Neal’s blog

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 47 on Friday, March 22.  The law sets several new restrictions on the initiative and referendum process in the Buckeye State, most notably, adherence to a strict 100-day timetable for collecting petition signatures, whereas previously, upwards of 58 extra days of canvassing were permitted.

“The General Assembly thought it was important that the law needed to be clarified and the governor agreed with them,” said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich. However, the General Assembly did not completely agree, with Republicans primarily supporting the bill and minority Democrats dissenting unanimously.

SB 821 threatens petition process

Arkansas State Senators will vote today on Senate Bill 821, sponsored by Sen. Keith Ingram of West Memphis, which would place extremely heavy new burdens on Arkansas’s initiative and referendum process.

Also today, the Advance Arkansas Institute has released a paper by Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob, which outlines the roadblocks SB 821 places on the I&R process in the Natural State, including the creation of an extensive state registration, training and tracking program for paid petition circulators and making it a crime to “relate” pay to productivity.

Jacob noted that “the bill almost seems designed to make it difficult or impossible for citizens to run successful ballot campaigns.”

In a hyper-partisan effort (with only one exception), Ohio’s Republican legislators have passed Senate Bill 47 through both the House and Senate, sending the legislation to make the state’s petition process much more difficult to the desk of Republican Governor John Kasich for his signature, which would make it law.

“The right to referendum is a very important check that people have to push back on abuses of this legislature,” Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) argued on the floor. “This bill is a direct attack on that sacred right. To call this bill a solution in search of a problem is being charitable.”

After passing the Senate with bipartisan opposition and only Republican support, Senate Bill 1108 passed the House State Affairs Committee in similar fashion and could soon hit the House floor.

In hearings, testimony has been bipartisan and overwhelmingly against Idaho’s SB 1108, a bill that makes qualifying an initiative or referendum much more difficult.  In addition to an already very onerous statewide signature requirement, SB 1108 would add a severe new condition that petitions also contain 6% of registered voters in at least 18 legislative districts. Adding 18 new petition drives to qualify a ballot measure would dramatically drive up costs.

In Colorado, a citizen’s defense group, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund (BFDF), is forming a committee to recall State Senator John Morse (Colorado Springs), the Democratic President of the State Senate. Morse had sponsored Senate Bill 13-196, a bill which would impose penalties on owners of so-called “assault weapons”, making them liable for any damage caused by them.

“It really made a lot of people upset, it’s an affront to the Second Amendment, it’s an affront to the Constitution and it’s an affront to the oath that he took,” explained BFDF Spokesperson Anthony Garcia.

State representative Michael McLachlan (D-Durango) may also be under the gun of recall efforts by the BFDF over firearm issues.

Today, Citizens in Charge released a mailer sent to residents of Montgomery County, Maryland Delegate Eric Leudtke’s district informing citizens of the destructive impact Leudtke’s House Bill 493 will have on the state’s citizen referendum process.

“Delegate Leudtke’s bill, filled with new rules, regulations and signature disqualification penalties, will effectively stop the public’s ability to use the petition process in Maryland,” said Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge.

In 2011, young Muna N’Diaye was kidnapped by her father and taken to Mali.  Her mother, Dr. Nolle Hunter, naturally wants her daughter back. To bring Muna home, Dr. Hunter has worked with the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues as well as Senator Mitch McConnell and her local congressional representative, Hal Rogers of Kentucky.

Then, Hunter went to the White House’s “We the People” petition website in an attempt to bring more attention to the situation.

Citizens in Charge Foundation has released a report on Initiative and Referendum in the State of Idaho, entitled, “Image Idaho: The Citizen Check.” The paper details the travails Idaho citizens face when seeking to take their constitutional part in the governing of the Gem State. Specifically, the report addresses Senate Bill 1108, which would impose a severe signature distribution requirement and complicate efforts to circulate petitions. The analysis also includes detailed appendices comparing Idaho’s I&R requirements with those in other states.

Download the report Here


Citizens in Charge gladly releases the first I&R Legislative Tracker of 2013. This ongoing project provides information, links, and status updates for every bill concerning initiative and referendum filed in the 26 states with statewide I&R processes. We update the Tracker weekly.

In addition to keeping track of legislation, you can get the latest initiative, referendum and recall news via our State Newswire as well as on our Daily Citizen Blog. Stay tuned in.

Find it: Here

Some Arizona legislators want to provide extra time for individuals to consider a petition. But which individuals do they have in mind?

State Senator Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, thinks the courts need extra time.  With that in mind, Reagan has proposed a bill, SCR 1006, to move the filing deadline up two months. At face value, Reagan wants to ensure any contentious petition challenges have a chance to be properly looked-over by the courts.

An effort in Utah lead by Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, to establish a process for recall elections must wait until another time.  After meeting with legal council, Perry felt it was a better option to put the issue before the voters in 2014 than try to attempt to use the Legislature to make a change.

With only a few days remaining in the 2013 Legislative session, Perry’s efforts to push a bill through would most likely have fallen short.

There is currently no recall process in the Beehive State. The motivation to establish the process was inspired by an effort to remove Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife, who admitted to an extramarital affair in December of 2012.

Those vexatious legislators in Missouri, irked by a recent ballot measure, are attempting to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, which would limit the people’s power of petition.  The proposed amendment –HJR 11 – overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week. It would allow only the legislature to create laws regarding farming and agriculture in the Show-Me State.

Today’s legislative hearing on Senate Bill 1108 in Idaho was begun and then postponed until Monday after running out of time due to so many individuals and groups in attendance to testify against the legislation.

SB 1108 would dramatically increase the difficulty of qualifying an initiative or referendum for the statewide ballot via petition. Currently, citizens must gather signatures from six percent of registered voters statewide to qualify a ballot measure. Under this requirement, only eight citizen-initiated measures have made the ballot in the last 15 years – most notably the three referendums on last November’s ballot, whereby voters rejected three laws passed by legislators.

Washington’s State Supreme Court ruled 6-3 yesterday to strike down a law passed by voters which requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature or a vote of the people to increase taxes. The decision specifically overturns a 2010 initiative, but comes after two decades of voters passing the same basic initiative and seeing it repealed by legislators.