Lawmakers Should Withdraw Excessive Initiative Filing Fee Hike After Court Decision Makes Proposal’s Reason Moot, Says Consumer Watchdog

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Santa Monica, CA – Consumer Watchdog today urged Assemblymembers Evan Low, D-Campbell, and Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, to withdraw a proposal that would hike the ballot initiative filing fee to $2,500 from $200 after a court effectively halted an unconscionable initiative that prompted the bill.

A Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday said that a ballot initiative targeting gays and lesbians was “patently unconstitutional,” allowing Attorney General Kamala Harris to essentially block the measure. The lawmakers said the initiative instigated AB 1100.

In a letter to the Assembly members, Consumer Watchdog said the decision proved that there were myriad backstops to curtail reviled initiatives without financially burdening the public’s ability to access the initiative process.

“While we have reservations about how the court short-circuited the process, its decision made the bill irrelevant. And, unlike the courts, AB 1100 won’t guarantee an end to similar initiatives. But it will stop legitimate citizen initiatives. We ask that you take the recent decision into account and withdraw AB 1100,” wrote Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

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

The letter added that, “It’s outrageous that the state that birthed direct democracy would charge its citizens an initiative filing fee that is five 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.

“AB 1100 would create another hurdle for citizen initiatives. This is especially true because 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 that legitimate initiatives are likely to pay not $2,500 but double or triple that in practice. The bill will continue the ever-growing dominance of a handful of moneyed interests seeking to buy more power for themselves and their companies. You should be encouraging direct democracy, not discouraging it.”


Carmen Balber
Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber has been with the organization for nearly two decades. She spent four years directing the group’s Washington, D.C. office where she advocated for key health insurance market reforms that were ultimately enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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