Our right to initiative and petition our government is the most important tool we have to push back when government does things we don’t like.

I am Sen. Ann Rivers and I support Initiative 517 because I am a strong believer in our initiative rights which our state has had for more than a century. Initiative 517’s primary policy change is guaranteeing you the right to vote on qualified initiatives.

In a unanimous ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court in 2005 rejected an effort by special interest groups to stop the people from voting on a qualified initiative. Their reason: “Because ballot measures are often used to express popular will and to send a message to elected representatives, pre-election review unduly infringes on free speech.”

The skirmish over the anti-initiative Assembly Bill 857 will reach a climax very soon, as California governor Jerry Brown is set to either sign or veto the bill within a week’s time.

The bill would place a restriction on all petition signature-gathering efforts, requiring 10% of the total verified signatures be collected by volunteers. This would mean more than 50,000 signatures would need to be gathered if a petition’s requirement was based on the last gubernatorial election (which puts the total requirement at just over 500,000).

Even opponents of Initiative 517 in Washington state have largely conceded that the ballot measure’s provisions to allow citizens more time to gather signatures on petitions and also to allow a public vote on any issue garnering the requisite number of voter signatures make good sense.

Still, opponents argue that, “Under I-517, it would be easier and cheaper for [Tim] Eyman to qualify future initiatives to the ballot…” Mr. Eyman is well known – loved and hated – for his work placing initiatives on the ballot to limit taxes and hold government accountable. But what opponents don’t mention is that Eyman has been very successful under the current rules. What I-517 will do is make it easier for everyone else.

Initiative 517, the “Protect the Initiative Act,” appears to be gaining traction among likely voters, with the most recent polling showing the ballot measure currently ahead by 36 points. According to the non-partisan Elway Poll, published on September 10, the initiative enjoys 58 percent support against only 22 percent in opposition.

September 10 will be an historic day in Colorado.  For the first time in The Centennial State’s history, elected officials at the state level – specifically, two state senators – will be subjected to a recall election, after citizens conducted a successful petition effort.

Colorado has seen many local officials face recalls, both at the city and county level, but never a state official until this year’s recall efforts against State Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo – both Democrats – for their support of three gun control bills passed in this year’s legislative session.

A veteran of multiple petition drives and lawsuits is taking on the state’s petition law once again.

Kent Bernbeck of Omaha filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging two petition requirements as violations of his constitutional rights.

The first is a provision in the Nebraska Constitution requiring a geographic distribution of petition signers.

To make the ballot, an initiative petition must have signatures from at least 5 percent of voters in at least two-fifths, or 38, of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

Read More: here

In the State of Washington, citizens can take two initiative routes to the ballot. The direct initiative is for putting measures directly to a public vote after submitting the required voter signatures and having those signatures verified.  There is also the indirect initiative, whereby after signature submission and verification, the initiative instead goes to the Washington Legislature. The legislature can then (a) adopt the measure “as is,” (b) place the measure “as is” on the ballot in addition to an alternative measure drawn up by legislators, thus letting the voters decide which they prefer, or (c) do nothing and let the initiative go directly on the ballot for a vote.

Controversial Oregon legislation, which makes minor petitioning infractions a potential felony offense for initiative sponsors, passed the Oregon House in a 35-22 vote along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. Senate Bill 154 had already passed the state senate and is now headed to Governor John Kitzhaber, who is expected to sign it.

The bill requires any initiative campaign to have representatives sign a statement that the group’s petitioners understand Oregon laws regarding petitioning and that the campaign will abide by all laws. Initiative supporters fear that any infraction by any petitioner could then subject the measure’s sponsors to a felony charge of “False Swearing.”

A controversial bill aimed at toughening rules for petition signature operations in Oregon passed the House Friday on a 35-22 vote.

The largely party-line vote came after several Republican and minor-party activists complained that Senate Bill 154 could “criminalize” inadvertent errors and discourage people from mounting ballot measure campaigns in Oregon.

Those concerns were dismissed by the bill’s Democratic supporters, who used their majority in the House to win final legislative approval and send the measure to Gov. John Kitzhaber for his signature.

Arizona legislators and Governor Jan Brewer snuck one past the citizens of the Grand Canyon state in the final hours of this year’s seemingly never-ending legislative session. Legislators passed House Bill 2305, a sweeping new elections law that, among other suppressive features, allows officials to throw out perfectly valid signatures of Arizona voters on initiatives, referendums and recalls on the slightest of hyper-technical grounds.

Though Democrats protest that Governor Jan Brewer promised she would veto this legislation, she signed the controversial legislation into law last week.

A Democratic state senator who backed a package of gun control measures will find out soon if he will face a recall election.

Opponents of Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs turned in 16,046 petition signatures to state officials Monday in an effort to force a new election. They need 7,178 signatures to force a recall election. The Colorado Secretary of State has 15 business days to verify signatures.

Morse vowed to fight the recall effort, saying he doubted opponents have raised 16,000 valid petition signatures.

Read More: here

Virginia’s law prohibiting out-of-state residents from circulating petitions for third-party presidential candidates is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney’s ruling last year that the residency requirement is an impermissible restraint on political speech.

Legislators in Missouri have passed and delivered to Governor Jay Nixon an initiative reform bill that increases penalties for fraud and forgeries on petitions, bans those convicted of fraud or forgery from circulating petitions, provides a time-limit on ballot title challenges (so that petitions cannot be held up indefinitely through litigation) and requires the Secretary of State to post the text and ballot titles of initiatives online (something the current Secretary of State has already begun doing).

“We’re trying to make sure that the signature gatherer isn’t a forger,” State Senator Scott Sifton, D-Affton, said.

The Oregon Senate on Tuesday voted to toughen the regulation of signature gathering firms, despite the objections of Republicans and other critics who charged that it could have a chilling effect on ballot measure campaigns.

Critics said that Senate Bill 154, which passed on a party-line vote of 16 to 14, could subject canvassing firms to potential criminal penalties for inadvertent errors involving election laws.

Supporters, including a spokesman for Secretary of State Kate Brown, said that the measure only subjected firms that gather voter signatures to the same regulations that individual canvassers and the chief petitioners of ballot measures already must meet.

Missouri lawmakers sent a bill to the governor that would change the process for citizens to place proposals on voting ballots.

House Bill 117 makes new requirements for those involved in petitioning to have a proposal appear on election ballots in 2014. State Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, who handled the bill in the Missouri Senate, says it will make the petition process more open and understandable to voters.

“It does five things basically, and the main thing you want to think about is transparency,” Wasson said.

House Bill 117 would require the ballot title to appear on initiative and referendum petitions, and would increase penalties for persons who commit petition signature fraud.