The Senate today defeated a bill to place draconian requirements on companies paid to gather signatures on ballot initiatives.

SB 463 by Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Ferndale) is breathtaking in requirements placed on canvassers — taking two tests, ID requirements and lots more, including a registration fee of about $200 for each canvasser. It failed on a 17-7 vote, but the vote was expunged and could get another vote.

Sen. Linda Chesterfield was surprised that people who make, say “$5 a pop” for signatures, would be subject to such requirements. Johnson’s view is that his bill would discourage “fudging” on petition gathering. He said his bill wouldn’t affect true “grassroots” campaigns.

Sen. Joyce Elliott said Johnson was proposing stronger requirements for canvassers — knowledge of both the Constitution and an individual campaign — than is required of state senators.

Johnson repeatedly suggested that canvassers engage in fraudulent activities, such as misstating what a petition contains. However, voters ultimately make a decision based on what’s on the ballot, not what a canvasser might have said in gathering signatures.