March Lilburne Award Presented to Oklahoma State Senator Randy Brogdon & Representative Randy Terrill

Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the initiative and referendum process, has named Oklahoma State Senator Randy Brogdon and Oklahoma State Representative Randy Terrill as the March 2009 recipients of the John Lilburne Award.

Both Oklahoma legislators are being recognized for their legislative efforts to facilitate citizen use of the state initiative and referendum process. Currently Oklahoma has some of the most restrictive initiative and referendum laws in the nation.

“Oklahoma voters can breathe a little easier with the help of Senator Brogdon and Representative Terrill whose legislative efforts have helped reduce the suffocating restrictions on voting rights in Oklahoma,” said
Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge Foundation. “Brogdon and Terrill have worked tirelessly to champion individual rights and much like the of 17th century activists John Lilburne they will be remembered for standing against government abuse and supporting to voice of the people.”

In the State Senate, Sen. Brogdon introduced Senate Joint Resolution 13 (SJR 13). This constitutional amendment, ties the number of signatures needed to qualify an initiative to the number of votes cast for governor. Currently, this number is set on turnout during presidential elections, requiring citizens to collect nearly 33 percent more petition signatures.  The amendment has passed the Senate, 44-0, and awaits action in the House.

State Representative Terrill introduced House Bill 2246, which makes a number of changes to the process, most importantly, extending the period for circulating a petition from 90 days to 1 year.  Rep. Terrill’s bill also creates a system where challenges to the wording of a petition must be brought and adjudicated before a petition drive begins. In past years, a number of petitions, containing hundreds of thousands of valid signatures, have been thrown out on technicalities. HB 2246 has passed the House, 90-4, and now awaits Senate action.

If passed, these two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Brogdon and Representative Terrill will dramatically open up the initiative petition process in the state, allowing Oklahomans to fully exercise their rights.

Each month the Citizens in Charge Foundation gives the John Lilburne Award in honor of a citizen or citizens working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans. John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights, who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse.