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Author Topic: State Initiative and Referendum Report  (Read 6976 times)

JasonPSorens

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State Initiative and Referendum Report
« on: September 26, 2002, 10:33:40 am »

A report on state initiative and referendum processes by Glen Hubbell has been posted:
http://freestateproject.org/initiative.htm
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Hank

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2003, 03:03:30 pm »

How come New Hampshire doesn't have Initiative or Referendum?
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Rearden

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2003, 03:12:33 pm »

How come New Hampshire doesn't have Initiative or Referendum?

I know that many libertarians will disagree with me on this point, but here it is:

I think initiative and referendum are really very unlibertarian (or un-classically liberal, if you prefer).  They are pure democracy, mob rule....  As we all know,k the founders looked long and hard at pure democracy before acknowledging that as a system it is unworkable.  One of the key tenets of Libertarianism for me is that the individual is protected from the larger society, but referendum and initiative can easily be used to infringe on individual rights.

I know it would be a nice tool to have when we begin to reform things, but it is a tool that can just as easily be used against us, and I think it's a tool we're better off without, regardless of the state we choose.  Let's transfer the power from the majority back to the individual.

"A republic, if you can keep it."  Ben Franklin, in answer to the question: "What manner of government have you given us?"

Just my .02 cents.
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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2003, 03:15:56 pm »

Initiative and Referendum can be a two-edged sword, and we should not automatically assume it is to our advantage.  I've seen many citizen Initiatives that are decidedly against individual freedom on some issue, pass by a wide margin.

http://www.intouch.ca/miniato/CitizensVeto.htm
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LeRuineur6

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2003, 03:17:14 pm »

New Hampshire Citizen Poll:

http://www.ballotwatch.org/New%20IRI%20Website%20Info/I&R%20Research%20and%20History/I&R%20Polling/NH%20Poll%20Results%201999.pdf

"In many states, citizens can place initiatives on the ballot by collecting petition signatures. If a majority of voters approve the initiative on election day, it becomes law. Is this a good idea?"

Yes:  57.2%
No:  19.8%
Not Sure:  23%

The support exists to create Initiative and Referendum in NH.

http://www.ballotwatch.org/New%20Hampshire.htm

Initiative and referendum advocates were defeated at New Hampshire's 1902 constitutional convention by an overwhelming 250 to 40 vote of the delegates. George H. Duncan of East Joffrey, secretary of the New Hampshire Direct Legislation League in 1912, led an effort to pass I&R at the next state constitutional convention, but lost again by a vote of 166 to 156. Duncan attributed the defeat to the fact that "officials of the Concord and Montreal Railroad, a subsidiary of the Boston and Maine (Railroad), were using railroad money to defeat us."
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LeRuineur6

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2003, 03:24:01 pm »

Quote
Initiative and Referendum can be a two-edged sword, and we should not automatically assume it is to our advantage.  I've seen many citizen Initiatives that are decidedly against individual freedom on some issue, pass by a wide margin.

I read somewhere about an eventual ideal libertarian "hyperdemocracy."  The belief is that tyranny decreases as the size of the democratic "mob" decreases.  As the number of voters required to reject a new law or tax decreases, minorities have a greater and greater ability to prevent burdensome regulation and taxation.
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Rearden

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2003, 03:29:09 pm »

New Hampshire Citizen Poll:


The support exists to create Initiative and Referendum in NH.

http://www.ballotwatch.org/New%20Hampshire.htm


I have very mixed feelings about this.   :-\
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Kelton Baker

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2003, 03:40:03 pm »

With a true citizen legislature (which among our candidate states only New Hampshire has), there is no need to "bypass" one's legislators.

True.  Trying to pass a law in New Hampshire seems about as hard of a task as trying to pass a statewide referendum in other states; hence the reason that New Hampshire has managed to maintain so many elements of freedom over the last century of socialism in the guise of democracy.

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« Last Edit: July 18, 2003, 03:41:45 pm by exitus... »
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jgmaynard

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2003, 05:30:34 pm »

BUT NH retains the old-fashioned New England town meetings which other states outside New England don't have, PLUS we have warrant articles, where the people get to vote on issues in the cities every spring... PLUS we directly vote on the school budgets..... Don't you wish you could do that? ;)

In the most liberal area of NH, Keene, only last year, we had an article on the ballot (only takes 30 sigs) to lower the school budget to $0.00 - And it got almost 25% of the vote..... And that's in the area with the greatest support for government "education"....

