CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION: That's how Rep. DeAnn Vaught pitched her proposed constitutional amendment.

The House today easily approved a third constitutional amendment for the 2020 ballot, this one aimed at making it more difficult for petition drives to qualify initiatives and amendments.

Advocates acknowledged the amendment, HJR 1008, would make it harder to qualify proposals for the ballot, but generally saw that as a good thing. It eliminates a cure period for campaigns that initially fall short on signatures. It significantly raises the bar on the distribution of signatures among the 75 counties. And it alters filing deadlines.


Advocates suggested the Constitution was somehow sanctified and needed protection from multiple changes (most often the result of amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature.)

Rep. DeAnn Vaught, who sponsored the resolution, said it would “protect state constitution, which is being muddled up by interest groups.”


Petition drives in 2018 raised the minimum wage, much to the unhappiness of the business lobby. A petition drive also put medicinal marijuana on the ballot, something the Repubican legislature opposed. And yet another petition drive expanded legal casinos, something the Republican legislature wouldn’t have approved.

In short, the people ruled and the legislature doesn’t want that to happen again.


Opponents of the measure said the wealthy vested interested still will have an avenue to reach the ballot, while less powerful forces won’t.

The legislature is also socking the sanctified document with a permanent half-cent sales tax to provide money for highways and with a prophylactic “term limits” amendment that could allow current members to serve as many as 32 years in the legislature. It will seem as if it shortens the current 16-year limit to 12, but doesn’t do so for current members. It’s intended to offset a voter drive to set the limits at 10 years.

So 2020 could be the last hurrah if voters go along with the legislature on this one. In addition to term limits, groups favoring legal marijuana and a new method of legislative redistricting are also talking about petition campaigns for 2020.