Newsom And California Dems Seek To Pull Prop 47 Reform Off Ballot

 June 8, 2024

California's political landscape is witnessing a heated debate over Proposition 47, a measure that initially aimed to reduce penalties for certain crimes.

According to Fox News, Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders are currently negotiating to amend this proposition and remove it from the approaching November ballot.

Proposition 47, approved in California in 2014, lowered the classification of various theft-related crimes and drug offenses, making them misdemeanors if the stolen property's value did not exceed $950. This reform is now under reconsideration due to new signatures and escalating discussions among lawmakers.

The recent push gathered approximately 910,000 signatures to revise Prop 47, which could redefine the legal framework concerning penalties for repeat offenses and drug-related crimes, especially fentanyl possession. This initiative aims to shift several of these misdemeanors back to felonies, particularly focusing on tightening the reigns on repeat offenders.

California Governor Gavin Newsom articulates his preference for legislative changes over a voter-dependent ballot measure:

"Three are a lot of moving parts, a lot of negotiations concurrently happening," Newsom explains. "Why have something on the ballot that doesn't achieve the goals that are intended? Why do something that can be done legislatively, with more flexibility? I think it's a better approach."

Republicans Argue For Voter Involvement In Prop 47 Changes

Contrastingly, the Republican leadership is advocating for voter involvement in the decision-making process. They argue that bypassing the voters’ will via legislative adjustments denies the public a direct voice in significant policy decisions.

Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones expressed concern over what he views as the Democrats offering voters a Hobson's choice. "To combat the California crime wave, we need to strengthen our laws, both in the Legislature and at the ballot box. It's irresponsible to force voters into a false choice between the two," he stated emphatically.

As Democrats highlight recent legislative packages focused on tackling public safety and recurrent criminal activities, they believe such efforts mitigate the need for the proposed ballot initiative. Among the staunch advocates for this approach is Democrat Senate Pro Tempore Mike McGuire, who emphasizes, "If you want a set of laws that will blunt retail theft, this plan is exactly what's needed in this state."


With the California Secretary of State scheduled to certify statistics for the November ballot by June 27, Democrats are racing against the clock. The process includes not only gathering and verifying signatures but also addressing the underlying public safety concerns prompted by Proposition 47's initial passage.

This upcoming deadline places pressure on Democratic leaders who argue that alternative legislative measures could adequately enhance public safety without necessitating a ballot-driven mandate. Meanwhile, Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher insists, "Democrats need to stop playing politics with public safety and let voters decide on fixing Prop. 47."

As this debate intensifies, both sides remain at an impasse, each propounding substantively different approaches to amending Proposition 47. While the Democratic strategy involves intricate legislative amendments, Republicans demand public participation through the ballot box.

This divergence highlights the ongoing struggle between direct democratic engagement and representative legislative action in addressing public security and legal reform in California.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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