Oklahoma Bills to Make Initiative Qualification Easier Advance

Two Oklahoma bills to make it easier to qualify initiatives for the ballot passed the Senate Rules Committee on February 17. Both are sponsored by Senator Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso), the same Senator who sponsored the bill to ease ballot access for minor parties. SJR13, a proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution, would lower the number of signatures for a statutory initiative from 8% of the last vote cast, to 5% of the last gubernatorial vote. If the legislature passes this, the voters must vote on it in 2010.

SB 852 removes some impediments to the qualification of initiative petitions. It allows the initiative to be printed on 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper (current law requires that sheets be 14 inches long, which makes it more difficult to distribute blank petition forms on many home printers). It deletes the requirement that only Oklahoma residents may circulate an initiative. It expands the petitioning period from 90 days to one year. It requires legal challenges to the initiative to be filed early in the process, instead of after all the signatures have been collected. And it makes it illegal to harass initiative petition circulators while they are working.

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