I suppose that means we can get a report posted on warrant articles and town meetings, then........... :D

JM
« Last Edit: July 18, 2003, 05:31:43 pm by jgmaynard »
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Zxcv

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2003, 06:07:33 pm »

It may shock you guys to know that I mostly agree with you. I live in initiative-happy Oregon, and we get the bad ones with the good.

Quote
One of the key tenets of Libertarianism for me is that the individual is protected from the larger society, but referendum and initiative can easily be used to infringe on individual rights.

Well, I believe this is somewhat of a misperception. Even when an initiative is passed that amends the constitution (and the Oregon Constitution is a mess by now), it still has to pass muster with the State and Federal Supreme Court. A very famous example was Pierce v Society of Sisters, back in the early 20th Century, when the KKK in Oregon along with the teachers union filed an initiative forcing all children into government schools (it was an anti-catholic measure). The initiative passed narrowly. The Sisters took it to the state court, where they lost, so they went to the US Supreme Court and prevailed.

Actually the courts now go too far in knocking out initiatives. Usually those that increase freedom have most trouble in court because the courts are essentially statist.

The initiative might be more a positive in a state that can't get anything positive through a legislature, especially a state that has something like FSP in it, because we would have such a strong influence on the initiative process. So there are some positive aspects for us. But we still would have to deal with the courts.
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JonM

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2003, 06:24:39 pm »

If the legislature of state supreme court is against you, Initiative and Referendums can be near useless.  Unless you can get a state constitutional amendment on the ballot without the legislature's approval (you can't in Massachusetts), they will either:

A. Ignore it (Clean elections -- public funding of elections)

B. Repeal it (Charitable deductions on state income tax, clean elections after the state supreme court told them to fund it or repeal it).

C. Get the state supreme court to kill it.  One amusing one was when the speaker of the house reminded the state supreme court who voted on how much they get paid while they considered one of those . . . sigh.

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Kelton Baker

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2003, 07:26:33 pm »


I read somewhere about an eventual ideal libertarian "hyperdemocracy."  The belief is that tyranny decreases as the size of the democratic "mob" decreases.  As the number of voters required to reject a new law or tax decreases, minorities have a greater and greater ability to prevent burdensome regulation and taxation.

Check this out: (from the State Initiative Report)
  • Montana (seem to be no restrictions at all)
  • Idaho (seem to be no restrictions but any voter can bring suit to determine constitutionality)
  • South Dakota (some restrictions)
  • Maine (Secretary of State can amend)
  • North Dakota (Secretary of State can reject, but state Supreme Court can overrule this decision)
  • Alaska (highly restrictive)
  • Wyoming (even more restrictive)


What I have seen in Idaho is that almost every inititive goes before the State Supreme Court before going to the ballot because of this provision-- the nice thing is that once it passes the Supreme Court challenge, the courts can't touch it if the voters approve it.


The initiative might be more a positive in a state that can't get anything positive through a legislature, especially a state that has something like FSP in it, because we would have such a strong influence on the initiative process. So there are some positive aspects for us. But we still would have to deal with the courts.


The initiative seems most valuable in starting a public dialogue above and beyond politicians and personalities, especially when a voter information packet is sent to the voters with complete information as to why the initiative is there, as well as the rebuttal from the opposition.



... PLUS we directly vote on the school budgets..... Don't you wish you could do that? ;)


In California, we actually can do that, right at the local school, to a very large degree, the problem is that it is usually a matter of voting for more spending or far more spending  :P

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Zxcv

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2003, 05:30:46 pm »

Quote
What I have seen in Idaho is that almost every inititive goes before the State Supreme Court before going to the ballot because of this provision-- the nice thing is that once it passes the Supreme Court challenge, the courts can't touch it if the voters approve it.

That's far better than Oregon, where they let you go through the whole election before knocking you out in the courts.

The most notorious case is the term limit initiative. It passed and was in place for something like 9 years. Finally, just at the point it was going to start throwing the bums out of office, the court ruled it unconstitutional. Interestingly, the used a rationale that could be used to knock out just about every initiative that's ever been passed in the state, even ones done 90 years ago!  :o

Take it from me, the courts are getting very bad. I wish we had some way to rate them in our states, because they can become a significant barrier to our aims.
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SethA

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Re:State Initiative and Referendum Report
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2003, 07:26:02 pm »

You've got that right. The Nevada Supreme Court just went off the chart and ruled that the two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes didn't apply to the education budget and is allowing the legislature to raise taxes with a simple majority. This directly goes against the state constitution and gives preferential tax treatment to public education. An attempt to get Fed. court to block this ruling failed this week when the Feds refused to take the case.
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