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Citizens in Charge found itself on the front lines again yesterday as our president, Paul Jacob, traveled to Annapolis, Maryland, to testify in opposition to House Bill 493. The referendum or “People’s Veto” is already a tough proposition in the Old Line State.  Only once in the last 20 years – in 2012 – have citizen-initiated referendums made their way onto the ballot.

A bill changing the state’s petition process could make it harder for voters to bring controversial laws to referendum. The Referendum Integrity Act will be among numerous bills debated in Annapolis Thursday that could fundamentally change state election law.

An op-ed piece written by former North Dakota lieutenant-governor Lloyd Omdahl points to more attempts by state legislatures to throw up roadblocks to the initiative and referendum process. The legislature in the Roughrider State has proposed new provisions in the shape of HCR 3011.

Taking advantage of last year’s petition signature scandal, some legislators have proposed to tighten up the procedure by which citizens can initiate laws, refer acts of the Legislature and amend the North Dakota Constitution.

New provisions proposed in House Concurrent Resolution 3011 include:

Ӣ Require that measures costing more than $20 million be submitted in a general election.

Ӣ Outlaw payment to petition circulators for gathering signatures.

Ӣ Raise the number of signatures for the referral and initiative from 13,000 to 18,000.

Ӣ Require that a minimum number of signatures be obtained in at least 27 counties.

Jerry Brown’s nonstop self-accolades for his alleged genius in bringing California back to solid ground are rather dubious. But it is with pensions that Brown’s self-congratulation is most incoherent. While he congratulates himself for achieving moderate pension reform via the Legislature last summer, his appointees continue their anti-reform rampage on the state Public Employment Relations Board.

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In snowy and forbidding environments like Alaska, getting anything done takes a lot of hard work.  Likewise, petitioning for ballot measures takes a lot of hard work everywhere – and even more to brave the elements in The Last Frontier.

But Alaskan Dorene Lorenz, host of the local TV program “Alaska Political Insider,” seems to think that ballot measures are too easy, claiming supreme confidence that she can single-handedly collect the 30,000 signatures necessary to qualify a statutory initiative for the ballot. Not that she is going to actually do so, mind you.

Will legislators never learn? The people want to take part in government too. Members of the legislature in the Beehive State want to sting the people once again with changes to make the initiative process more difficult.  This time, to correct a “mistake” that was made two years prior.

Current and former members of the Boy Scouts of America rallied outside the organization’s Irving, Texas, national headquarters on February 4 to support the members of Boy Scout troops who have been excluded from the group for being homosexual. They brought with them 1.4 million signatures on a petition aiming to change the Boy Scout’s rules on the inclusion of homosexual members.

Jennifer Tyrrell, a former den leader, ousted because she is a lesbian, calls the Boy Scout’s policy “archaic.”

Residents of Missoula, Montana – both students and adults – are speaking their minds via an online petition regarding the local superintendent of schools and a member of the school board. The petition was sparked by the school board giving Superintendent Alex Apostle a 13% pay raise, which would take his annual salary to upwards of $220,000 after three years.

Three unnamed students from Ohio State University have presented an online petition with 70,000 signatures to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office calling for a full investigation into the rape of a teenage girl in the summer of 2012 in Steubenville, Ohio.

“We want to make sure everybody involved in this crime is fully investigated and justice is served,” said Kate Londen, communications manager for reproductive rights advocacy group Choice USA.

Maryland’s largest-circulation newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, came out against new legislation being proposed by Democrats to make it more difficult for citizens to refer legislative enactments to a vote of the people. The paper editorialized against one proposal to more than triple the number of signatures required from the current 3% of votes cast for governor in the previous election (55,736 voter signatures) to 5% of registered voters (184,726 signatures). Other proposed changes include outlawing paying circulators based on their productivity and reducing the amount of time for citizens to gather all these signatures on petitions.

Two statewide elected officials seem at odds over the petition process in Missouri. Jason Kander, the Show-Me State’s new Secretary of State, just implemented an online program that displays initiative proposals as soon as they are filed, allowing the public a five-day comment period before the secretary of state and the state auditor must complete their ballot summary and fiscal statement, respectively.

In the past, initiative proposals were not posted on the secretary of state’s website until after a ballot summary and fiscal note were written, so citizens had no comment period at this stage in the process.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas Miller say they are overwhelmed by voter referendums “every time someone doesn’t like one” of their decisions. These powerful politicians don’t make idle complaints; they’re threatening new legislation to make signature gathering for a referendum, or what is often called a “People’s Veto,” much more difficult.

The governor argues that the petition process has “probably been made a little too easy.”

Yesterday, supporters of Initiative Measure turned in 345,000 signatures to the Secretary of State in Olympia, Washington, to put the measure on the November, 2013 ballot.

Tim Eyman, the state’s most prolific initiative proponent and leader of Voters Want More Choices, addressed the media at a news conference following the submission. Eyman was joined by Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge, the initiative’s largest financial backer, and Edward Agazarm, former head of Citizens Solutions, a petition management firm.

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New Eyman initiative would protect petitioners

“The first power reserved by the people is the initiative.”

So promises the Washington State constitution.  However, it is increasingly difficult for citizens to exercise their power to petition the government, as also provided for in the U.S. Constitution.

Initiative 517, which will turn in petition signatures next week in hopes of earning a place on the November 2013 ballot, seeks to protect the right of Washington State citizens to their initiative process.