Tuesday November 4, 2014 North Dakota voters rejected a legislatively referred constitutional amendment which would have placed new restrictions on the initiative process. Measure 4 would have allowed the state to stop any petition from being circulated that would appropriate funds directly or require the legislature to appropriate funds. The measure would also have required all initiatives with significant fiscal impact to be voted on at the general election. Like many legislative referred ballot questions this amendment had potential to significantly reduce citizen’s ability to propose legislation.
When voters in North Dakota went to the polls on Tuesday, Measure 4 was rejected with 56.59% (135,408 of 239,296) voting “No”.

Across the country, voters will finish casting ballots tomorrow in a mid-term election that features 146 statewide issues.  This is the lowest number of statewide ballot measures since 1988, but it also marks the lowest number of citizen-initiated ballot questions since 1974. Of the 146 issues, only 35 were brought to voters by successful citizen petition efforts, the remaining 111 were referred by state legislatures.

North Dakotans will decide 8 ballot issues this November, the most the Roughrider State has seen since 1989, when the state legislature referred 8 measures, which all went down to defeat. This November, 4 of the measures were referred by the legislature and 4 others put on the ballot through citizen petitions. Another legislatively referred measure was voted on in June.

The state has a long history of placing multiple measures on the ballot, with voters casting votes on 470 ballot issues in North Dakota’s history (both citizen-initiated and legislature-referred). The record for the most measures on the ballot came in 1938, with 13 separate measures.

We have long seen the value of protecting the right to petition, but now special interests and lawmakers have come around, too!

[Click to Watch!]

april fools

Ok, maybe not.

Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob submitted the letter below today to Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Secretary Gessler set a hearing for today on using his rulemaking authority to clean up part of a 2009 law that places petition proponents in danger of personal legal attacks. The rule change comes as the result of a broad-based effort led by Citizens in Charge to get the Secretary to weigh in.

NE FlagNebraskans’ petition rights have survived another legislative session. With the deadline to make it out of committee passed, no more legislation concerning the initiative process is pending.

Bear FlagAn identical bill has was vetoed in 2006 and 2009 but that won’t stop state Sen. Corbett from attacking California petition proponents. The California Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday, March 15, on SB 168, an attempt to ban paying petition circulators by the signature. Such bans have been found unconstitutional in several states, and most recently a federal judge in Colorado found that state’s ban likely to be struck down.

The message to Washington state legislators couldn’t be clearer: hands off citizen initiative rights.

Seattle Times, May 3, 2011, “Initiative-Curbing Bill Unfair And Ineffective” –

The Seattle Times speaks bluntly about a pair of bills aimed at restricting Washington citizens’ initiative rights.

Their bills…are a collection of things to make ballot initiatives more difficult. And that suggests the legislators’ intent is to restrict direct democracy….

They are punitive and should be rejected.


HijackWhile the Monterey Herald’s clam in an editorial Thursday that companies have hijacked California’s ballot initiative process might make for a catchy headline, the  facts just don’t back it up.

California Assembly 76Last November we awarded California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger the John Lilburne Award for vetoing a series of bills that would have restricted petitioning rights in the state. Included among those bills was AB 436, sponsored by Assemblywoman Saldaña, that would have raised the filing fee for an initiative tenfold from $200 to $2000 over seven years.

Two controversial anti-initiative bills are about to be brought up once again in the Maine Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee. Both bills would chill petitioning in Maine, and lawmakers have been hearing from activists on the issue. Fireworks are expected, and you can listen in right now live via the Legislature’s website by clicking here.

Ballot Box

As I anticipated, yesterday’s work session in the Maine Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee discussion centered on Senator Seth Berry’s bill, the amended version of LD 1690 (LD 1690-A), that contains provisions meant to curtail the ballot initiative and People’s Veto referendum rights of Mainers. LD 1730, with similar provisions, was also slated to be discussed but was not.

Maine State CapitolToday, long time ballot initiative rights activist””and Citizens in Charge Foundation Maine Citizen State Coordinator””Mary Adams informed the Maine Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee of the harm posed to the citizen initiative process by a series of bills.

“Spite, codified.” That was what Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey recently called six bills in the Washington state legislature that aim to restrict the initiative process. All the bills would severely hamper Washingtonians’  constitutionally guaranteed right to put state laws on the ballot through petitioning. Ramsey says all the bills are sponsored by bitter legislators who want to take a slap at perennial initiative sponsor Tim Eyman.