Difference between revisions of "Laws governing the initiative process in Nebraska"

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
(Restrictions on circulators)
m (Circulator requirements)
Line 112: Line 112:
 
====Circulator requirements====
 
====Circulator requirements====
 
::''See also: [[Petition circulator]]''
 
::''See also: [[Petition circulator]]''
In Nebraska, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating.<ref>Laws stating otherwise were not found by Ballotpedia staff, August 2013</ref> Each initiative petition contains a mandatory [[Circulator affidavit|circulator affidavit]]. A circulator is required to sign these affidavits before a public notary, and he/she must swear to and sign a statement, under the penalty of law, that he/she personally witnessed every act of signing the petition<ref>[http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-628 ''Nebraska Legislature'', "Nebraska Revised Statute 32-628," Accessed September 9, 2013]</ref> Those circulating petitions are required to be at least 18 years of age.<ref>[http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-629 ''Nebraska Legislature'', "Nebraska Revised Statute 32-629," Accessed September 9, 2013]</ref>
+
In Nebraska, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating.<ref>Laws stating otherwise were not found by Ballotpedia staff, July 2013</ref> Each initiative petition contains a mandatory [[Circulator affidavit|circulator affidavit]]. A circulator is required to sign these affidavits before a public notary, and he/she must swear to and sign a statement, under the penalty of law, that he/she personally witnessed every act of signing the petition<ref>[http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-628 ''Nebraska Legislature'', "Nebraska Revised Statute 32-628," Accessed July 21, 2013]</ref> Those circulating petitions are required to be at least 18 years of age.<ref>[http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-629 ''Nebraska Legislature'', "Nebraska Revised Statute 32-629," Accessed July 21, 2013]</ref>
  
Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted to the [[Nebraska Secretary of State|secretary of state]].<ref>[http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-1407 ''Nebraska Legislature'', "Nebraska Revised Statute 32-1407," Accessed September 9, 2013]</ref>
+
Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted to the [[Nebraska Secretary of State|secretary of state]].<ref>[http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-1407 ''Nebraska Legislature'', "Nebraska Revised Statute 32-1407," Accessed July 21, 2013]</ref>
  
 
[[File:DocumentIcon.jpg|link=Portal:Ballot measure law]] <span style="color:#363636">'''''See law:''' [http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-628 Nebraska Revised Statute 32-628], [http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-629 Nebraska Revised Statute 32-629], [http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-630 Nebraska Revised Statute 32-630], & [http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-1407 Nebraska Revised Statute 32-1407],''</span>
 
[[File:DocumentIcon.jpg|link=Portal:Ballot measure law]] <span style="color:#363636">'''''See law:''' [http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-628 Nebraska Revised Statute 32-628], [http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-629 Nebraska Revised Statute 32-629], [http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-630 Nebraska Revised Statute 32-630], & [http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=32-1407 Nebraska Revised Statute 32-1407],''</span>

Revision as of 10:38, 10 September 2013

[edit]

Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Petition summary
1.2.4 Fiscal review
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of Nebraska may initiate legislation as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment. In Nebraska, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. The Nebraska Unicameral Legislature may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments with a three-fifths majority vote.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the scope and content of proposed initiatives. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

In Nebraska, each proposed measure must address only one subject. Such laws are also known as single-subject rules.

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

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

Nebraska ballot measures may not enact any law which the legislature may not enact. In addition, ballot measures may not interfere with the legislature's constitutional right to raise necessary revenues via taxation.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Section 2 & Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1408

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of Nebraska ballot measures

Nebraska law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other on all points of conflict. The other measure is not wholly superseded.

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

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[1][2][3]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

Prior to collecting signatures, proponents must file a draft of the text of the measure and a statement of purpose. Once this language is submitted to the Nebraska Secretary of State, it is transmitted to the Revisor of Statutes for review. Proponents must also submit a sworn list of the petition's sponsors.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1405 (1)

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

The Revisor of Statutes reviews the proposed measure for "form and draftsmanship" and recommends changes. Sponsors are free to accept or reject any of these suggestions.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1405 (2)

Petition summary

See also: Ballot measure summary statement

Once the Revisor's changes have been accepted or rejected, the Secretary of State prepares a proof copy of the petition, including the statement of purpose and text of the measure provided by sponsors.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1405 (3)

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

Nebraska does not conduct a fiscal review of proposed ballot measures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Sections 2-4 & Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: Nebraska signature requirements

In Nebraska, the number of required signatures is tied to the number of registered voters in the state as of the statutory deadline for filing signatures. Nebraska is the only state where the number of required signatures is tied directly to the number of registered voters. Most states tie their calculation to how many people actually voted for governor (or some other statewide office) in the most recent election. Because of this unique policy, Nebraska is also the only state where petition sponsors cannot know the exact number of signatures required until the day these signatures are filed.

