A House-Senate conference committee could breathe new life into a Wichita-inspired proposal to help voters understand ballot measures they vote on.
Members of the House Elections Committee asked their Senate counterparts to consider adding language to a bill to allow officials to provide an explanation when it’s not clear to voters what a particular ballot measure would do.
Rep. Scott Schwb, R-Olathe and chairman of the House Elections Committee, said the proposal has “maybe a 50-50 shot” of getting passed this year and if not, it will definitely come up again at next year’s session.
The issue arose out of voter frustration over a Feb. 28 Wichita [charter ordinance] referendum where voters rescinded a tax incentive the City Council had granted to developers of the Ambassador Hotel project downtown.
Earlier this year, the House passed an amendment to allow election officials to request that a plain-language “explainer” be prepared if they found a ballot measure to be confusing.
In local elections, the explainer would be written by the county or district attorney, and reviewed by the secretary of state or the attorney general, to ensure that the wording didn’t favor either side in the election.
The Senate has not acted on the House amendment, which was part of a larger bill.
In an effort to revive the proposal, Schwab asked senators on the conference committee to talk to their leaders and to Sedgwick County senators about the possibility of adding it to House Substitute for Senate Bill 129, a catch-all elections bill that the committee is working on.