What is the OLLS’ role in the ballot initiative process?

When a citizen proposes a ballot initiative, he or she must first submit it to the Legislative Council Staff (LCS). At that point, staff from both the OLLS and LCS review the measure and write a memo asking technical questions and substantive questions about the meaning of the initiative. The staff and the proponent then participate in a review-and-comment hearing, which is open to the public, at which they discuss the memo and allow the proponent to explain his or her initiative on the record. After the hearing, the proponent can submit the initiative to the Secretary of State’s office, or the proponent may make changes to the initiative and resubmit it to the LCS for another review and hearing.

Although we review the proposed initiatives and may raise issues for the proponents to consider, the OLLS has no statutory authority to draft initiative measures for the proponents nor to edit, approve, or reject any initiated proposals.

Sometimes legislators participate in the initiative process as proponents or as consultants to proponents. Because of the conflict of interest issues involved in having drafters prepare initiative language for legislators, the Committee on Legal Services has adopted a policy that a member of the General Assembly should not ask the OLLS staff to provide drafting assistance for an initiated measure. The OLLS does draft bills and concurrent resolutions that are introduced into the legislative process and that the General Assembly may ultimately refer to the voters.