addressed. Most (58 percent) were somewhat satisfied with the initiative process as it now stands; only 10 percent were very satisfied, and 25 percent were not sat- isfied.Three-quarters of those surveyed said they would like to see changes in the initiative process; about one-third believed that those changes should be major. Only 20 percent described the current process as “fine the way it is.” What changes in that process would Californians like to see? Voters expressed frustration with the large number of initiatives on the ballot, confusing ballot language, and initiatives that are passed but later overturned by the courts. Eighty 1 All survey data are from the PPIC Statewide Survey conducted by Mark Baldassare. For more discussion of these findings and their implications, see Baldassare (2000). Public Policy Institute of California | 2 percent of those surveyed supported a review system that would address problems with ballot language for proposed initiatives, and 90 percent supported a review that would raise constitutional or legal questions before initiatives are placed on the ballot. What else can be done to improve the initiative process? Eight in ten Californians would support a proposal to increase public disclosure about the financial backers in the signature-gathering process. Sixty percent would favor a proposal that banned the use of paid signature gatherers, and 61 percent would oppose a law that allowed signature-gathering over the Internet. What about an indirect initiative? One reform under consideration is the indirect initiative, which allows citizens to gather signatures for a measure and submit it to the legislature. If the measure were enacted, the initiative would not appear on the ballot. The original initiative process permitted indirect initiatives, but that provision was repealed in 1966 for lack of use.Ten other states currently allow for indirect initiatives.2 How important are special interests to the initiative process? Over half of Californians surveyed (52 percent) thought the initiative process was controlled “a lot” by special interests. Seventyeight percent agreed strongly or somewhat that initiatives reflect the concerns of organized special interests rather than those of average residents (Figure 3). When it comes to campaign spending on initiatives, economic and citizen interest groups tend to pursue different strategies (Gerber, 1998). Between 1988 and 1990, economic interests spent over 78 percent of their $99 million in contributions to defeat ballot measures. During the same period, citizen groups spent 88 percent of their $33 million to support proposed changes to the status quo. This evidence suggests that economic interests use the initiative process most often and most effectively to fight ballot propositions they oppose, whereas citizen groups use their more limited resources to effect change. Figure 3 6% 4% 12% 34% 44% Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know Citizens’ initiatives usually reflect the concerns of organized special interests rather than the concerns of average California residents. 2 See Silva (2000) for more discussion. Public Policy Institute of California | 3 Is the initiative process fair to nonwhite voters? Although no racial or ethnic group now constitutes a simple majority of the state’s overall population, non-Hispanic whites cast nearly two-thirds of the votes in initiative elections. Some observers have argued that this electoral majority—which is older, whiter, more edu- cated, and more conservative than the state’s population as a whole—has used the initiative process to target the state’s growing nonwhite population. When considering the outcomes of all initiative elections between 1978 and 2000, one sees little evidence of bias against any racial or ethnic group. Blacks and Latinos voted for the winning side 59 percent of the time, whereas Asian Americans and whites were on the winning side 60 and 62 percent of the time, respectively. However, when race or eth- nicity itself was an important part of an initiative, nonwhite voters fared poorly compared to whites (Figure 4). On minority-focused issues such as affirmative action, social services for illegal immigrants, and bilingual education, whites voted for the winning side 64 per- cent of the time, whereas the com- parable figure for Latinos was 32 percent. On these same issues, Afri- Figure 4. Probability of Voting for the Winning Side: All Initiatives and Minority-Focused Initiatives can Americans and Asian Americans voted for the winning side 57 percent and 48 percent of the time, respectively (Hajnal and Louch 2001). 70 63.7 61.5 60 59.0 57.1 All initiatives Minority-focused initiatives 59.0 60.1 50 47.9 % voting for the winning side Which party has benefited the most from the initiative process? Before 1990, both Democrats and Republicans voted for the winning side in initiative elections 62 percent of the time. Since then, Democrats have voted for the winning side 2 percent less often than Republicans. Self-identified liberals have slid 6 percentage points over the last two decades (Hajnal and Louch 2001). 