Paul Jacob, President of Citizens In Charge Foundation, responds to a participants concerns on individual/constitutional rights with regards to the initiative and referendum process.

A group of residents, upset by the city’s plans to construct a new parking lot downtown and remove a ballfield, is circulating a referendum petition that it hopes will put the issue on the November ballot.

“We would like to see no loss of recreational space,” said resident Rita Scott, who is spearheading a committee of 12 residents who are circulating the petition. “There are lots of options for parking.”

Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin believes the Kiwanis-Moore Playground project, which consists of a parking lot, walkway, field improvements and landscaping, “is a first step toward improving Town Center, which can be the core of growth and activity that benefits everyone.”

The chairman of, Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott, announced that his most recent petition effort, a referendum on the so-called “Bathroom Bill,” fell short of its signature collection goal.

The petition needed to collect 18,579 signatures from registered state voters by May 31 and a total of 55,736 by June 30. But only 17,575 signatures had been collected by supporters of the referendum by the deadline.

Some Maryland LGBT advocates have expressed concern over highlighting efforts to force a referendum on the state’s recently signed transgender rights law.

The Washington Blade obtained an e-mail that Brigida Krzysztofik of Gender Rights Maryland sent to Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, on May 14 after her organization sent a message to supporters asking them to report “petition-gatherers in your area.” NCTE asked its supporters to stop people from signing the petition and e-mail Keith Thirion of Equality Maryland to become more involved in the effort to defend the trans rights law.

Read More: here

Some opponents of a Missouri income tax cut say they are weighing whether to pursue a referendum petition that would put the issue before voters.

The Republican-led Legislature enacted the tax cut earlier this month by overriding a veto of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The measure would gradually reduce Missouri’s top individual income tax rate and phase in a new business income deduction starting in 2017, as long as state revenues keep growing.

Read More: here

Initiatives are a way for the general public to get involved if the state Legislature won’t pass proposals that might be popular with everyday Montanans.

The right to submit an initiative is firmly granted in the state’s 1972 Constitution, and we acknowledge that voters no doubt will have a chance to cast ballots on some of these issues on the Nov. 4 general election ballot this year.

Granted, a few of the proposals on this year’s list of potential initiatives are either inane — such as a proposal to require half of the members of the Legislature to be women and half men — or the language has already been discarded in favor of a different initiative.

Yesterday, Circuit Court Judge Mary McGowan issued an 11-page decision declaring Act 1413’s restrictions on initiative and referendum petitions to be unconstitutional and enjoining Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin from enforcing the 19-page law’s new “crushing” rules on paid and volunteer signature canvassers.

Act 1413 (Senate Bill 821) was passed at the behest of the state’s current duopoly gaming interests, who presumably wanted to foil any future attempts through ballot measures to permit competition. The law was offered officially as a way to fight fraud in the petition process, after a spate of allegations of fraud and forgery in several 2012 measures.

State Sen. Jeff Clemens filed Florida’s first medical marijuana bill while he was in the Florida House in 2011.

“It went nowhere,” said Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat. “It never received a hearing — and I received a lot of snickers and laughs.”

For the next two years, Clemens filed bills, including a comprehensive package in 2013 that also had a House sponsor. Clemens said the best he got was a discussion from Senate committee chairmen about holding a workshop on the bill.

Read more: here

With a controversial elections law headed for a possible repeal, focus at the state Capitol is shifting to what, if anything, will replace it.

Opponents of House Bill 2196, which passed a key committee Thursday on a 4-2 party-line vote, say lawmakers should not tinker with further election-law changes if the Legislature repeals the elections bill it passed last June.

But some Republicans have indicated parts of the elections law should be enacted on a piecemeal basis this year, arguing changes are needed to tighten elections procedures.

Read More (With video): here

The secretary of state’s office said Thursday it’s cleared the way for three proposed constitutional amendments to appear on the November ballot, despite questions about who has the authority to prepare the measures’ language under a new law.

Martha Adcock, general counsel for Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office, told lawmakers that the office decided to use language provided by the attorney general’s office and from legislation approved last year to prepare the proposals for the November ballot. A new law took away the attorney general’s authority to prepare the measures’ “popular names” that appear on the ballot.

Read more: here

As the sun rises on the 2014 session of the Arizona Legislature, politicians seem to be scurrying about. Citizens in Charge strongly opposed controversial House Bill 2305, a grab-bag elections bill stuffed with partisan power-plays that passed in the waning hours of last year’s legislative session, and we endorsed the petition signed by more than 110,000 unhappy voters to put that misguided measure to a voter referendum this November.

Apparently, we’re not alone in wanting to see HB 2305 repealed. So now, too, does its author, Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilberts). Farnsworth just introduced House Bill 2196, which simply and completely erases last year’s reckless, anti-democratic, late-night legislative swerve known as HB 2305.

The opponents of a marijuana cultivation ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors last month have submitted signatures for a referendum to stop the new measure from taking effect.

The coalition of marijuana advocates making up the Emerald Unity Coalition and the Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation submitted the signatures to the Lake County Registrar of Voters Office on Wednesday afternoon, a day before the county ordinance was to have taken effect.

Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley said the raw count of signatures submitted totaled 4,222.

After two lawsuits failed to block a vote on a San Diego referendum over the city council’s Barrio Logan land use plan, those opposed to the referendum claimed the process was “undemocratic.”

Attorney Jan Goldsmith took issue with that in an op-ed in the local Union-Tribune newspaper. “The use of referendums to challenge legislative decisions is legal and has deep roots in democracy,” wrote Goldsmith. “There is nothing undemocratic about leaving decisions to San Diego voters, which is all a referendum does.”

Since 2011, there have been three referendums in San Diego challenging enactments by the city council and putting those ordinances before voters.

Since 2011, the San Diego City Council has faced three referendums challenging its decisions. Another is out for signature. The most recent one, having to do with the Barrio Logan land use plan, has generated frustration among those supporting the council decision. Calling the referendum process undemocratic, a group opposing the referendum filed a lawsuit seeking to stop it. They lost twice.

There is nothing about which to be frustrated. The use of referendums to challenge legislative decisions is legal and has deep roots in democracy. There is nothing undemocratic about leaving decisions to San Diego voters, which is all a referendum does. It is a constitutional right in California.

Last week, the Michigan legislature approved a measure that prevents women from using their private insurance plans to cover abortion services, even in cases of rape and incest. The legislation, widely decried as a “rape insurance” bill, incited fierce debate. One Democratic lawmaker shared her personal story of sexual assault on the floor, pointing out that women shouldn’t be required to purchase a separate insurance rider in case they become pregnant from rape at some point in the future. Nonetheless, the bill passed along mostly party lines.