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Legislative tampering

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Legislative tampering is a term used to refer to whether or not a state legislature is allowed to repeal or amend a ballot initiative approved by the citizens of the state in an election.

Most of the states with initiative or referendum allow some degree of legislative tampering. Some state differences in legislative tampering include:

  • Time limits on when a state legislature can repeal or revise a law enacted through the initiative process.
  • Legislative vote requirements necessary to repeal or amend an initiated statute.
  • Types of ballot measures that a legislature is allowed to repeal or revise.

Only California has a complete ban on legislative tampering. Therefore, only one out of 24 states with the initiative process does not allow legislative tampering in any form.

When state legislatures have the right of legislative tampering, it only applies to initiated state statutes. If a state legislature wants to change the result of an election on an initiated constitutional amendment, they have to go through that state's normal procedure for amending their constitution.

No restrictions

States with no restrictions at all on legislative tampering include:

Restrictions

Passage of time

Some states allow the legislature to amend or repeal initiated state statutes, but only after a certain amount of time has elapsed. These states are:

State Years that must elapse
Alaska 2 years must elapse before repeal; can amend immediately
Nevada 3 years must elapse before repeal or amendment
North Dakota 7 years must elapse before repeal or amendment, except with 2/3rds vote in legislature
Washington 2 years must elapse before repeal or amendment, except with 2/3rds vote in legislature

Supermajority requirements

Some states allow the legislature to amend or repeal initiated state statutes, but only by supermajority vote in both legislative chambers. These states are:

State Vote requirements
Arizona 2/3rd majority vote, but only if amendment "furthers the purpose" of the measure
Arkansas 2/3rd majority vote to repeal
Michigan 3/4th majority vote to repeal or amend
Nebraska 2/3rd majority vote
North Dakota 2/3rd majority vote vote required for seven years following measure approval
Washington 2/3rd majority vote required for two years following measure approval

Laws by state

Alaska

Laws governing the initiative process in Alaska

The Alaska State Legislature may not repeal a measure for two years following its passage. However, lawmakers can amend the initiated law at any time by a simple majority vote.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Constitution, Article XI, Section 6

Arizona

Laws governing the initiative process in Arizona

The Arizona State Legislature may not repeal a successful initiative or referendum. Lawmakers can amend the law, but only if the amendment "furthers the purposes" of the measure and passes with a 3/4 supermajority.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arizona Constitution, Article IV, Part 1, Section 1, ¶ 6

Arkansas

Laws governing the initiative process in Arkansas

The Arkansas State Legislature may not repeal or amend a successful initiative or referendum, except by a two-thirds supermajority vote.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arkansas Constitution, Article 5, Section 1

California

Laws governing the initiative process in California

The California State Legislature may not amend or repeal an approved measure without submitting the change to voters. However, a ballot measure may include a clause waiving this protection.

Once ballot measures are certified for the ballot, they are submitted to the legislature. The legislature has no control over the measure or whether it appears on the ballot. However, California law requires the legislature to hold public hearing on the measures at least 30 days prior to the election.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 10 (c) & California Election Code, Sections 9034

Colorado

Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado

The Colorado General Assembly may change or repeal initiated measures. In the case of initiated statutes, this only requires a simple majority. In the case of amendments, the Assembly must pass the amendment by a two-thirds majority and place it on the ballot. (The same process required for ordinary legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Colorado Constitution, Article V, Section 1, ¶ 4 & Article XIX, Section 2, ¶ 1

Florida

Laws governing the initiative process in Florida

Since only initiated constitutional amendments are permitted under Florida law, lawmakers must use the ordinary amendment process to overturn successful ballot measures. In order to place an amendment on the ballot, lawmakers in each chamber must pass a resolution with a three-fifths majority vote. The repeal/revision amendment must receive the usual 60% supermajority for passage.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 1 & Section 5

Idaho

Laws governing the initiative process in Idaho

Idaho does not limit how soon, or with what majority, the legislature can repeal a measure.[1]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Idaho Constitution, Article III, Section 1 & Idaho Statutes, Title 34, Chapter 18

Illinois

Laws governing the initiative process in Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly may only repeal an initiated amendment by placing a repeal measure on the ballot, following the ordinary process for legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Each chamber of the General Assembly must pass the amendment by a 3/5 majority. Voters must approve the measure by either (1) a majority of those voting in the election or (2) 3/5 of those voting on the amendment itself.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Illinois Constitution, Article XIV, Section 3

Maine

Laws governing the initiative process in Maine

Maine does not limit how soon, or with what majority, the legislature can repeal a measure.[2]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Maine Constitution, Article IV, Part 3, Sections 17-22 & Maine Revised Statutes, Title 21-A, Chapter 11

Massachusetts

Laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts

Massachusetts does not limit how soon, or with what majority, the legislature can repeal an initiated statute. Legislators can only overturn an amendment through the ordinary amendment process.[3] However, if a statute is not repealed the legislature must fund it.

