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A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Molly Munger Files Suit Over Ballot Measure Placement; Judge Halts Numbering Until 7/9

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 2, 2012

On June 27, the State Senate passed AB 1499 on a near-party-line 24-15 vote (Democrat Joe Simitian of Palo Alto joined the Republicans in voting against the bill, with Republican Sharon Runner of the Antelope Valley not voting), the State Assembly passed the bill on a party-line 50-24 vote (with three Republicans, two Democrats, and one Republican-turned-independent Nathan Fletcher not voting), and the Governor signed the bill into law.

So what exactly does AB 1499 do?  It changes the order that ballot measures appear on the ballot.  Because this bill was a budget trailer bill, it has already become law, rather than waiting until January 1, like the average bill.

Under the law as it existed on June 26, this was the order of how measures appeared on the ballot:

  1. Bond measures proposed by the Legislature
  2. Constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature
  3. Other measures proposed by the Legislature
  4. Initiative measures
  5. Referenda

However, AB 1499, which is now the law of the land, changed the order thusly:

  1. Bond measures (regardless of whether they were put there by the Legislature or initiative)
  2. Constitutional amendments (regardless of whether they were put there by the Legislature or initiative)
  3. Measures proposed by the Legislature that aren’t bonds or constitutional amendments
  4. Initiative measures that aren’t bonds or constitutional amendments
  5. Referenda

Molly Munger (a Democrat and the sister of Republican Charles Munger, Jr.) has filed suit to stop AB 1499 from affecting the November 2012 election.

Why is she doing this?

Well, take a look at my previous post (which went online just hours before AB 1499 made its way through the Legislature) that noted the likely order of the ballot measures.  Then, take a look at what the order will be if AB 1499 is allowed to move forward unfettered:

Proposition 30 – Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2012 (This was the water bond deal of 2009 authored by then-Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill that the Legislature put on the 2010 ballot before moving it to the 2012 ballot.)

Proposition 31 – Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. (This is Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure.)

Proposition 32 – State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. (This is the two-year budget measure.)

Proposition 33 – Prohibits Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Prohibitions on Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute. (This is best known as Stop Special Interest Money Now.)

Proposition 34 – Changes Law to Allow Auto Insurance Companies to Set Prices Based on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 35 – Death Penalty Repeal. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 36 – Human Trafficking. Penalties. Sex Offender Registration. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 37 – Three Strikes Law. Sentencing for Repeat Felony Offenders. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 38 – Genetically Engineered Foods. Mandatory Labeling. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 39 – Tax for Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute. (This is Molly Munger’s tax measure.)

Proposition 40 – Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 41 – Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum.

(Any initiatives or referenda that qualify now are too late for the November 2012 ballot and will have to wait for another election.  However, the Legislature can still add measures to the ballot or remove the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2012 from the ballot, which would alter the numbering of the propositions.)

See what happened in the ballot measure sequence because of AB 1499: Molly Munger’s tax measure is buried near the bottom of the ballot while Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure will be either first or second on the ballot (depending on if the Legislature removes the water bond from the ballot).  Without AB 1499, the two measures would be neighbors on the ballot.

Munger obtained a temporary restraining order from Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley preventing Secretary of State Debra Bowen from officially numbering the ballot measures.  But for Frawley’s order, she would have done so today.  However, Frawley blocked her from officially numbering the ballot measures until after Frawley holds a hearing on Munger’s suit on July 9.

Not only does Munger challenge the applicability of AB 1499 to the November 2012 ballot, but she also challenges the order of qualification, asserting that the Registrars of Los Angeles and Alamenda Counties improperly validated petitions for Brown’s ballot measure before they validated petitions for her ballot measure, as they are required by law to validate petitions in the order received (yes, Munger’s signatures were turned in before Brown’s).

Should Munger achieve a total victory on July 9 (a week from today), then this will be the ballot order for November:

Proposition 30 – Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2012 (This was the water bond deal of 2009 authored by then-Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill that the Legislature put on the 2010 ballot before moving it to the 2012 ballot.)

Proposition 31 – Prohibits Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Prohibitions on Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute. (This is best known as Stop Special Interest Money Now.)

Proposition 32 – Changes Law to Allow Auto Insurance Companies to Set Prices Based on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 33 – Death Penalty Repeal. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 34 – Human Trafficking. Penalties. Sex Offender Registration. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 35 – Three Strikes Law. Sentencing for Repeat Felony Offenders. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 36 – Genetically Engineered Foods. Mandatory Labeling. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 37 – Tax for Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute. (This is Molly Munger’s tax measure.)

Proposition 38 – Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. (This is Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure.)

Proposition 39 – Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 40 – State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. (This is the two-year budget measure.)

Proposition 41 – Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum.

Why does ballot order matter?

Sadly, location on the ballot actually affects odds of passage.  The earlier on the ballot a measure appears, the higher its chances of passing.  I don’t have the figures for ballot measures, but there are studies that have shown being the first person on the ballot in a long list of candidates can boost a person’s vote by as much as 5%.  (This is why candidates appear on the ballot in a random ballot lottery rather than alphabetically.)

To people who vote “yes” on ballot measures because they appear earlier and “no” because they appear later, please for the love of democracy, leave your vote on ballot measures blank!  Your ballot still counts even if you don’t fill out every slot.  If you just want to vote for Obama or Romney, your vote will still count even if you leave the rest of your ballot blank.  Let informed voters who have studied the issues cast their votes for the propositions on the ballot.  While I’m here, if you don’t know anything about candidates in down-ticket races, do not automatically vote for the candidate who appears first or has the longest name.  Let informed voters who have studied the candidates cast their votes for offices on the ballot.

Alas, there is no point to the admonition above since people who read political blogs (like you, dear reader) are not the people causing this problem, as you’re the ones actually seeking information on the issues.

(In the interest of full disclosure, Custom Campaigns has done some consulting work for Stop Special Interest Money Now, tentatively Proposition 33 under AB 1499, or Proposition 31 if AB 1499 is prevented from taking effect for the November 2012 ballot.  For the record, we do not accept payments for blogging and require disclosures when a blogger has a potential conflict of interest in a blog post, unless it’s something really obvious, like a blogger blogging about their own candidacy for office.)

3 Responses to “Molly Munger Files Suit Over Ballot Measure Placement; Judge Halts Numbering Until 7/9”

  1. Mitch Vanhout said

    I believe this site has very wonderful composed content content.

  2. […] but was apparently unsuccessful in getting the delay.)  For more details on the suit, read my post from last Monday (note that on Thursday, the Legislature approved legislation moving the water […]

  3. […] I wrote about here, Molly Munger filed suit to stop AB 1499 from taking effect. AB 1499, which Governor Jerry Brown […]

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