Hello My Name Is: PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER

A California bill would require people who get paid to help gather signatures on the street to wear their very own scarlet letter:

Senate Bill 448, by Democratic Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, would require that paid solicitors working to qualify initiatives, recalls or referendums for the ballot wear badges stating in "no smaller than 30-point font print" that they are a paid signature gatherer.

(A theory: Any bill that includes guidance about font size is probably a sign that a legislature is meddling where it doesn't belong.)

A separate July bill looked to limit the ways signature gatherers could be paid, insisting that they receive hourly wages instead of per-signature compensation—making it harder for smaller-budget groups to get their moment in the sun. (Plus, who will think of the jobs?!)

California's easy peasey initiative process has a long, proud history of being a pain in legislators' butts. But fiddly, sideways rules—now awaiting the governor's approval—that make it harder for groups to get their initiatives on the ballot will make the process more complex, expensive, and bureaucratic without fixing the underlying dynamic.

The group Citizens in Charge notes in a press release that there are no such restrictions on folks gathering signatures to get legislators' names on the ballot:

"If Sen. DeSaulnier's bill isn't about undercutting the initiative process, why doesn't it apply to those petitioning to put legislators on the ballot?" inquired [Citizens in Charge President Paul] Jacob. "SB 448 is a slap at the initiative process, which California voters love and Democrats in the state legislature hate with a passion."

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  • ||

    Jesus, what a waste of time! By focusing the requirement on a certain kind of speaker, too, it may very well be unconstitutional (might be, anyway).

  • ||

    Let unconstitutional things of this soar freely and at some point we will be looking at long drawn-out wars with nary a congressional authorization and deep erosions of basic civil liberties.

  • ||

    That's unpossible!

  • ||

    I admit it's farfetched, like something out a pulp sci-fi novel but if the multiple-universe hypothesis is valid, I'm sure this is actually taking place somewhere...and there's a goatee involved.

  • ||

    Yes, we must be careful not to elect anyone with a goatee to public office.

  • ||

    That probably ought to be a constitutional amendment. The people have a right to be protected from goatees.

  • PantsFan||

    not just goatees, but also van dykes, and soul patches

  • ||

    I've never seen a movie or TV show where a character had an equivalent in an evil alternate universe with a soul patch. C'mon we're talking constitutional amendment here. I think van dyke ought to qualify as an alternate form of goatee, but that's really up to the voters and their representatives.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    How about the lumberjack?

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    Big fuzzy beards are cool, though.

    ... Hobbit

  • ||

    there's a goatee involved

    Dunno about goatees, but this is the internet age. You can be sure there's a goatse in there somewhere.

  • ||

    In this hypothetical alternate universe of unconstitutional wars and massively eroded civil liberties, I'm sure there's a hell of a lot of goatse, a mind-bogglingly huge amount of goatse. Fortunately, it's all hypothetical.

  • ||

    We're fortunate to live in this, the best of all possible worlds.

  • ||

    Oh come on. Gathering signatures is not speech.

  • robc||

    But its 9th amendment protected.

    Actually, definately 1A: assemble and petition. Gathering signatures for a ballot initiative is about as petitiony as you can get.

  • DB||

    But then again they already call it legal (constitutional) to require that you get a permit to protest, so...

  • ||

    Everything robc likes is 9th amendment protected, is that how it works?

    It has nothing to do with assembly anyway. Petition is a stretch; as I wrote below, this is one of those cases where the incorporation doctrine makes a mess of the Bill of Rights, since the first amendment wasn't written with CA's initiative process in mind.

    What grievances is a ballot initiative signature sheet seeking to redress, anyway?

  • robc||

    Everything robc likes is 9th amendment protected, is that how it works?

    No, its bigger than that. Even some stuff I dont like is 9th amendment protected.

    In my mind, the 9th amendment covers EVERY action that isnt an initiation of force and isnt already covered by another amendment.

    A more restrictive reading would be that any dumbass thing that the 18th century wouldnt have remotely considered passing a law to ban would be covered by the 9th. Like eating Foie Gras.

    Foie Gras is a 9th amendment protected right.

  • robc||

    It has nothing to do with assembly anyway.

    Any time 1 or more people gather anywhere, it is an assembly.

    Petition is a stretch

    Not at all...a ballot initiative is just a subset of petitions.

    What grievances is a ballot initiative signature sheet seeking to redress, anyway?

    Whatever law is being changed. "property taxes are rising too fast" (that would be a grievance). "So, lets pass an initiative to cap the rate of growth" (there is the petition).

  • ||

    And of course most states don't have any ballot initiative process at all. Does that mean they're violating their residents' rights as US citizens?

    If it ain't a right that every US citizen has, the incorporation doctrine doesn't apply.

  • robc||

    And of course most states don't have any ballot initiative process at all. Does that mean they're violating their residents' rights as US citizens?

    No, the other states can still get the signatures for the exact same petition. CA just puts the petition on the ballot, which is silly of them. The right to petition still exists. I can collect signatures requesting a ballot initiative in KY too. It wont automatically get ballot access though. But the petition process is exactly the same.

