October 27, 2023
SOS Press Office
(916) 653-6575

Proposed Initiative Enters Circulation

Allows Felony Charges and Increases Sentences 
for Certain Drug and Theft Crimes.
Initiative Statute.

SACRAMENTO, CA – Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber announced that the proponent of a new initiative was cleared to begin collecting petition signatures on October 26, 2023.
The Attorney General prepares the legal title and summary that is required to appear on initiative petitions. When the official language is complete, the Attorney General forwards it to the proponent and to the Secretary of State, and the initiative may be circulated for signatures. The Secretary of State then provides a calendar of deadlines to the proponent and to county elections officials. The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:

•    Allows felony charges for possessing certain drugs, including fentanyl, and for thefts under $950—both currently chargeable only as misdemeanors—with two prior drug or two prior theft convictions, as applicable. Defendants who plead guilty to felony drug possession and complete treatment can have charges dismissed.
•    Increases sentences for other specified drug and theft crimes.
•    Increased prison sentences may reduce savings that currently fund mental health and drug treatment programs, K-12 schools, and crime victims; any remaining savings may be used for new felony treatment program. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Increased state criminal justice system costs potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, primarily due to an increase in the state prison population. Some of these costs could be offset by reductions in state spending on local mental health and substance use services, truancy and dropout prevention, and victim services due to requirements in current law. Increased local criminal justice system costs potentially in the tens of millions of dollars annually, primarily due to increased court-related workload and a net increase in the number of people in county jail and under county community supervision. (23-0017A1)

The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1959 and the Attorney General's tracking number is 23-0017A1.

The proponent of the measure, Thomas W. Hiltachk, must collect signatures of 546,651 registered voters (five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2022 general election) in order for the measure to become eligible for the ballot. The proponent has 180 days to circulate petitions for the measure, meaning the signatures must be submitted to county elections officials no later than April 23, 2024. The address for the proponent is 455 Capitol Mall, Suite 600, Sacramento, California 95814. The proponent may also be contacted at (916) 442-7757.