UPDATE: "Hill bill" referendum supporters file lawsuit
By Eric Veram
CHEYENNE, Wyoming: Supporters of a referendum on Senate File 104 submitted piles of signed petitions to the Wyoming secretary of state's office on May 28, the deadline by which 37,606 signatures were needed to place the legislation before voters. Despite high hopes from supporters, Wyoming election director Peggy Nighswonger announced on May 31 that only 21,991 signatures had been collected, thereby disqualifying the measure.
The story doesn't end there, however, as the effort's leading sponsor, Jennifer Young, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the secretary of state violated the rights of referendum supporters by taking two weeks to provide them with petition forms. According to the lawsuit, those two weeks account for about sixteen percent of the ninety-day period citizens are given for circulating referendum petitions. The lawsuit names Secretary of State Max Maxfield as the only defendant. Young is asking the court to award her and other supporters of the referendum another ninety days to circulate petitions for the 2014 ballot.
CHEYENNE, Wyoming: Tuesday, May 28, was the deadline to submit signed petitions for anyone looking to hold a public referendum on legislation passed by the Wyoming legislature this session. In contrast to the last seven years, this time signatures were actually turned in to the secretary of state's office.
The petitions were filed by the opponents of Senate File 104, also known as the "Hill bill." The bill stripped a number of duties from the elected state superintendent of public instruction and transferred them to the newly created education department director, a position to be filled by an appointment by the governor. The petition drive was spearheaded by the Wyoming Constitution Party, who say that the bill is in opposition to the will of the public because it transfers power from an elected position to an appointed one. Members of the legislature who voted in favor of the bill say that current superintendent Cindy Hill was mismanaging the state education department and preventing legislative work aimed at overhauling the state's public school system.
The secretary of state has sixty days from the filing deadline to count and verify the submitted signatures. If the necessary 37,606 are certified, the Wyoming Education Department Director Referendum will head to the 2014 general election ballot.
- Caspar Star-Tribune, "Petition to repeal Wyoming schools chief law fails," May 31, 2013
- Casper Star-Tribune, "Organizer of failed school-chief petition sues Wyo Secretary of State's Office," July 12, 2013
- Wyoming Tribune Eagle, "Getting referendums, initiatives on the ballot not easy in Wyoming," May 30, 2013