initiative

Nebraska’s threshold for placing initiatives and referendums on the ballot violates the Firsts Amendment in giving preference to voters in rural counties, a federal judge ruled.

At issue is a stipulation in the Nebraska Constitution that requires petitioners to acquire signatures from “5 percent of the registered voters of each of two-fifths of the counties of the state.”

According to this math, an initiative or referendum petition must be circulated in at least 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

Plaintiff Kent Bernbeck, took issue with the requirement on the grounds of free speech and equal protection.

Read more: Here

Last week’s elections allowed voters across the country to decide issues important to them. But not in New Jersey, a state that lacks any process for citizens to petition initiatives onto the ballot or to refer laws passed by the state legislature to voters.

Jersey citizens are on the outside looking in at states that allow direct democracy, i.e. citizen-initiated measures. That might be one reason that less than one in three Garden State citizens turned out to vote in the mid-term election – setting an all-time record low.

It’s much easier to frame an election around two candidates exchanging verbal punches than it is around an issue such as increasing the minimum wage or legalizing marijuana, but much of what is up for vote during this 2014 midterm election season has as much to do with issues, as politicians.

Citizens around the United States will decide whether their states should increase early voting days, loosen or tighten gun control restrictions, and more.

Read More: Here

In the last week, calls for citizens to have the right to initiative and referendum have been heard loud and clear in New Jersey and South Carolina.

In tackling the issue of marijuana legalization, New Jersey Star Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine longs for a way voters can decide, writing “if only we had I&R here in New Jersey.”

He’s not sure Colorado voters got it right in legalizing pot, but notes, “Polls show Coloradans are evenly divided on legalization - as are New Jersey voters. The difference is that there they can gather signatures to reverse it if they so desire. Here we’re stuck with whatever the politicians hand us.”

Term limits deter corruption

Tue, Oct 14 2014 — Source: The Post and Courier

Insiders say more political scandal is in the offing, according to a Thursday story by Statehouse reporter Jeremy Borden. Swapping votes for judges and the misuse of so-called Super PAC money were among the possibilities cited in Mr. Borden’s article.

Our reporter was assured by one lawmaker that if there is wrongdoing, it won’t be on the scale of Lost Trust, the vote-buying scandal in the early ’90s.

But we’d feel more relief if it were a federal prosecutor providing that assurance.

Just one California

Mon, Sep 15 2014 by Neal Hobson

It seems for now, California will have to stay as a singular state.

Venture capitalist Tim Draper’s multi-million dollar “Six Californias” initiative failed to gather enough valid signatures, according to the California Secretary of State. The initiative would have begun the process to create six separate states out of California, giving 38 million Californians new, smaller state governments and economies.

Draper contests the findings of the Secretary of State, however. 

“Six Californias collected more than enough signatures to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot and we are confident that a full check of the signatures would confirm that fact,” said Draper in a statement.

The possibility exists that two rival gun initiatives in Washington, diametrically opposed to the other, could both prevail in November and throw one heck of a monkey wrench into resolving the contentious issue of whether the state will impose background checks on all guns sales.

Initiative 594 would require background checks for all gun sales and transfers in Washington state, including at gun shows and for private sales. Under the measure, some exemptions would exist, including gifts within a family and antiques. Supporters have now raised more than $7.3 million.

Read More: here

A petition initiative to increase the minimum wage in Nebraska has met the qualifications to be voted on during the general election. Secretary of State John Gale says enough verified signatures have been submitted to add the issue to the ballot in November.

At least 80,386 signatures were required to add the petition initiative to the ballot. At least five percent of those who signed had to come from 38 of the state’s 93 counties. “In this case, 89,817 signatures were verified which was more than enough to meet the threshold,” explained Gale.

Read More: here

Freshmen Rep. Jeramey Anderson, who represents District 110 in the Mississippi Legislature, rallied his troops Saturday morning to garner signatures for a petition to support Initiative Measure No. 42, which would more adequately fund the state’s free public school system.

With the help of the Better Schools, Better Jobs Campaign, Initiative Measure 42 is aiming to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Similar signup drives are being held in other parts of the state.

Workers stood with placards from 9 a.m. until noon in front of the Scruggs Building, calling attention to the signup drive being conducted on the front porch and inside the facility.

For citizens of the Natural State, a natural medicine won’t appear on the ballot this November.  Arkansans for Compassionate Care decided not to turn in signatures for a proposed medical marijuana ballot measure as it had not collected enough by yesterday’s deadline. The group announced gathering just over 50,000 signatures, but needed 62,507 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. Campaign director Melissa Fults said the group would try again for the 2016 election.

A group pushing for legalizing medical marijuana in Arkansas says it won’t have enough signatures to put its proposal before voters this fall.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care said Monday it wouldn’t turn in signatures to place its proposed initiated act on the November ballot. Monday is the deadline for ballot measure campaigns to submit petitions.

Meanwhile, supporters of measures to expand alcohol sales in Arkansas and raise the state’s minimum wage submitted enough signatures to be placed on the November ballot, pending Secretary of State confirmation.

A group that wants to install a tornado shelter in every public school in Oklahoma spent the holiday weekend gathering signatures to get its initiative petition on an upcoming ballot.

This isn’t Take Shelter Oklahoma’s first attempt to collect 155,000 signatures, but the group is giving it another shot.

Supporters of Take Shelter Oklahoma stood on the porch of David Slane’s Oklahoma City law office last week to celebrate the launch of their second signature gathering campaign.

Read (and listen to) more: here

Proponents of a statewide initiative to regulate the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana have turned in 145,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. The total is almost twice the number of signatures from registered voters necessary to place the measure on the 2014 electoral ballot.

State officials have until August 2 to verify the signatures.

An initiative campaign in Oregon to legalize recreational marijuana has submitted what they believe to be sufficient signatures to qualify for a place on November’s ballot. Proponents of the initiative, a group called New Approach Oregon submitted 145,710 signatures, which is well above the 87,213 verified signatures required.

“We’ve verified many of the signatures ourselves and we will indeed qualify for the ballot,” New Approach Oregon spokesman Anthony Johnson told reporters.

If passed, the initiative would legalize recreational marijuana for those over 21 and allow the state Liquor Control Commission to regulate retailers, processors and growers of the drug.

Supporters of an initiative that would jettison Oregon’s partisan primaries said they submitted 140,045 signatures to the secretary of state on Monday — appearing to give them enough to earn a spot on the November ballot.

The Every Oregon Voter Counts Petition Committee collected the signatures in just a little over five weeks in what the group said was the fastest effort to collect initiative signatures in Oregon history.