The latest from the Initiative and Referendum Institute:
Minnesota's struggles for democracy:
March 22, 2002

As reported in earlier, Minnesota, along with New York, represent the greatest chances for the expansion of the initiative and referendum process. Holding true to this prediction, the MN House passed the I&R amendment by a 76-57 margin. Accolades belong to State Representative Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie). He has championed this issue for several years and was the driving force behind the success in the House.

The next big hurdle is the Senate. As the following article shows, the Senate is openly hostile to the idea (surprise). However, don't believe everything that you read. There is a strong group working in MN with a plan that might wear down the Senate. Stay tuned.......

Initiative-and-referendum returns this year for another vote
Dane Smith
Star Tribune
Published Mar 22, 2002

The Minnesota House approved a bill Thursday that would allow voters next fall to decide whether they want an initiative-and-referendum option for enacting or repealing laws.

No companion bill is advancing in the Senate, however, and DFLers said the perennial Republican effort to move "I&R" has no chance of passage this year.

Initiative and referendum, on the books in 24 states, is a form of direct democracy that would allow citizens to put legislation directly on the ballot by collecting signatures on a statewide petition.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Eden Prairie, said I&R is a relief valve for the system "when politicians refuse to act, when the governor is disdainful, or when courts won't respond."

Critics of I&R say that it often is exploited by well-funded interest groups, and that the proliferation of questions on the ballot, best exemplified by California's experience, has created confusion for voters and chaos in state government.

Paulsen, however, argued that his bill would set a much tougher standard than California's for putting items on the ballot.

Under his bill, advocates of a ballot measure would have to gather signatures equal to at least 5 percent of the voters in the last gubernatorial election, and at least 5 percent in six of the state's eight congressional districts. States with standards that tough see an average of only about one or two ballot questions every year, Paulsen said.

Although the bill passed 76 to 57, on a mostly party-line vote with the support of several DFLers, House Minority Leader Tom Pugh, DFL-South St. Paul, said it again has no support in the Senate and is "going nowhere. . .
. We take this vote every two years."

Paulsen said the margin of passage and the fact that Gov. Jesse Ventura supports the bill should put the matter "in the mix" of key proposals that are part of negotiations at the end of the legislative session.

Initiative & Referendum Institute
1825 I Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006
202.429.5539 (office) 202.986.3001 (fax)
visit our websites at and