Thirteen months after Wichitans voted on an incomprehensibly worded hotel-tax referendum, a proposal to provide voters with plain-language explanations of confusing ballot questions is on the verge of becoming a state law.

The state Senate on Monday gave its initial approval to House Bill 2162, which would allow county election officials to request that a county or state official write an “explainer” when the language used in a ballot measure is confusing or too legalistic for voters to easily understand.

“If they (election officials) feel like an explainer needs to be done, they can request it; if they don’t, they don’t need to,” said Sen. Kay Wolf, R-Prairie Village, who carried the bill on the floor.

A bill, HB 2162, would clarify and explain language used in ballot measures. This comes as a response to a recent measure (Charter Ordnance 216) which confused many voters, in which election officials only being permitted to respond, “Yes means Yes and No means No.”

The fight against red-light cameras still rages, although it’s been pretty quiet lately. However, it’s about to get a lot louder if the petition drive against the cameras gains steam.


KMBC Channel 9 reported the petition drive that aims to wipe out Kansas City’s 29 cameras, which since going live in the spring of 2009 have generated $9.7 million for the city in 97,000 tickets ($3.1 million of that has gone to American Traffic Solutions, which has a year left on its contract with the city).

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented incoming Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach with the December 2010 John Lilburne Award in recognition of Kobach’s outspoken advocacy during the recent election campaign for establishing a statewide citizen initiative and referendum process in Kansas.

“Kris Kobach’s campaign emphasized the importance of the initiative and referendum process in giving voters an essential voice in government and a check on those in public office,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “We honor his effort to highlight citizen empowerment.”

Let Kansans Vote on Issues

Tue, Sep 21 2010 by Staff

Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob has a Letter to the Editor published in today’s Wichita Eagle to dispel some myths about the initiative process that have been put forward by some in Kansas:

LTE: Let Kansans Vote on Issues

Tue, Sep 21 2010 — Source: The Wichita Eagle

Fort Hays State University political science professor Chapman Rackaway is entitled to his opinion that “Voter initiative sounds good but is bad idea” (Sept. 14 Opinion) but not to make up his own facts to buttress this viewpoint. Rackaway used inaccurate claims about California’s initiative process to argue against Republican secretary of state candidate Kris Kobach’s proposal to allow Kansans to petition issues onto the ballot for a statewide vote.

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Kansas Attorney General Steve Six with the September 2010 Lilburne Award. Steve is honored this month for agreeing with, rather than fighting, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Kansas’ residency requirement for petition circulators, which resulted in U.S. District Judge Sam Crow permanently enjoining enforcement of the statute as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment rights of citizens.

A Kansas politician’s plan to allow voters to enact laws without going through the Legislature is drawing criticism from major farm groups, and a fellow Republican leader said Friday that the idea worries agriculture leaders. Kris Kobach, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, said he’s not surprised interest groups oppose his voter initiative plan. As residents of other states can, Kansas residents could put proposed laws and state constitutional changes on the ballot for voters’ approval.

There is great news in Kansas for citizen initiative rights:

Only 255 of Louisburg’s 3,700 voters turned out April 6. City Manager Jeff Cantrell said he’s not surprised at the low participation. “The city council positions were unopposed, which didn’t raise interest in voting,” he said. “(The voters seem to think) the incumbents are doing a good job and are going to stay in office.” The 1/4-cent sales tax increase on the ballot last week passed with 131 “yes” votes and 124 “no” votes, but the results were not official until Tuesday morning when the Louisburg City Council instated the infrastructure initiative with a vote.

Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-Goddard) announced his endorsement of the Second Amendment ballot initiative slated to appear on the November ballot. The Kansas Legislature overwhelming passed the initiative last session to cement the right of the individual to bear arms in the Kansas Constitution. The Kansas Constitution currently states, “The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security” which was interpreted in a 1905 Supreme Court decision to mean collectively, not individually.

Tonganoxie residents now will be able to purchase retail liquor on Sundays and select holidays. In a special election conducted Tuesday, voters, by about a 2-1 margin, approved a ballot question asking whether retail liquor sales should be allowed on those days. The “yes” vote prevailed, 250-132.

Read the story from the Lawrence Journal

Date for mail in ballot decided

Fri, Sep 11 2009 — Source: El Dorado Times

A date has been set for the mail ballot election in which Butler County residents will decide between a .25 cent increase in the sales tax or a mill levy increase to pay for federally mandated upgrades to the countywide emergency management communications system. Butler County Commissioners announced at their Tuesday meeting the mail ballots will be sent to active registered voters on Nov. 10 and will be due Nov. 24.

Read the story from the El Dorado Times

The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission on Friday is expected to take action on a proposed reopening plan for Wichita Greyhound Park. The plan calls for the facility to reopen if the Kansas Legislature during the 2010 session, which starts in January, approves slot machines for the track. The plan also would be contingent on a public vote on the issue.

Read the story from the Wichita Business Journal

Sometimes we in Kansas like to poke fun at our neighbors to the south in Oklahoma. I’m sure they do the same to us.

But one way in which Oklahoma has Kansas beat is in Oklahoma citizens’ ability to petition their government through the process of initiative and referendum.