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Initiative Subject Restrictions

Initiative Subject Restrictions

Updated May 11, 2009

 

 
Single Subject?
Other Subject Restrictions
Alaska
Const. Art. XI, §7
Yes
  • May not dedicate revenues 
  • May not make or repeal appropriations.
  • No acts affecting the judiciary.
  • No local or special legislation.
Arizona
Const. Art. IX, §23
Yes

If an initiative requires a reduction in government revenue or a reallocation from currently-funded programs, the initiative text must identify the program or programs whose funding must be reduced or eliminated to implement the initiative.

Arkansas
 

None

California
Const. Art. II, §8
Yes

May not include or exclude any political subdivision of the State from application or effect.

May not contain alternative or cumulative provisions wherein one or more of those provisions would become law depending upon the casting of a specified percentage of votes for or against the measure.

Colorado
Const. Art. V, §1(5.5)
Yes

None

Florida
Const. Art. XI, §3
Yes

Measures that propose a tax or fee not in place in November 1994 require a 2/3 vote to pass

Idaho
 

None

Illinois
Const. Art. XIV, §.
 

Allowed only for amendment of constitutional Article IV, relating to structural and procedural subjects concerning the legislative branch.

Maine
 

Any measure providing for an expenditure of funds in excess of those appropriated becomes inoperative 45 days after the legislature convenes.

Massachusetts
No* 

No measures relating to

  • Religion
  • The judiciary
  • Specific appropriations
  • Local or special legislation
  • The 18th amendment of the constitution
  • Anything inconsistent with the rights of individuals as enumerated in the constitution.

A measure cannot be, either affirmatively or negatively, substantially the same as any measure which has been qualified for submission or submitted to the people at either of the two preceding biennial state elections.

Michigan
 

The initiative power extends only to laws which the legislature may enact.

Mississippi
Const. Art. 15, §273(5)
 

The initiative cannot be used to:

  • Repeal/modify the state's Bill of Rights
  • amend/repeal provisions relating to the state's public employees' retirement system
  • amend/repeal right-to-work provision
  • modify the initiative process.

Only first 5 certified measures may go on ballot.

If a measure is rejected by voters, no identical or substantially similar measure may go on ballot for a min. 2 years.

If an initiative requires a reduction in government revenue or a reallocation from currently-funded programs, the initiative text must identify the program or programs whose funding must be reduced or eliminated to implement the initiative.

Missouri
Const. Art. III, §50 and §51
Yes

No appropriations of money other than new revenues created and provided for by the initiative.

Cannot be used for any purpose prohibited by the state's constitution.

Montana
Const. Art. III, §4(1)
Yes

No appropriations.

No local or special laws.

Nebraska
Yes

Limited to matters that can be enacted by legislation. No measures that interfere with the legislature’s ability to direct taxation of necessary revenues for the state and its governmental subdivisions

The same measure cannot be initiated more often than once in three years.

Nevada
NRS §295.009
Const. Art. 16 §6
Yes

No appropriations.

Cannot require an expenditure of money unless a sufficient tax is provided as part of the initiative proposal.

North Dakota
 

No emergency measures.

No appropriation measures for the support and maintenance of state departments and institutions.

Ohio
ORC §3519.01
Yes

May not be used to pass a law

  • authorizing any classification of property for the purpose of levying different rates of taxation thereon
  • authorizing the levy of any single tax on land or land values or land sites at a higher rate or by a different rule than is or may be applied to improvements thereon or to personal property.
Oklahoma
Const. Art. V §6
Yes

Initiatives rejected by the voters cannot be proposed again for three years by less than 25 percent of the state's legal voters.

Oregon
Const. Art. IV, §1(d)
Yes

 

South Dakota
 

No private or special laws

Utah
Yes

A measure that fails to pass cannot be resubmitted for two years.

Washington
Yes
 
Wyoming
Const. Art. 3 §52(d) and (g)
Yes

Cannot be used:

  • to dedicate revenues
  • to make or repeal appropriations
  • to create courts
  • to define the jurisdiction of courts
  • to prescribe court rules
  • to enact local or special legislation, or
  • to enact legislation prohibited by the Wyoming constitution.

The same measure cannot be initiated more often than once in five years.

*In interviews conducted in May 2002, election officials in Massachusetts said that although that state does not have a single subject rule, it does have a requirement that a initiative contain only subjects that are related or mutually dependent. Courts have interpreted relatedness to mean that "... one can identify a common purpose to which each subject of [the] initiative petition can reasonably be said to be germane."
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, May 2009.

 

For More Information

For more information on initiative and referendum, please contact Jennie Drage Bowser in NCSL's Denver office.

 

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