McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

California’s Attorney General (AG) and Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) play very important roles in California’s initiative process. The roles for both of these officials are spelled out in California’s Constitution and Election Code, and those roles have also been further clarified in court.

As far as the Attorney General is concerned, California’s Constitution states in Article II, Section 10, subdivision (d), “Before circulation of an initiative or referendum petition for signatures, a copy shall be submitted to the Attorney General, who shall prepare a title and summary of the measure as provided by law.”

Multiple sections of California’s Elections Code also spell out the Attorney General’s duties in the initiative process. Those duties include:

  • That the text of proposed ballot measures be submitted to the AG with a written request for title and summary, and that the proponents pay a $2,000 fee to the AG at that time,
  • That the AG receive relatively germane amendments to an initiative from the proponents.
  • That if the Attorney General is the proponent of an initiative, then the duty to prepare title and summary is handed off to the Legislative Counsel, and
  • That the AG must provide the title and summary of ballot initiatives to the Assembly and Senate.

The Legislative Analyst, per California’s Elections Code, is tasked with preparing a fiscal estimate of a ballot initiative that the AG must include in the title and summary. The LAO is also tasked with preparing an impartial analysis of proposed initiative measures. The analysis must include a fiscal analysis and show any amount of increase or decrease in revenue or cost to a state or local program.

The LAO is also required to write a section that appears at the beginning of the State Voter Information Guide that explains the effect of a yes or a no vote on initiatives.

You can find the full transcript of today’s podcast here.