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Bob Hunt: Wisconsinites should have binding referendum votes

Bob Hunt: Wisconsinites should have binding referendum votes

Dear Editor: "Let's get serious about democratizing Wisconsin" as John Nichols' recent column says.

Besides the many reforms put forth by Nichols are others of equal importance.

As Robert (Fighting Bob) La Follette stated some 101 years ago, "The initiative and referendum make it possible for (the people) to demand a direct vote and repeal bad laws … or to enact by direct vote good measures which their representatives refuse to consider." Sadly, La Follette's vision was never done — as yet — in Wisconsin.

Look at neighboring Michigan where the people have the initiative voting power. In Michigan, the number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot is equal to 8% of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. In 2018 this was 252,523 signatures. Michigan is one of 26 states with some form of direct initiative to make laws by the people. In 2018 Michigan voters approved Proposal 1, making Michigan the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana. Proposal 2 was approved, transferring the power to draw the state's congressional and legislative districts from the state Legislature to an independent redistricting commission.

Legalizing marijuana doesn't mean widespread doping as the GOP portrays it. Local opt out laws are permitted as they are in Colorado and many legalized states. Why isn't the GOP embracing the tax benefits? Most of the tax revenue would come from Democratic areas like Madison. This should make them happy!

If Wisconsin voters had the initiative and binding referendum, these laws could come to pass along with others like increasing the minimum wage. Why hasn't Wisconsin listened to La Follette for 101 years? It's never too late.

Bob Hunt


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