Although there is considerable variation in initiative law, there are certain aspects of initiative common among state laws and NCID. Fundamental to initiative is that it is intended to be a bottom-up legislative tool. Any citizen ought to be able to initiate a new law. This creates the problem of filtering the wealth of proposals for the few that are promising enough to place on the ballot. Placing an initiative before the public for consideration is not inexpensive and cannot be done on caprice. This process is called qualification.
Ideally, qualification should be accurate. That is, only those initiatives that are of interest to the electorate ought to be qualified. If too many initiatives are qualified then the electorate will be overwhelmed with too many proposals. If too few initiatives are qualified then the initiative is failing its purpose as a bottom-up legislative tool. Qualification should also be inexpensive. If qualification is too expensive then those citizens without ready access to wealth will be excluded from the process, again undermining the bottom-up purpose of initiative.
Once an initiative is qualified, the public needs to deliberate on the pros and cons of the initiative. Uninformed voters will not be able to make rational choices at the ballot box. All initiative procedures provide for some sort of dissemination of information about the initiative. Thereafter, the initiative is placed on the ballot for a vote.
A more detailed discussion of the design trade-offs in initiative process design can be found here.
|Types available||Pre-qualification Title & Summary||Citizen Jury / Deliberative Poll||Ballot Title & Summary|
|Statue law||Constitutional law||Frequency Limit||Deposit||Written by||Evaluated by||Drafting assistance||Pre-qualificaiton Legal Review||Single Subject||Subject Restrictions||Same subject waiting period (years)||Qualification by poll||Public Hearing||Evaluative||Can rewrite||Written by||Evaluated by||Suffers from Bellotti (see Act, 3-P)||Voter’s Pamphlet||Double election for constitutional initiatives||Legislature restricted from amending or repealing statutory initiatives?|
|NI4D||Y||Y||N||TBD||Sponsor||ET||Y||N||Y||N||0||Y||Y||Y||Y||Citizen Jury / Deliberative Poll||N||Y||Y||N|
|AK||Y||N||N||100||Sponsor||Lt. Gov||N||Lt. Gov evaluates form and content||Y||Various restrictions||0||N||N||N||N||AG||Lt. Gov||Y||Y||N||Y|
|AZ||Y||Y||N||0||Sponsor||N||SoS evaluates form||Y||Legislative matters only||0||N||Y||N||N||Sponsor & SoS||AG||Y||Y||N||Y|
|AR||Y||Y||N||0||Sponsor||AG||N||?||N||Legislative matters only||0||N||N||N||N||Sponsor||AG||Y||N||N||Y|
|CO||Y||Y||N||0||DB||N||LC evaluates content||Y||N||0||N||Y||N||N||DB||Y||Y||N||N|
|FL||N||Y||N||0||Sponsor||N||SC evaluates constitutionality and single subject compliance||Y||N||0||N||N||N||N||Sponsor||SoS||Y||N||N||N/A|
|ID||Y||N||N||0||AG||N||AG evaluates content||N||N||0||N||N||N||N||AG||Y||Y||N||N|
|ME||Y||N||N||0||SoS||N||SoS evaluates form||N||Various restrictions||0||N||N||N||N||SoS||Y||Y||N||N|
|MA||Y||Y||N||0||Sponsor||AG||N||AG evaluates subject||N||Various restrictions||0||N||Y||N||N||Sec. of Commonwealth||AG||Y||Y||N||N|
|MI||Y||Y||5||500||Sponsor||BSC||N||N||Legislative matters only||0||N||N||N||N||BSC||Y||N||N||Y|
|MO||Y||Y||N||0||N/A||N||AG evaluates form||Y||Various restrictions||0||N||N||N||N||AG||Y||N||N||N|
|NV||Y||Y||N||0||N/A||N||SoS evaluates form||N||Various restrictions||0||N||N||N||N||SoS||Legislative Commission||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|ND||Y||Y||N||0||SoS||AG||N||SoS evaluates form||N||Various restrictions||0||N||N||N||N||SoS||AG||Y||N||N||Y|
|OH||Y||Y||N||25||Sponsor||AG||Y||N||Y||Various restrictions||0||N||N||N||N||Sponsor||AG & SoS||Y||Y||N||N|
|OK||Y||Y||N||0||Sponsor||N||SoS evaluates form||Y||Legislative matters||3||N||N||N||N||Sponsor||AG||Y||N||N||N|
