Bills will make it easier to petition government

From CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Oklahoma’s reputation for having some of the strictest laws in the country when it comes to citizen initiatives is about to change.  Two bills ready to come out of conference committee have language in them that will make it easier for Oklahomans to seek their fundamental right of petitioning their government.

“We have worked with legislators and representatives of the executive branch to come up with language that will give citizens more of a voice in government,” said Brian Downs, Executive Director of Oklahomans for Responsible Government.  “We look forward to the bills being heard and passed in these final weeks of the session.”

House Bill 2246 and Senate Bill 800 will have similar language that extends the time period for gathering signatures from 90-days to one year.  They also require legal challenges to the wording of a petition to happen before signatures are gathered so that time and money are not wasted on an effort that gets thrown out on a technicality. 

 “These reforms will make it easier for individuals or small organizations to get their ideas on a ballot,” said Downs.  “Right now only large, well-funded groups can afford to get tens of thousands of signatures in just 90-days.”

Earlier this month, lawmakers passed Senate Joint Resolution 13 which will let voters decide if the number of signatures needed should be based on the last governor’s election instead of fluctuating between the last election for governor or the president.