Gov. Jerry Brown declined to sign Senate Bill 1272 in July, allowing the bill to pass without his blessing. As explanation, he wrote in a nonsigning statement that “I am not inclined to repeat this practice of seeking advisory opinions from the voters.”
The governor’s failure to veto SB 1272 means that on Nov. 4, Californians will be asked to vote on at least one measure that doesn’t do anything other than clutter up the ballot. The bill authorized Proposition 49, an advisory measure asking voters to urge Congress to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court on the Citizens United case, which opened the door to unlimited corporate cash in political campaigns.
It’s little more than a public opinion poll and doesn’t belong on a ballot.
Now there’s another possible advisory vote measure cooking in the Legislature. If it doesn’t stall or get voted down first, the governor should use his veto power this time for sure.
Maybe that prospect has already cooled Sen. Kevin de León’s passion for SB 1402. His bill would place a second advisory vote before voters, this time to ask them to urge Congress to pass immigration reform and to ask the president to stop deporting the undocumented parents of kids born in the U.S. This legislation has yet to be voted on by either house, and it is not clear if it ever will.
That’s as it should be. If we thought an advisory vote by Californians would kick-start federal immigration reform after being stalled for years in a polarized Congress, we’d enthusiastically support it. But members of Congress would be blind not to know that a vast majority of Californians support immigration reform, as poll after poll has found. In fact, 83 percent of Californians now say they want immigration reform, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Similar polls have confirmed repeatedly that Americans want comprehensive immigration reform. Despite this, Congress can’t even agree on emergency legislation to help with the current crisis of thousands of unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant children in detention.
We too want to see Congress adopt immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. But this is not the way to get there.
Our initiative process is flawed enough; sticking meaningless questions on the ballot certainly doesn’t improve it.