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Author Topic: Voter Initiative Process  (Read 6184 times)

glen

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Voter Initiative Process
« on: September 07, 2002, 12:51:57 am »

The initiative and referendum process is how the citizens of a state are able to bypass a state legislature that will not or cannot act in the citizens best interests.

The initiative process can also be used as a tool to reduce type and amount of tax collections which (if successful) forces the politicians and bureaucrats to downsize the state government. In the process the politicians and bureaucrats get blamed for creating the bloated government in the first place and then making a mess of the downsizing process.

In the future free state this will be an ideal method for us new-comers to force the government to make many of the painful downsizing decisions while we learn our way around the political environment and work on producing positive alternatives government power.

In Washington State, an organization called Permanent Offense has succeeded in passing a number of tax reduction measures. The measures have had a major (negative) impact on government growth.
 
http://www.permanent-offense.org/


The following states appear to have some form of voters initiative process:

Alaska
Idaho
Maine
Montana
North Dakota
South Dakota
Wyoming


The citizens in the following states are working on getting an initiative process in place:

Delaware
http://simshome.com/iandr/

Vermont
http://www.api4animals.org/doc.asp?ID=917


New Hampshire does not appear to have either the initiative process or a proposal to put one in place.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2002, 10:42:30 pm by glen »
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phylinidaho

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2002, 08:01:44 pm »

Having spent the last 71 years in the Pacific Northwest, I have trouble understanding how a state government can be accountable to its citizens without the initiative and referendum processes.  :)
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glen

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2002, 12:04:34 pm »

Alaska is an exception to the idea of using the voter initiative strategy to slow down state government growth: Alaska gets most of its money from a tax on oil shipped out of state rather than from the citizens.

In the early 90’s, a successful voter initiative required that the state capitol be moved from Juneau (located in southeast Alaska which is and both expensive and difficult to get to) to the Wasilla – Palmer area (which is easily accessible from the two largest cities, Anchorage and Fairbanks).

The voter initiative was ignored and the people had no effective means to enforce their will.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2002, 10:48:12 pm by glen »
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phylinidaho

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2002, 05:35:01 pm »

It has also occurred to me that the initiative process can be used to accelerate government growth. It all depends on the political views of the voters.
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glen

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2002, 08:03:41 pm »

That is true. In Washington State, the citizens have been using the initiative process to vote for new government programs for several years now because the state legislature has been paralyzed due to a 50 / 50 republican – democrat split.

The problem with using the initiative process to vote for more government goodies is that funding for the goodies is usually not well thought out. Also there are problems with implementing / operating the new program and establishing some kind of oversight on them.  

The normal result of using the initiative process to vote for more government goodies seems to be wild cost overruns and/or FUBAR (fouled up beyond all recognition).

I would think that attacking an initiative proposal to increase government programs can be done on the basis the history of hidden costs.

Tax reduction initiative proposals, on the other hand, are easy to sell to the general public, simple to implement and, of course, require no funding. The primary problem here is that the initiative proposal must be worded so that if successful, it can withstand multiple major legal attacks by the various special interest groups.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2002, 11:37:43 pm by glen »
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Wild Pegasus

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2002, 01:55:53 pm »

Initiatives and referenda are no bulwark against the growth of the state.  Read history.  The City of Athens grew into a small empire and eventually the dominating city in Greece as a direct democracy for nearly 200 years.  If you read Herodotus and Thucyclides, you will see that the Athens populace voted for welfare and warfare alike.

The only bulwark against the power of the state is a populace aimed at restricting the power of the state, or better yet, a populace that believes the state is a wicked, immoral, vulgar institution that should not be tolerated.

- Josh
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phylinidaho

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2002, 02:11:43 pm »



The only bulwark against the power of the state is a populace aimed at restricting the power of the state, or better yet, a populace that believes the state is a wicked, immoral, vulgar institution that should not be tolerated.

- Josh


This is true, but given such a populace, initiative and  referenda are a useful tool - much more effective than the mere threat of  "voting the legislators out of office"
 :)
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glen

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2002, 11:00:17 pm »

Hi Wild Pegasus

I'm not sure I understand the intent of your argument.

Are you saying that the voter initiative and referendum process is a bad idea?

What about the tax reduction victories that Permanent Offense has had?  

http://www.permanent-offense.org/
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glen

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2002, 12:14:44 am »

Here is an unofficial ranking I did on the voter initiative and referendum process. Comments are welcome, especially from those who have been involved in the process.

1. Montana
http://sos.state.mt.us/css/ELB/Ballot_Issues.asp
Seem to be no restrictions at all.

2. Idaho
http://www.idsos.state.id.us/elect/inits/initinst.htm
Seem to be no restrictions but any voter can bring suit to the state Supreme Court to determine constitutionality.

3. South Dakota
http://www.state.sd.us/sos/initiati.htm
“Measures which may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions are not subject to referendum.”

4. Maine
http://www.state.me.us/sos/cec/elec/initpak.htm
Secretary of State either accepts it or rejects it with suggestions for modification. Revised proposals are treated the same way until the Secretary of State accepts it.

5. North Dakota
http://www.state.nd.us/sec/Measures.HTM
Secretary of State either accepts it or rejects it. The state Supreme Court can review the Secretary of States decision.

6. Alaska
http://www.gov.state.ak.us/ltgov/elections/petitions/irr.htm
Highly restrictive.

7. Wyoming
http://soswy.state.wy.us/election/initproc.htm
Even more restrictive.

8. Delaware
http://simshome.com/iandr/
No Initiative or referendum process in place. Apparently a major effort is under way to get one in place.

9. Vermont
http://www.api4animals.org/doc.asp?ID=917
No Initiative or referendum process in place. Apparently there is a bill before the legislature.

10. New Hampshire
No Initiative or referendum process in place. Apparently there is no effort to get  one in place.
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Robert H.

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2002, 02:44:43 am »

The initiative and referendum processes are probably best reserved until after we've been in the state for awhile and first attempted to work through the current political system.  Our best bet would be to try to work with limited government advocates in the GOP and then go on to the initative and referendum once we've reached the end of our common bond with them.  The reason is that it makes us much less threatening to the present population in that we would not be simply entering the state and immediately acting like we're trying to take control and dictate to everyone.

phylinidaho

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2002, 06:39:48 am »


The initiative and referendum processes are probably best reserved until after we've been in the state for awhile and first attempted to work through the current political system.  Our best bet would be to try to work with limited government advocates in the GOP and then go on to the initative and referendum once we've reached the end of our common bond with them.  The reason is that it makes us much less threatening to the present population in that we would not be simply entering the state and immediately acting like we're trying to take control and dictate to everyone.


You make a good point. Every time an Initiative is proposed in Idaho, the liberal press (and some letters to the editor) make a the accusation that it was proposed by interests outside the state.

My vision of our use of the Initiative and Referendum process would be that we join with liberty-oriented  local groups sponsoring such legislation. Of course, in some cases, we will have members who are long-term residents of the chosen state and therefore eligible to propose such action.  In either case, we should not be seen as "trying to take control"
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glen

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2002, 09:31:11 am »

One of the central strategies behind the FSP is based on the sad fact that most people do not become actively involved in the political affairs of their communities. It is assumed that 20,000 libertarian orientated people voting more or less in sync can then have a disproportionately large impact on state political affairs.

Unfortunately, what might be called the 20/80 rule is in full operation among the FSP as well as among the voters in the 10 proposed states.

The 20/80 rule is loosely defined as 20% percent of the people doing 80% of the work.

If this 20/80 rule continues to hold sway then it will not be realistic for the FSP to expect large numbers of its members to become involved in the years or decades long struggle of running for political office at all levels in the new free state.

An alternative to depending on fielding candidates for political office is using the initiative and referendum process to force the state / county / municipal governments to cut key or strategically important taxes. The especially nice result of downsizing government by this method is that if the anti-tax initiative is successful, the sitting politicians, who created the bloated government in the first place, then get blamed for the painful mess of the downsizing process (not, and I repeat not, the FSP members or candidates).  

20% of the FSP membership, then, can successfully have a disproportionately large impact by operating an initiative organization. The other 80% of us who are struggling to re-build our lives and careers in the new free state can then more easily, but still fully, participate by sending in a little money and getting out the vote at election time.

An example of an initiative organization of this kind is at: http://www.permanent-offense.org/  

A study of the initiative and referendum process in the 10 proposed free states is at: http://www.freestateproject.com/initiative.htm
« Last Edit: November 23, 2002, 09:42:27 am by glen »
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Zxcv

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2002, 08:26:32 pm »

My state, Oregon, uses initiative and referendum probably more than any other state in the country. It's not the be-all-and-end-all. I'd like to remind you that Oregon passed an initiative to force all children into govt. schools, in the early part of the last century (shot down by the US Supreme Court, thank heavens - "Pierce v. Society of Sisters").

Measures that downsize government pass at times, as do those that expand it (we just boosted minimum wage higher than any other state through the initiative). The ones that downsize government invariably get taken to court and are almost always shot down (recently a measure was killed that protected private property rights by eliminating regulatory "takings", and our term-limits measure just bit the dust too). It's my guess, although I haven't taken a survey, that those measures that expand government don't take near the beating in the courts that the small government ones do. The courts are hardly disinterested and impartial observers!

The best bet seems to have been tax limitation measures. They have a good chance of passing and rarely go to court, and seem to survive there if they do. The tax increase measures take a beating at the polls - they've tried to impose a sales tax something like 8 times in the last century, and every time it loses with a larger margin.

If we are going to get any more complicated than a tax-limit measure, we are going to have to deal some way with the courts. Not sure how to do this...

I think early work with a tax limitation measure would be acceptable to natives, and would not give them the feeling we are trying to take over; it's very straightforward. Additionally, there are often people in these states already in tune with the idea of tax limitation; it would be a simple matter to graft onto their efforts and avoid the "taking over" label even more. Finally, passing such a measure would cause the pols to pay attention to us - sort of a shot across the bow...   :)
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SandyPrice

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2002, 10:35:37 am »

Every initiative I have ever worked on needed a solid year of selling it to the voters.  The Jarvis Initiative that saved thousands of homes from foreclosure of increasing property taxes had 18 month of articles, letters to the editor and enclosures in all the major newspapers.  Mr. Jarvis set up his Marketing group 2 years prior to the actual getting the signatures needed to meet the required numbers.

For this reason, we must know which state uses the initiative process and then move in and start making ourselves well known.  there are a wealth of votes to be found in the Lions Club, Elks, and dozens of other groups.  AARP will work against anything that is not sanctioned by the Labor unions.  We must become established in the Chamber of Commerce  and Amerian Legions groups of whatever area we need to establish our roots.  We need to attend all the local movements including the police force.  We must never overlook the students of the Universities and colleges.  Stay away from PTA and ACLU groups as they are not happy with independent groups.  

Marketing is the answer to our getting signatures.  We can't count on the internet groups.  
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Kelly

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Re:Voter Initiative Process
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2002, 02:24:56 pm »

 Although an initiative process might be useful to speed up government reforms, there is simply no subsitute for a strong constitution (federal or state), an ethical judiciary, and an informed electorate.
 Beware tools that are double edged, a word of caution from a CA resident.
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