California governor vetoes bill to ban per-signature payment
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Jerry Brown has once again vetoed a bill that would have banned paying people based on the number of signatures they collect for ballot initiatives.
In the veto message he released Tuesday, Brown quoted his previous veto message from 2011, when he rejected a similar bill.
“Per-signature payment is often the most cost-effective method for collecting the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to qualify a ballot measure,” he wrote. “Eliminating this option will drive up the cost of circulating ballot measures, thereby further favoring the wealthiest interests.”
Initiative proponents must collect a certain number of signatures to place a measure on the ballot in California. It can cost millions to collect enough to qualify a measure.
Supporters of the bill, AB1947, argued paying per-signature creates an incentive for signature gatherers to deceive voters about what they are signing. It would have applied to initiative, referendum and recall petitions.
AB1947 was one of dozens Brown acted on Tuesday. He also vetoed legislation that aimed to eliminate conflicts of interests by sheriffs who serve dually as county coroners.
That bill, SB1303, was sparked after San Joaquin County’s medical examiner alleged the sheriff interfered in death investigations. The medical examiner was Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist made famous by the movie “Concussion.” Omalu accused Sheriff Steve Moore of interfering with investigations to protect law enforcement.
The sheriff serves as the coroner in most of California’s 58 counties.
The bill would have required large counties to hire independent examiners or send investigations to other counties when sheriffs had conflicts of interest.
Brown said decisions about how to structure coroner services are best left to local elected officials.
Brown also signed dozens of bills, including two targeting the opioid epidemic. One would help California share prescribing information with other states and another aims to make it easier to identify prescription pad fraud.