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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scott Wiener Wants to Give Supes Power to Repeal Ballot Initiatives

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 10:49 AM

click to enlarge Supervisor Scott Wiener
  • Supervisor Scott Wiener

Supervisor Scott Wiener says he plans to propose a charter amendment at today's Board of Supervisors meeting that would grant the supes power to amend or appeal ballot initiatives approved by voters --  a step he insists will help reduce the number of such measures San Francisco residents are asked to weigh in on during election seasons.

The the change to the city's charter would allow the supervisors to amend or appeal a ballot measure with a two-thirds majority after it has been in effect for three years, and through a simple majority vote after seven years.

 An exception would be made for initiatives put on the ballot through voter petition, as opposed to those put up for a popular vote by the supervisors or mayor. Voter-driven measures could only be amended, not repealed.

If passed, Wiener's proposal could represent a significant shift of political power -- away from the ballot box, where voters often decide important

public-policy matters through a popular vote.

Wiener says his charter amendment doesn't target any particular ordinance or initiative passed in recent years.

"The only context is that this is a better way of doing government," he told SF Weekly. "There's no specific ordinance that caused me to do this. I have no agenda except to take a small step toward making our city's government work better."

In recent years, many have criticized California's referendum process, particularly at the statewide level, for hamstringing the workings of legislators -- for instance, through decades-old ballot measures, including Proposition 13, that limit the state's ability to levy taxes.

The most hotly watched municipal ballot initiative in 2011 will likely be a new version of last year's Proposition B, which would have increased city employees' contributions to their pensions and health-care plans.

However, Wiener says his charter amendment would not apply to the so-called "Son of B," because the pension-reform measure will likely be a charter amendment itself. His legislation would only apply to ordinances passed by the voters, not revisions to the city charter.

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Peter Jamison

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