Ohio’s Hamilton County Court of Appeals blocked a voter referendum in Cincinnati over the proposed decades-long lease of city parking lots to a private company in return for a lump sum payment of $92 million to plug a $35 million city budget deficit. The legal case concerns whether an ordinance passed as an emergency measure was subject to a citizen-initiated referendum.
This week’s appeals court ruling overturned an earlier decision by Common Pleas Judge Robert Winkler allowing the referendum to go forward. Winkler found that the right to referendum trumped the city council’s determination that the lease agreement was an emergency.
A University of Wisconsin-Platteville student leader may have met the repercussions for expressing his freedom of speech when his anticipated placement on the UW Board of Regents was pulled by Governor Scott Walker. As a freshman, Joshua Inglett had signed the petition to recall Gov. Walker.
“I felt like my character had been attacked,” Inglett said.
UW-Platteville had even announced Inglett’s appointment on their website. The governor offered no reason for withdrawing the appointment.
“We’ve got plenty of other good candidates and we’re not going to get into specifics about it,” said Walker. “We’ve made a decision to withdraw the name in our office and we’ll be submitting another name to the Board of Regents.”
Targeted Senate President Appears Vulnerable
Pro-Second Amendment activists in Colorado recently turned in 16,199 signatures in an effort to recall State Senate President John Morse, who helped pass three gun control bills earlier this year. Of that total, only 7,178 valid signatures are required to force a recall election.
Due to the narrow margin of Sen. Morse’s election victory in 2010 – he won by less than 350 votes and only 48 percent of the total – backers of Morse recognize he may have a difficult time winning a recall election.
Referendum returned to Maryland last November in the form of three ballot questions seeking to do away with recently passed laws in the Old Line State. The efforts came to naught as the ballot questions failed, but the three questions were unique in the fact that in the last 20 years only one previous referendum had graced the ballot in Maryland.
Past petition drives had tried and failed to make the ballot, but a new online petitioning website MDPetitions.com, sponsored by Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott, made it easier for citizens to refer laws in the state by petition.
Senate Bill 154 continued its march through the Oregon legislature this week, despite the protestations of prominent petition-rights supporters and citizen groups. The bill moved via a party-line vote of 16-14 in the Senate, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing the legislation.
SB 154 requires petition firms to register with the Secretary of State and also to sign a statement affirming that the firms will not break the law. The bill also forces initiative campaigns to have two representatives swear that the campaign has broken no law. The problem is that petition companies and initiative sponsors can then be prosecuted on a felony charge of “false swearing” if someone working for them does anything wrong, even through an innocent mistake.
The 4th Circuit unanimously upheld a lower federal court’s decision declaring Virginia’s residency requirement for petition circulators unconstitutional. The challenge was brought by the Libertarian Party of Virginia; the case is Libertarian Party of Virginia v. Judd.
The three judge panel joins recent 6th, 9th and 10th federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, which have also unanimously overturned residency requirements for those circulating petitions.
Legislators in Missouri have passed and delivered to Governor Jay Nixon an initiative reform bill that increases penalties for fraud and forgeries on petitions, bans those convicted of fraud or forgery from circulating petitions, provides a time-limit on ballot title challenges (so that petitions cannot be held up indefinitely through litigation) and requires the Secretary of State to post the text and ballot titles of initiatives online (something the current Secretary of State has already begun doing).
“We’re trying to make sure that the signature gatherer isn’t a forger,” State Senator Scott Sifton, D-Affton, said.
A broad coalition of citizens groups and petition-rights supporters in Oregon, joined by Citizens in Charge, sent a letter to state senators urging them to defeat Senate Bill 154, which “represents the extreme criminalization of direct democracy.” The bill is expected to be voted on by the full state senate next week.
Washington State initiative promoter Tim Eyman doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the political Left on most issues, but, as a proponent of voting rights for people of every political persuasion, he is standing up for the right of a progressive group to place an issue on the ballot in Spokane.
The effort to recall Sherriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, has hit a brick wall … again. On April 22, Respect Arizona, the group sponsoring the recall effort reportedly had more than 200,000 signatures, but was well short of the 335,000 needed by May 30.
Last week, with the coffers of the campaign apparently dry, a message was sent out to halt the paid portion of their canvassing effort. This means that only volunteer petitioners are still collecting signatures, which makes gathering the additional signatures required – almost 10,000 a day for the remaining two weeks – all but out of reach.
Arizona is trying to sneak one in on us! Just this week – a full month after the legislature’s target date for adjourning this year’s session – a new bill has been introduced, Senate Bill 1493, which tosses caltrops in the path of citizens petitioning for initiatives, referendums or recalls.
In recent years, California’s Democrat-dominated legislature has repeatedly attacked the state’s citizen initiative process. Now they’re baaaaaack.
In 2011, Golden State voters were twice saved by the pen of the state’s Democratic governor:
• Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 168, which made “productivity goals a crime,” pointing out that “per-signature payment is often the most cost-effective method for collecting the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to qualify a ballot measure.”
Maryland resident Sue Payne has laid the ground work to create a referendum petition to put to a vote the Old Line State’s new laws relating to gun control. Payne plans to use a website so residents can download and sign the petition to attempt to get the measure on 2014’s ballot.
The petition would need to have 55,000 verified signatures into the State Board of Elections by the end of June.
Maryland’s residents successfully put 3 referendums on the ballot in 2012. A number of bills to make the referendum process more difficult were defeated in the legislature earlier this year.
Read More: Here
It is an unfortunate side effect of stating your opinion via a petition; someone who is on the other side of the issue might not like it.
Recently, folks who signed a petition to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have been the victims of retaliation from opponents of the recall. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, after scanning the petition sheets, provided the scans publicly online in an effort toward transparency. After which, opponents of the recall effort, a group called “Verify the Recall” created searchable databases of the scanned petitions. Then some anti-recall individuals created a Facebook page, now removed, threatening to publish addresses of signatories or inform business owners of employees who signed the petition.
Along the banks of the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington, citizens are taking the city’s charter to court – at least, the city attorney’s interpretation of it.
Sponsors of an initiative on light rail won a recent court case overturning a state law on duplicate signatures and providing the measure with enough valid signatures to qualify, Vancouver City Attorney Ted Gathe declared the city would not allow the measure to appear on this November’s ballot because it was “ambiguous and susceptible of multiple interpretations.” Gathe argues that violates the city charter, which states: “The proposed ordnance shall be expressed in clear and unambiguous language and so that its entire effect is apparent on its face.”