DIRECT democracy is often blamed for making California ungovernable. The state keeps holding ballot initiatives (ie, what non-Americans call referendums). Voters decide that taxes must fall but spending must rise. Elected politicians struggle to make the sums add up. But last week this dysfunctional system was sideswiped. The Supreme Court, in upholding the right of gays to marry in California, may have weakened direct democracy throughout America, some fear.
Looks like voters will get to decide whether the city should scrap its current pension program.
Political consultant Pete Zimmerman emailed The Range today to inform us that the Committee for Sustained Retirement Benefits has turned in more than 23,000 signatures to put the Sustainable Retirement Benefits Act on the November city ballot. The group needed 12,730 valid signatures, so there’s lots of padding there to fight off legal challenges.
The initiative would force the city to scrap the current pension program for new hires and instead enroll them in a program similar to a 401K system.
A controversial bill aimed at toughening rules for petition signature operations in Oregon passed the House Friday on a 35-22 vote.
The largely party-line vote came after several Republican and minor-party activists complained that Senate Bill 154 could “criminalize” inadvertent errors and discourage people from mounting ballot measure campaigns in Oregon.
Those concerns were dismissed by the bill’s Democratic supporters, who used their majority in the House to win final legislative approval and send the measure to Gov. John Kitzhaber for his signature.
The lawyer for Democratic Colorado Senate President John Morse made his first public case Thursday for tossing all 10,000-plus signatures certified as valid for triggering a recall election against the pol.
Mark Grueskin, an attorney representing a constituent who brought the complaint against the recall effort, said the petitions should be deemed invalid because they didn’t contain language specifying that there would be an election to replace Morse if he’s recalled.
More and more, it seems, frustrated voters are seized with the impulse to punish their elected officials. Perhaps that’s not all that surprising, given some of the disclosures about politicians these days, but this urge can be taken too far.
For example, we’ve always believed term-limits laws, which aim to put elected officials on the clock, regardless of whether or not they’re doing a good job, are overkill. Why should honorable, effective representatives be turned out of office long before they’re ready to retire simply because their arbitrarily designated time has expired?
Most of them only go on to seek election to other offices anyway, so the quest to purge government of those dreaded “career politicians” usually backfires.
One of the ballot measures voters will decide this year is I-517: Concerning initiative and referendum measures. The proposal is an initiative to the Legislature but lawmakers did not approve it meaning it will be placed before voters to pass finalÂ judgment.
According to the ballot title forÂ I-517:
“This measure would set penalties for interfering with or retaliating against signature-gatherers and petition-signers; require that all measures receiving sufficient signatures appear on the ballot; and extend time for gathering initiative petitionÂ signatures.”
Read more: here
A second Colorado senator faces a possible exodus from office from voters for her controversial stance on gun control.
The recall petition forÂ Sen. Angela Giron’s was ratified on Monday, with about 1,400 valid signatures to spare.
After Giron’s support of various gun control initiatives in March, the grassroots organization Pueblo Freedom and Rights launched the recall measure against the District 3 Democrat.
As California’s supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated today’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned the state’s voter-approved ban on gay unions, the president of a conservative law firm lamented what he saw as a blow to the Golden State’s ballot measure process.
“The big issue, from our perspective, was the issue of the rights of the individual to petition their government through the initiative process,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute.
Read More: here
From ancient Athens to the New England town meeting, direct democracy has long been celebrated at the local level. But the initiative, the most common form of direct democracy in the U.S., is most visible at the state level. Would it serve democracy if the initiative spread more to towns and cities?
Spokane County commissioners voted Friday to challenge a pair of Spokane city initiatives that could change the way business and government function locally.
They join a coalition of economic development interests in seeking judicial review on the legality of the two initiatives called a Community Bill of Rights and a Voter Bill of Rights.
Commissioners said they believe the two measures could significantly hamper economic development by putting more decision-making into the hands of individual citizens.
Envision Spokane and Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution obtained sufficient voter signatures to force their bills of rights onto the city’s November ballot.