Newswire

Supporters of an Oregon ballot initiative to require labeling of foods with genetically modified organisms have cleared another legal hurdle, allowing them to begin gathering signatures to qualify for the 2014 ballot.

The move comes on the heels of defeat of similar bills in Washington state and California.

The Oregon Supreme Court Nov. 27 dismissed a challenge to the ballot title, according to court records.

Read More: here

A group wants Columbus residents to vote on whether the city should be paying for its professional hockey team’s home arena, and it has collected enough signatures to get the issue on the May ballot.

That means voters will be asked whether to end the city’s purchase contract for Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Read More: here

The right to referendum is the basic democratic right of the people to appeal a government legislative action through petition and the power of the vote. As a former citizen activist and a current elected official, I wholeheartedly support this right.

After months of controversy and door-to-door politicking, opponents of the public subsidy for Sacramento’s proposed NBA arena say they will submit as many as 40,000 signatures to city elections officials today in their quest to get the issue placed before voters on June’s ballot.

It will be several more weeks, however, before Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork and a spinoff group, Voters for a Fair Arena Deal, learn whether their signature-gathering campaigns were successful. The groups need only 22,000 valid signatures but realize that many of the signatures they’ve gathered, as is typical, will be proven invalid.

Direct democracy, and specifically the initiative process, is advancing around the world.

Except in the U.S. and in California.

Ireland’s constitutional convention has voted overwhelming to introduce a new initiative process that would include both petitions to the government (what some Californians persist in calling, misleadingly, the “indirect initiative” even though it is a direct appeal to lawmakers) and petitions that would trigger popular votes.

Read More: here

Wisconsin legislators have taken the first step to amend the state Constitution to make it harder to recall them, the governor, attorney general and other state officials.

The potential change follows a record 13 recall elections that targeted the governor, lieutenant governor and 11 state senators over a one-year period. Three Republican senators were recalled.

Read More: here

While much of the country is gearing up for the holidays, political forces in Sacramento are girding for battle.

Already, special interests are lined up with plans that could shape next year’s general election ballot. They are considering propositions to increase medical malpractice awards, hike tobacco taxes and give local governments the right to scale back public employee pensions, among other ideas.

Each of the proposals could spawn campaigns costing tens of millions of dollars. Decisions about whether to proceed will be made in the next couple of weeks as de facto deadlines loom.

Next November, South Dakota voters will decide the outcome of two initiated measures — one raising the minimum wage and the other limiting health insurance companies.

If history is any judge, both are likely to fail.

Only 13 of 51 initiated measures attempted since statehood have earned a majority, with an average support of 44 percent.

Some of those successful measures have reflected powerful sentiments among the state population: to keep nuclear waste out, to tax cigarettes more and, most popular of all, to impose term limits on members of Congress — though that was ruled unconstitutional.

Read More: here

California has a rich tradition of citizens taking control through the initiative process. Nothing should be done to diminish that.

However, the Public Policy Institute of California has released an interesting report on possible reforms of the process. The 20-page report released in October concludes with three proposals:

• Connect the legislative and initiative processes. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed by the institute supported the idea of having initiative sponsors meet with legislators to seek compromises before an issue is placed on the ballot.

Read More: here.

While much of the rest of the country is ramping up for the holiday season, political forces in Sacramento are girding for political battle.

Though the 2014 election is nearly a full year away, a series of de facto deadlines are fast approaching that will shape the makeup of next November’s ballot.

Initiatives to raise medical malpractice awards, hike tobacco taxes and give local governments the right to scale back public-employee pensions are among the ballot measures being considered. Each of those proposals, if they go forward, could induce campaigns costing tens of millions of dollars. Decisions about whether to proceed will be made within the next couple of weeks.