The Initiative is the power of the People to directly propose and enact state laws and amendments to the California Constitution.
In order to be placed on a statewide ballot for consideration by voters, an initiative petition must be presented to the Secretary of State, certified by local election officials to have been signed by a specified number of qualified registered voters. An initiative measure may not address more than one subject. (Cal. Const., art. II, § 8, subds. (a) & (b).)
The referendum is the power of electors to approve or reject statutes, or parts of statutes, enacted by the Legislature. However, the referendum does not apply to urgency statutes, statutes calling elections, and statutes providing for tax levies or appropriations for usual current expenses of the State.
In order to be placed on a statewide ballot for consideration by voters, a referendum petition must be presented to the Secretary of State, certified by local election officials to have been signed by a specified number of qualified registered voters. A referendum petition must be submitted to the Secretary of State for certification within 90 days after the enactment date of the statute. (Cal. Const., art. II, § 9, subds. (a) & (b).)
For a general explanation of the procedure and requirements for preparing and qualifying an initiative measure, we recommend that you review the most recent edition of the Secretary of State’s Statewide Ballot Initiative Guide which is available for download free of charge from his website at: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/how-qualify-initiative . You may request a printed copy of the pamphlet by contacting the Secretary of State’s Office, which is located at 1500 11th Street, in Sacramento, California. The telephone number of the Elections Division is (916) 657-2166.
Title and summary requests may be submitted to the Attorney General's Initiative Coordinator as follows:
Office of the Attorney General
1300 I Street, 17th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Only printed documents will be accepted. Requests submitted by e-mail or facsimile will not be processed.
A title and summary request must include all of the following:
Amendments will be accepted until close of business on the 5th day following the close of the public review period. (Elec. Code, § 9002(a),(b).) If the proponent(s) want to make changes after the amendment deadline, they must submit a new proposal. This would require the proponent(s) to start the process again – See Q&A #4 above for the five requirements.
To be accepted, an amendment must be submitted to the Attorney General’s Initiative Coordinator located in the Attorney General’s Sacramento office via United States Postal Service, alternative mail service, or personal delivery, with a signed request by all of the proponents asking the Attorney General to prepare a circulating title and summary using the amended language. (Elec. Code, § 9002(b).) Only printed documents may be accepted; fax or email delivery is not permitted. (Elec. Code, § 9002(b)(2).).
In addition, only amendments “that are reasonably germane to the theme, purpose, or subject of the initiative measure as originally proposed” may be submitted. (Elec. Code, § 9002(b).) To facilitate the Attorney General’s Office’s prompt processing of a proposed amendment, it is extremely helpful if the proponent(s) provide a comparison (“redline”) showing the differences from the original measure. This comparison may be included with the proposed amendment or sent separately to the Initiative Coordinator by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Under new law effective January 1, 2015, there is a 30-day public comment period that begins upon receipt of the proposed measure by the Attorney General’s Office. Additionally, the proponent(s) may amend the initiative until close of business on the 35th calendar day after receipt. Before issuing a circulating title and summary, the Attorney General must first request the preparation of a fiscal impact analysis from the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst's Office. These agencies have 50 calendar days after receipt of the proposed measure from the Attorney General's Office to prepare such an estimate, and this timing runs concurrently with the public comment period described above.
The Attorney General's Office will issue an official circulating title and summary to the proponent(s) within 15 calendar days following receipt of the fiscal impact report. Typically, the Attorney General issues an official circulating title and summary approximately 65 calendar days (50 plus 15) from the date the proposed measure is originally received by the proponent(s). A copy of the official circulating title and summary is provided to the Secretary of State, and the Legislature on the official summary date, the same date it is sent to the proponent(s).
The Attorney General issues a circulating title and summary within 10 calendar days following receipt of the text from the proponent(s). A fiscal impact estimate is not included in a referendum title and summary.