Amendment 38 will:
1. Simplify the petition process. The secretary of state’s 49-page manual admits, “The initiative process is complex and lengthy.” Amendment 38 is a simple, one-page, how-to-petition guide written in plain English. State signature levels will increase 10 percent next year, but petition procedures should become uniform in all jurisdictions.
2. Protect the Constitution. People now write their reforms into the state Constitution so legislators cannot repeal them. Amendment 38 says voter-approved petitions may be altered only by later voter approval, so citizens will try changing laws, not the Constitution.
3. Allow petitions to local governments. Today, you cannot petition your county, school district or special district on ballot issues. Both the state and federal constitutions guarantee people’s right to petition government, with no exception for local governments.
4. Limit ballot title length. Tired of 300-word monster sentences written in “legalese” by verbose, nitpicking lawyers? Amendment 38 says 75 words are enough to define the topic.
5. End judicial abuse. Today, liberal judges can delay a petition, like the illegal alien welfare ban, up to six months. Amendment 38 requires preliminary procedures be finally decided in a petition’s first month.
6. Curb phony “emergency” declarations. Since 1932, legislators have declared 95 percent of their bills “emergencies” for only one reason — to deprive us of our constitutional right to petition to challenge bad new laws. Even making the trout the “state fish” was an “emergency.” Amendment 38 restores the right to start “possible referendum petitions” (which will occur rarely), and allows 12 true emergency laws per year per government.
7. Reduce petty technicalities used to reject petition signatures. Examples are petition form typos; extra staple holes; signing “Bob,” not “Robert;” using the wrong color ink; writing city and state, instead of city and county; omitting a middle initial, apartment number, “Jr.,” the word “street,” your ZIP code, the year you signed, etc. Governments will print forms at petitioners’ expense, and must tolerate “technical defects” by citizens.
8. Require all petition elections on any subject to be held each November. Avoiding special elections saves money and increases voter turnout. Governments can no longer stall reform petitions they dislike by blocking elections based on petition content.
9. Remove politicians’ bias from petition information. Legislators still control voter guides, despite our 1994 vote requiring that they be written by “nonpartisan research staff.” Amendment 38 requires equal citizen comments by both sides, plus the text, ballot title and fiscal data. No more politician-edited, tax-paid guides suggesting which way to vote.
10. Prevent misuse of public funds on petition campaigns. No effective penalty exists for misusing tax dollars to influence elections. Free speech remains, but Amendment 38 fines violators who steal public resources to campaign for their personal political agenda.
Four “Myths” By Foes
1. “You can petition on anything.” Amendment 38 defines “petitions” as issues only on “legislative policy, not on specific uses of administrative procedure.” So people can petition for laws only, not to micromanage buying supplies, mowing lawns or building fire stations. This current legal limit on petition subjects is unchanged by Amendment 38.
2. “No checking of petition signatures will occur.” Of the four short paragraphs in Amendment 38 about petition rights, one is solely about checking signatures. It outlines the process, provides for court review and appeals, and sets deadlines. Signatures will not be “waved through.” Anyone may check entries; the open review existing today is only improved by Amendment 38.
3. “Private property rights will be lost.” Amendment 38 says, “This section shall not apply to referendum petitions to reduce private property rights, such as zoning challenges …” Also, governments cannot take private property without paying market price; eminent domain is a federal constitutional right.
4. “This destroys representative government.” Our petition process was approved by our elected representatives, and voters in 1910. Today, state legislators review 700 bills in four months; petitions are one-half percent of that number (zero last year, seven this year).
Petitions are protected by the First Amendment. The start of our Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law …,” limits the power of politicians. Keep them accountable.
Anti-business property tax policies came from politicians (the “Gallagher” Amendment). Efforts to fix them (personal property tax relief, Amendment 32) come from petitions.
School choice, tort reform, tax reform, judicial term limits — most true reforms require petitions, not politicians, to make them happen.
Visit www.PRA2006.com for more information. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.