On Tuesday, the Governor signed Senate Bill 239, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, which will add more transparency to the petition process when any tax increase is being proposed.
“There is often miscommunication and misunderstandings involved in petition drives. A petition is circulated and when the issue makes it to the ballot some claim they didn’t know about the proposed tax increase, never saw or heard about the petition; or because of the extensive length of the petition process, people forget they signed the petition or those who originally signed it, have passed away or moved,” said Brecheen, R-Coalgate. “This has been an issue of concern in my district, and as a taxpayer myself, I knew it needed to be addressed. My bill preserves the vital function of the petition process while making it more open and equitable.”
SB 239 sets guidelines for petitions circulated within a county that seeks a continuation or an increased tax, fee or assessment. The bill adds these types of petitions to those that require filing a notice of circulation in the county clerk’s office and which must contain a summary of contents. Under the bill, which goes into effect November 1 of this year, petitioners will have one year to gather signatures. If they are unsuccessful, any new petition circulated must explain that a prior petition had been circulated. To ensure citizens know what they are signing, all petition pages must have “THIS IS A PETITION” in 12-point type or larger across the top.
“This bill simply ensures people fully understand what they are signing during a petition drive,” said Brecheen. “Raising taxes is a major issue and those who will be affected by that tax increase need to be sure they have all the facts before signing the petition or getting in the voting box. I believe this new law will help restore citizen’s faith in the petition process by making it more clear and open.”