California’s unique political system can be a mystery to those unfamiliar with its idiosyncrasies. However, a basic understanding of some important California political tenets can pay huge dividends. There are two key tools for protecting important policy interests in California: (1) the initiative measure; and (2) the referendum.
An initiative measure is a policy proposal that is placed on the ballot for public vote. An initiative measure is generally used when there are political barriers to legislation, but broad public support exists for the proposed policy. Initiatives have few legal restrictions, but generally they must only pertain to a single subject and comport with the United States Constitution.
A referendum measure is used to give voters an opportunity to approve or reject a recently enacted law. Proponents of a referendum are generally seeking repeal of recently enacted legislation. Thus, for a referendum to succeed, the statute being referred must have broad public opposition.