Nebraska Legislative Bill 39 (2008)
LB 39 institutes a residency requirement for petition gatherers and bans compensation for petition circulators based on the number of signatures they collect. It also requires that petition circulators be at least 18. Violating the new law is a Class III misdemeanor punishable with a $500 fine and three months in jail.
Opponents of the measure call the bill a violation of free speech and a threat to the initiative process. Opponents argue that since most ordinary voters are busy with their own lives and responsibilities, professional petition-gathering efforts are often the only way to collect enough signatures to get a measure on the ballot. They say such efforts offer ordinary citizens the opportunity to sign petitions for measures that they want to be able to vote on but don't have the time or resources to pursue otherwise.
Two lawsuits were filed in federal court that sought to overturn several of the provisions of LB 39:
Bernbeck v. Gale was decided by the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska on August 30, 2011. The court overturned the LB 39's circulator and sponsor residency requirements and upheld the state's circulator age requirement and pay-per-signature ban.
- Changes in 2008 to laws governing the initiative process
- Laws governing petition circulators
- Missouri House Bill 1763 (2008)
- Washington House Bill 2601 (2008)
- Montana Senate Bill 96 (2007)
- Petition blocking
- History of restrictions on paid circulators
- Legislative history of LB 39 (dead link)
- Text of the bill
- Petition circulators could be limited to residents (dead link)
- History of restrictions to initiative rights in Nebraska
- A modern slingshot for voters
- Nebraska governor vetoes bill that crimped petitioning February 13, 2008, Ballot Access News.
- Nebraska governor vetoes bill requiring petition circulators to be 18
- North Platte Bulletin: Gov. Heineman vetoes petition changes
- Neb. governor vetoes bill to restrict petition circulators First Amendment Center, February 14, 2008
- Legislature overrides veto on petitioning
- Organizers expect petition drives to fail
- North Platte Telegraph, "Groene, ACLU team up in lawsuit" (dead link)