Archives for July 2011

Pete PetersonPete Peterson, Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, is the latest to join in the effort to convince California Gov. Jerry Brown to veto Senate Bill 168.

SagatuckA a letter from the Michigan ACLU reminded officials in Sagatuck this week that public streets are a public forum where restrictions on free speech are prohibited. The letter comes after two people collecting signatures to recall Gov. Rick Snyder were allegedly told they could not approach or speak to pedestrians on a public sidewalk:

To tell petitioners that they may not speak to pedestrians in Saugatuck is not only incorrect and unconstitutional, it sends a confusing message to residents about their rights.

In his daily Common Sense commentary, Citizens in Charge President and long-time petition rights activist Paul Jacob talks about the California Legislature’s proposed ban on per-signature payment for petition circulators. In the piece he points out an interesting fact about fraud in the state:

California is wild and crazy, fruity and nutty. Not in Hollywood, but in Sacramento.

The state’s enormous prison population ”” so large that the Feds recently ordered California to release overcrowded prisoners ”” feeds an otherwise expensive prison system, straining the state’s strapped budget.

So what did Golden State solons go and do?

The Year of the Referendum?

Mon, Jul 25 2011 by Staff

It just might be the year of the referendum. After I blogged last week about referendum petitions going to the ballot in Maryland and Ohio I noticed a piece about several major referendum efforts in California. From Capital Notes:

The initiative may the most popular form of direct democracy in California, but 2012 has the potential for the spotlight to be recast on one of the lesser known of the powers created a century ago: the referendum.

Yes/NoVoters in Ohio and Maryland will decide whether to veto acts of their state legislature in November. Ohio voters will weigh in on Senate Bill 5, and Maryland voters will decide whether to keep the “Dream Act.”

Writing for Bay Area NBC’s “Prop Zero” blog, Joe Matthews joins the growing chorus of voices against Senate Bill 168:

Already a playground for rich people and groups, [under SB 168] the initiative process will be even more dominated by the very wealthy.

SilenceThe Sacramento Bee, one of California’s largest newspapers, is calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to veto a bill (SB 168) that would prohibit petition circulators from being paid by the signature. The Bee correctly points out that the legislation would only serve to empower special interests while silencing grassroots voter groups:

The powers that be at the Genesee County Parks Department don’t seem to be familiar with the freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. Fortunately for Michiganders, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is.

Undemocratic New York City?

Mon, Jul 18 2011 by Staff

Progressive columnist Randy Shaw recently offered New York City as an example of the protections that come from a healthy process of initiative and referendum (emphasis mine):

Maryland citizens have the ability to collect signatures and force a statewide referendum vote on laws passed by the legislature. However, for nearly three decades no campaign has ever been able to collect enough to make it to the ballot. Online petition signatures helped change that:

Last week, Del. Neil C. Parrott and others won a key victory in their campaign to repeal a new law allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges. Elections officials announced that the opponents had enough signatures to suspend the law and put it to a statewide vote next year.

Our very own Paul Jacob talked with the Columbia Daily Tribune while he was in Missouri earlier this week about a transpartisan effort to protect the will of the voters in the state:

Some of you may have heard recently that California made the decision to tax online referrals from companies to As you might expect, Amazon and other online companies were none too pleased with the new development and have begun work to bring the issue to voters: