State Ballot Initiatives
Re “Too Many Ballot Initiatives,” editorial, Jan. 21: The trouble is not with the initiative process; it is with the Legislature. Time and again the Legislature has reacted to some initiative idea that it abhorred by devising a quarter-loaf alternative, hoping this would outpoll the people’s proposal and essentially preserve the status quo.
A responsible Legislature would, instead, take the initiative idea and rework its language so as to eliminate the ambiguities and whatever else conflicted with constitutional dictates or common sense. A responsible Legislature would then state its objection with a “don’t pass” recommendation, the sponsors would endorse a truly perfected measure and the public would be left with a clear choice.
With a new millennium just around the corner, we must wait for the one after that to instill responsibility in Sacramento. Because a truly responsible Legislature would act first, as needed, and the initiative process could lie dormant--something we shall never see.
GILBERT S. BAHN
I wholeheartedly agree with your editorial on the severely overused and frequently misused initiative process. The vast majority of the measures are poorly drafted and more often than not lead to harsh results never envisioned by the voters, who are enticed to vote for the proposition by misleading television advertising. Due to the high cost of signature gathering and television advertising, the initiative process can only be utilized by those who can afford to spend millions of dollars to advance their own agenda. Any benefit to the average voter is usually coincidental at best.
The most obvious solution to the problem is to elect legislators and governors who are truly interested in working for the state and its citizens rather than engaging in partisan bickering. Since this is a difficult thing for individual voters to be assured of, it is essential that they vote only for the initiatives that they understand and approve of without relying on the television advertising campaigns. They can also stop signing every petition someone shoves in front of them and rather insist upon studying the issue before signing.
RICHARD M. HOFFMAN