SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The California Senate on Monday approved a bill that seeks to discourage frivolous ballot questions by raising filing costs, following a measure advocating the slayings of gay and lesbian people.

Senators approved the bill, AB1100, by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, on a 23-14 vote. It would increase filing fees from $200 to $2,000 to help defray administrative costs.

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The bill returns to the Assembly after the Senate reduced the proposed fee from $2,500 and removed a provision to increase the fee with inflation.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who presented Low’s bill, said the fee to file a ballot initiative proposal hasn’t been increased since 1943. In June, a judge agreed to throw out as unconstitutional the proposal that advocated killing anyone who engages in gay sex.

“There are some lunatics out there, and for $200 we encourage them to put measures on the ballot that say we should put a gun to the head of someone who is gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender,” said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. “That’s what this is about: clearing out what’s nonsense.”

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Some Republicans said it amounts to a tax on the poor. Both Democrats and Republicans worried it would be a hindrance to direct democracy.

“We don’t charge people a poll tax. Why is that? Because we value their participation,” said Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine. “Yet, if we move forward with this, we’re effectively putting a poll tax on the poor.”


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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.