|OR||Y||Y||N||0||AG||N||AG evaluates single subject||Y||Legislative matters||0||N||N||Pilot||N||AG||Y||Y||N||N|
|SD||Y||Y||N||0||N/A||LRC||N||N||Various restrictions||0||N||N||N||N||State Board of Elections||Y||Y||N||N|
|UT||Y||N||N||0||N/A||N||AG evaluates constitutionality||N||Legislative matters||0||N||N||N||N||AG||Y||Y||N||Y|
|WA||Y||N||N||5||AG||Code Reviser||N||Y||Legislative matters||0||N||N||N||N||AG||Y||Y||N||Y|
|WY||Y||N||N||500||SoS||N||SoS evaluates form||Y||Various restrictions||5||N||N||N||N||SoS & AG||Y||N||N||Y|
Assistance to the sponsor for drafting the initiative text is provided in some states such as California, Nevada, and South Dakota. Similarly, NCID provides a research and drafting service (see Act, 4-F-3). Under NCID, the title and summary of a proposed initiative must be approved by the Citizens Trust. This is similar to pre-circulation review in Illinois (see Act, 3-C). Proposed initiatives must be germane to a single subject. This restriction is more strict than Idaho (which has no single subject requirement) but less strict than Florida (which has a very strict single subject rule). Like Idaho, NCID does not prescribe any restrictions on subject matter (see Act, 3-D). Similar to all state law, NCID permits qualification by signature petitions. However, NCID also offers the novel option to qualify by poll (see Act 3-F-1). Two states, Mississippi and Illinois, limit the number of initiatives appearing on the ballot to five and three respectively. NCID does not limit the number of initiatives that can go on the ballot (see "What if there are too many initiatives?" 1:58). Five states, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, disallow the same subject appearing on the ballot for various periods between two and five years. NCID has no similar restriction.
In a legislature, many interested parties contribute to the drafting of a proposed law. Once the author introduces a bill, it is referred to committee. The committee holds hearings. There is an extensive vetting process. Interested parties can identify drafting flaws, argue for more optimal solutions, and suggest modifications. In contrast, initiatives are drafted by the sponsor and the text is finalized prior to beginning signature collection (except in Alaska and Wyoming using the unpopular indirect initiative process). In most cases, there is no informed deliberation, no consensus-building, and no compromise. Similar to a recent pilot in Oregon, a citizen jury or deliberative poll (a.k.a. deliberative committee) is convened to evaluate qualified initiatives and write a report to inform the voters. NCID goes one step further than Oregon and allows the deliberative committee to receive testimony from all stakeholders and rewrite the initiative incorporating feedback and compromise (see Act, 3-I).
All states disseminate some information about qualfiied initiatives, but NCID goes far beyond existing practice by charging the Citizens Trust with the responsibility to communicate timely, comprehensive, balanced, and pertinent information on the subject matter of each initiative by various media, including radio, television, print, and the Internet and/or other electronic media (see Act, 4-F-4). Current state initiatives can suffer from initiative campaigns funded by corporations against the public interest. The Citizens Amendment overturns the crucial Bellotti case (see Act, 3-P). Similar to Nevada, constitutional initiatives must win two successive elections to be ratified. NCID also sets a higher majority standard for constitutional initiatives than is currently practiced in the states (see Act, 3-O). Unlike California and some other states, the usual procedures for lawmaking in representative legislatures are unaffected by NCID (see "How will conflicts be resolved?").
Learn how all the facets of NCID fit together; please go through the quiz.