  • Brian Wilson||

    This is a better name badge.

  • Kristen||

    Good - all of CA's problems are solved now!

  • ||

    Well, some of CA's politicians' problems will be solved, or made easier by this; and isn't that what matters?

  • O2||

    dont evah get a car w 17" alum sport wheels. if u bend one its hell trying to find a used replacement. and new is a redonkulous price. that is all

  • Patooey||

    I've been reading Reason.com for years and I'm now officially burnt out.

    The march to Hell is in full swing and nothing will stop it.

    Anyone else get that feeling ?

    I need a beer or 20.

  • Almanian||

    I put a hollow point through my brain a couple days ago, so I'm right there with ya.

  • Paul||

    I put a hollow point through my brain a couple days ago,

    And nothing else happened?

  • Doug||

    I burned out like seven years ago. Look up, friend, because complacency and a sick, sadistic sense of humor lie just ahead. Like me, you'll finally feel at one with the universe.

  • Jim||

    Doug has won the war with himself, and finally loves Big Brother.

    Don't worry, I'm playing chess with you in the cafe as we speak.

  • Doug||

    You psychics weird me out. By virtue of my career choice I am Big Brother. And, yes, I wrestled with it for a time but since I can't print money to pay the bills (unlike some entities I can think of) I chose to hold my nose and do my job.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Do a Ron Swanson and undermine from within...

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    Meanwhile, California unions are running radio ads trying to scare people away from signature gatherers, by stoking fears of identity theft.

    http://foxandhoundsdaily.com/b.....s-are-all-

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    That will last until they have an initiative of their own to push.

  • Restoras||

    So, what state in the union is the most libertarian? Least?

  • ||

    None. All.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Gotta put Nevada in the mix for at least being somewhat libertarianish.

  • Harry Reid||

    You love me, you really love me!

  • Pip||

    Alaska?

  • Zeb||

    Alaska has a lot more weird nanny-ish laws than you might think. Though it does have th redeeming feature of being nearly empty of people, so there are plenty of places where you can go and do as you please.

  • ||

    Depends on what flavor of statism sandpapers your ass.

    For economic liberty, Texas is OK. Got more than its share of so-cons, though.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    As far as "social liberals" go, Austin is a pretty fucking freaky town if you ask me. The combination of social tolerance and free-market economic liberty makes it the libertarian San Francisco.

  • Old Man With Candy||

    Yeah, but it's 107 degrees here today.

  • robc||

    Freedom has a price.

  • Apogee||

    $1.05?

  • Loch Ness Monster||

    About $3.50

  • ||

    Yet you don't see the nanny-ism that the east and west coast'ers would have you believe. For the most part, it's very live and let live. No one's stoning gays for holding hands in public, and so forth.

  • Jim||

    For economic liberty, Texas is OK.

    Try running a bar sometime. We're good on a lot of things, but TABC is teh debil. Not as bad as a few states, but much worse than quite a few others.

  • ||

    I don't doubt that. I'm pretty thankful that they loosened up the beer/wine laws. I always had to cross Midway to get overpriced beer. Thankfully I live in the corner of the county bordering Denton and Collin

  • Jim||

    My wife works in Addison, so it isn't that bad, because she can always just stop on her way home from work to pick up something if we run out.

  • ||

    speaking of which, it's Friday and I'm headed that way.

  • Kristen||

    Mercatus Center has a handy dandy list. I'm too lazy to get you a link, but Google can tell you.

  • Kristen||

    OK, OK, since more than one commentator seems to be unaware, here it is.

  • Almanian||

    Thanks! I knew I liked South Dakota for a reason...

  • Pip||

    Because all of the women look like Cadillacs?

  • Zeb||

    New Hampshire, fuck yeah!

    I'm actually not sure whether to be proud of my state's ranking or sad that it is now the best we can do in this country.

  • Mainer||

    Just moved to NH....love it.

  • ||

    It won't last. The whiner quotient keeps increasing. It was even better 20 years ago.

  • ||

    You need to build a fence on your southern border.

  • Whitey the Injun||

    They're all {AGRI}cultur{AL} CITY ST{ATES}
    which makes you all ST{AT}ISTS!

  • Restoras||

    Thanks, all, and have a great weekend!

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    So, what state in the union is the most libertarian? Least?

    New Mexico in the 50s-60s was still pretty close to the Wild West of yore. Crooked politicians ran the state govt. but mostly left the people alone. Wide open spaces and dirtbikes= pretty close to heaven.

    Fast forward today, I'm surprised that we rated as high as 37 on the link that Kristin posted. Gun and alcohol are fairly free but I got carded for a DL while driving off-road through the forest the other day. Bill Richardson got real petulant when he didn't get the presidential nod and took it out on us.

    Still wasn't as bad as Toney Annoya, but that's another story.

    ... Hobbit

  • Mayor Joe Quimby||

    "Nothing, nothing, only the, uh, city has just passed another tax on puffy directing pants. I, meant a tax on not wearing puffy pants. I'm sorry."

  • Hank||

    (A theory: Any bill that includes guidance about font size is probably a sign that a legislature is meddling where it doesn't belong.)