When a proposed amendment is placed before the legislature, lawmakers may amend the proposed amendment but only by a three-fourths supermajority vote called in the joint session. They may not amend proposed statutes. (Note: The majority of an initiative's sponsors can amend a proposed statute after the legislature fails to act and without re-collecting signatures. These amendments may not "materially change the substance of the measure.")

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII & Article LXXIV

Michigan

Laws governing the initiative process in Michigan

The Michigan State Legislature may only change or repeal initiated statutes by three-fourths supermajority vote in each house. In the case of amendments, the Legislature must pass an amendment by a two-thirds majority and place it on the ballot. (The same process is required for ordinary legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Michigan Constitution, Article II, Section 9 & Article XII, Section 2

Mississippi

Laws governing the initiative process in Mississippi

Since only initiated constitutional amendments are permitted in Mississippi, lawmakers must follow the ordinary amendment process to overturn or amend successful ballot measures. In order to place an amendment on the ballot, lawmakers in each chamber must pass the resolution with by 2/3 majority vote. The state's supermajority requirement does not apply to legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Mississippi Constitution, Article XV, Section 273 (2) & Mississippi Code, Title 23, Chapter 17 

Missouri

Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri

The Missouri State Legislature may repeal or amend any statute approved by voters. To repeal or alter an amendment, they must must follow the ordinary legislative referral process. In order to place an amendment on the ballot, lawmakers in each chamber must pass the resolution with a majority vote. The amendment is then presented to voters.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Missouri Constitution, Article III, Section 52(b) & Article XII, Section 2(a)

Montana

Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

The Montana State Legislature may repeal or amend any statute approved by voters. To repeal or alter an amendment, they must must follow the ordinary legislative referral process. In order to place an amendment on the ballot, lawmakers must adopt the proposal by a 2/3 vote of all members.[4]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article XIV, Section 8

Nebraska

Laws governing the initiative process in Nebraska

The Nebraska Legislature may not "amend, repeal, modify, or impair" any initiative without a 2/3 majority votes.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Section 2

Nevada

Laws governing the initiative process in Nevada

For three years after an initiated statute is approved, it may not be "amended, annulled, repealed, set aside or suspended" by the Nevada State Legislature. Changes to initiated amendments must follow the ordinary legislative process (majority votes in two consecutive regular sessions). Affirmed statutes may not repealed or amended without a vote of the people.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Sections 1 & 2

North Dakota

Laws governing the initiative process in North Dakota

The North Dakota Legislative Assembly may not repeal or amend an initiative for seven years without a 2/3 majority votes.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 8

Ohio

Laws governing the initiative process in Ohio

The Ohio General Assembly may repeal or amend an initiated statute by a simple majority vote. Changes to initiated amendments must follow the ordinary legislative process (a three-fifths vote of both chambers).[5]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Ohio Constitution, Article II, Section 1g & Ohio Constitution, Article XVI, Section 1

Oklahoma

Laws governing the initiative process in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Legislature may repeal an initiated statute with a simple majority vote. In order to change or repeal a constitutional amendment, lawmakers must place an amendment on the ballot via the ordinary referral process (a simple majority vote of each chamber).

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oklahoma Constitution, Article V, Section 7

Oregon

Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon

The Oregon State Legislature may repeal or amend an initiated statute by a simple majority vote. Changes to initiated amendments must follow the ordinary legislative process (a majority vote of both chambers).[6]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oregon Constitution, Article IV, Section 1

South Dakota

Laws governing the initiative process in South Dakota

The South Dakota State Legislature may repeal an initiated statute with a simple majority vote. In order to change or repeal a constitutional amendment, lawmakers must place an amendment on the ballot via the ordinary referral process (a simple majority vote of each chamber).

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: South Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 1 & Article XXIII, Section 1

Utah

Laws governing the initiative process in Utah

The Utah State Legislature may amend any initiated statute by a simple majority vote. When presented with an indirect initiative, the Legislature may make technical corrections to the proposed law.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 208 & Section 212

Washington

Laws governing the initiative process in Washington

In Washington, no initiated statute may be amended or repealed for two years without a 2/3 supermajority vote of both chambers. Any initiated law, so amended, is not subject to veto referendum. After two years, the law may be repealed or amended by a simple majority vote.[7]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Washington Constitution, Article II, Section 1

Wyoming

Laws governing the initiative process in Wyoming

The Wyoming State Legislature may not repeal an approved measure for two years after it takes effect. It may be amended at any time by a simple majority vote.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52(f)

Related measures

See also

Ballotpedia:Index of Terms

References