Well, for future fights, it just got easier…well a little easier.
A key part of the Nebraska law dealing with citizen based ballot issues — ranging from recalls to referendums — has been struck down.
According to U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon people from other states can now come into Nebraska and circulate petitions. In the case of Citizens in Charge v. Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale, Bataillon has ruled unconstitutional the state law which said only citizens of Nebraska, who are at least 18 years old, can circulate petitions.
Bataillon’s ruling is being applauded by Paul Jacob, the President of Citizens in Charge. Jacob came to Omaha from Virginia last year to spearhead the paid portion of the get-Suttle petition drive; Suttle backers notoriously dubbed Jacob the ‘Music Man.’
Today Jacob is singing Bataillon’s praises; sort of. Jacob tells Nebraska Watchdog that Bataillon’s ruling has put a “big crack in the wall legislators have built between the people of Nebraska and their right to petition issues onto the ballot.” Jacob says the law was written by state senators angry that voters had enacted term limits.
At the same time though Jacob is disappointed that Bataillon let stand a provision in the law which requires petitions to note in big red print whether the circulator is paid or a volunteer.
During the Suttle recall one of the major legal fights dealt with paid circulators. It is illegal in Nebraska for circulators to be paid per signature; Suttle’s legal team argued unsuccessfully that the recallers were doing just that.
Bataillon kept the ban on per-signature payments. Jacob says the “ban on productivity remains a substantial barrier to any Nebraskan petitioning his or her government.”
Reported by Joe Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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