History of direct democracy in Kansas

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The movement to establish the initiative process in Kansas was well under way by 1900, when the Democratic and Populist parties in the state endorsed the idea. In 1909, initiative supporters won approval of their amendment in the state’s lower house but were defeated in the state senate.

In 1911 Governor W. R. Stubbs called for the enactment of an I&R amendment, and by 1913 all the state’s major parties had endorsed it, including Kansas’ first state conference of women voters. The nationally known progressive leader William Allen White of Emporia was called Kansas’ “foremost champion of Direct Legislation” in a contemporary periodical. Despite all this support, I&R advocates never succeeded in passing a statewide I&R amendment. However, they did push through the legislature a bill establishing I&R in all Kansas cities in 1909, and a statewide recall amendment in 1914.

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Acknowledgements

Development of this article was assisted by the Initiative & Referendum Institute's history of Kansas, with permission.