For proposed statutes, the number required is 7% of registered voters. For amendments, the number required is 10% of registered voters. The Nebraska Constitution provides for two distinct types of referendum. In the first type, the law is referred to ballot but remains in effect until the vote--this requires signatures from 5% of registered voters. In the second, the law is referred to the ballot and suspended until voters have weighed in--this requires signatures from 10% of registered voters. Most states only feature the latter type of veto referendum.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Sections 2 & 3

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

For both initiated statutes and constitutional amendments, proponents must collect signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of 2/5 (38) of Nebraska's counties. (The same is true for veto referendums that do not prevent the targeted law from taking effect. For those that do suspend the law, 10% of the registered voters must sign the petition in each of the required counties.)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Sections 2 & 3

Restrictions on circulators

Circulator requirements

See also: Petition circulator

In Nebraska, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating.[4] Each initiative petition contains a mandatory circulator affidavit. A circulator is required to sign these affidavits before a public notary, and he/she must swear to and sign a statement, under the penalty of law, that he/she personally witnessed every act of signing the petition[5] Those circulating petitions are required to be at least 18 years of age.[6]

Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted to the secretary of state.[7]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statute 32-628, Nebraska Revised Statute 32-629, Nebraska Revised Statute 32-630, & Nebraska Revised Statute 32-1407,

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

Nebraska bans paying circulators by the signature. The law was challenged in 2011 in Bernbeck v. Gale, but the ban was not overturned.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 630 (g)

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Nebraska does not require that petition circulators reside in the state. It used to have such a ban, but this rule was struck down in 2011 by a federal court in Citizens in Charge v. Gale. The residency requirement has been replaced with a requirement that circulators be at least eighteen years of age.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 629 (2) (Overturned Statute)

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

Nebraska law requires that the circulator's paid/volunteer status be disclosed on the petition form in large red type.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 628 (4)

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. Nebraska law does mandate that signatures be collected in person.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 628 (3)

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

In Nebraska, petitioners may begin a petition drive at any time. If filed signature petitions are found to be valid, the issue proposed will appear on the ballot at the next general election, at least four months following the submission. Therefore, according to state law, signatures are due at least four months prior to the next general election.

Submitted signatures, however, become invalid at the next general election occurring at least four months following submission.

Since general elections are only held in even numbered years in Nebraska, this allows for a total possible period of just under two years to circulate petitions.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1407 (2)

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

At least four months prior to the election, proponents must submit their signed petitions, sorted by county, to the Secretary of State for verification. The secretary then distributes them to county officials for certification. Once the signatures have been checked and any duplicate or unregistered signers have been noted, the petitions are sent back to the Secretary of State. The secretary then totals the valid signatures and notifies sponsors of the result.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1409

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

In Nebraska, the ballot title and "yes"/"no" vote statements are prepared by the Attorney General once the measure has been filed for certification. The ballot title briefly explains the purpose of the measure. The "yes"/"no" vote statements explain the effect of and affirmative or negative vote. Initiated measures are also assigned a generic number beginning (in 1986) with 400 (Initiative Measure 400, 401, 402, etc.).

  • A sample ballot can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1410 (1-2)

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

In Nebraska, each ballot measure requires a simple majority of the votes cast for/against the measure. However, the number of affirmative votes cast for the measure must be greater than 35% of the total votes cast in the election. This also applies to legislative referrals.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Section 4 & Article XVI, Section 1

Effective date

Ballot measures take effect upon the Governor of Nebraska's proclamation of the election results. The proclamation must be made within ten days of the completion of the canvass. The canvass is certified on the fourth Monday after the election.[8]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1037 & Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1414

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

Challenges to the signature count, the ballot summary, or the vote explanations should be filed in the district court of Lancaster County.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, Section 1410 (3) & Section 1412

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

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

Re-attempting an initiative

In Nebraska, ballot measures may not be reattempted more than once every three years.

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

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Nebraska ballot measures

Some of the notable features notable features of Nebraska's campaign finance law include:

  • Nebraska treats groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure differently from other political committees.
  • All campaigns in support or opposition of a referendum must have a surety bond of $5,000 in place within 30 days of first forming a committee.
  • Nebraska requires separate reporting if a registered campaign pays for signature collectors.
  • All advertising expenditures for campaigns are reported as independent expenditures.
  • Normal campaign finance reporting for expenditures can be only for general operating costs and overhead.
  • Nebraska bans campaigns from engaging in business with Nebraska State Lottery contractors.

State initiative law

Article III, Sections 2-3 of the Nebraska Constitution address initiatives.

Chapter 32 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes governs initiatives.

External links

References



Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2012
2.1.2 2011
2.1.3 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in Nebraska.

Proposed changes by year

2012

See also: Changes in 2012 to laws governing ballot measures


The following bills were introduced in the Nebraska State Legislature:

Approveda Nebraska Legislative Bill 759 (2012): Removes the state's residency requirement for petition circulators.


2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures


The following bills were introduced in the Nebraska Legislature:

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Nebraska Legislative Bill 117: Excerpt of bill description/summary: "LB 117 changes the publication requirements for constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature and initiative and referendum measures. The bill requires a notice be placed in the newspaper directing citizens to a Secretary of State website where the full text of the constitutional amendment or initiative and referendum measures can be read."

Defeatedd Nebraska Legislative Bill 187: Excerpt of bill description/summary: "To provide a higher threshold for petition signatures when a signature is valid not withstanding the signer's failure to have voted in the election that is the subject of the recall petition."

Defeatedd Nebraska Legislative Bill 188: Excerpt of bill description/summary: "To limit the ability to petition for recall to those who exercised their civic responsibility to vote in the election which is the subject of the recall petition."

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Nebraska Legislative Bill 224: Excerpt of bill description/summary: "With LB 224, the reasons for which a recall may be sought are limited to malfeasance in office, misfeasance in office, nonfeasance in office, or conviction of a crime involving an act of dishonesty or a false statement. Malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance are defined in the bill. Currently, recall efforts do not need to be based on specific reason."

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Nebraska Legislative Bill 523: Excerpt from bill description/summary: "LB 523 requires the sponsor or principal circulator of a petition to provide each petition circulator with a form of identification that is visible to each prospective signer. Each identification shall contain a unique number and other information determined by the Secretary of State, but shall not contain the name or other personal information of the circulator. Under the bill, the sponsor or principal circulator is required to maintain records of each circulator. The records shall be available for purposes of investigation upon request by the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, or law enforcement... LB 523 does not change the rights or qualifications of petition signers, circulators orsponsors. Petition requirements remain the same under the bill."

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Nebraska Legislative Bill 566: Excerpt of bill description/summary: "LB 566 provides an optional way to collect signatures by using much the same mechanisms as are widely used for electronic signature of other government documents and in commerce."

Defeatedd Nebraska Legislative Bill 610: Bill description/summary: "LB 610 provides for the recall of state elective or appointed officers."

Defeatedd Nebraska Legislative Resolution 45, Const. Amendment: Bill description/summary: "LR 45CA authorizes the recall of an elected or appointed to a state elective office."


2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures


The following bills were introduced in the Nebraska Legislature:

Defeatedd LB 1059: Would allow all petition signatures done electronically. The bill died in committee and did not receive a floor vote in the Legislature[1].

Defeatedd LB 349: Would allow Nebraskans to recall elected officials committing malfeasance or failing to perform their duties in their elected positions. The bill died in committee and did not receive a floor vote in the Legislature[2].

Defeatedd LB 718: Would require petition circulators to read a warning statement before a person signs a petition. The bill died in committee and did not receive a floor vote in the Legislature[3].

Defeatedd LR 279 CA: Would decrease signature requirements for constitutional amendments from fifteen to ten percent of registered voters and statutes from seven to four percent. The amendment died in committee and did not receive a floor vote in the Legislature[4].

Defeatedd LR 300 CA: An amendment to the Nebraska Constitution that would change signature requirements for initiative petitions involving geographic distribution. The amendment died in committee and did not receive a floor vote in the Legislature[5].

Defeatedd LR 301 CA: Specifies that the signature requirements for the upcoming election year must be re-calculated by January 1. The amendment died in committee and did not receive a floor vote in the Legislature[6].

Defeatedd LR 472: A joint resolution that would allow a study to see how gathering initiative petitions through the internet works. The bill died in committee and did not receive a floor vote in the Legislature[7].