40 30 20 10 0 Whites 32.4 Blacks Latinos Asians When considering the outcomes of all initiative elections between 1978 and 2000, one sees little evidence of bias against any major racial or ethnic group. However, when race or ethnicity itself was an important part of an initiative, nonwhite voters fared poorly compared to whites. Where do citizens get their information about initiatives? Eighty-four percent of Californians surveyed in 2000 considered the Voter Information Guide mailed by the Secretary of State a useful source of information on initiatives, and more than half said it is very useful. Yet two-thirds of those surveyed believed that the Public Policy Institute of California | 4 media—including news stories and paid political commercials—are the most influential source of information on initiatives. A slight majority of Californians believed that voters are not receiving enough information to decide how to vote on initiatives. Independent voters were the most likely to hold this view. What do Californians think about Proposition 13? To many observers, Proposition 13 of 1978 remains a prime example of what is wrong with direct democracy.That initiative limited the property tax rate to 1 percent and the growth of property tax increases to 2 percent annually until a property is sold.Although many local officials maintain that Proposition 13 limits their ability to provide residents with public services, only 25 percent of Californians surveyed in 1998 believed that Proposition 13 has affected those services negatively.Two-thirds said that Proposition 13 has had no effects or positive effects on public services. Responses from homeowners and renters did not differ on this question. Conclusion Campaign spending on initiatives has risen substantially over the last 25 years, and the growth and influence of the “initiative industrial complex” have made it increasingly difficult to regard the initiative process as the citizenry’s protection against special interests.Yet that process remains popular, in part because most Californians believe it raises important policy issues that would otherwise go unaddressed. The survey data indicate that Californians favor direct democracy in part because they distrust government. As a result, voters have taken on more responsibility for policy decisions, with political parties and elected officials playing diminished roles. But the survey evidence also indicates that voters lament the sheer number of initiatives, are often confused by ballot language, and suspect the motives behind many measures. Furthermore, they frequently do not understand the details of the policies they are voting on. Consequently, policymaking through the initiative process has become less predictable. Along with a distrust of government by voters, this unpredictability can be added to the list of policy challenges facing the state. L Public Policy Institute of California | 5 PPIC Sources Baer,Walter, Signing Initiative Petitions Online: Possibilities, Problems, and Prospects, Occasional Paper, 2001. Baldassare, Mark, California in the New Millennium:The Changing Social and Political Landscape, University of California Press and the Public Policy Institute of California, 2000. Gerber, Elizabeth R., Interest Group Influence in the California Initiative Process, Background Paper, 1998. Hajnal, Zoltan, and Hugh Louch, Are There Winners and Losers? Race, Ethnicity, and California’s Initiative Process, 2001. Silva, J. Fred, The California Initiative Process: Background and Perspective, Occasional Paper, 2000. Board of Directors Raymond L.Watson, Chair Vice Chairman of the Board The Irvine Company William K. Coblentz Partner Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, LLP David A. Coulter Vice Chairman J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Edward K. Hamilton Chairman Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, Inc. Walter B. Hewlett Director Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities David W. Lyon President and CEO Public Policy Institute of California Cheryl White Mason Chief, Civil Liability Management Office of the City Attorney Los Angeles, California Arjay Miller Dean Emeritus Graduate School of Business Stanford University Ki Suh Park Design and Managing Partner Gruen Associates A. Alan Post Former State Legislative Analyst State of California Cynthia A.Telles Department of Psychiatry UCLA School of Medicine Carol Whiteside President Great Valley Center Harold M.Williams President Emeritus The J. Paul Getty Trust and Of Counsel Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit research organization established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. The Institute conducts independent, objective, nonpartisan research on the economic, social, and political issues affecting Californians. The Institute’s goal is to raise public awareness of these issues and give elected representatives and other public officials in California a more informed basis for developing policies and programs. PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA 500 Washington Street, Suite 800 • San Francisco, California 94111 Telephone: (415) 291-4400 • Fax: (415) 291-4401 info@ppic.org • www.ppic.org Occasional Papers" } ["___content":protected]=> string(106) "

OP 202XXOP

" ["_permalink":protected]=> string(99) "https://www.ppic.org/publication/the-california-initiative-process-how-democratic-is-it/op_202xxop/" ["_next":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_prev":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_css_class":protected]=> NULL ["id"]=> int(8159) ["ID"]=> int(8159) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "1" ["post_content"]=> string(0) "" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-05-20 02:35:22" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(3288) ["post_status"]=> string(7) "inherit" ["post_title"]=> string(10) "OP 202XXOP" ["post_type"]=> string(10) "attachment" ["slug"]=> string(10) "op_202xxop" ["__type":protected]=> NULL ["_wp_attached_file"]=> string(14) "OP_202XXOP.pdf" ["wpmf_size"]=> string(5) "87801" ["wpmf_filetype"]=> string(3) "pdf" ["wpmf_order"]=> string(1) "0" ["searchwp_content"]=> string(13659) "Public Policy Institute of California The California Initiative Process— How Democratic Is It? Instituted in 1911, the statewide initiative process was a Progressive Era reform that allowed citizens to enact legislation directly.That reform was a response to the perceived influence of corporate interests on the state legislature at that time. Reformers main- tained that the initiative process was a suitable remedy for a government that was beholden to those interests. Since the 1970s, California has come to rely heavily on direct Figure 1. Initiative Measures Circulated, Qualified, and Adopted, 1912–2000 democracy to make major policy decisions. During that time, the number of initiatives per ballot has almost tripled (Figure 1), and voters have used direct democracy to decide the fate of such issues as drug 400 350 300 250 Circulated Qualified Adopted enforcement, property taxes, envi- 200 ronmental regulation, bilingual education, and affirmative action. Some observers have concluded that the 150 100 initiative process is replacing the 50 legislature as the most important law-making institution in the state. 0 1912–1919 1920–1929 1930–1939 1940–1949 1950–1959 1960–1969 1970–1979 1980–1989 1990–2000 California’s growing reliance on the initiative process has raised a host of policy questions, some of Although the number of initiatives circulated has grown considerably, the percentage of those qualifying and adopted has fallen. which have been addressed by the PPIC surveys and other research publications. (For more information on these publications, please visit www.ppic.org.) Do Californians like the idea of using initiatives to make public policy? Seventy percent of Californians surveyed in 2000 believed that making laws and changing public policies through initiatives is a “good thing.”1 Nearly 60 percent liked the fact that a majority of voters can use the initiative process to make permanent changes in the state’s constitution. Most Californians (56 percent) believed that policy decisions made through the initiative process are probably better than those made by the governor and the legislature.Voters across political parties, regions, and racial and ethnic groups shared this view. Do initiatives raise issues that might otherwise be ignored? Most Californians surveyed in 1998 thought so (Figure 2). Twenty-two percent strongly agreed, and 51 percent somewhat agreed, that citizens’ initiatives bring up important public policy issues that the governor and state legislature have not adequately addressed. Figure 2 5% 6% 16% 22% Do Californians want a more or less powerful initiative process? Many would like direct democracy to be more powerful than it is now. Forty-two percent of those surveyed in 1999 said they would like the initiative process to have more influence on public policy than the governor or the legislature have. 51% Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know Are Californians satisfied with the current initiative process? Citizens’ initiatives bring up important public policy issues that the governor and state legislature have not adequately addressed. Most (58 percent) were somewhat satisfied with the initiative process as it now stands; only 10 percent were very satisfied, and 25 percent were not sat- isfied.Three-quarters of those surveyed said they would like to see changes in the initiative process; about one-third believed that those changes should be major. Only 20 percent described the current process as “fine the way it is.” What changes in that process would Californians like to see? Voters expressed frustration with the large number of initiatives on the ballot, confusing ballot language, and initiatives that are passed but later overturned by the courts. Eighty 1 All survey data are from the PPIC Statewide Survey conducted by Mark Baldassare. For more discussion of these findings and their implications, see Baldassare (2000). Public