The Washington Post

California is a big state with a long history of citizen legislating through ballot initiatives. So it’s little wonder that all but one of the most expensive ballot initiatives in the last 14 years have taken place in the Golden State: There are big corporate interests on both sides, and they’re willing to spend money to tilt the playing field in their favor.

Check out the most expensive ballot initiatives since 2000, data courtesy the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center:

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California Gov. Jerry Brown has about a week and a half to decide whether to sign or veto legislation that would put substantial burdens on groups aiming to collect signatures for ballot initiatives, while exempting unions from the stringent new rules.

The measure, Assembly Bill 857, would require 10 percent of signatures for any given ballot initiative to be collected by volunteers, rather than by paid signature gatherers. The number of signatures supporters need to turn in is based on the number of votes in the last gubernatorial election; that means groups would have to rely on volunteers to gather a little more than 50,000 of the 504,760 valid signatures required to get an initiative on the ballot.

For the first time in 20 years, Maryland voters had a chance last November to decide whether major legislation passed by state lawmakers would become law, thanks largely to the help of an online tool that made it easier to submit valid signatures in referendum petition drives.

The sudden appearance of three ballot questions after two decades without any made some in Annapolis talk about referendums becoming a regular feature on Election Day, giving outnumbered Republicans a new way of battling against the Democratic majority in the Maryland General Assembly.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and some lawmakers even mentioned the possibility of raising the bar from the verified 55,736 signatures needed to trigger a referendum.

Virginia’s law prohibiting out-of-state residents from circulating petitions for third-party presidential candidates is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney’s ruling last year that the residency requirement is an impermissible restraint on political speech.

The fate of Virginia’s law prohibiting out-of-state residents from circulating petitions for third-party presidential candidates rests with a federal appeals court, which heard arguments Wednesday on a judge’s decision striking down the statute as an unconstitutional restraint on political speech.

Virginia’s solicitor general, E. Duncan Getchell Jr., told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that without the law, it would be too difficult to prosecute nonresident petition circulators who commit election fraud.

D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan ruled Thursday that a proposed ballot initiative to ban corporate donations to city candidates can move forward, saying it is a “proper subject” to put before voters.

The legal opinion removes a major hurdle for the initiative’s supporters, who plan to get the 22,000 signatures needed to place the petition on the November ballot, a grueling process that will take hundreds of volunteer hours.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Puerto Ricans will vote on whether to shrink the U.S. island territory’s legislature.

Gov. Luis Fortuno has signed legislation setting a referendum on a reform package that would decrease the size of the Senate and House of Representatives by a combined 22 seats.

Fortuno said Monday the plan would save money and make the legislature more efficient.

Read more at The Washington Post.