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Legislative tampering

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Legislative tampering is a term used by the Initiative & Referendum Institute to refer to whether or not a state legislature is allowed to repeal or amend a ballot initiative approved by the citizens of the state in an election.

Most of the states with initiative or referendum do allow some degree of legislative tampering. The differences between states have to do with:

  • Whether there is a time limit on when a state legislature can repeal or revise a law enacted through the initiative process.
  • The types of ballot measures that a legislature is allowed to repeal or revise.

When state legislatures do have the right of legislative tampering, it only applies to initiated state statutes. If a state legislature wants to change the result of an election on an initiated constitutional amendment, they have to go through that state's normal procedure for amending their constitution.

No restrictions

States with no restrictions at all on legislative tampering include Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah.

Restrictions

Passage of time

Some states allow the legislature to amend or repeal initiated state statutes, but only after a certain amount of time has elapsed. These states are:

State Years that must elapse
Alaska Can amend immediately; must wait 2 years to repeal
Nevada Must wait 3 years
North Dakota For 7 years, a 2/3rds vote is required to change
Washington For 2 years, a 2/3rds vote is required to change

Laws by state

Alaska

Laws governing the initiative process in Alaska

The legislature can amend a citizen initiative at any time, but can only outright repeal a statute passed by initiative after two years have elapsed since the time it became law.

Arizona

Laws governing the initiative process in Arizona

Arizona voters passed Proposition 105 in 1998, which significantly inhibits the authority of the Arizona State Legislature to alter measures passed by voters.

Proposition 105 came into play when, in 2009, the Arizona State Legislature removed $7 million from Early Childhood Development and Health Fund that had accrued as interest and put the money into the state's general operating fund. The board that oversees the fund sued the state in May, and in July, the Arizona Supreme Court sided unanimously with the fund against the state.[1] The Supreme Court relied on Proposition 105 from 1998 in its reasoning.

Arkansas

Laws governing the initiative process in Arkansas

An initiated amendment passed by the voters may only be changed by another vote of the people. An initiated state statute approved by a vote of the people can only be amended or repealed by a two-thirds vote of the general assembly (for statewide measures) or the city council (for local measures).

California

Laws governing the initiative process in California

California is generally acknowledged to have the strictest laws in the country forbidding legislative tampering with citizen-initiated measures.[2]

Colorado

Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado

Colorado law allows the Colorado General Assembly to repeal and amend an initiative statute passed by the voters.

Florida

Laws governing the initiative process in Florida

Constitutional amendments by initiative become part of the constitution and are thus only alterable by the legislature through regular constitutional procedures, any changes of which must be approved by popular vote.

Maine

Laws governing the initiative process in Maine

By common practice, the legislature can both repeal and amend initiatives.

The veto power of the Governor does not extend to citizen initiatives.

Massachusetts

Laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Legislature can both repeal and amend initiatives, according to Massachusetts Constitution Article 48, Gen. Prov. Pt. 6.

Michigan

Laws governing the initiative process in Michigan

The Michigan State Legislature can repeal and amend ballot initiatives by a 75% supermajority vote of each house or as otherwise provided by the initiative.

Mississippi

Laws governing the initiative process in Mississippi

Constitutional amendments by initiative become part of the constitution and are thus only alterable by the legislature through regular constitutional procedures, any changes of which must be approved by popular vote.

Missouri

Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri

The Missouri State Legislature can both repeal and amend initiated state statutes, but not initiated constitutional amendments.

Montana

Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

The Montana State Legislature can both repeal and amend initiated state statutes (but not initiated constitutional amendments, except through the normal procedures for amending the Montana Constitution.)

Nebraska

Laws governing the initiative process in Nebraska

The Nebraska State Legislature can repeal and amend initiated state statute, but not initiated constitutional amendments. The legislature can repeal and amend initiative statutes by a simple majority.

Nevada

Laws governing the initiative process in Nevada

The Nevada State Legislature can only repeal or amend initiated state statutes three years after they have been enacted.

North Dakota

Laws governing the initiative process in North Dakota

The North Dakota State Legislature can repeal or amend an initiated state statute by a 2/3 vote of each house for seven years after passage. Once seven years have elapsed, a simple majority vote in the state legislature is required.

Ohio

Laws governing the initiative process in Ohio

The Ohio State Legislature can both repeal and amend initiated state statutes.

Oklahoma

Laws governing the initiative process in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Legislature can both repeal and amend initiated state statutes, according to a court ruling.

Oregon

Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon

The Oregon State Legislature can repeal and amend initiated state statutes by a simple majority vote.

South Dakota

Laws governing the initiative process in South Dakota

The South Dakota State Legislature can both repeal and amend initiated state statutes.

Utah

Laws governing the initiative process in Utah

Initiatives that are approved by the voters are treated as regular statutes and may be amended or repealed by the Utah State Legislature at any legislative session after the act or law has taken effect.

Washington

Laws governing the initiative process in Washington

The Washington State Legislature can repeal or amend an initiative by a two-thirds vote of each house during the first two years of enactment and by majority vote thereafter.

Examples of legislative tampering in Washington include:

References