Gov. rejects proposed change to initiative signature-gathering

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Just because there’s a Democrat in the governor’s office doesn’t mean all of the perennial veto bait of the Schwarzenegger era will automatically become law. Gov. Jerry Brown made that point again Monday when he rejected a bill that would have changed the way initiative signature-gatherers are paid.

The measure by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) would have banned the widespread practice of paying people per signature for initiative petitions. Corbett said the measure would cut down on fraud.

In his veto message, Brown said the “unintended consequences” of the bill could “be worse than the abuses the bill aims to prevent.” He said the bill would “drive up the cost of circulating ballot measures, thereby further favoring the wealthiest interests.”

Corbett has written the bill twice before, only to have it vetoed by Schwarzenegger both times. The bill was backed by many labor and Democratic-aligned groups and was opposed by much of the state’s business community.


In comments last month, Brown said he was paying extra attention to the measure because of his own interest in putting a tax initiative on the ballot next year.

“I’m thinking in my mind, is this going to make it harder or easier if I want to do an initiative?” Brown said at a San Francisco news conference. “What if I want to do one that’s just me and my friends? I’ll still have to hire a few bounty hunters.”

-- Anthony York in Sacramento