Introduced by Rep. Jim Townsend (D) on April 28, 2011, to place before voters in the next general election a Constitutional amendment to revise the current prohibition on citizen referendums challenging bills that contain an appropriation. The measure would establish that the ban only applies to bills that substantially fund one or more state departments, or which are needed close current state budget shortfalls. A Supreme Court ruling a few years ago interpreted the provision to prohibit referendums on any bill containing an appropriation. In several instances since then, the legislature has deliberately added modest appropriations to controversial bills which, without the appropriation, would likely have been challenged by a referendum. The Constitution gives citizens the right to halt the implementation of a new law by submitting petitions signed by five percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last gubernatorial election, within 90 days of the end of an annual legislative session. When this happens, the new law does not go into effect unless it is approved by a majority in the next general election.
Referred to the House Government Operations Committee on April 28, 2011.