Senator Jim Hickey wants to increase the difficulty of petition drives. He introduced SB860 to add a bunch of regulations to the petition process. The bill clearly is designed to make petition drives more difficult and costly. If passed the result will be a higher cost for those attempting petition drives.
Force a sponsor to obtain, at its cost, from the Department of Arkansas State Police, a current state and federal criminal record search on every paid canvasser to be registered with the Secretary of State.
It also forces the sponsor to keep tabs on petitioners for 3 years after the election.
Alabama could be the next state to get the initiative. Frank Dillman at letbamavote.org has been pushing this issue for several years. Perhaps this is the year it happens. HB-78 has been introduced, it will allow citizens to propose constitutional amendments by petition. It also allows the legislature to propose a competing amendment to share the ballot. Let’s hope it passes and citizens in Alabama can finally propose legislation directly. Read more here.
The municipal initiative and referendum processes are two of the best tools available to push back against crony capitalism. Votes on controversial city spending should be common practice. Unfortunately citizens often need to organize and spend big money to defend against city councils working with developers and construction companies getting special taxpayer funded projects. Voters deserve a say when their city council attempts to put them on hook for millions by bonding projects like streetcars and trolleys.
Last summer voters shut down a city attempt establish a new streetcar taxing district in Kansas City, Missouri. While not an example of referendum this is a great case for allowing citizens to vote on the funding plans for these projects. We can see who spends money to support streetcar expansion:
‘A town with money is a little like the mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it.”
“The pro-streetcar campaign, called Connect KC, raised more than $387,000, with large contributions from the downtown Marriott, Burns & McDonnell and other major construction and engineering firms, law firms and development boosters.” Now citizens are petitioning to prevent the city from spending tax money to expand the streetcar system.
In San Antonio, Texas citizens have taken a proactive approach and petitioned to amend the city charter prohibiting the city from starting a streetcar project without voter approval.