LINCOLN--Fewer petition signatures would be needed to get a proposed state law or constitutional amendment on the ballot under a measure heard by the Military, Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.Legislative Resolution 393CA, introduced by Sen. John Murante of Gretna, would have to be approved by voters as well as the Legislature.
Currently, to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, petitions need to be signed by 10 percent of registered voters, while the signatures of 7 percent of registered voters are necessary to put proposed statutes on the ballot by petition.
If passed, LR 939CA would require 5 percent of registered voters to sign for constitutional amendments and 3 percent for statutory changes.
A dozen people attended the Feb. 21 hearing, and the committee heard opposition from a few who expressed concern about wealthy groups taking advantage of lower signature requirements.
Lynn Rex, who represented the League of Nebraska Municipalities was one of the opponents.
"Groups with large amounts of money could create an amendment, get the money, put [the amendment] out there and get it on the ballot," Rex said.
There were also a few neutral testimonies, including one from Jack Gould of Common Cause Nebraska. He said that while Common Cause would like to see the public be able to put both constitutional amendments and statutes on the ballot by petition, it would be safer to lower the percentage of signatures needed only for statutory changes.
"Statutes are very changeable, but the constitution needs to be protected and we shouldn't lower that percentage," he said.
While LR 393CA was not made priority by any senators in this legislative session, Murante said he hopes to bring it to the floor.
"I'm going to encourage my colleagues on the committee to send it to the floor," he said.