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Legislatures Isolating Themselves From The People

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  • jail4judges
    J.A.I.L. News Journal _____________________________________________________ Los Angeles, California April 2,
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2003
       J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles, California                                                    April 2, 2003

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      Legislatures Going Into Overdrive To Isolate Themselves From The People
      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." Declaration of Independence adopted by unanimous consent of Congress, July 4, 1776.
      It is no secret that J.A.I.L. is seeking to pass judicial accountability constitutional amendment initiatives within every state that has such process, and through all the legislatures that do not. Ironically, all of a sudden, the various state legislatures are going into overdrive to avert this process in an effort to protect themselves from the very people to whom they are accountable, and to whom they must derive their just powers. Indeed, we are to be a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people," but legislatures, by action, are disputing the premise that governments have no just powers but that which is loaned to them by consent of the people. It is obvious that ultimate power must rest with the people. If not the people, then it rests entirely with an arbitrary government.
      Below is a showing that legislators around America are willing to show that they believe that they not only do not need consent of the people, but at their will they may over-power the people, and act as tyrants.
      This is why J.A.I.L. must grow to an overwhelming movement of people to counter this type of thinking, and the willingness to make surfs of everyone of us. We must not lose sight of two facts, "All power is inherent in the people; ...they may exercise it by themselves; that is their right and duty," Thomas Jefferson, and that no Army on earth can stop an idea whose time has come. ~ Ron Branson
      Sent: Friday, March 28, 2003 6:46 AM
      Subject: A hodge podge of I&R issues / I&R Update 3-28-03

      Following are a few issues that I thought I would bring to your
      attention.  This update includes information on current attempts to
      restrict the initiative process (as reported by I&R watchers across the
      country). ....
      Attempts to Restrict and Regulate I&R as well as overturn issues adopted by the people.

      Alaska (from Karen Bretz in AK)

      The ones to watch out for are HB 31 and HJR 5.  These bills are
      routinely filed by Representative Williams to make it more difficult for
      petitions to make the ballot.  HB 31 would increase the number of
      signatures that we will have to get from rural areas, which will make
      signature collecting more difficult and expensive.  It will be more
      difficult for a petition sponsor in the state's largest cities to collect signatures because he will have to get a greater percentage from the rural areas, which are very expensive to get to.  The proponents of
      the bills are selling it as a requirement that before an issue hits the
      ballot, that it have more broad based support. .... This argument is bogus and obscures the real reason behind the bill.

      Bill: HCR 2017. Purpose: Changes the date by which initiative petitions
      have to be filed with the secretary of state from four months before the
      election to seven months before the election. Status: Passed the House,
      held in Senate Judiciary Committee.

      Bill: HCR 2018. Purpose: Requires that initiatives that are approved by
      voters and cause a fiscal impact to the state of $10 million or more in
      any fiscal year be referred to voters again every eight years. Status:
      Passed the House.

      Bill: HCR 2022 Purpose: Requires that all initiative or referendum
      measures that need the mandatory expenditure of money must provide for an increased source of revenue that would cover the cost. Status:
      Cleared committees and awaiting full House debate.

      Bill: HCR 2023 Purpose: Requires individuals or groups who are
      petitioning for statewide initiatives or referendums to get a specified
      percentage of signatures from at least five counties. Status: Passed the
      House Judiciary Committee, but never heard in the House Committee on Government and Retirement.

      Bill: HCR 2024 Purpose: Would allow the Legislature proportionately to reduce an appropriation to a specific purpose from an initiative or
      referendum if the money approved for the purpose is insufficient to
      cover all of its cost. Status: Passed the House, now in the Senate.

      Bill: SCR 1003 Purpose: ... would suspend voter protection of state spending in times of fiscal crisis. Status: Cleared committees and awaiting a Senate floor debate.

      Find information on these and other bills online at

      Colorado (From Pete Maysmith in CO - head of CO Common Cause)
      Legislators (at least in Colorado) have moved beyond attacking just the
      process to attacking voters decisions.  This is the height of legislative arrogance and I think will continue to destroy confidence in our elected officials and politics.  Rational people will ask - "why should I participate if they are just going to undo what I vote for?"

      House bill would allow legislators to ignore voters while voting yes on the bill.  Some lawmakers called it an arrogant measure that treats citizens like children.  Associated Press / March 21, 2003
      TALLAHASSEE -- A House panel on Thursday approved a proposal that would let state lawmakers ignore changes that people make to the state Constitution by petition drive. Lawmakers could also disregard changes voters have already made to the Constitution....  The legislative proposal has a long way to go. Since it would change their right to change the Constitution by citizen initiative, it would have to be approved by voters. To get to the 2004 ballot, the legislation needs approval of three-fifths of the House and Senate. ....  the Legislature could decide not to implement constitutional provisions that originate by petition drive if lawmakers think they are too expensive.

      Rep. Randy Johnson, R-Celebration, who sponsored the legislation, said .... it's the prerogative of the Legislature to decide what gets funded and what doesn't -- even things mandated by voters, he said. ....

      Maine (from an I&R supporter in Maine)

      LD389: An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Municipal Citizen Initiatives and Referenda

      If this bill passes, it would mean that a "municipal ordinance or bylaw
      enacted by citizen initiative or referendum may not invalidate, repeal,
      revoke, modify or have the effect of invalidating, repealing, revoking
      or modifying any building permit, zoning permit, land use approval,
      subdivision approval, site plan approval, rezoning, certification,
      variance or other action..."

      In real terms this means that:

      .The foundations of a citizen democracy are endangered: all power in
      land use decisions is suddenly taken from the citizens and given to town planners, zoning officials, and the town council, without question.
      Often, the process of rezoning happens in a manner purposely aimed at
      avoiding public attention and scrutiny.  If LD 389 passes, not only can
      citizens been kept in the dark about these decisions, they also have no
      recourse once the rezoning plans come to light!

      Our right to initiative and referendum, although not unique to this state, is a powerful tool given to Mainers through our state Constitution.  The assault to our right to initiative and referendum, whether it be minute or a full-scale attack, is an attack on our basic constitutional right to democracy.

      Massachusetts (from Barbara Anderson in MA)

      In Massachusetts.  State Senator Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) has filed a constitutional amendment (Senate Bill 362) that would effectively kill the I&R here. It increases the number of signatures required from three percent of the entire vote for governor at the preceding biennial state election to three percent of registered voters.


      The Missoulian (Editorial)
      Legislators jealously guard their power - March 16

      SUMMARY: Not content to override voter-approved laws, legislators also are attacking the initiative process itself.

      The last election is long past, the next one a long way off. So, we're
      hearing a lot less of the things legislators say to get elected and getting a closer look at what they really think. The clear message from many lawmakers in Helena this winter is that they, not you, know best.

      The contempt that too many elected lawmakers have for citizens is plain
      to see in the series of bills seeking to override ballot measures approved by voters - term limits, the ban on mining with cyanide, use of
      tobacco-settlement funds and game farms. .... many of them have every intention of defying the clearly expressed will of voters.

      Further evidence comes in the form of House Bill 719, passed by state
      representatives last month and now pending in the Senate. HB 719 targets the initiative process itself, not any specific law enacted by voters. It would change the deadline for gathering signatures on initiative petitions - to six months before election day, instead of the current four months. .... This bill also asserts greater legislative control over the contents of petitions - requiring inclusion of adversary critiques by legislative staffers, for example. It would also give legislative staffers space in the official voter's pamphlet for their comments. The unmistakable message - already endorsed by a majority of the House, mind you - is that making laws is a job for legislators; the public can't be trusted.

      All of this is rather ironic when you consider the fact that in the nearly 95 years that Montanans have had the constitutional right to enact laws by initiative, citizens have proposed scores of measures but approved relatively few - several dozen. Initiatives receive great scrutiny and prompt much debate, and by the time an election is held, the vast majority of voters know exactly what they're voting on. Contrast that to the nearly 2,000 laws legislators propose each session and the hundreds they pass, sometimes with legislators themselves complaining they don't know for what they've voted.

      The initiative process is a democratic safety valve. It's a means for
      citizens to enact laws when politicians aren't responsive or powerful
      interests wield too much control over government institutions. Montanans have used their initiative powers sparingly and responsibly over the years.

      But that's beside the point here. Backers of HB 719 aren't saying the
      initiative process has been ill-used. They don't like that it's used at
      Nebraska (from Dick Buntgen in NE)

      In Nebraska, LB154 has been introduced. It will give the Secretary of
      State the power to reject petitions if he thinks the language is inadequate. The Petitioners would than have to go to court to over-rule

      North Dakota (from Charlene Nelson in ND)

      HCR3016 was a bill that would amend the Constitution and allow the
      Legislature to pass a law requiring a fiscal statement for every
      initiated measure that would impact state revenues or expenditures more
      than $1 million.  It was soundly defeated 78-15 on 2-13.  On 2-18
      HCR3069 was introduced.  It is virtually the same bill as 3016 except
      that it requires a financial statement on all bills, no $1 million
      impact necessary.  After a second round of hearings, the Constitution
      Revision Committee voted 9-1 Do Not Pass, which usually means the death of a bill.  But 3 days later it passed the House 52-38.  In just one day it went from the House to the Senate calendar.  We were caught unawares, thinking the Do Not Pass recommendation meant the bill was doomed.  Once we learned it had passed we had 2 days to marshal our opposition, but it left us too little time to be effective.  The bill passed the Senate 29-17. 
      Now that HCR3069 has passed, it will be placed before the people for a vote on the June 2-04 primary ballot.  If the people vote for the
      amendment then the 2005 Legislature will be authorized to pass a law
      requiring a fiscal statement on all initiatives.  So there are still a couple more phases this has to go through before it affects our I&R rights.  We will be battling to preserve those rights at each of those stages. ....

      Utah (from Bart Grant in UT)

      SB28 in Utah has been passed by both houses of the legislature.  The
      session has ended and the Governor has not signed the bill yet, but
      could any day.  SB28 would make it IMPOSSIBLE to even bring an
      initiative to the ballot. .... Allows ONLY 1 YEAR (instead of the current 2 general election cycles) to qualify initiatives. ....

      M. Dane Waters
      Initiative & Referendum Institute
      P.O. Box 6306
      Leesburg, VA 20178
      (703)723-9621 (office - direct)
      (703)723-9619 (fax)

      It's time we, as a nation, take serious our duty to prevent the various state legislatures from closing the door on peoples redress, which is exactly what they secretly are designing to do. When the government fears the power of the people, there will be liberty, and there is nothing that will throw the fear of the people into our public servants more than passage of the J.A.I.L. Initiative / Legislation in all fifty states. Do they mean to have a war? You better believe it! Once the people have installed judicial accountability into their state's Constitution by J.A.I.L., the legislators know that without the protection of the judiciary, their day of reckoning is at hand.
      Again, I reiterate, "All power is inherent in the people; ...they may exercise it by themselves; that is their right and duty," and no Army on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.   ~Ron Branson
      J.A.I.L. is an acronym for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law
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      "..it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.." - Samuel Adams
      "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is
      striking at the root."                         -- Henry David Thoreau    <><
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