Gov Evers special session on ballot initiatives would have created a statewide binding referendum process through a constitutional amendment, allowing voters to file petitions with the Wisconsin Elections Commission and ultimately hold a vote during a general election to repeal laws, propose new state laws and constitutional amendments.
If enough signatures by qualified electors are validated by the commission, a vote would be held during the next general election at least 120 days after the petition is filed. Under the proposal, a simple majority vote would be required to decide the referendum.
This is no easy task. Circulating petitions and collecting valid signatures in the hundreds of thousands range will be challenge for many issues and for the marijuana reform movement in Wisconsin. Printing costs alone just for the government forms might set you back a pretty penny or down right break your campaign. How much did they spend on printing forms to legalize in Michigan? How many signatures is 8% of the number of people who voted in the last election for Governor. How many signatures is needed to be collected per day to hit this goal? Let me do the math for you; 2,672328 people voted in 2018 and 8% of that is 213,786. Take a 120 day signature collection window and the goal is 1,782 valid signatures per day, everyday, for four (4) months straight!
Evers issued Executive Order #175 and scheduled this special session for Oct. 4, 2022. An online version of the release from Gov Evers Office is available.
Gov. Evers’ Executive Order #175 calls the Wisconsin State Legislature on Tues., Oct. 4, 2022, at 10 a.m., solely to act on LRB-6542/1 and LRB-6543/1, relating to reserving to the people the power of referendum to reject acts of the Legislature and the power of initiative to propose and approve at an election laws and constitutional amendment (first consideration).
Because Evers’ plan would amend the state Constitution, it would first have to pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature. That means lawmakers would need to pass the proposal this year, and then the next Legislature — elected in November — would need to pass the identical plan in 2023.
The proposal would then go before voters in a statewide election to decide whether they want to allow for ballot initiatives in Wisconsin. The soonest that could happen would be 2023. The Republicans have not been in session since March and we highly doubt they will come back to work on this.
If the governor’s plan miraculously passed all of those steps, it would open the door to future statewide referenda that don’t require the Legislature’s blessing. This type of measure would bring power back to the people and change the whole dynamics of politics in Wisconsin as we know it.
Of course the Republican lawmakers who control the state Legislature immediately rejected the idea. Earlier this session a bill was circulated to allow signature collection just to force a public hearing on already submitted legislation. That legislation was also met with hostility by the Republicans.
Adult use marijuana legalization will be back in 2023-24 under stand alone legislation, that is a guarantee. The Democratic author of the current adult use cannabis legislation (Senate Bill 545) is not even up for election in 2022 and Democrat Assembly Reps who previously signed on are expected to retain their seats.
According to the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, less than half of the bills introduced in the last legislative session received a public hearing. Our legislators have not been in session since March 2022 and yet many issues are not even being discussed.
LRB 2481/1 was introduced and labeled “The People’s Voice Act”. The bill would give petitioning power to the people to force a public hearing on a specific piece of legislation. That bill did not advance at all under Republican Leadership.
Republicans are expected to gavel in and out this special session faster than you can light your joint. But that does not mean we should not call or write to them, let them know that we know! Use the form below and spark up the cannabis conversation today.