Nevada Activist Honored for Crucial Efforts to Protect State Initiative Process

Thu, Jun 9 2011

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Janine Hansen, a Nevada citizen activist working with Citizen Outreach with the June 2011 John Lilburne Award for her outstanding dedication to protecting Nevada’s citizen initiative rights from legislation that would have severely restricted those rights.

“Over the years, Nevada’s legislature has squeezed citizen involvement out of government by setting extremely restrictive distribution requirements for the citizen initiative process,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “This year, legislation was introduced to force citizens to qualify petitions in 42 separate districts. Only due to the tireless efforts of Janine Hansen was that onerous mandate changed to the much more sensible requirement that petitions qualify in all 3 congressional districts.”

Janine is being honored for her work to protect Nevada’s initiative process from a highly restrictive petition signature geographic distribution requirement. After seeing two previous requirements declared unconstitutional, Nevada’s legislature began considering highly restrictive schemes including forcing petition proponents to qualify a certain amount of signatures in every one of the state’s 42 Assembly districts in 2009. Day after day Janine Hansen made the trip to Carson City to inform legislators on how much harm restrictive distribution requirements do to grassroots citizen efforts.

Thanks to Janine’s efforts and those of a coalition of good government groups that included Citizens in Charge, the Marijuana Policy Project, and Citizen Outreach the legislature ended the 2009 session with a mandate to revisit the issue in 2011. Janine worked faithfully again to resist highly restrictive proposals, and the two-year fight showed signs of an end last week when the Assembly moved to send SB 133 to the governor, making petition districts align with the boundaries of the state’s three congressional districts and setting the required number of signatures at 1/3 of 10 percent of the voters in the last statewide election.

“While any signature distribution requirement is an unnecessary restriction on the initiative process, requiring qualification in three congressional districts will not be such a serious burden on gathering signatures that it blocks the state’s initiative process,” Jacob added. “Thanks to Janine Hansen, should the governor sign this bill into law, it will be a major victory for the right of Nevada citizens to petition their government.”

Citizens in Charge Foundation gave the June 2009 John Lilburne Award to Nevada State Senator Terry Care for casting the sole vote against Senate Bill 212, which created the petition district requirement where thanks to the federal courts none existed before.

A poll commissioned in the summer of 2010 by the Citizens in Charge and Citizens in Charge Foundation found that Nevada voters favor having a statewide initiative process by a nearly five-to-one margin.

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, group of citizens or organization doing the most 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. For a complete list of past Lilburne Award winners please click here.

ABOUT CITIZENS IN CHARGE FOUNDATION:
Citizens in Charge Foundation is the only national transpartisan voter rights group dedicated to protecting and expanding the ballot initiative and referendum process without regard to partisanship and politics. We believe good government starts with the voter. For more information visit us at: www.CitizensInChargeFoundation.org.

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