Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Sunday, Jun. 15, 2014 – 12:00 am

The state constitution bans changing voter-passed initiatives unless voters agree, or the initiatives themselves allow legislative amendment.

When Jerry Brown, as California secretary of state, drafted the Political Reform Act that voters passed in 1974, for example, he added a provision allowing the Legislature to amend it by a two-thirds vote, “for furthering its purposes.”

A Legislature tarnished by scandal has been doing just that by moving to tighten campaign finance laws.

But some ballot measures include such amendment language and some do not. Three pending bills test how far the Legislature can go in changing what voters have wrought.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, wants to repeal Proposition 227, the 1998 initiative requiring use of English in public school instruction.

Critics of the measure contend that the English immersion it mandates hurts millions of “English-learner” students, typically offspring of recent immigrants.

Lara’s Senate Bill 1174 would essentially repeal Proposition 227, based on its provision that allows it to be altered by a two-thirds legislative vote or by asking voters for a change.

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