Newswire

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.”

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.