I think this story from the Kansas City Star officially confirms it: we're in the midst of a national reassessment of the initiative and referendum. (Hat tip: Bruno Kaufmann).
That city -- and the state of Missouri -- are examining whether it's too easy to qualify measures for the ballot. They're just the latest places looking at initiative reform. Oklahoma, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Mississippi are also considering major changes to the process. (California, where there has been talk of reform but little legislative action, is an outlier here).
Intriguingly, Bruce Cain, the well-known political scientist at UC Berkeley, is quoted in this story. Kansas City, he says, is “falling into the California trap of constant electioneering. And that will lead to ballot fatigue and cynicism. This is a real problem.”
Nonsense, on many levels. There may or may not be ballot fatigue in California. Polling differs on the subject. And, yes, when you vote more often, turnout drops. But there's no evidence that ballot fatigue is, by any measure, a problem. If it is, the Swiss, who vote four times a year (at least) with relatively low turnout, have managed to survive a centuries-old case of ballot fatigue. And they have an efficient, well-managed, peaceful country. California should be so lucky.
And these days, you can never be too cynical.