Nebraska proposals affect petitions, neighboring states

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January 31, 2012


OMAHA, Nebraska: Two proposals for the Nebraska ballot have surfaced, one addressing gambling revenues and the other modifying the state's signature requirements.

State Sen. Paul Schumacher has proposed an amendment (dead link) lifting the state's constitutional ban on gambling. The law would not immediately legalize gambling but grant the Legislature power to "authorize and regulate" gambling in the Nebraska.

The amendment also contains a unique provision designed to draw gambling revenues from neighboring Iowa and South Dakota. Specifically, the amendment would ban any gaming enterprise within 60 miles of a state that agrees to share gambling revenues with Nebraska. Neighboring states would have just one year to agree to share their income or face the possibility of out-of-state competition.[1]

In other news, Kent Bernbeck, a ballot measure proponent in Nebraska, has started an initiative campaign to modify Nebraska's signature requirements. In 1994, the basis for calculating the number of required signatures was changed from voters in the previous gubernatorial election to total registered voters. The decision, Duggan v Beermann, was based on an ambiguity in the Nebraska Constitution.

Since the requirement is based on the present number of registered voters, petition sponsors can't be sure of the total number of required signatures until the day they submit their signed petition. The proposed measure would restore the previous method of calculation and effectively lower the requirement. Bernbeck was involved in a successful lawsuit last year, Bernbeck v. Gale, that overturned Nebraska's residency requirement for local petition sponsors.[2]

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