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Reforming California's Ballot Box Democracy

California's State Capitol Building
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics

The year 2014 will be a big one California voters. Not only will citizens choose the state’s next governor, and who will represent them in Congress, a number of big issues will likely be on the ballot in the form of propositions. A handful of groups are currently gathering signatures right now to put the issue of marijuana legalization before voters in November.

Other groups are working to put issues on the ballot ranging from an increase in the state’s vehicle license fee, to changes in the way school districts can fire teachers for egregious misconduct. And a referendum that would overturn the approval of a Central California Native American tribe’s plans for a Casino in Madera has already qualified for the ballot.

But what about the state of the initiative and referendum system itself? Is it time for an update? Mark Baldassare of the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California joined us on Valley Edition to talk about ways to reform the process including:

  • Bringing back the "indirect initiative" process which would allow the Legislature to take up initiatives before they go to the ballot
  • Enhancing the transparency of who is behind efforts like signature gathering
  • Having televised debates over ballot measures
  • Creating a citizens panel that would make recommendations to voters on ballot measures
Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.
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