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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 ?
theory underlying voter initiatives is that they are primarily used to
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.
A voter initiative that would ban future same-sex marriages in the state could appear on the 2008 ballot if allowed by the Legislature a second time.
The voter initiative process historically has addressed taxes and financial bonds, but increasingly in recent years voters have used the initiative process to express their will on social issues, such as drug and justice policy reform, treatment of minority groups, and human services delivery.
Immigration has mobilized Hispanic voters in the past, most notably in California after the 1994 passage of Proposition 187, a voter initiative to cut off public services for illegal immigrants.
For example, the bill could preempt California's Proposition 65, a voter initiative that requires businesses to warn consumers and workers before exposing them to contaminants that the state has identified as either a carcinogen or reproductive toxicant.
To help achieve that national takeover, the SBC has launched a voter initiative called "iVoteValues.
We are investigating the possibility of taking it to a voter initiative," the CPA-legislator says.