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Parks cash measure qualifies for ballot

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, June 10th, 2010 at 5:50 pm in ballot measures.

A third ballot measure has qualified for the Nov. 2 ballot, this one to raise money for cash-strapped California parks.

The measure asks voters to voluntarily hike their vehicle license fees by $18 a year and in return, any vehicle whose owner has paid the surcharge will enjoy “free” admission to state parks. (Hey, does it work for my boat, too? We are frequent visitors to Angel Island.)

The other two measures on the ballot are the legalization of marijuana and the extension of legislative boundary redistricting to Congressional districts.

The Secretary of State is validating the signatures of another seven measures, including the elimination of the redistricting commission and a reduction in the voting threshhold to approve a state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.  Proponents are gathering signatures for another 54 initiatives.

Read on for the complete Secretary of State press release.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen Certifies State

Parks Measure for November 2 General Election Ballot

SACRAMENTO – Secretary of State Debra Bowen today certified a fourth measure for the November 2, 2010, General Election ballot. The initiative would establish an $18 vehicle license surcharge to help fund state parks and wildlife programs.

The first measure to qualify was placed on the ballot by the Legislature with the passage of SBx7 2 (Chapter 3, Statutes of 2009, Seventh Extraordinary Session), related to the state water supply. The second measure qualified through the initiative process and would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. The third measure also qualified through the initiative process and would place the redistricting of congressional districts under the authority of the new 14-member state redistricting commission. The last day to qualify any measure for the November General Election ballot is June 24.

In order to qualify for the ballot, the redistricting initiative needed 433,971 valid petition signatures, which is equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2006 General Election. The initiative proponents submitted 760,711 signatures in an attempt to qualify the measure, and it qualified through the random sample signature check.

An initiative can qualify via random sampling, without further verification, if the sampling projects a number of valid signatures greater than 110 percent of the required number. This initiative needed at least 477,369 projected valid signatures to qualify by random sampling, and it exceeded that threshold today.

County elections officials have 30 working days to verify the validity of the signatures filed with their offices using a random sampling method. In random sampling, the state Elections Code requires county elections officials to verify 500 signatures, or three percent of the number of signatures filed in their county, whichever is greater. A county elections office receiving fewer than 500 petition signatures must verify all the signatures.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary of the initiative is as follows:

ESTABLISHES $18 ANNUAL VEHICLE LICENSE SURCHARGE TO HELP FUND STATE PARKS AND WILDLIFE PROGRAMS AND GRANTS FREE ADMISSION TO ALL STATE PARKS TO SURCHARGED VEHICLES. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Establishes an $18 annual state vehicle license surcharge and grants free admission to all state parks to surcharged vehicles. Requires deposit of surcharge revenue in a new trust fund. Requires that trust funds be used solely to operate, maintain and repair the state park system, and to protect wildlife and natural resources. Exempts commercial vehicles, trailers and trailer coaches from the surcharge. Requires annual independent audit and review by citizen’s oversight committee. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state revenues of about $500 million annually from the imposition of a surcharge on the VLF to be used mainly to fund state parks and wildlife conservation programs. Potential state savings of up to approximately $200 million annually to the extent that the VLF surcharge revenues were used to reduce support from the General Fund and other special funds for parks and wildlife conservation programs. Reduction of about $50 million annually in state and local revenues from state park day-use fees. These revenue losses could potentially be offset by increases in other types of state park user fees and revenues. (09-0072.)

The proponent of this initiative is Joseph L. Caves. He can be reached at (916) 558-1516.

For more information about how an initiative qualifies for the ballot in California, go to

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  • steve weir

    “The SOS is validating signatures…” Actually, each county registrar validates the signatures on petitions, the SOS accumulates our numbers to determine if the measure qualifies for the ballot.

    This is not a small thing, as we have been conducting numerous elections and having to find time to signature check petitions….

    O.K, I’m whining a bit.

  • AJ

    The most important measure is the Suspend “Job Killing” AB32 initiative! It would’ve been awesome to also include in that initiative to unscrupulous CARB!

  • Kris Hunt

    This is a new car tax, not a “fee” when it is being added to a vehicle registration and charging everyone. Other issues: It is 1)hidden, 2) regressive = every car registration is the same, 3) permanent unless overturned through another election, and 4) review of an audit by another toothless Citizens Oversite Committee.

    Lisa, I’ll have to check on the legal status of a boat in the Angel Island case, but in addition to this new car tax, you will still have to pay for camping fees, tour fees, museum entry fees, the use of boating facilities, special event fees, any supplemental fees, or special event parking fees.

  • John W

    Trust fund? You betcha! Just like the lottery revenues have been used to boost funding for education. If they want to raise the car registration fee/tax as part of a budget fix, just do it through the legislative process. But don’t make it sound like it has anything to do with saving the parks. Why don’t they raise the dirt-cheap driver’s license renewal fee instead? It’s currently underpriced and is truly a fee, not a tax.

  • Mike S

    All of the facts on the State Parks initiative can be found at, including this:

    How will the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund be distributed?

    The California Legislature will annually appropriate Trust Fund revenues. Under law, the Trust Fund will be invested as follows:

    •85% to the California Department of Parks and Recreation to repair, operate, manage, maintain and develop state parks. Out of the department’s funding, approximately $20 million a year (by law, 4% of the Trust Fund) will be used for grants to public agencies for the operation, management and restoration of urban river parkways, with priority placed on the most underserved urban communities
    •7% to the California Department of Fish and Game to manage and operate wildlife refuges, ecological reserves and other lands it owns or manages
    •4% to the Ocean Protection Council for marine wildlife conservation and the protection of coastal waters
    •2% to state conservancies for park and wildlife habitat
    •2% to the Wildlife Conservation Board for grants to local public agencies for wildlife conservation

  • Arne

    There is no nexus between registering a car and what it takes to maintain state parks!!!

    This is another proposition which needs to be defeated in November!

  • Chris Nowman

    It’s acutally the fourth measure to qualify for the November ballot. You are forgeting the Clean, Safe, Reliable Drinking Water Act of 2010.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    The water measure didn’t “qualify” for the ballot. The Legislature placed it on the ballot rather than through the signature-gathering process, hence, it is not an initiative but a referendum.

    But it will appear on the November ballot!