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the originating of a law or constitutional amendment by popular petition. It is intended to allow the electorate to initiate legislation independently of the legislature. This direct form of legislation, together with the referendumreferendum,
referral of proposed laws or constitutional amendments to the electorate for final approval. This direct form of legislation, along with the initiative, was known in Greece and other early democracies.
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, was known in Greece and other early democracies. It is practiced in Switzerland. In the United States the initiative was recognized as early as 1777 in the first constitution of Georgia. It was subsequently adopted by a number of states and may apply also on local and city government levels. There are two kinds of initiative, direct and indirect. In both kinds of initiative a certain number of signatures (usually from 5% to 15% of the electorate in the district concerned) must appear on the petition that proposes the constitutional amendment or legislation. In direct initiative the proposed law is voted on in the next election, or in a special election, after a petition with the required number of signatures has been filed with state or local officials. In indirect initiative the petition goes directly to the legislature and reaches the people only if the legislature fails to enact it into law. In the 1990s ballot initiatives became increasingly popular as various interest groups sought to win approval of measures they supported.


See P. Schrag, Paradise Lost (1999).


a. the right or power to introduce legislation, etc., in a legislative body
b. the procedure by which citizens originate legislation, as in many American states and Switzerland
References in periodicals archive ?
The measure's proponents sent a letter today to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla certifying that 25 percent of the signatures have been collected, a notification that is required under a new law governing state ballot initiatives.
Nonetheless, Personhood USA is pushing ballot initiatives in Ohio, Florida, Montana, Oregon, California and Nevada, as well as a bill in Arizona.
But the impact of the anti-mining ballot initiatives, combined with the public debate between mining industry advocates and critics permeating throughout Alaska's media, has dampened enthusiasm and industry investment, even before Alaska voters have a chance to decide the issue.
Look for an analysis of 2005 and 2006 antigay ballot initiatives in the next issue of The Advocate.
Goldstein and other scientists formed the ballot initiative last year after discussions with patient-advocacy groups and wealthy donors disheartened by the Bush Administration's stem cell research funding policy.
Supreme Court upheld race-conscious admission practices of the University of Michigan Law School, conservative-sponsored ballot initiatives during the up, coming 2004 elections will urge voters in Michigan and other states to outlaw racial preferences.
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, handing a victory to the Montana Chamber of Commerce, Helena, and the Montana Society of Association Executives, Helena, which had been fighting the law since voters approved it as a ballot initiative in 1996.
The San Manuel Band alone spent $25 million on a single ballot initiative, more than $300,000 for each of its 85 members.
The passage of a state ballot initiative has won Native American groups the right to operate Nevada-style slot machines and card games such as poker and blackjack in the state--which will mean an increase in demand for casino security.
Such revelations have bred revulsion, lending enormous support for an upcoming California ballot initiative that would ban the sale of horses for slaughter, making it a felony crime.
Proposition 211 prompted the costliest campaign ever over a California ballot initiative.
Gays could still propose laws through a statewide ballot initiative.