Policy Institute of California | 2 percent of those surveyed supported a review system that would address problems with ballot language for proposed initiatives, and 90 percent supported a review that would raise constitutional or legal questions before initiatives are placed on the ballot. What else can be done to improve the initiative process? Eight in ten Californians would support a proposal to increase public disclosure about the financial backers in the signature-gathering process. Sixty percent would favor a proposal that banned the use of paid signature gatherers, and 61 percent would oppose a law that allowed signature-gathering over the Internet. What about an indirect initiative? One reform under consideration is the indirect initiative, which allows citizens to gather signatures for a measure and submit it to the legislature. If the measure were enacted, the initiative would not appear on the ballot. The original initiative process permitted indirect initiatives, but that provision was repealed in 1966 for lack of use.Ten other states currently allow for indirect initiatives.2 How important are special interests to the initiative process? Over half of Californians surveyed (52 percent) thought the initiative process was controlled “a lot” by special interests. Seventyeight percent agreed strongly or somewhat that initiatives reflect the concerns of organized special interests rather than those of average residents (Figure 3). When it comes to campaign spending on initiatives, economic and citizen interest groups tend to pursue different strategies (Gerber, 1998). Between 1988 and 1990, economic interests spent over 78 percent of their $99 million in contributions to defeat ballot measures. During the same period, citizen groups spent 88 percent of their $33 million to support proposed changes to the status quo. This evidence suggests that economic interests use the initiative process most often and most effectively to fight ballot propositions they oppose, whereas citizen groups use their more limited resources to effect change. Figure 3 6% 4% 12% 34% 44% Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know Citizens’ initiatives usually reflect the concerns of organized special interests rather than the concerns of average California residents. 2 See Silva (2000) for more discussion. Public Policy Institute of California | 3 Is the initiative process fair to nonwhite voters? Although no racial or ethnic group now constitutes a simple majority of the state’s overall population, non-Hispanic whites cast nearly two-thirds of the votes in initiative elections. Some observers have argued that this electoral majority—which is older, whiter, more edu- cated, and more conservative than the state’s population as a whole—has used the initiative process to target the state’s growing nonwhite population. When considering the outcomes of all initiative elections between 1978 and 2000, one sees little evidence of bias against any racial or ethnic group. Blacks and Latinos voted for the winning side 59 percent of the time, whereas Asian Americans and whites were on the winning side 60 and 62 percent of the time, respectively. However, when race or eth- nicity itself was an important part of an initiative, nonwhite voters fared poorly compared to whites (Figure 4). On minority-focused issues such as affirmative action, social services for illegal immigrants, and bilingual education, whites voted for the winning side 64 per- cent of the time, whereas the com- parable figure for Latinos was 32 percent. On these same issues, Afri- Figure 4. Probability of Voting for the Winning Side: All Initiatives and Minority-Focused Initiatives can Americans and Asian Americans voted for the winning side 57 percent and 48 percent of the time, respectively (Hajnal and Louch 2001). 70 63.7 61.5 60 59.0 57.1 All initiatives Minority-focused initiatives 59.0 60.1 50 47.9 % voting for the winning side Which party has benefited the most from the initiative process? Before 1990, both Democrats and Republicans voted for the winning side in initiative elections 62 percent of the time. Since then, Democrats have voted for the winning side 2 percent less often than Republicans. Self-identified liberals have slid 6 percentage points over the last two decades (Hajnal and Louch 2001). 40 30 20 10 0 Whites 32.4 Blacks Latinos Asians When considering the outcomes of all initiative elections between 1978 and 2000, one sees little evidence of bias against any major racial or ethnic group. However, when race or ethnicity itself was an important part of an initiative, nonwhite voters fared poorly compared to whites. Where do citizens get their information about initiatives? Eighty-four percent of Californians surveyed in 2000 considered the Voter Information Guide mailed by the Secretary of State a useful source of information on initiatives, and more than half said it is very useful. Yet two-thirds of those surveyed believed that the Public Policy Institute of California | 4 media—including news stories and paid political commercials—are the most influential