Is California's Initiative Process Out of Control?

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California's initiative process was designed 100 years ago by progressive Governor Hiram Johnson. The goal was protection of voters against the predatory practices of the so-called railroad barons, who controlled the legislature. It wasn't used much until 1978, when the Association of Apartment House Owners backed Proposition 13, which cut property taxes and said that they could only be increased by one percent every year, regardless of how much property values increased. Proposition 13, of course, is still with us, and the initiative process has become an industry, as next month's ballot illustrates with 11 different measures. 

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Warren Olney