Californians won’t vote on the nation’s toughest privacy protections after all — because the Legislature did its job and handled the matter. That’s one less confusing ballot proposition and hundreds fewer annoying TV ads that voters will be pestered with in November. Same with a complex local tax measure. The soft drink industry was scared of local governments slapping taxes on sugary soda. So soda makers qualified a ballot initiative making it harder to increase local taxes period. But they withdrew the measure last week after the Legislature passed a bill to ban new soda taxes for 12 years. There also won’t be a squirrely ballot measure sponsored by paint manufacturers asking taxpayers to subsidize their lead paint cleanup. Outraged legislators responded to the initiative by introducing bills to penalize the companies. In the end, everyone holstered their weapons and agreed to negotiate.
Those three initiatives were pulled off the ballot on the last day possible because of a reform that was passed four years ago, but largely ignored. This year the reform finally was used as intended.
Under the system, the Legislature and an initiative sponsor can negotiate a compromise. If the two sides work out a deal, the measure can be pulled off the ballot even after it has qualified with enough voter signatures.