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History of direct democracy in Indiana

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After Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing I&R in November 1912, the Ohio leaders turned their attention to the state next door. Rev. Herbert S. Bigelow and other leaders spoke throughout the state and helped organize a Citizens’ League to work for I&R. Yet a native Indiana reformer gave the situation a gloomy assessment in 1914: "Indiana, politically, is one of the most backward of our States. It must continue to be, under the ironclad restrictions of the present constitution. The state has remained untouched by the progressive movement in the states around it." The only victory for I&R advocates came in 1913, when the legislature approved a Public Utilities Act that included a provision allowing municipal initiatives to mandate municipal purchase and operation of utilities (Public Service Commission Act of 1913, Sect. 8-1-2-99/100 [54-612, 613]).

State Senator John Bushemi of Gary waged a long, lonely battle in the late 1970s and 1980s to pass a statewide I&R amendment, but he received little support from other legislators and constituents.[1]

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  1. This state history is based on David Schmidt's book, Citizen Lawmakers: The Ballot Initiative Revolution and is reproduced here with the permission of the Initiative & Referendum Institute.