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Coloradans’ constitutional right to initiative and referendum have greatly improved this state’s political process. That right is under attack, again, in the Colorado Legislature and must be defended.

These critical tools have enabled we, the people, to debate and adopt policy — even controversial policy — that has allowed us to check the excesses of public officials and provide governmental balance. Though democratic processes are never flawless, after 100 years of experience, from reforming campaign finance rules to imposing term limits, there are good reasons the public favors initiative and referendum by a three-to-one margin.

State lawmakers will try once again to place a measure onto the ballot to change the way ballot measures get onto the ballot.

Rep. Lois Court said she’s hopeful this time Colorado voters will agree that something needs to be done to protect the state’s Constitution from contradictory proposals that oftentimes aren’t written well, or have far-reaching unintended consequences.

The Denver Democrat, who is one of a long line of lawmakers regardless of political ilk to attempt such changes, hopes this effort will be more successful than previous attempts.

Unlike those efforts, including Referendum O in 2008 that lost by less than 3 percentage points, Court’s new idea would make only a few changes, and focuses only on proposed constitutional amendments.

Shoppers at Clovis’ Walmart Supercenter on Herndon Avenue last week had an almost endless array of choices, from groceries to household items to toiletries to clothing. And grassroots democracy could have been on their shopping list if they were interested.

That opportunity awaited at the table set up by Rick and Donna Baker outside the store’s entrance. Shoppers could sign petitions on whether to split California into six states; give law-abiding citizens the right to own, carry, and fire a gun; or reduce some drug and theft felonies to misdemeanors. They could even sign a petition preventing legislators from diverting children’s health care money to the general fund.

Backers of the initiative petitions filed in recent weeks with the city need around 6,000 valid signatures to call a vote.

That number is going up after last week’s mayoral election.

The signature requirement is based on turnout in the most recent city-wide election.

Read More: here

Initiatives are a way for the general public to get involved if the state Legislature won’t pass proposals that might be popular with everyday Montanans.

The right to submit an initiative is firmly granted in the state’s 1972 Constitution, and we acknowledge that voters no doubt will have a chance to cast ballots on some of these issues on the Nov. 4 general election ballot this year.

Granted, a few of the proposals on this year’s list of potential initiatives are either inane — such as a proposal to require half of the members of the Legislature to be women and half men — or the language has already been discarded in favor of a different initiative.

A bill being considered in Pierre changes the way initiated measures and referendum petitions in South Dakota are verified.

Some critics say the change makes it easier for big moneyed interests to challenge a petition effort.

Under current law–someone who wants to bring an issue before voters in a statewide election must gather the necessary signatures and then have the petitions checked and verified by the Secretary of States office.  Anyone wishing to challenge the petitions has 5 days to do so.

Read more: here

Restricting Nevada initiative petitions to a single subject invites legal challenges that stall the process and prevents backers from gathering signatures by a mandated deadline, critics of the requirement told the Nevada Supreme Court.

Las Vegas attorney Kermitt Waters on Tuesday asked justices to make it easier for groups to qualify measures for the ballot.

Waters brought the challenge on behalf of Citizen Outreach and two other groups. They argue the limitation makes it nearly impossible for citizens to bring proposals before voters.

Read More: here

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.”