Fourteen states approve changes to laws governing ballot measures in 2019

In 2019, 14 states have approved 29 proposals changing laws governing ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall.
Five approved proposals, however, were constitutional amendments requiring voter ratification in 2019 or 2020. Two additional 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. Below are some of the most significant proposals:
  • 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 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.
  • A proposal requiring out-of-state circulators to register and adding other restrictions for circulators was passed in Arizona.
  • A bill banning pay-per-signature, requiring paid circulators to register with the secretary of state, and establishing economic impact statement requirements was passed in Florida.
  • The Maine Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill requiring reporting about which circulators are paid and what the method of payment is, among other requirements.
  • Bills requiring ballot language to be written as simply as possible and making other changes regarding ballot language and public hearings were also passed in Maine.
  • 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.
  • 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.
In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 203 ballot measure law change proposals in 34 states. In 2017, Ballotpedia tracked 213 bills in 37 states.
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