source of information on initiatives. A slight majority of Californians believed that voters are not receiving enough information to decide how to vote on initiatives. Independent voters were the most likely to hold this view. What do Californians think about Proposition 13? To many observers, Proposition 13 of 1978 remains a prime example of what is wrong with direct democracy.That initiative limited the property tax rate to 1 percent and the growth of property tax increases to 2 percent annually until a property is sold.Although many local officials maintain that Proposition 13 limits their ability to provide residents with public services, only 25 percent of Californians surveyed in 1998 believed that Proposition 13 has affected those services negatively.Two-thirds said that Proposition 13 has had no effects or positive effects on public services. Responses from homeowners and renters did not differ on this question. Conclusion Campaign spending on initiatives has risen substantially over the last 25 years, and the growth and influence of the “initiative industrial complex” have made it increasingly difficult to regard the initiative process as the citizenry’s protection against special interests.Yet that process remains popular, in part because most Californians believe it raises important policy issues that would otherwise go unaddressed. The survey data indicate that Californians favor direct democracy in part because they distrust government. As a result, voters have taken on more responsibility for policy decisions, with political parties and elected officials playing diminished roles. But the survey evidence also indicates that voters lament the sheer number of initiatives, are often confused by ballot language, and suspect the motives behind many measures. Furthermore, they frequently do not understand the details of the policies they are voting on. Consequently, policymaking through the initiative process has become less predictable. Along with a distrust of government by voters, this unpredictability can be added to the list of policy challenges facing the state. L Public Policy Institute of California | 5 PPIC Sources Baer,Walter, Signing Initiative Petitions Online: Possibilities, Problems, and Prospects, Occasional Paper, 2001. Baldassare, Mark, California in the New Millennium:The Changing Social and Political Landscape, University of California Press and the Public Policy Institute of California, 2000. Gerber, Elizabeth R., Interest Group Influence in the California Initiative Process, Background Paper, 1998. Hajnal, Zoltan, and Hugh Louch, Are There Winners and Losers? Race, Ethnicity, and California’s Initiative Process, 2001. Silva, J. Fred, The California Initiative Process: Background and Perspective, Occasional Paper, 2000. Board of Directors Raymond L.Watson, Chair Vice Chairman of the Board The Irvine Company William K. Coblentz Partner Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, LLP David A. Coulter Vice Chairman J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Edward K. Hamilton Chairman Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, Inc. Walter B. Hewlett Director Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities David W. Lyon President and CEO Public Policy Institute of California Cheryl White Mason Chief, Civil Liability Management Office of the City Attorney Los Angeles, California Arjay Miller Dean Emeritus Graduate School of Business Stanford University Ki Suh Park Design and Managing Partner Gruen Associates A. Alan Post Former State Legislative Analyst State of California Cynthia A.Telles Department of Psychiatry UCLA School of Medicine Carol Whiteside President Great Valley Center Harold M.Williams President Emeritus The J. Paul Getty Trust and Of Counsel Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit research organization established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. The Institute conducts independent, objective, nonpartisan research on the economic, social, and political issues affecting Californians. The Institute’s goal is to raise public awareness of these issues and give elected representatives and other public officials in California a more informed basis for developing policies and programs. PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA 500 Washington Street, Suite 800 • San Francisco, California 94111 Telephone: (415) 291-4400 • Fax: (415) 291-4401 info@ppic.org • www.ppic.org Occasional Papers" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-05-20 09:35:22" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(10) "op_202xxop" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-05-20 02:35:22" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-05-20 09:35:22" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["guid"]=> string(52) "http://148.62.4.17/wp-content/uploads/OP_202XXOP.pdf" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_mime_type"]=> string(15) "application/pdf" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["status"]=> string(7) "inherit" ["attachment_authors"]=> bool(false) }