ZocaloCalifornians’ initiative, referendum and recall process is as hot a topic for debate as ever. That’s apt, for this year marks the process’s 100th anniversary.

On October 10, 1911, Californians went to the polls to enact these democratic checks on government after Governor Hiram Johnson persuaded legislators to put them on the ballot. On October 10, 2011, I’ll be in Sacramento at an event sponsored by Citizens in Charge Foundation to celebrate the centennial.

Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob submitted the letter below today to Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Secretary Gessler set a hearing for today on using his rulemaking authority to clean up part of a 2009 law that places petition proponents in danger of personal legal attacks. The rule change comes as the result of a broad-based effort led by Citizens in Charge to get the Secretary to weigh in.

Scott GesslerColorado’s petition system is in a shambles, and the state legislature remains fixated on nailing down the lid on the coffin. Luckily, newly elected Secretary of State Scott Gessler seems to want a more reasonable petition system to preside over.

National group U.S. Term Limits has joined the broad coalition of voices denouncing the Colorado General Assembly’s special interest-fueled attack on citizen initiative rights. From a statement released yesterday:

For the second time in as many weeks the Denver Post has highlighted the deep freezeCar that has overtaken Colorado’s petition process. Colorado citizens are now caught up in a whirlwind of red tape, bad laws, and litigation that may spell the end of initiative rights in the state, but citizens are fighting back, and the media is starting to take notice.

Snowy StreetsMost restrictions on petitioning and initiative rights have some type of chilling effect on actual usage of the petition process. In Colorado, one provision of a malicious 2009 law, House Bill 1326, has resulted in such a deep freeze that it may put an end to the state’s citizen initiative process entirely. Already two victims of HB 1326 are faced with losing their homes to pay for their defense against false and ridiculous allegations of ”˜fraud.’

Federal District Court Judge Philip Brimmer has put another nail in the coffin of the Colorado General Assembly’s attempt to silence the state’s voters. Back in June the judge issued a preliminary injunction against part of HB 1326 - which passed overwhelmingly in 2009 - that restricted how ballot initiative campaigns could pay their workers. Last week he followed with another order saying Colorado couldn’t prevent campaigns from using petition circulators from other states.

U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer on Friday put a temporary hold on part of a controversial 2009 bill restricting, among other things, how and when voters can be asked to sign a petition. You can read the judge’s order here.