When it comes to California ballot initiatives, a few well-chosen words occasionally make a bigger impact than a blitzkrieg of mailers and commercials. We’re taking about the title and summary attached to proposed initiatives by the attorney general. For many voters, those words are all they will see, and a slanted title and summary are sometimes enough to persuade the sponsors to give up. That happened twice in recent years on pension reform proposals.
That may not happen with the three large out-of-state companies trying to get out from under a legal judgment with a mom-and-apple pie initiative that, by the way, also shifts their burden for lead contamination onto California taxpayers — a story told by Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain in last Sunday’s Forum section. The sponsors call it the “Healthy Homes and Schools Act of 2018.” Attorney General Xavier Becerra replaced it with a title including the phrase “eliminates certain liability for lead-paint manufacturers.” It’s too bad state attorney generals aren’t always so scrupulous about initiative titles. But here’s a thumbs up for this one.