Citizens in Charge, an intiative and referendum-supporting interest group, raises the warning about California's AB 857, which will try to harm the intiative process by limiting the use of paid signature collectors:
The bill imposes new requirements on petition campaigns that will significantly drive up the cost of initiatives and referendums….the measure will have a disproportionately negative impact on grassroots groups, while it specifically provides a loophole for labor unions and other well-organized political groups to largely get around the law. AB 857 requires that a full 20 percent of signatures gathered for an initiative petition would have to be collected by volunteer circulators, rather than their paid counterparts.
However, the bill – actually co-sponsored by the powerful California Labor Federation and the California Professional Firefighters and backed by the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the California School Employees Association, and the AFL-CIO – provides a loophole so big a union-driver could steer a truck through: union members and employees of other non-profits are to be considered "volunteers," even when being paid to gather signatures.
So, while union-supported ballot measures would easily be able to collect 20 percent of their signatures from paid people masquerading as "volunteers" under the discriminatory color of this unconstitutional law….
Presently, AB 857 is still in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Let's hope that committee will defeat the legislation or it will be defeated by the full Senate. If the California Senate passes AB 857, let's hope Governor Jerry Brown will veto it, as he did in 2011 with Senate Bills 168 and 448, both designed to restrict and punish paid petitioners.