Last weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1253, the so-called “Ballot Measure Transparency Act,” into law.

Sponsored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, the legislation requires the Secretary of State to post the top 10 donors to committees supporting or opposing ballot measures on the Internet, gives proponents 30 additional days to gather signatures (from the current 150 days to 180 days), provides a 30-day public comment period after which proponents can make changes to their initiative proposal without having to re-start the process, and also allows proponents to withdraw their initiative should they reach some compromise with the legislature.

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

ZocaloCalifornians’ initiative, referendum and recall process is as hot a topic for debate as ever. That’s apt, for this year marks the process’s 100th anniversary.

On October 10, 1911, Californians went to the polls to enact these democratic checks on government after Governor Hiram Johnson persuaded legislators to put them on the ballot. On October 10, 2011, I’ll be in Sacramento at an event sponsored by Citizens in Charge Foundation to celebrate the centennial.

By now, any Californian who has not been hounded to sign a petition for a ballot initiative must never go grocery shopping or strolling along a downtown street. The paid signature gatherers are abundant, they are aggressive and sometimes they are deceptive in their pitches. Most of them have an incentive to be pushy and not quite forthright: They are being paid by the signature.


BBNToday Citizens in Charge Foundation officially launced a new website called, a newswire providing the latest information about ballot initiatives and government reform from around the country. Sing up for national or state specific news feeds. You can also follow BallotBoxNews on twitter.

The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill yesterday that will extend the period for gathering signatures on a petition from 90 days to one year. The bill must now be signed by the Governor to become law. This is the third ballot initiative process reform bill passed in Oklahoma this year.

Read the story from Citizens In Charge Foundation

Citizen led reform is a priority for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. He is working against the clock to push through his top issues before the official end of the state’s legislative session.

Quinn, who is trying to create a stark difference between himself and his predecessor, the disgraced Rob Blagojevich, is making his mark as a reformer. At the top of his “must-do” list are ethics reform, passing a recall measure, public financing and allowing citizens to use binding referendums to enact reform when lawmakers do not.

Oklahomans are celebrating the passage of a major reform to the state’s stringent ballot initiative process.  Senate Joint Resolution 13 (SJR-13) passed the legislature and will now be on the 2010 ballot for the voters of Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman’s for Responsible Government blog reports that a bill which would significantly open up the initiative process sailed through the state’s Senate Rules Committee. As I’ve talked about before, Oklahoma currently has some of the most restrictive initiative laws in the country.

Is this a good or bad idea?

Wed, Apr 1 2009 by Staff

We recently ran across this video from Oregon. Do you think a Citizens’ Inistiatve Review board is a good or bad idea?

By Christopher Cousins
State House Reporter

AUGUSTA (Feb 26): A proposed bill that would attach fiscal impact statements to citizen-led initiative questions is being championed by its sponsor as a move toward transparency. But opponents said it would unfairly put people or groups who bring such questions to the ballot box at a disadvantage.

A proposed bill that would attach fiscal impact statements to citizen-led initiative questions is being championed by its sponsor as a move toward transparency, but opponents said it would create an unfair disadvantage.

A powerful tool for all Americans to create citizen led reform is the ballot initiative and referendum (I&R) process.

Used by citizens from all ideological points of view across the nation, I&R, empowers the voters to improve their community.

Legislators like State Senator Frank Morse (R – Albany) and State Representative Larry Galizio (D – Tigard) Larry are talking about reforming the initiative process. For one thing, both want to give the Legislature a chance to review and react to any proposed initiative before it goes to the ballot; once signatures were gathered, the measure would not go directly to the voters, but would go to the Legislature first.

In addition, according to the Register-Guard: