MIDDLETON, Wis., Feb. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Lawmakers in 39 states introduced 232 bills in 2022 proposing changes to their respective state’s process for putting measures on the ballot – the most since Ballotpedia began tracking such legislation in 2014.
Just 10% (23) of those bills were passed and became law. Since 2014, lawmakers have introduced an average of 189 bills regulating ballot measures, with an average of 27 bills passed each year.
Ballotpedia’s analysis of legislative and legal activity surrounding the ballot process covers each one of the 232 bills introduced, as well as court actions relating to enacted legislation. Ryan Byrne, managing editor of Ballotpedia’s Ballot Measures team, noted that, unlike previous years, there were no proposals passed banning the practice of paying signature gatherers on a per-signature basis in 2022.
Instead, there was more interest in raising the threshold for ballot measures to be approved. Byrne said these efforts included “constitutional amendments to require a 60% vote to pass certain measures, making the process more challenging at the ballot box.”
Byrne noted that while fewer bills on initiative and referendum were approved this year than in 2021, “there was an increase in the number of constitutional amendments” on the ballot.
“Much of a state’s initiative and referendum process is codified as constitutional law,” Byrne said. “When legislators want to make foundational changes to it, a constitutional amendment is often required, and amendments require voter approval.”
In Arizona, Arkansas, and South Dakota, legislators placed five amendments regulating the initiative process on the ballot. Voters approved two of the amendments and rejected three:
- Arkansas Issue 2 would have required a 60% vote to approve future ballot measures instead of a simple majority. Voters rejected this measure with 59% of the vote.
- Arizona Proposition 128 would have allowed the Legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures containing provisions the Arizona or U.S. Supreme Courts ruled unconstitutional. Voters rejected this measure with 64% of the vote.
- Arizona Proposition 129 requires citizen-initiated ballot measures to cover a single subject. Voters approved this measure with 55% of the vote.
- Arizona Proposition 132 requires a 60% vote to pass ballot measures affecting taxes. Voters approved this measure with 51% of the vote.
- South Dakota Amendment C would have required a 60% vote to approve future ballot measures that increase taxes or fees or increase appropriations by $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years. Voters rejected this measure with 67% of the vote.
Bynre said most bills introduced from year-to-year propose “small or technical changes” to the initiative and referendum process. “But others,” Byrne said, “are intended to make the petitioning process more challenging, and legislators cite various reasons for that – concerns about out-of-state funders or specific interests.”
“Supporters of direct democracy view many of these bills as attempts to make the initiative process harder,” Byrne said.
To view the complete analysis of legislative action on the ballot measure process, click here.
Ballotpedia – the encyclopedia of American politics – is America’s most trusted source of unbiased information on politics, elections, and policy. Founded in 2007, Ballotpedia has grown from a small group of dedicated volunteers to an essential resource for voters, media, and researchers. Ballotpedia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the public interest in creating an educated, engaged electorate, and building a strong, healthy democracy. For free access to more than 380,000 professionally authored articles, visit Ballotpedia.org.
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