Archives for April 2010

Transcripts of the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday in Doe v. Reed - a case dealing with voter privacy - have been made available. You can read the transcript from the Court’s website here.

Arizona’s legislature adjourned for the year last night without passing any more anti-initiative bills. Yesterday I told you about a constitutional amendment to reduce the time to collect signatures by two months that will appear on the state’s November ballot.

Shortly after the lunch break and without a TV crew in sight, the [Colorado] Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee first passed a proposal that would largely gut the ability of ordinary citizens to propose amendments to the state constitution.

Not a single member in either house of the Arizona legislature voted against sending a constitutional amendment to the November 2010 ballot that would reduce the amount of time citizens have to collect signatures on a petition. It will now be up to Arizona voters to decide if they want to give up 60 of the 620 days they have to collect signatures on a petition.

One of Utah’s largest papers, the Deseret News, has editorialized against the state’s highly restrictive distribution requirement. The paper correctly points out that such requirements severely hamper grassroots petition efforts:

Today the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the Doe v Reed case out of Washington State. The case pits the privacy of petition signers against transparency in the process. This is an important case that will set precedent on the issue and be highly influential in future ballot initiative campaigns and court battles.

Senate Bill 818, which will protect voters from having their signatures unfairly taken off a petition and will prevent petition efforts from being tied up in court, will be debated today at 2:30 Central Time on the Senate floor. You can listen live by going here and clicking on “Open Floor Action in New Window.”

Last week Trevor Ford talked about New Jersey voters taking charge of their state using local initiative and referendum processes. What happened in New Jersey underscores how much power can be given to citizens when they have an accessible local process to initiate legislation and bring government matters to a vote.

The following states recognize some form of local initiative and referendum rights for more than half their citizens:

Nebraska’s Appeals Court has ruled that an initiative that would make it illegal to lease or rent to an illegal alien and require anyone living in the city to obtain an occupancy permit from the police department does not violate the state’s single-subject rule. The court also held that it cannot rule on the constitutionality of the requirements of the measure until and unless the voters approve it.

On Wednesday, April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Doe v Reed case out of Washington State. The case will decide whether or not signers of an initiative petition have a right to privacy. The Doe side argues that signing a petition is protected free speech and the release of the names will result in intimidation from opponents. Reed argues that the release of the names is part of keeping government transparent and preventing fraud.

Check out our new video to hear from both sides in the case.

Over at Fox & Hounds Daily, Joe Matthews has a great piece on why California’s proposal to raise the filing fee for an initiative from $200 to $2000 is a bad idea. He also offers some suggestions on reforms that would actually make the state’s process better.



On April 15 we stopped by Tea Parties in Maryland and Washington, DC to see what attendees thought about government reform and the initiative & referendum process. Check out what they had to say here.