PLAINFIELD - Illinois ballot initiative process is structured to keep citizens out of public policy discussions and the state constitution should be changed to make it easier, says Mark Batinick, Candidate for State Representative in the 97th District.
“I've always been dismayed by the lack of influence the citizens of Illinois have. Every national election day we hear about citizen's ballot initiatives in other states. We rarely hear about those in Illinois," Batinick said in a press release.
Batinick, who is hoping to succeed State Rep. Tom Cross in November, says if elected, he will make passing an effort to make citizen participation in government easier by revamping the ballot initiative law.
The main reason for this is the State Supreme Court’s strict interpretation of a sentence in Article 14 section 3 of the State Constitution. It states, “Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.” This sentence has been used to stop several ballot initiatives, Batinick says.
“While the citizens of Illinois have little power in initiating change, the General Assembly has full ability. The General Assembly needs to place on the ballot a constitutional amendment question that would address the issue. They essentially can give the citizens the right to vote themselves more power.”
The Amendment below would change Article 14, Section 3.
Amendment by Citizen Initiative (The People’s Amendment)
Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed by a petition signed by a number of electors equal in number to at least five percent of the total votes cast for candidates for Governor in the preceding gubernatorial election.
A petition shall contain the text of the proposed amendment and the date of the general election at which the proposed amendment is to be submitted, shall have been signed by the petitioning electors not more than twenty-four months preceding that general election and shall be filed with the Secretary of State at least six months before that general election.
The procedure for determining the validity and sufficiency of a petition shall be provided by law but a petition shall not be invalidated without either an insufficient number of signatures or clear and convincing evidence of fraud, forgery or deception. If the petition is valid and sufficient, the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the electors at that general election and shall become effective if approved by three-fifths of those voting on the amendment.
This amendment addresses three items:
1. It removes the sentence “Amendments shall be limited to structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.” This allows the citizens to initiate change in any area of the constitution. Specifically the phrase “structural and procedural” has been used to remove previous amendment attempts that appeared to have met all requirements.
2. It lowers the signature requirement from 8% of the previous Governor’s election to 5%. The current requirement is much too onerous.
3. It requires a strict super-majority to pass an amendment. The State Constitution should not be changed easily
“I have already presented my proposal to many elected officials and leaders and have found overwhelming support for this proposal. If elected, I intend to work hard to get this common-sense idea passed into law” said Batinick.