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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 possible law quoted above is from one of these three: the Lane County Community Self-Government ballot initiative.
Nonetheless, Personhood USA is pushing ballot initiatives in Ohio, Florida, Montana, Oregon, California and Nevada, as well as a bill in Arizona.
Ballot Initiative Procedures Implicate Primary Objects of First Amendment Protection B.
Polling consistently shows that contrary to myth, ballot initiatives do not drive turnout during presidential elections.
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.
Despite California's current budget crisis, a group of researchers have launched a ballot initiative that would require the near bankrupt state to raise $3 billion over 10 years for studies of embryo stem cells, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Ward Connerly (the conservative African American who spearheaded Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot initiative that California voters passed to stop affirmative action) is currently promoting the Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI) in California to eliminate the collection of racial information on state government forms.
the Oregon Education Association for its victory in the battle for an honest ballot initiative system.
The Circle of Life Foundation's Julia Butterfly Hill helped launch a new 2002 California state ballot initiative to save California's last remaining ancient and old-growth trees.
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.