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Gov. Heineman vetoes petition changesTell North Platte what you think

Gov. Dave Heineman vetoed a bill Tuesday that would put more restrictions on petition circulation.

The bill (LB 39) would require petition circulators to be residents of Nebraska, at least 18 years old and prohibit circulators from being paid per signature.

Secretary of State John Gale and others have said circulators are sometimes too young.

Citing the relatively high number of signatures required for a successful petition, Heineman said more restrictions “would unfairly inhibit the ability of citizens to petition their government.”

“I do not believe that we should enact additional barriers to the powers of the initiative and the referendum that are reserved for the people in Article III of the Nebraska Constitution,” Heineman said in a letter to the Legislature.

Sen. Dianna Schimek of Lincoln, who sponsored the bill, filed a motion Wednesday to override the veto. It is not known when the Legislature would vote on that.

The Legislature passed the bill on Feb. 6 by a vote of 31-14, with one senator abstaining. It takes 30 votes to overturn a veto.

Schimek’s bill stems in part from the petitions and referendums of 2006, when groups circulated 13 petitions on spending caps, casino gambling and video keno. Three measures made the November ballot, where only one succeeded — an attempt to restore elementary-only school districts. But the Legislature, so far, has done nothing to restore those schools.

The "stop overspending" cap was largely funded by out-of-state groups that push for conservative reforms. There were reports of circulators for getting more than $5 per signature. Heated debate marked that drive. Some cities as well as security officers at the University of Nebraska prohibited petitioners in public areas. The courts stopped those prohibitions, affirming petitioners Constitutional right to circulate in public areas.

Also, so-called "petition blockers" sometimes bothered people to keep them from collecting or giving signatures.

The Associated Press reports that additional petitions will be drafted by the Secretary of State for groups wanting issues on the upcoming November ballot:

-- To ban affirmative action;

-- To allow power companies to sell broadband Internet access over their lines;

-- To limit annexation by cities (two petitions).

How senators voted Feb. 6 on LB 39:

Against (14): Christensen, Fischer, Fulton, Langemeier, Nelson, Dierks, Flood, Hansen, Lautenbaugh, Pirsch, Erdman, Friend, Heidemann and Louden.

For (31): Adams, Cornett, Karpisek, Pankonin, Wallman, Aguilar, Dubas, Kopplin, Pedersen, White, Ashford, Engel, Lathrop, Preister, Wightman, Avery, Harms, McDonald, Raikes, Burling, Howard, McGill, Rogert, Carlson, Hudkins, Nantkes, Schimek, Chambers, Janssen, Pahls and Synowiecki.

Present and not voting (1): Stuthman

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 2/13/2008
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