Coupal: Attacks on direct democracy in California have reached a new low

Governor Gavin Newsom and progressive leadership in the Legislature have declared war on California taxpayers. They have filed a lawsuit in the California Supreme Court to have a duly qualified citizen initiative removed from the November 2024 ballot before voters can pass it.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

The initiative is called the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, so there’s no mystery about why the politicians oppose it.

What’s mysterious, or at least very troubling, is why they think the court should block the power of the people to amend the state constitution through the initiative process.

Over the last three decades, this column has staunchly defended the constitutional rights of direct democracy – initiative, referendum, and recall. These powers have been proven to be effective tools to control indolent or corrupt politicians and are just as important today as they were when they were added to the California Constitution in 1911.

Without the initiative power, California homeowners would never have reaped the benefits of Proposition 13, which has saved California property owners hundreds of billions of dollars since 1978. Direct democracy remains the only avenue for fundamental political reform, tax reform and a host of other important policies that entrenched interests in Sacramento would rather never see the light of day.

Politicians and powerful special interests hate direct democracy and view it as a threat to their political power or, at a minimum, as an intrusion on their legislative responsibilities. It is no surprise, then, that left-leaning legislators repeatedly introduce proposals designed to weaken direct democracy. Recent proposals seek to render the referendum and recall powers wholly ineffective and other bills have made it very difficult to qualify initiative measures. One proposal from 2019 attempted to impose burdensome requirements on those who gather signatures for initiative qualification.

In the legislative session that just ended, Senate Bill 386 became law. Although on its face it appears innocuous, it amended the process by which county registrars verify signatures on initiative petitions in a manner that compresses the time in which to qualify an initiative measure – already a narrow 180 days. This puts initiative proponents at a severe disadvantage.

Another attack on the initiative process affects initiatives that would enact tax reforms. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 13 would require that measures such as Proposition 13 secure a higher statewide vote threshold to pass. This measure is targeted directly at the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act.

The lawsuit by the governor and the legislature is the latest assault on the initiative process. While the legal claims border on the frivolous and, politically, the action is likely to backfire on the politicians, it reveals in stark terms what these political elites think of ordinary taxpayers. Here’s an excerpt:

“[B]y compelling voters to assume a far more active role in state government, the Measure [TPA] would have sobering implications for the future of governance. Taxation is both highly complex and essential to the adequate functioning of the State. Sound tax policy therefore requires time and expertise.  California’s full-time Legislature has the capacity to implement tax policy because legislators can spend weeks in committees reviewing a law and debating its impact, all while being advised by professional legislative staff. Not so with voters. As it is, voters have neither the time nor resources at their disposal to comprehensively study their crowded ballots.”

Translation: Shut up, you deplorable peasants. Let us, the expert politicians, tell you how much we need and how to spend it.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register


  1. The last two paragraphs sums up the government control…. doesn’t it? Hope you are wising up that your VOTE does count!!! AND to start paying attention to what the HELL goes on throughout the USA…not just CA!!

Speak Your Mind


WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By :