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California initiative changing Prop. 47 now eligible for November election ballot

In World
June 12, 2024

A highly anticipated California initiative that would make changes to Proposition 47 became eligible this week to appear on state ballots in November.

The Secretary of State’s Office announced on Tuesday the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act had enough valid signatures to go before voters during the general election. The measure needed at least 546,651 valid petition signatures to become eligible for the ballot.

The Secretary of State on June 27 will certify the measure has qualified for the November ballot, unless proponents withdraw it.

The initiative, backed by the California District Attorneys Association, would change parts of Proposition 47, a 2014 ballot measure that reduced certain lower-level crimes to misdemeanors and set a $950 threshold for shoplifting.

The new initiative would hike penalties for a handful for drug and theft offenses. One of the major provisions would increase punishments for someone convicted of shoplifting with two or more prior theft-related convictions.

The backers argue theft and other crimes have increased in recent years. They blame Proposition 47, though experts said it’s unclear whether the measure has actually been a factor.

Measure proponents had been confident their initiative would qualify for the ballot by the June 27 deadline.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, and Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, all oppose the measure. The legislative leaders have their own 14-bill package meant to address retail theft, which they are currently rushing through the Capitol.

The bills recently drew criticism from Republicans and initiative-backers after McGuire and Rivas announced they plan to add amendments that would void the legislation if voters approve the ballot measure in November. Another change would cause the bills to take effect immediately after Newsom signs them.

Democrats claim this would prevent potential conflicts between the ballot measure and the retail theft bills. But Republicans say the amendments “set a dangerous precedent, forcing our constituents into a false choice between legislative reforms and necessary modifications to Proposition 47.”

Legislative leaders hope to get their measures to the governor’s desk during the next two weeks.

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