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."