Consumer Watchdog Disappointed California Senate Chose Hiking an Initiative Filing Fee Over Protecting Direct Democracy

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Santa Monica, CA – Consumer Watchdog said today it was disappointed that the California Senate passed AB 1100, by Evan Low, D-Campbell, and Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, and decided that hiking the ballot initiative filing fee to $2,000 from $200 was more important than protecting the public’s right to direct democracy.

Prompted by an unconscionable initiative, which was later halted by the courts, the bill would make the initiative filing fee four times greater than the next highest state – Mississippi. A review of 26 states that have initiatives found just five states, including California, have a filing fee. The fee for Mississippi is $500; California, $200; Alaska, $100; Ohio, $25; and Washington, $5. Every other state charges nothing.

“With the public’s trust in government already low, it’s outrageous that the cradle of direct democracy wants to increase the bar allowing citizens to participate in the process. The Legislature should be encouraging democracy not discouraging it,” said Eddie Barrera, an advocate with Consumer Watchdog.

“We call on Gov. Jerry Brown to veto AB 1100, which will create another hurdle for the public to access its last resort when common sense reforms are stymied by special interests’ stranglehold in Sacramento.”

Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter to the Assembly members here:

Groups that are serious about initiatives typically submit multiple versions of the same measure before moving forward with the one with the best chance for success. This means, if the bill is signed, that legitimate initiatives are likely to pay not $2,000 but double or triple that in practice.

In the letter to the Assembly members, Consumer Watchdog wrote that there were myriad backstops to curtail reviled initiatives that won’t financially burden citizen groups. The bill will continue the ever-growing dominance of a handful of moneyed interests seeking to buy more power for themselves and their companies, the letter added.

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