Massachusetts and S. Dakota legislatures violated initiative rules
Both the South Dakota and Massachusetts legislatures have violated their respective states' ballot initiative rules -- the former legislature by voting on a ballot initiative and the latter legislature by failing to vote on a ballot initiative.
As I have previously noted, there are two different kinds of ballot initiatives -- the "direct" initiative and the "indirect" initiative. In the"direct" initiative, a proposition is supposed to be put directly on the ballot without going to the legislature first, and in the "indirect" initiative, a proposition is supposed to go before the legislature before going on the ballot. In an indirect initiative procedure, a proposition may or may not go on the ballot (I don't know how the initiative rules of the different states differ in this regard). Massachusetts' state constitution has an "indirect" initiative procedure that requires the legislature to vote on the initiative and South Dakota has a "direct" initiative procedure. I have already noted that the South Dakota legislature violated the spirit of the state's direct initiative procedure by voting on a resolution against the state's Amendment E ("Jail-4-judges") ballot proposition -- in several decades of following California's propositions, I cannot recall the legislature ever voting on a single one of them. Now the Massachusetts legislature has violated the letter of the state constitution by failing to vote on a ballot proposition.
It is hard enough trying to get an initiative passed into law without having to worry about these illegal and/or unethical sabotage efforts by the state legislature.
A related article on this blog is titled Reform of ballot proposition rules. I would add another proposed reform: where the legislature fails to vote on an indirect initiative, the rules should require that the initiative go directly on the ballot by default.
Labels: Voter initiatives