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Paul Jacob, president of Virginia-based Citizens in Charge Foundation, may be the fiercest defender of direct democracy in America. He’s helped organize more than 150 petition drives in 47 states, and feels so strongly about the righteousness of the initiative process that he risked going to prison by defying an Oklahoma law prohibiting the use of paid signature-gatherers in that state.
 
When Jacob comes to California, he feels right at home. He gives the state’s initiative process an A grade.
 

Secretary of State Charlie Summers held a public drawing today to determine the order of the citizen initiative questions that will appear on the November 8, 2011 Referendum Election ballot. The drawing was held in the Secretary of State’s office.

There will be two citizen initiative questions and one Constitutional resolution on the November 8, 2011 ballot.

Remember the fight surrounding all those petitions urging people to recall Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle? Some said it was too easy to get all the signatures needed, others said it was too hard.
 
Well, for future fights, it just got easier…well a little easier.
 
A key part of the Nebraska law dealing with citizen based ballot issues — ranging from recalls to referendums — has been struck down.
 

In the Dr. Seuss tale, the Grinch kept pressing himself, “I must find some way to keep Christmas from coming!” Then, the Grinch “got a wonderful awful idea.”

The same thing happened last week in California. A new Grinch-of-a-group with a shadowy identity started running a radio advertisement all across the state’s many expensive media markets. The apparent goal? To keep democracy from coming.

The group calls itself Californians Against Identity Theft (CAIT) and the radio spot is about identity theft. Well … sorta. Not really, though.

Proponents of an attempt to overturn a law granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants have done what some observers predicted to be near impossible three months ago.

Petition drive organizers, led by Republican lawmakers, have gathered more than 100,000 valid signatures on their petition for referendum, which is expected to be certified by the state Board of Elections today, potentially marking the first such effort to reach the ballot in Maryland in a generation.

During this year’s legislative session, Missouri lawmakers rewrote a voter-passed law regulating dog breeders. They also tried to meet a demand of business groups to eliminate cost-of-living increases in the voter-approved state minimum wage.

And since voters imposed strict campaign finance limits in 1994, lawmakers have twice acted to change those limits, including eliminating them entirely in 2006.

The routine rewriting of voter initiatives would end if a new initiative makes the 2012 ballot and wins approval.

California legislators — who seem unable to come up with an honest balanced budget, who always seek tax increases, and who won’t pass even modest reforms to the state’s unfunded pension system or to anything else, for that matter — want to blame the government’s problems on voters, rather than themselves.
 

Last week, an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee by Justine Sarver of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center urged California legislators to clampdown on the state’s initiative and referendum process by passing a number of new restrictions on the rights of Golden State citizens to petition their government.

An unlikely alliance of some of the state’s leading liberal and conservative voices are sounding the alarm that Colorado’s ballot initiative process is facing an unprecedented assault from established interests and lawmakers.
 

Democrats in the state Senate approved two bills Monday designed to shorten the reins on professional signature-gatherers who have come to dominate California’s initiative process.
 
Under one bill, individuals would have to wear large-print badges specifying whether they are volunteers or are being paid to collect voter signatures.
 
“It gives a little transparency,” Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said of his bill.
 
SB448 also would require the badge to note whether the gatherer is registered to vote and, if so, where.