In seeking the precarious balance between the rights of citizens to petition the government and the right of the public to avoid a nuisance, the choice is clear: Petitioning the government is a sacred prerogative. There is a reason the First Amendment to the United States Constitution includes free speech; there is a reason the Washington Constitution guarantees citizens the right to legislate “independent of the Legislature.” The ability to petition the government must remain inviolate.
Circuit Judge Mary McGowan ruled today that the 2013 law aimed at making it harder to petition for ballot initiatives was unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. The state will likely appeal.
The Arkansas Public Law Center, of which I’m a board member, and the Arkansas chapter of the american Civil Liberties Union supported the lawsuit, with plaintiffs Paul Spencer of the Regnat Populus ethics reform group, and Nealy Sealy of Arkansas Community Organizations.
James Madison to Washington lawmakers: Please keep your mitts off the state’s petition process.
Some legislators are making yet another attempt to throttle the signature-gathering that lies at the core of Washingtonians’ right to mount initiatives and referendums. House Bill 2552, which cleared the House of Representatives last week, would entangle petitioners in a slew of new restrictions. The clear purpose is to make it harder for citizens to get a measure on the ballot.
Any effort to burden or complicate signature-gathering has constitutional implications. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and the right “to petition the government for redress of grievances.”
Oregon’s system of initiative and referendum gives voters the power to enact laws themselves when the Legislature cannot or will not, and to overturn laws voters don’t like. Needless to say, lawmakers are not always pleased with this populist process, but most of the time, they let it take its course. This week, though, the House stuck its nose where it doesn’t belong.
At issue is a law the Legislature passed allowing immigrants in the United States illegally to obtain permits to drive in Oregon. We supported the law and still do: The immigrants in question are here, and they’re driving whether anyone likes it or not, so why not encourage them to know the rules of the road and to get insurance?
While it may be a small change, the Utah Legislature has a bill before it, introduced Monday, that could make it more difficult for citizen initiative petition or referendum supporters to gather the number of voter signatures required to get their measures on the ballot.
HB192 by Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, would require that each petition package – have in 8-pt type where signees make their signature – a warning that the signee read and understand not only what the petition says, but what it would do.
In the case of a citizen initiative petition, the signee would also have to agree that they supported the citizen law, and want it to be adopted.
With exactly two weeks to go to collect the signatures required to put the recently-approved Bergamot Transit Village on the November ballot, opponents of the development will likely hire professional signature gatherers.
The decision comes at the end of the second weekend in the 30-day period that opponents of the 765,000 square foot project have had to gather signatures since the City Council officially approved the development on February 11 in a 4-to-3 vote. (“Santa Monica City Council Narrowly Approves Bergamot Transit Village,” February 5)
Critics launched attacks Friday on two separate fronts against the Count My Vote ballot initiative, which seeks to dump political-party caucuses and conventions for a direct primary.
First, the Senate voted 22-4 to approve and send to the House SB54 that would nullify the initiative as long as parties tweak their caucus and convention system.
Second, an opposition group filed a complaint with the lieutenant governor seeking to disqualify most of the 100,000 signatures collected so far by Count My Vote. It alleged numerous violations, including lying to voters about what they are signing.
Read More: here
State Sen. Jeff Clemens filed Florida’s first medical marijuana bill while he was in the Florida House in 2011.
“It went nowhere,” said Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat. “It never received a hearing — and I received a lot of snickers and laughs.”
For the next two years, Clemens filed bills, including a comprehensive package in 2013 that also had a House sponsor. Clemens said the best he got was a discussion from Senate committee chairmen about holding a workshop on the bill.
Read more: here
Three citizen-driven ballot measures are inching closer to the November general election ballot.
Signatures are being collected on measures that would start the school year after Labor Day, create a new conservation fund using oil tax revenue and make changes to parental rights and responsibilities.
The three initiatives, if the necessary signatures are gathered, would join five constitutional measures approved for a vote by lawmakers during last year’s legislative session.
Read More: here
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has rejected a petition for the proposed “Ohio Voters Bill of Rights” because the summary of the petition was not “a fair and truthful statement of the measure to be referred.”
On February 4, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received a written petition from a group called Ohioans for a Voters Bill of Rights to amend the Ohio Constitution via the “Ohio Voters Bill of Rights.” Attorney General DeWine’s letter rejected the summary because it contained at least two misrepresentations regarding issues where the Ohio Constitution is pre-empted by federal law.