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[whitespace] Write Wrongs

By Suzanne Barnecut

This ain't a democracy for nothing. Want to change the CHP uniform to a clown suit? The system can work for you, too.

Since 1911, California, for better or worse, has allowed its citizens to put their ideas forward for a vote. Although it may be hard to believe--given the 20-plus initiatives that made it to the ballot earlier this month--getting an issue on the ballot takes more than just a bad idea and big checkbook.

The first step is to write up the proposed law. Most pundits say that shorter laws have a better shot at passing, so keep it brief. Then, mail the text to the state Attorney General's office (916.445.9555, caag.state.ca.us) with a check for $200.

Within 15 days of receiving the proposed measure, the Attorney General prepares its title and a summary and then passes it along it to the Secretary of State (916/653.6224, www.ss.ca.gov). Then it's time buy a few good pens and settle in at the local Safeway.

Right now, curb-side lawmakers need scratching from 419,260 registered voters to get a law on the ballot and 670,816 signatures for a proposed constitutional amendment. The number is based on a percentage of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

You only have 150 days to bring in the required signatures. Petitions are then circulated to county elections office, where the names are checked and double-checked. If everything adds up, the initiative qualifies for the next statewide election.

Before you know it, the CHP could be wearing clown suits.


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From the March 16-22, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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