Thursday, May 24, 2007

Initiative Referendum Measure in PA?

Problem is, the United States is not a representative democracy, and each of the states are guaranteed a republican form of government.

Careful what we want as initiatives and referendums would be binding, even on the people who "passed" the "legislation."

But if the citizens of PA really want this obligation, even though only 25 percent turn out to even vote in hotly contested primary elections, then go for it. Pretty soon, it will become obvious that those behind these kinds of movements really want centralized government and eventually world government.

They give the people these kinds of "bones" to make them think they'll have a say when that comes about.

Pa. may get 'initiative and referendum'
State senate panel eyes proposal that would give citizens greater voice in legislative process
Thursday, May 24, 2007

By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- For more than 20 years, state Sen. James Rhoades has been trying to give Pennsylvanians the power of "initiative and referendum,'' allowing citizens to enact new laws directly without going through the state Legislature, as well as the power to overturn measures passed by the Legislature.

No one has seemed interested, until now.

"It's been so long, I had to dust off my old proposals to review them for this hearing,'' the Schuylkill County Republican joked yesterday to the Senate's State Government Committee.

The committee will vote by June 30 on Senate Bill 137, Mr. Rhoades' proposal to create the possibility of "initiative and referendum'' in Pennsylvania.

Such a major change "will give individual citizens a greater voice in the legislative process, and will help government be more responsive to those we serve,'' said Mr. Rhoades. "Increasing the public's say in the laws we pass in Harrisburg will stimulate public involvement.''

His proposal got support yesterday from Common Cause/Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think tank. Common Cause Executive Director Barry Kauffman said 28 states already give their citizens the power of initiative and referendum, the most notable being California, where election ballots sometimes contain 10 or more measures up for a popular vote.

"Initiative'' gives a citizens group the power to collect a certain amount of signatures of registered voters, based on the number of votes cast in the last election for governor. If the signatures are verified, a proposed law or constitutional change is put to a statewide referendum without waiting for the Legislature to act.

For example, citizens could put on the ballot a measure to change the state tax structure, such as rolling the income tax back to 2.8 percent, where it was until the Legislature increased it to 3.07 percent in 2004.

"Referendum'' means a citizens group can collect signatures to try to overturn a law passed by the Legislature. For example, citizens could have used such power to overturn the legislators' 2005 pay raise.

"Our organization has been a strong advocate of initiative and referendum for nearly two decades,'' said Mr. Kauffman. "Citizens recognize these tools for what they are, essential legislative safety valves necessary to ensure an effectively functioning representative democracy.''

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