Proposition 59 was placed on the ballot by the California legislature in passing Senate Bill 254 by Senator Ben Allen in response to requests from hundreds of thousands of Californians.  It is similar to Proposition 49, which had been placed on the ballot in 2014 when the legislature passed SB 1272 by Senator Ted Lieu. The Money Out Voters In Coalition organized more than 55,000 e-mail petitions and 178,000 faxes to the legislature to press for the passage of SB 1272.  Hundreds of citizens attended hearings in the state Capitol and dozens joined a march from Los Angeles to Sacramento that culminated in a non-violent direct action to demand that our elected officials take action to get big money out of politics

In August of 2014, the California Supreme Court temporarily removed Prop 49 from the ballot, but after full consideration of the issue, the Court ruled in January of 2016 that it made a mistake in doing so.  The California state constitution guarantees voters the right to instruct their elected officials and we have used voter instructions to win passage of federal constitutional amendments before. 

So far, 17 states and nearly 700 local governments have called upon Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United.  More than 150 members of the House of Representatives and 42 U.S. Senators have co-sponsored constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United. In 2012, Montana voters passed an instruction measure similar to Prop 59 by a margin of 75%.  Colorado voters passed a similar measure by a margin of 74%.  Voters in Washington state, like California, will decide in 2016 whether or not to instruct their members of Congress to take action on this issue.

Here is the full text of SB 254, which placed the voter instruction back on the ballot:

 

An act to submit to the voters a voter instruction relating to
campaign finance, calling an election, to take effect immediately.


	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   SB 254, Allen. Campaign finance: voter instruction.
   This bill would call a special election to be consolidated with
the November 8, 2016, statewide general election. The bill would
require the Secretary of State to submit to the voters at the
November 8, 2016, consolidated election a voter instruction asking
whether California's elected officials should use all of their
constitutional authority, including proposing and ratifying one or
more amendments to the United States Constitution, to overturn
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) 558 U.S. 310,
and other applicable judicial precedents, as specified. The bill
would require the Secretary of State to communicate the results of
this election to the Congress of the United States. The bill would
require the Secretary of State, if prohibited by court order from
submitting the voter instruction to the voters at the November 8,
2016, statewide general election, as specified, to submit the voter
instruction to the voters at the next occurring election.
   This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as
an act calling an election.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  This act shall be known and may be cited as the
Overturn Citizens United Act.
  SEC. 2.  The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
   (a) The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are
intended to protect the rights of individual human beings.
   (b) Corporations are not mentioned in the United States
Constitution, nor have we decreed that corporations have rights
separate from "We the People."
   (c) In Connecticut General Life Insurance Company v. Johnson
(1938) 303 U.S. 77, United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black
stated in his dissent, "I do not believe the word 'person' in the
Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations."
   (d) In Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) 494 U.S. 652,
the United States Supreme Court recognized the threat to a
republican form of government posed by "the corrosive and distorting
effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with
the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation
to the public's support for the corporation's political ideas."
   (e) In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) 558
U.S. 310, the United States Supreme Court struck down limits on
electioneering communications that were upheld in McConnell v.
Federal Election Commission (2003) 540 U.S. 93 and Austin v. Michigan
Chamber of Commerce. This decision presents a serious threat to
self-government by rolling back previous bans on corporate spending
in the electoral process and allows unlimited corporate spending to
influence elections, candidate selection, policy decisions, and
public debate.
   (f) In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Justices
John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia
Sotomayor noted in their dissent that corporations have special
advantages not enjoyed by natural persons, such as limited liability,
perpetual life, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and
distribution of assets, that allow them to spend huge sums on
campaign messages that have little or no correlation with the beliefs
held by natural persons.
   (g) Corporations have used the artificial rights bestowed on them
by the courts to overturn democratically enacted laws that municipal,
state, and federal governments passed to curb corporate abuses,
thereby impairing local governments' ability to protect their
citizens against corporate harms to the environment, consumers,
workers, independent businesses, and local and regional economies.
   (h) In Buckley v. Valeo (1976) 424 U.S. 1, the United States
Supreme Court held that the appearance of corruption justified some
contribution limitations, but it wrongly rejected other fundamental
interests that the citizens of California find compelling, such as
creating a level playing field and ensuring that all citizens,
regardless of wealth, have an opportunity to have their political
views heard.
   (i) In First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978) 435 U.S.
765 and Citizens Against Rent Control/Coalition for Fair Housing v.
City of Berkeley (1981) 454 U.S. 290, the United States Supreme Court
rejected limits on contributions to ballot measure campaigns because
it concluded that these contributions posed no threat of candidate
corruption.
   (j) In Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC (2000) 528 U.S.
377, United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens observed
in his concurrence that "money is property; it is not speech."
   (k) A February 2010 Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80
percent of Americans oppose the ruling in Citizens United.
   (l) Article V of the United States Constitution empowers and
obligates the people of the United States of America to use the
constitutional amendment process to correct those egregiously wrong
decisions of the United States Supreme Court that go to the heart of
our democracy and the republican form of self-government.
   (m) Article I of the California Constitution guarantees the right
of the people to instruct their representatives, petition government
for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for the
common good.
   (n) The people of California and of the United States have
previously used ballot measures as a way of instructing their elected
representatives about the express actions they want to see them take
on their behalf, including provisions to amend the United States
Constitution.
   (o) California's United States Senators and Representatives would
benefit from having instructions from California voters about the
United States Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United and other
judicial precedents in taking congressional action.
  SEC. 3.  A special election is hereby called to be held throughout
the state on November 8, 2016. The special election shall be
consolidated with the statewide general election to be held on that
date. The consolidated election shall be held and conducted in all
respects as if there were only one election and only one form of
ballot shall be used.
  SEC. 4.  (a) Notwithstanding Section 9040 of the Elections Code,
the Secretary of State shall submit the following voter instruction
to the voters at the November 8, 2016, consolidated election:

   "Shall California's elected officials use all of their
constitutional authority, including, but not limited to, proposing
and ratifying one or more amendments to the United States
Constitution, to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election
Commission (2010) 558 U.S. 310, and other applicable judicial
precedents, to allow the full regulation or limitation of campaign
contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless
of wealth, may express their views to one another, and to make clear
that corporations should not have the same constitutional rights as
human beings?"

   (b) Upon certification of the election, the Secretary of State
shall communicate to the Congress of the United States the results of
the election asking the question set forth in subdivision (a).
   (c) The provisions of the Elections Code that apply to the
preparation of ballot measures and ballot materials at a statewide
election apply to the measure submitted pursuant to this section.
  SEC. 5.  (a) Notwithstanding the requirements of Sections 9040,
9043, 9044, 9061, 9082, and 9094 of the Elections Code or any other
law, the Secretary of State shall submit Section 4 of this act to the
voters at the November 8, 2016, statewide general election.
   (b) Notwithstanding Section 13115 of the Elections Code, Section 4
of this act and any other measure placed on the ballot by the
Legislature for the November 8, 2016, statewide general election
after the 131-day deadline set forth in Section 9040 of the Elections
Code shall be placed on the ballot, following all other ballot
measures, in the order in which they qualified as determined by
chapter number.
   (c) The Secretary of State shall include, in the ballot pamphlets
mailed pursuant to Section 9094 of the Elections Code, the
information specified in Section 9084 of the Elections Code regarding
the ballot measure contained in Section 4 of this act.
  SEC. 6.  If the Secretary of State is prohibited from complying
with Sections 4 and 5 of this act until after November 8, 2016, by
court order pending resolution of an unsuccessful legal challenge to
the validity of this act, then the Secretary of State shall submit
Section 4 of this act to the voters at the next occurring election.
  SEC. 7.   This act calls an election within the meaning of Article
IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect.

 

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