New York Senator Honored for Sponsoring Legislation to Create Initiative Process

Mon, Jul 11 2011

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented New York State Senator Joseph Robach with the July 2011 John Lilburne Award for sponsoring legislation this year in the New York Senate to create a citizen initiative & referendum process in the state.

“Unfortunately, New York is one of the 24 states that currently have no statewide initiative & referendum process for citizens,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “Creating a statewide process is a long and arduous task, but thankfully New Yorkers have an active champion in Senator Robach who believes citizens should be able to directly hold their government accountable.”

Earlier this year Senator Robach sponsored S709-2011, a bill which “Provides for initiative and referendum in New York State for the People as electors to propose or reject laws and submit amendments to the state constitution.” The legislation was introduced in January, passed out of committee in March, and on June 7th, passed the full Senate by a healthy 47-15 margin. Unfortunately after the bill was sent to the Assembly there has been no movement.

“While Senator Robach’s bill has not yet passed the legislature, in order to be placed on the ballot for voters to decide, it is an important first step in providing New York citizens these crucial First Amendment rights,” added Jacob. “Opponents claim ballot measures harm a state’s ability to function, but in fact they have it exactly backwards. Government is supposed to be of the people and runs better when voters have initiative & referendum rights. We applaud Senator Robach for being part of the solution and are glad to honor him with this month’s award.”

A poll commissioned in the summer of 2010 by the Citizens in Charge and Citizens in Charge Foundation found that New York voters favor having a statewide initiative process by a roughly 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.

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: