LAKE RIDGE, Virginia: Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a transpartisan national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with the November 2009 John Lilburne Award. Governor Schwarzenegger is being honored for vetoing four bills from the California Assembly and Senate during the 2009 session that would have restricted the initiative process in the state.
“The initiative process in California regularly comes under attack by the political bureaucracy, special interests and a misinformed media; but 2009 has seen a marked increase in these attacks.” said Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge Foundation. “Despite the attacks and attempts by politicians to restrict the initiative process, Governor Schwarzenegger defended the rights of those who elected him to serve them– the citizens of California.”
The bills that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed were Assembly Bills 6, 436, and 1068, as well as Senate Bill 34. Each bill represented a different restriction on the initiative process.
The three Assembly bills Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed would have made the initiative process in California much more difficult through additional fees and regulation. The Senate bill he vetoed was a ban on paying signature gatherers per signature, which would have made the process of getting a measure on the statewide ballot more difficult for the average citizen.
“It is important to have leaders like Governor Schwarzenegger who defend the initiative process,” adds Jacob. “Attempts to restrict the process will continue, and it’s good to know the people of California have a Governor willing to protect their right to an open and accessible process to petition their government.”
Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans. John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse.