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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 ?
In failing to subject the Proposal 2 voter initiative to strict scrutiny, the Court permitted the populist mechanism (48) to replace the representative structure of republican government with its built in checks and balances.
Opponents contend that MMRSA is unconstitutional, since a voter initiative cannot be changed by legislative action unless it so provides.
He called on the Bar to sponsor a voter initiative drive to amend the constitution to return to the former way of selecting JNC members.
The formative time spent in the West Wing, combined with years of trench warfare via California's ludicrous voter initiative process, have inculcated a bicoastal love of politics and disgust for professional mediocrity.
The required number of signatures is two and a half times higher than for any other direct voter initiative specifically to discourage any attempt to change the status quo.
19) And once enacted, they can be changed only by another voter initiative, unless they authorize legislative amendment, which they seldom do.
Self-described "intactivist" Lloyd Schofield has been collecting signatures for a voter initiative that would criminalize infant circumcision in the Californian city.
Proposition 24: Repeal Corporate Tax Loopholes Act: Proposition 24 reached the California ballot as a voter initiative backed by several public service unions in an attempt to repeal several provisions characterized as special corporate tax breaks set to go into effect on January 1, 2011.
But among these states, nowhere is the practice of government by voter initiative as extreme as it is in California.
ELECTION: Voter initiative on recreational marijuana use likely to make ballot.
The voter initiative came about as a result of a 4-3 California Supreme Court decision this spring which declared that restriction of marriage to heterosexuals was discriminatory.