Kevin Mannix: Two legal reform petitions

By Kevin Mannix,

We are moving in some new directions with initiative petitions. Recently, we started up the Right to Fair Trial Act. This allows any person who is subject to an administrative penalty or fine of $10,000 or more to insist that the matter be taken to a trial in circuit court before a judge or a jury. This guarantees the citizen a truly independent adjudication, rather than an administrative hearing in the executive branch. The initiative makes it clear that the citizen may still choose to proceed with an administrative hearing; the government agency doesn’t get to make the choice about going to circuit court, but the citizen has the choice. This will help rein in the power of government bureaucracy over the citizenry.

Another initiative which we have started is the Keep the Courts Open Act. This requires that at least 3% of the General Fund be appropriated for the operation of the courts. In the last 10 years, the courts have received between 2.28% and 2.87% of the General Fund. This has limited citizen access to the courts because criminal cases take priority. The heavy criminal caseload has meant that civil cases are backed up. We want to make sure that the third branch of government is properly funded, so it is available to protect our rights.

Both of these initiatives are “good government” initiatives. You will see more along these lines. We have an initiative called “My Signature Counts” that requires that all petition signatures be counted — a statistical sampling is not acceptable. It also authorizes any person who has signed a petition to insist that their signature be counted even if the person who circulated the petition made a mistake filling out the form.

One other initiative of interest is the Voter Privacy Act. This will prevent government from publicizing the names and addresses of persons who sign petitions. It will also prevent the government from releasing the identities of those who have voted during the voting, itself. Such information will only be released after the voting is complete.

We have several other initiatives which I will write about at another time. All of our initiatives are designed to empower our citizens by respecting their rights and by giving citizens protections against burdensome government.