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.

North Dakota voters could decide if they want to require more signatures and a more statewide approach when citizens want to put issues up to statewide vote.

Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, has introduced House Concurrent Resolution 3011, which would require any citizen initiated measure that would potentially cost more than $20 million, should it pass, to be placed on a general election ballot. Measures with less than a $20 million impact could still be put on a primary or general election ballot.

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.

In a party-line vote this morning [ Wednesday, 6 March], the Republican majority of the State Senate Affairs Committee approved a bill that would alter the way Idaho initiatives are put on general election ballots.

Traditionally, petitions have required a percentage of the state’s registered voters, but Senate Bill 1108 would parse that process out by requiring 6 percent of voters from at least 18 legislative districts across the state.

A bill making it tougher to get an issue on the ballot by restricting when signatures could be collected passed the Senate [Wednesday, March 6] along party lines, 23-10.

Supporters say the bill will bring uniformity to the process of getting an issue on the general election ballot. Under current law, if a group turns in signatures, but it is determined that not enough have been verified to qualify for the ballot, the group gets another 10 days to collect signatures.

However, the law also allows the group to continue to collect signatures during the process of verifying that initial batch of petitions – a process that, over 30 issues since 1997, has varied from 16 to 58 days.

The Ohio Secretary of State’s omnibus election law bill, SB 47, has a few provisions that impact ballot access. The bill repeals the ban on out-of-state circulators, for all types of petition. The only remaining requirement for a circulator would be that the circulator is at least 18 years old.

However, it makes it somewhat more difficult for initiatives and referendum to appear on the ballot. Currently, when election official determine that such a petition lacks enough valid signatures, the proponents have ten days to collect more signatures. The bill eliminates the ability to get new signatures during the ten-day period.

For those who are wondering, the Senate State Affairs Committee didn’t vote this morning on SB 1108, the bill from the Idaho Farm Bureau to make it tougher to qualify initiatives or referendum measures for the Idaho ballot, in an attempt to increase the voice of rural residents in the process. For a second time the committee took testimony on the controversial bill, which would require signatures from 6 percent of voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts, instead of just 6 percent statewide, to make the ballot. But it ran out of time. Now, the vote has been pushed back

Read More: Here

The Referendum Integrity Act, a bill that’s been lambasted as voter suppression, contains numerous clauses that could potentially disqualify thousands of online petition signature pages before they are even signed.

But the chairman of the subcommittee in charge of HB493, Del. Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, who is also a co-sponsor, says his goal in reforming petition legislation is not to make the process more difficult.

Cardin said his committee may consider a number of amendments this week that would address concerns of the bill’s opponents, as well as supporters of the legislation’s disclosure provisions.

A Racine man has pleaded guilty to election fraud in a case in which he’s accused of forging seven signatures on recall petitions, the Journal Times of Racine reports.

The petitions were to recall then Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).

Read More at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Some Wyoming residents have begun an effort to repeal a new state law that removes many duties from the state superintendent of public instruction.

Organizers of the statewide petition drive want to get enough signatures to put Senate File 104 n known as the “Hill bill” n on the general election ballot in November 2014.

Gov. Matt Mead signed the bill into law. The measure replaces current State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill with a director appointed by the governor. Jim Rose has been appointed as interim director, and a permanent director must be appointed by Dec. 1 from three names submitted to the governor by the State Board of Education.

The leader of the effort to study Lackawanna County’s form of government acknowledged Thursday that hundreds of the 6,101 signatures collected to put the issue before voters in the May 21 primary are invalid because of improperly circulated petitions.

Among the petitions insurance executive Chuck Volpe said will be voluntarily withdrawn is one an attorney challenging the proposed government study commission referendum maintains was actually circulated by state Rep. Kevin Haggerty but given to a neighbor to file in violation of state law.

Read More Here

Maryland’s Senate committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs voted 8-3 along Democratic Party lines on February 25 to kill a bill that oddly enough had nothing to do with Education, Health or Environmental Affairs. The bill did have to do with petitioners and protecting their identities.

Sponsored by Harford County Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs, SB 367 would have made the names, addresses and other pertinent information given by the signer of a petition private, once the petition had been submitted to the State Board of Elections.  The bill had been proposed to help prevent identity theft and fraud.

On February 25, the North Dakota Senate passed SB 2183 by a vote of 31-16. This is the bill that says no one may circulate an initiative petition, or a recall petition, unless the individual has lived in the state for at least two years.

Republican Senators supported the bill by a margin of 29-4, but Democratic Senators opposed it by a margin of 2-12.

Read more at Ballot Access News

Michigan’s Constitution allows citizens to initiate legislation and also repeal existing Public Acts by gathering a required amount of signatures within a prescribed time frame and putting the proposed legislation (or rejection of current legislation) on a statewide ballot for a vote of the people.

Citizens are also allowed to amend the Michigan Constitution in a similar manner. The required signatures for each effort are based on a percentage of the total votes cast for governor in the preceding election. In 2012 there were six ballot proposals put before voters through this process.

Read more at the Voice of Small Business Blog

The Michigan state legislature and governor have given their stamp of approval to a controversial right-to-work plan.

Now a group in Ohio is circulating petitions to get the right-to-work initiative on the ballot here.

Under heavy protest, Michigan lawmakers passed the legislation on Tuesday making it a right-to-work state. Governor Rick Snyder signed the measure making the state, often referred to as a labor stronghold, the 24th right-to-work state in the country.

Read More At WFML