Archives for March 2009

What we're up against

Tue, Mar 31 2009 by Staff

We often talk on this blog about threats to the initiative and referendum process, but this recent article in the Colorado Independent illustrates more concretely what initiative rights proponents are up against.

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Several state activists have used the initiative and referendum (I&R) process to pass Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) legislation.

TABOR is seen by some as a way of limiting the growth of government. It requires increases in overall state government spending to be tied to inflation and population increases.

Yesterday, Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob was in Missouri testifying against House Bill 228. The legislation would harm the initiative and referendum process by imposing a residency restriction, banning the payment of petition circulators on a per signature basis and prohibiting citizens from carrying more than one petition at a time.

Recently news has focused on the battle over petitions and the intent of the voter.

Petition and petition circulators are hot button issues in states with the initiative and referendum process (I&R). Each year hundreds of petition gathers (a.k.a. petition circulators) collect thousands of signatures from voters on a large array of issues. And every year thousands are invalidated because of mistakes made by notary, the petition circulator or government official.

The Oklahoma House will consider two initiative and referndum bills already passed by the Senate. SB 800 will allow a petition to be rejected before signatures are collected if it contains legal mistakes. This change is aimed at preventing initiative supporters from gathering signatures only to have a petition thrown off the ballot.

Today Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge, will be in Missouri helping local citizens fight for their voting rights.

Local activists have invited Paul to Missouri to discuss the importance of the ballot initiative process. In an email to local voters, the Missourians write:

Linda Curtis of Independent Texans relays how several activists showed up in a state Senate hearing yesterday to protest SB 690, a bill that would essentially strip Texans of their local initiative process by more than doubling the signature requirement. Linda notes that Mike Ford of Initiative for Texas, and a Citizens in Charge Foundation board member, was on hand to defend the initiative process.

Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the initiative and referendum process, has named Oklahoma State Senator Randy Brogdon and Oklahoma State Representative Randy Terrill as the March 2009 recipients of the John Lilburne Award.

A federal district court ruled has ruled that Wisconsin’s campaign finance reporting requirements are overly restrictive on First Amendment rights in a case arising from a referendum campaign. According to Wisconsin’s election law, two Whitewater citizens who sought to distribute flyers and yard signsagainst a local referendum would have had to register with the state and comply with a host of other reporting regulations. The citizens brought suit and won, striking down the restrictions.

In 1998 Arizona voters passed an initiative that barred the state legislature from tampering with ballot measures that the voters had put into law. The Voter Protection Act was a response to years of legislative evisceration of initiatives.