A Joint committee of the legislature referred two more proposed constitutional amendments for potential voter consideration and failed a measure previously expected to easily garner committee support.

The committee has also pushed through a proposal that could change Arkansas’ term limit rules.

On Wednesday (April 10), the panel could not muster enough votes to allow SJR 5, a tort reform proposal, out of the committee. The proposed constitutional amendment had a competing measure and a rift in the legal community complicated its passage. At the beginning of the session, there appeared to be consensus and momentum for a rewrite of the state’s tort laws.

Read more: Here at the City Wire

Lawmakers this year have been supporting proposed changes to the way initiative petitions are proposed and circulated in the state.

“I found, when I got involved with this,” said Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa and chairman of the Financial & Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee that helped write the bill, “there are people who would like to make (the petition process) a lot easier.

“There are people who would like to make it a lot harder.”

Missouri’s Constitution allows people “to propose and enact or reject laws and amendments to the constitution by the initiative.”

Read more from The News Tribune.

Legislation signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich on March 22 has infuriated Democrats and advocacy groups who say it will make it harder for voters to repeal laws and introduce their own.

Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, sets strict rules on the time organizers have to collect signatures when mounting a petition drive to strike down laws. The bill, which passed swiftly through the legislature, will essentially cut at least two weeks from the existing timetable.

Read More at the Plain Dealer

North Dakota is no California, and Sen. David Hogue wants to keep it that way.

Hogue, R-Minot, told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that initiated measures drove California’s debt to more than $335 billion.

After proposals in recent years for initiated measures that could have cost North Dakota millions of dollars, Hogue decided to try make sure the state doesn’t go the way of California.

His effort became Senate Concurrent Resolution 4006, a proposed constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the last word on initiated measures that cost more than $50 million.

Late last year, the Lucy Burns Institute published a booklet entitled, “Local Ballot Initiatives,” written by Leslie Graves, president of the institute and executive director of the wiki-based website, to educate citizens on how they can use initiatives and referendums to reform their hometown governments.

Through several articles, recollections by activists (including Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob) and real-world examples, Graves outlines how the petition process works and how it is beneficial to initiating change at the local level.

Gov. John Kasich signed legislation Friday that would make it harder for Ohio voters to repeal laws. Now the clock is ticking for opponents who could void the controversial bill.

A provision in Senate Bill 47 would set new limits on the number of days organizers have to mount petition drives and collect enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. Kasich’s autograph on SB 47 began a 90-day countdown for groups to stage a petition drive to shut down the legislation.

Read more from The Plain Dealer

Here’s an article by Paul Jacob, a North Little Rock native who was an important foot soldier in the national campaign to pass term limits. He’s writing about efforts sweeping the country to make it hard to put citizen initiated laws and amendments on the ballot. That’s happening in Arkansas this legislative session, as he notes. Corrupt canvassing activities are being used to justify legislation that will make it prohibitively difficult to mount initiatives ”” for medical marijuana, government ethics, a fairer gas severance tax, casinos, you name it. Particularly name casinos.

Regnat Populus has issued a rallying cry for good government advocates to fight Sen. Keith Ingram’s bill to make it far more difficult to qualify popular initiatives for the ballot.

Paul Spencer, chair of the good government group, sees the fine hand of lawyers for the state’s casino monopolies ”” at Oaklawn and Southland ”” in the measure. Hard to quarrel. It’d be cheaper for them to never have to face casino proposals than to have to spend on lawyers to fight them when they surface, as happened last year.

When voters went to the polls last November, they noticed several measures they do not typically see.

The three referendums on the ballot came directly from the 2011 Legislature, and current lawmakers are aiming to do more of the same in 2014.

They are running up against a deadline next week to propose referendum bills. So far, Republicans have made at least 15 requests on topics ranging from property taxes to sex education.

“It is a good way to have people engaged with the legislative process,” said Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell. “I think it gives them an idea of what goes on here.”

A proposal from serial petitioner Tim Eyman to make it easier to launch future local initiatives met little opposition in its introduction to the state House of Representatives Tuesday.

Initiative 517 would give petitioners more time to gather signatures, as well as carving out broad new protections for initiative sponsors and signature gatherers. Legislators hearing the bill mostly focused their questions on a clause that would give signature gatherers a right to be on parts of private property that could be considered “public forums,” such as privately owned sidewalks in front of stores.

Read More: Here

The old argument about whether the chicken or the egg came first has a political counterpart in California:

Did the Legislature lose relevance as a policymaking institution because of the explosion of ballot measures, or did the latter occur because the Legislature had become dysfunctional?

Read More at the Sacramento Bee

One of the proponents of Washington State’s Initiative 517 and retired president of Citizen Solutions, Eddie Agazarm, drafted a letter which can serve to answer opponents to portions of I-517’s protections. It follows:

Eddie Agazarm, co-sponsor of Initiative 517 which puts the citizen back in the citizens’ initiative.

What is wrong with California politics? Is it the politicians, the voters, the balance of power?

Yesterday in Paul Jacob discussed the results of the California ballot measures and tries to answer the question, “Do California politicians have too little power?. What are your thoughts?

Oregon lawmakers gave final approval Monday to a bill sponsors say will curb abuses of Oregon’s century-old initiative system that lets citizens put proposed laws on the ballot.

The bill will allow state election officials to prohibit someone from registering as a paid signature gatherer if they’ve been convicted of fraud or forgery.

Read the story from East Oregonian

Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge Foundation,, spoke at the National Taxpayers Union’s conference about the power of initiative and referendum for grassroots organizations, California’s Proposition 13 and tax payer bill of rights.