04/25/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Jerry Brown Gets Ballot Label Right This Time for Mercury Insurance Poison in CA Prop 17

California Attorney General Jerry Brown has issued his final ballot label for California Proposition 17, the Mercury Insurance-financed ballot measure to surcharge those with lapses in auto insurance coverage.  Brown got the ballot label right this time, acknowledging Prop 17 allowed insurers to increase premiums, as well as lower prices, based on whether a driver has a lapse in insurance coverage.

Ballot measure labels are crucial because they often are all voters have to go on before casting a vote, and Mercury Insurance is sure to spend $10 million to convince voters there's no premium increases involved in Prop 17.

Brown drew big fire in the media when in October he altered an earlier version of the ballot title and summary from August to omit the earlier reference to premium increases. When Brown's communications director tried to kill a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, talking about the change and a contribution to Brown from Mercury Insurance, the reporter discovered her conversation was being taped without her knowledge. This led to the spokesperson's resignation.

In today's final ballot version Brown tells the full story behind Prop 17.  See the original title prepared by Brown from August, the altered October version, and the final ballot label, which voters see in the booth,  and final ballot pamplet summary released today. The arguments for and against in the ballot pamplet can be found here.

Find out more about the campaign against Prop 17 at

Jerry Brown deserves credit for doing his homework and getting this complicated issue right for voters. It could be a hopeful sign of a future diligence in state politics that has been sorely missing.