The legislature agreed at the outset of this session on rules that limited each chamber to one constitutional amendment to propose to voters. They’ve been picked: One would severely limit damage lawsuits with caps on pain and suffering and punitive damages and on legal fees. One would suppress voting by adding a Voter ID requirement to vote.
House Speaker Jeremy Gillam now wants to change the agreement, as was anticipated at the outset with a two-thirds vote. He wants to present a third amendment. It would, in short, make it much harder to put constitutional amendments on the ballot. He got the vote he needed in the House today, 79-4. If the Senate also approves an addition with a two-thirds vote, then the amendment may be considered.
It’s a monstrously complicated amendment, with a ballot title that runs for pages. In short, it would make it much harder for the people to initiate and pass a constitutional amendment. It would, for example, require gathering signatures from 10 percent, rather than 8 percent of all voters, as well as 50 percent of voters in 25 counties, to get a citizen amendment on the ballot. And then it would require a 60 percent vote for approval.
It might not eliminate the popular amendment, but it would make it fiendishly and/or expensively difficult.