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Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Hawaii Scores “D” on Citizen Initiative rights
By News Release @ 10:48 AM :: 18347 Views :: Hawaii County , Akaka Bill, Honolulu County, Democratic Party, Kauai County, DHHL, Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment

(Initiatives on the County level have included: Kauai Ohana in 2006-2007 attempting to use the initiative process to defeat high property taxes, Stop Rail activists who won the opportunity to vote on rail, and others who have used initiative for various causes on the Big Island.)

From – Citizens in Charge 

Citizens in Charge Foundation has created this report card to give a clearer picture of the extent to which residents of various states have the ability to affect their government through the initiative and referendum process. The startlingly low grades received by a majority of the states should serve as a rallying point for citizens around the country. Even the relatively higher grades of what might be called “the initiative states” show, in most cases, major room for improvement.

As governments have grown at local, metropolitan, state, and federal levels, the power of entrenched factions has also grown, vis-à-vis the citizenry. Traditional representative government has proven unreliable in restraining itself constitutionally, often to the point of uniting all branches of America’s distributed powers against the very people it was meant to serve. Institutions of direct democracy have evolved to help restore this balance of power, in effect fulfilling a basic promise of republican governance: The right to petition
government. Initiative and referendum thus serve as an expansion and perfection of one of the most basic principles of a limited republic.

In order to draw appropriate comparisons across all 50 states, Citizens in Charge Foundation looked at the most prominent and consistent factors affecting the people’s ability to petition government. Examining state constitutions and legal codes, we looked at what outlets for citizen-led government were provided — statewide citizen-initiated constitutional amendment, statewide statutory initiative, statewide referendum, the existence of a local initiative and referendum process, and the breadth of local processes — and awarded points accordingly.

We then noted the restrictions that states have placed in the way of citizens petitioning their government — short circulation periods, high signature requirements, bans on campaign workers from other states circulating petitions, bans or limitations on paying campaign workers who circulate petitions by the number of signatures they collect, and requirements that petitions be circulated according to a geographical/political distribution — and deducted points for each restriction.

(Twenty States scored better than Hawaii.  Twenty were tied [including Hawaii] with a “D”.   Ten states scored “F”.)

  *   *   *

Hawaii’s Initiative & Referendum Rights -- Local Initiative—3 points

Hawaii citizens do not have any statewide initiative and referendum rights. A majority of state citizens do enjoy local initiative and referendum rights.

Residents of Hawaii municipalities enjoy the power of local initiative and referendum. A majority of citizens in the state can affect laws and initiate government reforms at the local level.

To improve its score, Hawaii should Expand Citizen Access:

• Allow citizens to propose state constitutional amendments: Hawaii could earn three points by creating a process for citizens to amend the state constitution through initiative.

• Allow citizens to propose state laws: Hawaii could earn three points by creating a process for citizens to propose state laws through initiative.

• Allow citizens to put acts passed by the legislature to a referendum vote: Hawaii could earn two points by creating a process whereby citizens can act as a final check on the legislature by putting acts passed by legislators to a vote of the people.

RELATED: 

Akamai Politics Burris:  Does Hawaii need an initiative right? 

HawaiiReporter: Kauai Residents' Property Tax Revolt Case Goes to Hawaii Supreme Court

InverseCondemnation:

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