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 final judgment.

According to the ballot title for 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 petition signatures.”

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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?

In an April 26 editorial, The Spokesman-Review advanced several arguments on why it thought the Clean and Fair Elections Ordinance should not become the law in Spokane. As a member of the group that sponsored that ballot initiative, I assure you we are anxious to respond to those arguments.

However, an election campaign is the time for that. The issue at hand now is whether or not the voters should have the right to vote on this at all. It appears that some on the Spokane City Council and The Spokesman-Review editorial board feel they should not; that this initiative should be stopped before it goes on the ballot.

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nitiative promoter Tim Eyman filed a ballot measure Wednesday to make all tax hikes passed by the Washington state Legislature expire after a year.

Under the initiative, the one-year limit would go away if state lawmakers pass a constitutional amendment to require a legislative supermajority to raise taxes and eliminate tax breaks. If passed by the Legislature by a two-thirds majority in each chamber, the amendment would need a simple majority of voters to be enacted.

Washington initiative guru Time Eyman is back in the saddle again with a new anti-tax initiative, filed on Wednesday.

The initiative seeks to curb tax hikes by giving any new taxes a one-year expiration date.  However, Eyman gives Evergreen State legislators an easy way out. Written into the ballot measure is a provision removing the one-year expiration on new taxes IF the legislature passes a constitutional amendment reestablishing a 2/3rds majority vote in order to pass new tax hikes.

The Idaho Legislature altered ballot measure rules earlier this year, making a successful petition campaign more difficult to achieve. Starting July 1, when Senate Bill 1108 goes into effect, it will be harder for Idahoans to gather enough signatures to place initiatives and referendums on the ballot.

Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter signed a bill into law on April 2 thatwill require petitioners to gather six percent of registered voters’ signatures from a minimum of 18 districts. Currently, petitioners must collect six percent of registered voters’ signature statewide. SB 1108 originally required each signature sheet to be separated by legislative district, but the statehouse quickly pushed through Senate Bill 1191 last month to remove that stipulation.

In a 32-1 vote late Wednesday, the Missouri Senate endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee that Missouri’s farmers have the right to farm.

The Senate changed the original language in the legislation ”” House Joint Resolution 7 and 11 ”” that would have barred voters from passing initiatives that would infringe on farmers’ rights.

That portion of the legislation was removed after opposition from senators concerned about blocking the initiative petition process.

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Laws in 2012 prompted Maryland’s first statewide ballot referendum in 20 years, allowing marriage equality, the Dream Act and congressional redistricting to be upheld by voters.

And if those who don’t agree with Maryland’s likely ban of the death penalty try to get voters to reverse it, a new bill could create obstacles for them and other citizens looking to petition state laws to ballot, lawmakers say. Legislation by Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, would demand several things from those circulating petitions to force a ballot issue.

It would require the sponsor to form a ballot issue committee, which is a campaign finance entity, for each law that is challenged.

Ohio House Republicans passed a controversial bill Wednesday that would make it harder for citizens to mount petition drives to repeal laws and introduce their own.

Hours later, the Senate signed off on the House version of the bill, sending it to Gov. John Kasich for approval.

Senate Bill 47, which initially passed the Senate March 6, has moved swiftly through the GOP-controlled legislature, vexing Democrats and advocacy groups who say a provision in the bill would jeopardize voters’ longstanding right to initiative and referendum.

The Missouri House has approved legislation aimed at increasing the transparency of initiative petitions that bypass the Legislature to put proposed laws or constitutional amendments on statewide ballots.

Sponsors of the petitions must gather signatures from registered voters for their proposal to qualify for the ballot.

Under the House legislation, the secretary of state’s office would offer a public comment period after a proposal is submitted. For those proposals that actually qualify for the ballot, the Joint Committee on Legislative Research would hold a public hearing.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) says Arkansans can have faith in our election system but he adds, that doesn’t mean changes aren’t needed.

Joined by Senate and House members on Thursday, Mcdaniel unveiling a push for election and ballot reform.

The package of three separate bills SB 343, SB 821 and SB 822 targets everything from fake signatures on ballot initiatives to criminal background checks for candidates.

An effort in Utah lead by Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, to establish a process for recall elections must wait until another time.  After meeting with legal council, Perry felt it was a better option to put the issue before the voters in 2014 than try to attempt to use the Legislature to make a change.

With only a few days remaining in the 2013 Legislative session, Perry’s efforts to push a bill through would most likely have fallen short.

There is currently no recall process in the Beehive State. The motivation to establish the process was inspired by an effort to remove Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife, who admitted to an extramarital affair in December of 2012.

The city is rescinding an ordinance that would have created a beach utility, another demonstration of the power of the petition.

Residents in this shore community have used the power of initiative and referendum recently to reverse decisions made by the three-member City Commission including the 50-year lease of a Boardwalk property and beach, plans to buy a downtown property for recreation, and most recently the utility’s formation.

Residents say the use of petitions gives them the ability to keep local government in check, but some city officials say it is being used to micromanage city government.

Those vexatious legislators in Missouri, irked by a recent ballot measure, are attempting to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, which would limit the people’s power of petition.  The proposed amendment –HJR 11 – overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week. It would allow only the legislature to create laws regarding farming and agriculture in the Show-Me State.

Still smarting over state voters’ approval of strict dog-breeding rules in 2010, some Missouri legislators want to bar future initiative petition drives from dealing with agricultural issues.

The House voted Thursday to place on the November 2014 ballot a constitutional amendment that would guarantee “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices.” Under the proposal, only the General Assembly could write laws regulating “livestock production and ranching practices.”

The House passed the amendment on a vote of 110-41. It now moves to the Senate.