State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg wants to change century-old initiative process

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California State Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) speaks with reporters on July 23, 2009. Steinberg wants to re-vamp the state's century-old process for getting initiatives on voter's ballots.

The leader of the State Senate is calling for changes in the way California handles ballot initiatives, a process that’s over 100 years old.

There are three changes Democrat Darrell Steinberg wants to make.

The first would allow the legislature to place a basic initiative — as opposed to a constitutional amendment — on the ballot through majority vote. Right now, it requires a two-thirds supermajority, something Republicans used last year to block a vote on Governor Jerry Brown’s tax proposal.

“I don’t think the minority party should trump the will of the people," Steinberg said. "And that’s what occurs now when you can’t even, with a majority vote, place a question before the voters.”

Second, Steinberg wants to allow a measure’s proponents to negotiate with the governor and legislature to either amend the initiative, or pass a law without going to voters at all.

And finally, the senator proposes letting lawmakers amend or repeal an initiative once it's been around for 10 years.

Steinberg says he’s prepared to put his proposals on the 2014 ballot... using the initiative process.

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