What is the Initiative/Referendum Process?In political terminology, the initiative is aprocess that enables citizens to bypasstheir state legislature by placing proposedstatutes and, in some states,constitutional amendments on the ballot.The first state to adopt the initiative wasSouth Dakota in 1898. Since then, 23other states have included the initiativeprocess in their constitutions, the mostrecent being Mississippi in 1992. Thatmakes a total of 24 states with aninitiative process.
There are two types of initiatives: direct andindirect. In the direct process, proposals thatqualify go directly on the ballot. In the indirectprocess, they are submitted to the legislature,may act on the proposal. Depending on the state,the initiative question goes on the ballot if thelegislature rejects it, submits a different proposalor takes no action. In some states with theindirect process, the legislature may submit acompeting measure that appears on the ballotalong with the original proposal. States withsome form of the indirect process are Maine,Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevadaand Ohio. In Utah and Washington, proponentsmay select either the direct or indirect method.
Examples of a Referendum Montana -- Initiative Referendum No. 124: Asks voters to repeal state law (SB 423) that weakens a voter-approved initiative allowing medical use of marijuana. -Pass - 57-43 Washington -- Referendum Measure No. 74: Asks voters to repeal SB 6239 that legalized same-sex marriage (if Fails, Gay marriage is legal there). -Fail - 52-48 Montana – Legislative Referendum No. 122: Prohibits individuals and businesses from being required to participate in health care system. -Pass - 66-34
Brief History of the Process The ideals of voter initiative started as early as 1775, when Thomas Jefferson mentioned the principle during the pre-American Continental Congress. Fast forward to the progressive era (1890s-1920s) where voters felt they had little sovereignty in making decisions that would solve problems. In 1897, the first voter initiative policy was passed in Nebraska. By 1918, 24 states and many more cities had adopted initiative and referendum policies, mostly in the Western half of the US.
How to get an Initiative on the Ballot No two states have exactly the same requirements for qualifying initiatives to be placed on the ballot. Generally, however, the process includes these steps: (1) preliminary filing of a proposed petition with a designated state official; (2) review of the petition for conformance with statutory requirements and, in several states, a review of the language of the proposal; (3) preparation of a ballot title and summary; (4) circulation of the petition to obtain the required number of signatures of registered voters, usually a percentage of the votes cast for a statewide office in the preceding general election; and (5) submission of the petitions to the state elections official, who must verify the number of signatures.
Recall ProcessA recall is a petition processwhere voters can vote toremove an elected official fromoffice during their term.If a designated percentage (like%25) of voters from the lastelection sign a recall petition, aspecial election can be held toeither keep or remove theofficial.Only two governors have beenrecalled ever: Frazier(D) of N.D.1921 and Gray Davis (R) of Cali2003.
California Influence/Proposition 13. On June 6th, 1978, nearly two-thirds of California’s voters passed Proposition 13, reducing property tax rates on homes, businesses and farms by about 57%. The Environment Prior to Proposition 13 Prior to Proposition 13, the property tax rate throughout California averaged a little less than 3% of market value. Additionally, there were no limits on increases for the tax rate or on individual ad valorem charges. (“Ad valorem” refers to taxes based on the assessed value of property. ) Some properties were reassessed 50% to 100% in just one year and their owners’ property tax bills increased accordingly.
California Proposition 8 Proposition 8, before it was declared null and void by the federal courts, created a new amendment to the California Constitution which said, "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Before it passed, same-sex marriage was a constitutionally-protected right in California; a majority of the justices of the California Supreme Court affirmed this understanding of the constitution in May 2008. California Proposition 8 Result Votes Percentage 7,001,08 a Yes 52.3% 4 No 6,401,482 47.7%
Major 2012 Voter Initiatives Some interesting 2012 initiatives across the board. Colorado allowed voters to vote on a marijuana legalization initiative in 2012, which passed in the national spotlight. In Florida, voters have a referendum to repeal a law that allowed public funds to be used for religious organizations. Obama-care nullification initiatives are on the ballot in Alabama, Florida, Montana, and Wyoming.
1.) How many states have an initiative program? A. 50 B. 42 C. 24Questions D. 36 2.) When can a referendum be enacted? A. After state legislature has passed the law B. Before state legislature has passed the law C. Never, referendums are banned in the U.S. D. Only 2 times a year 3.) How much needed to pass referendum? A. 52% B. 47% C. 89% D. 51% 4.) Colorado just passed amendment 64 allowing the use of: A. Cocaine B. LSD C. Marijuana D. Alcohol 5.) What are the types of initiatives? A. Direct & indirect B. None C. Reflexive D. Stationary