Ballot measure law update: legislators in six states approve 16 proposals changing laws governing ballot measures out of 209 tracked

As of April 25, 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 209 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall in 31 states. Sixteen proposals had been approved in Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah. Four of them were constitutional amendments requiring voter ratification in 2020. Two bills were approved by the Idaho State Legislature, but the governor vetoed them. Five citizen-initiated measures directly related to initiative and referendum laws were also filed in Florida, Missouri, and South Dakota.
The following list contains some highlights from our reporting.
  • The Idaho State Legislature passed, but the governor vetoed, a pair of bills that were designed to increase the state’s initiative signature requirement and its distribution requirement, reduce the allowed circulation period, enact a single-subject rule, and require a fiscal impact statement.
  • Arkansas legislators passed a bill to change the timeline for approval of the ballot title and popular name of citizen initiatives to after signatures are submitted and make other changes to the state’s initiative processes.
  • Arkansas legislators also sent an amendment to the 2020 ballot increasing the state’s distribution requirement, adding a supermajority vote requirement for the legislature to put amendments on the ballot, and making other changes to laws governing ballot measures.
  • Utah legislators approved five bills changing the initiative process. Changes included:
  • changing signature requirements,
  • requiring county clerks to post the names of those who sign an initiative petition on county websites,
  • requiring funding sources to be specified, and
  • establishing rolling signature submission deadlines.
  • Proposed laws concerning distribution requirements for signature gathering were introduced in Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, and Montana.
  • Laws concerning total signature requirements for initiatives and veto referendums or recalls were introduced in six states; in Idaho, Missouri, and Utah, the bills were designed to increase the total number of signatures required for citizen initiatives.
  • In Florida, Maine, and Massachusetts pay-per-signature bans were introduced.
  • In Maine and Oregon, bills to restrict legislative alteration of future citizen initiatives was introduced.
  • Legislation to increase the supermajority requirement or impose additional vote requirements was introduced in Florida, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Washington.
  • In Missouri, a citizen initiative was filed to prevent state residency requirements, pay-per-signature restrictions, and initiative filing fees. It would also require voter approval for any changes to the initiative and referendum process and establish a system for electronic signatures. Two bills designed to enact initiative filing fees, among other provisions, were introduced in Missouri’s 2019 legislative session.
  • In South Dakota, an initiative to roll back some changes made in 2018 was filed.

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