SB 81 - Sen. Paul Sanford
HB 201- Rep. Mike Ball
, Rep. Mac McCutcheon
, Rep. Greg Canfield, Rep. Mike Hil
l, Rep. Randy Wood, Rep. Blaine GalliherSummary/Synopsis:
These identical bills would propose a constitutional amendment to provide that the people also may propose the enactment of general laws and constitutional amendments by an initiative measure subject to the same limitations imposed on the Legislature and that the Legislature may offer an alternate proposal.
(companion bills)League Action and Justification: LWVAL is monitoring SB 81 and HB 201.
These bills include points in the League position such as distribution of signatures across the state in preliminary petition and more signatures for constitutional amendments than statutory law. They use the Alabama Law Center, Legislative Reference Service, and Legislative Fiscal Office. They provide an opportunity for the Legislature to offer alternative versions of the proposed law with both versions offered to the voters.
The bills omit, however, all safeguards League favors to prevent abuses by signature gatherers, who are more often hired firms rather than grassroots activists, especially if the initiative is part of a group’s attempt to build national support for their agenda. Such abuses have been well-documented both in gathering signatures for the petition and in the campaign for the public vote. LWVAL recommends full disclosure of all supporting organizations, and disclosure of the sources of contributions and amounts spent on campaign advertisements.
Both bills specify that no law adopted by initiative under this section shall be repealed or amended except by vote of the people, unless the bills provides otherwise. Such a provision has created difficulties in states where initiatives are many, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and comments on California’s circumstances.
During the study of Initiative &Referendum, both LWVAL and Local Leagues approved support for Initiative with reservations. League favors initiative only with safeguards against demonstrated abuses.
Before a decision to support or oppose, more study is needed, such as comparison of the effects of the two different processes, and weighting of the consequences of omission of LWVAL recommendations. In particular LWV must consider how well the bills meet the criteria added to LWVAL’s Constitutional Reform positions:
“If the Alabama Constitution authorizes initiative and referendum, the Constitution should either contain safeguards in the initiative and referendum process to protect representative and deliberative democracy, guarantee basic rights found in the U.S. and Alabama Constitutions, maintain essential state services, and reduce the influence of special interests or require that he legislature include such safeguards in any enabling or other initiative and referendum legislation.”Bill Progress in Legislature:
SB 81 - 1st Read: 1/12/10 and assigned to
HB 201 - 1st Read: 1/12/10 and assigned to