Walter Mencken 12:02 p.m., May 30
Brown Vetoes Paid Petitioner Restrictions
Governor Jerry Brown on Monday vetoed SB 168, which would have placed a ban on pay-per-signature petitioners. In recent months the bill had passed both the Senate and Assembly with greater than 60% support each time.
The bill would have made it a misdemeanor to pay someone or accept pay or other items of value based on the number of signatures gathered on a petition. It would have applied to all paid signature gatherers, whether working on local or statewide referendums, initiatives, or recall actions.
Those in favor of the bill argued that payment on a per-signature basis was an open invitation for paid petitioners to commit fraud, preferring instead that they be paid a flat hourly wage.
Critics argue that wage-based petitioners were costlier, and would thus restrict ballot access to activist groups with less funding. And in an editorial pushing for a veto, the Sacramento Bee dismissed the fraud potential, noting that since 1994 there had only been 46 prosecutions and 33 convictions for crimes related to signature gathering. “An average of three prosecutions yearly hardly seems like a crime spree,” their editorial board noted.
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