Calif. Republicans warn against “poison pill” amendments aimed at blocking reform to Prop. 47

An initiative to repeal parts of Proposition 47 qualified for the November ballot on Tuesday, but Democrats are pushing through legislation to potentially kill it.

California Republicans are pushing back against “poison pill” amendments authored by Democrats that would affect efforts to roll back Proposition 47. 

Just hours after Republicans gathered at the state Capitol to make their voice heard, Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced that the initiative to roll back Proposition 47 has enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. 


The big picture: Legislative Democrats have sponsored so-called poison pill amendments to a bipartisan public safety bill package currently being considered by lawmakers. 

  • The amendments would automatically repeal the public safety bills if voters approve the initiative that would roll back Proposition 47. 
  • Republicans argue the amendments force California voters into a false choice between the ballot measure and the public safety bills. 

Go deeper: The poison pill amendments would also give Attorney General Rob Bonta the ability to revise the initiative’s title and summary. 

  • The initiative is titled the Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act. 

The backstory: California voters approved Proposition 47 10 years ago, which reclassified most drug and property thefts valued under $950 from felonies to misdemeanors. 

  • The Californians for Safer Communities Coalition submitted over 900,000 signatures in support of the initiative in April, needing around 550,000. 

State of play: Weber announced that the measure is eligible for the November election with over 600,000 valid signatures in hand. 

  • The initiative would repeal part of Proposition 47 to allow felony charges for possessing certain drugs and for thefts under $950 for people who have two prior drug or two prior theft convictions. 
  • It also gives defendants the opportunity to have their charges dismissed if they plead guilty to felony drug possession and complete treatment. 

What they’re saying: “Democrats have reached a new low with their dishonesty and deception on these efforts to improve public safety,” said Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R-Yuba City). “Californians are fed up with Democrats’ pro-criminal policies turning our streets into a war zone. Not a single person believes Democrats are serious about fighting retail theft – they’re just serious about dodging responsibility for it.”

  • Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones (R–San Diego) said this is a prime example of California Democrats’ corrupt, closed-door politics at its worst. 
  • “Jamming poison pill amendments into bipartisan measures is not just pure political gamesmanship, it’s cynical and it’s anti-democracy,” Jones said. “Democrats are too prideful to admit their mistake with Prop 47 and are now trying to manipulate voters into a false choice. There is no reason why we can’t have both a pragmatic series of bills and voter-led reforms to tackle crime.” 
Related Posts