    As a beverage R&D worker, let me tell you all about Nutrition Fact Panel rules...

  • GSL||

    This sucks, but it's hardly the worst thing the Legislature is doing to gut the ballot initiative process in California. That would still be ACA 6, which would allow the state to toss initiatives from the ballot if they create a "net increase" in costs; in other words, say goodbye to initiatives that cut taxes!

  • Doug||

    What the hell is a "signature gatherer"?

  • KW6||

    Like a "community organizer," but doing something USEFUL.

  • The Real Barry O||

    Let me be clear. When those good people of Chicago's south side were laid off, I was hired to help stunned people recover and get the government services they needed–job training, help with housing and so forth–from the local government.
    Hell, I was doing God's work. I probably should have been paid more.

  • Au H20||

    Well, I was going to save this for Monday, but Gawker has decided to rank the "least worst states" in the U.S. Anyway, yesterday was Day 1(so 50 is the best state, and it went, unsurprisingly for Gawker, to New York). Let's see what they had to say about California (4th best, behind New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Hawaii):

    The Good: California is big and beautiful and varied. You can be at the beach, in the mountains, and in the desert on the same day. Along the coast, the weather is pretty livable most of the time. As states go, Cali is pretty progressive on the politics front, though mostly in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Really, though, the main reason to love California is that you can get as stoned as you want on premium kine bud totally legally, as long as you have a doctor's note.
    The Bad: The state starts to look slightly less than progressive when you consider Proposition 8, the Governator, the existence of San Diego and Orange County, and this whole disaster. Plus there's the aforementioned city of Los Angeles, a wasted hellscape of strip malls and strippers and people desperate to be in "the industry." Oh, and, well, the entire state is broke and their public school system is "broken" and nobody has a house there anymore.
    Final Score: 7.29

    Anyway, take a gander, if you guys dare:

    http://gawker.com/5831724/the-.....in-america

  • ||

    A list that starts with New York as least worse is invalid. It's even more invalid having California that low.

  • ||

    And the People's Republic is just after NY.

    No, no bias on this list.

  • ||

    I wonder how their list will compare to the list of which states are least free?

  • ||

    So far, only Oregon and Virginia are both Free and Gawkable. The rest are practically opposites.

  • ||

    Well, what a surprise! Gawker loves statism?

  • ||

    The idiots at Gawker can get more stupid! I was wrong!

  • ||

    There is no end to their stupidity.

  • Au H20||

    It's like gold. The minute we think stupid peaks, it shoots up again.

    Also, the dissed Denver. Nobody fucking disses Denver!

  • Michael||

    It seems that here in Chicago most paid solicitors I come across are collecting signatures for Democrat/progressive/left organizations. It makes me wonder what the conditions are in California, because I suspect that somebody neglected to send this DeSaulnier fella the memo.

  • ||

    (A theory: Any bill that includes guidance about font size is probably a sign that a legislature is meddling where it doesn't belong.)

    Curious, would you say this about a bill specifying how big the print on "no turn on red" signs had to be? You'd be OK with a locality putting up penalizable traffic signs with 7-point type, would you?

    Anyway, the state has legitimate authority to regulate elections and referenda. Signature gathering is part of the referendum process so this is fair game.

    If they were requiring name tags for anyone who speaks on behalf of a signature drive, that would be another matter. But actually gathering the signatures is not speech.

  • ||

    Why do you do this to yourself?

  • ||

    If I don't, no one else will.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You're right.

    No one will place the hair-shirt of statism over your shoulders for you.

  • DB||

    Well, no, it does not fall under speech. It does fall under the right to assemble and petition, though.

  • ||

    Assembly probably not. Petition? Maybe. It depends on whether the proposition process is really a "petition for a redress of grievances." This is one of those situations where the incorporation doctrine makes no sense. The first amendment wasn't written with California's bizarre amendment process in mind.

  • robc||

    How is it not a petition for redress of grievances. The grievance is whatever law or lack of law is proposing to be changed.

    Its fundamentally a petition for redress of greivance.

  • Greer||

    first con: What are you in for?

    second con: the font on my badge was only 26 points.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    What's wrong with you commenters?

    There's a bill requiring signature-gatherers to wear badges, yet nobody has asked: Do they got any badges? Do they need any steenking badges?

  • Unpaid Comment Leaver||

    Isn't this bitch fired yet?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Gathering signatures may not be free speech, but signing IS.

  • ||

    Technically yes, but of course your signature only counts if you're a registered voter.

    In any case, no one is proposing requiring nametags for signers.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Not yet, anyway. We ARE talking about government here, Tulpa... they love shit like that.

    I'm a big fan of petitions, because it can force an issue onto the ballot that has been blocked or just ignored by the legislature.

    Sure, it can have downsides, but in the long run I believe it to be at least a wash, if not a smidgen to the good.

    Some people hate ballot initiatives, because they liken them to "democracy", which is bullshit.

  • Jeffrey Smith||

    Actually, while I am sure it would be great fun to gather signatures, I quite like my job as an economics professor.

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