There are three changes Steinberg wants to make. First, 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 - and last year, Republicans blocked a vote on Governor Jerry Brown's tax proposal.
Steinberg: "I don't think the minority party should trump the will of the people - 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 after 10 years. Steinberg says he's prepared to put his proposals on the 2014 ballot using ... the initiative process.
Also Addresses High-Speed Rail, November Water Bond
State Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg has some bad news and good news for backers of California's high-speed rail project:
Steinberg: "I want to be clear that the Senate does not intend to take up that appropriation as part of the budget itself - but before the end of the session."
The High-Speed Rail Authority wants lawmakers to include the sale of nearly $3 billion in voter-approved bonds in the state budget. Otherwise, the Authority fears the start of construction would be delayed and billions more in federal funds put at risk.
Steinberg says the project was "headed for failure" - but he's praising the newly-released business plan and says he looks forward to approving the money. The High-Speed Rail Authority says it appreciates Steinberg's support but still believes in moving forward as quickly as possible.
The senator also says he supports keeping a water bond measure on the November ballot - but not in its current form.