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Ballotpedia's 2012 Regional Ballot Measure Breakdown Series: South Central region

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October 26, 2012

By Al Ortiz and Eric Veram

Editor's note:This is the third in a seven part series. The Regional Breakdown series will be published every Wednesday and Friday leading up to the November 6 general election.

South Central Region, UNITED STATES: The weekend is almost here, and that means more time off to inform yourself about statewide ballot measures! Ballotpedia has said it before: every piece of information and every detail will count for voters to inform themselves before going to the polls.

In order for voters to get informed about their ballot issues, found at the very bottom of their ballots, Ballotpedia continues this year's regional ballot measure breakdown series, highlighting the south central region of the country.

Originally started in 2010, when 184 measures graced statewide ballots in 38 states, the breakdown series reviews ballot measures by region. This year, there are 188 ballot measures on the ballot in 38 states, with 176 of those measures set to be decided on November 6 in 38 states.

Ballotpedia divided the nation up into six regions in 2012: Northwest, Southwest, South Central, Midwest, Northeast and Southeast. In each report you will find what measures are on your state's ballot, and what proposed amendments or statutes your surrounding area will vote on, which may or may not have an impact on future ballots in your state or area.

The states that Ballotpedia has included in the South Central region are: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska and Oklahoma

Below is a breakdown of how many statewide measures are on the ballot in the South Central and how that compares to 2008 and 2010, followed by summaries of each state.

Last week's Regional Breakdown: Southwest ballot measures
Next week's Regional Breakdown - Midwest ballot measures: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan

Overview

BallotpediaSouthCentral.png
State Number of measures in 2008 Number of measures in 2010 Number of measures in 2012
Arkansas 5 3 5
Kansas 0 2 1
Louisiana 7 12 9
Nebraska 2 3 4
Oklahoma 4 11 12
Totals: 18 31 31

Arkansas

In truth, Arkansas voters will see three measures on their ballot. However, technically, voters will see five measures at the polls. Two measures, Issues 3 and 4 will be on the ballot, but votes will not be counted due to lengthy legal battles surrounding these two casino proposals.

The three measures that will be counted includes a measure to allow the use of marijuana by people who choose to use it for medical purposes. Those who choose to use it for medical purposes would be free from legal penalty. A group called Arkansans for Compassionate Care were sponsors of the proposed law, which was formally called, "The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act," according to the ballot title.[1][2]

According to reports, patients with possession of cards issued by the state Department of Health would be allowed to purchase and carry marijuana for medical purposes. Medical marijuana would be purchased from dispensaries or they could grow the cannabis plant themselves, but only a maximum of six plants per patient.

Two legislatively-referred constitutional amendments are also on the ballot, as Issue 1 and Issue 2.

The following are quick facts about Arkansas state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
Arkansas
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 76%

Ballot measure notes:Pencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • Issue 1 - Would implement a half-percent sales tax in the state. The revenue generated from the tax would be used to pay for a four-lane highway system statewide.
  • Issue 2 - Would authorize cities and counties to create districts within that county for redevelopment projects.
  • Issue 3 - Would allow casinos in the state to be operated by initiative sponsor.
  • Issue 4 - Would allow casinos in the state to be operated by initiative sponsor.
  • Issue 5 - Would allow the use of marijuana by people who choose to use it for medical purposes.

What people are saying

Approveda Issue 5 supporter Ryan Denhem, campaign director for Arkansans for Compassionate Care:

It's common sense. It's time to have a policy like this in Arkansas...If that passes, it will allow patients a safe environment, a tightly regulated, controlled environment, to purchase medical marijuana with a doctor's supervision.[1]

Defeatedd Issue 5 opponent Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council Action Committee::

Any individual who can acquire, grow or own his own marijuana is one step away from sharing with his friends who may not have any medical issues.[1]

Kansas

Kansas voters will see a lonely measure on the ballot this fall. The measure would allow the state's property tax on boats to be altered. Specifically, the amendment would allow state legislators to classify and tax watercraft on a basis different from other property. The measure would not change how watercraft is taxed in the state, but rather it would allow for a change to be made.

It was proposed during the 2012 state legislative session. A similar measure was on the 2000 statewide ballot, but was rejected with 50.7% of voters against it.

The following are quick facts about Kansas state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: No
Kansas
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 80%

Ballot measure notes:Pencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • Boat Property Tax - Would implement a half-percent sales tax in the state. The revenue generated from the tax would be used to pay for a four-lane highway system statewide.

What people are saying

No formal campaigns have been found for the measure.

Louisiana

Louisiana

Voters in Louisiana will see a whopping nine questions on their ballot this year, all legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Most of the measures are related to either approving property tax exemptions or altering rules for the legislature. Though each measure is important, there is one that especially stands out and has been the subject of considerable debate.

This controversial amendment is the fittingly titled Amendment 2, or, the Right to Bear Arms Amendment. At its core this amendment is designed to fortify existing gun rights in the state. The amendment adds the rights to acquire, transport, carry, transfer, and use firearms in addition to the existing right to keep and bear them. The amendment also requires that any restriction on these rights by the state legislature be subject to "strict scrutiny." Supporters of the amendment say it could guard against possible future court rulings that may affect the second amendment. Opponents, however, see the amendment as overkill and a possible threat to public safety, saying that it could result in a lawsuit repealing the state's prohibition of concealed handguns at colleges and other public places.

The following are quick facts about Louisiana state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: No
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 74%

Ballot measure notesPencil.png

  • Though nine measures seems high, Louisiana actually saw twenty-one measures in 2006, and passed all of them!
  • The state has seen a total of eighty-six ballot measures since the year 2000.

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
Flag of Louisiana.png
  • Amendment 1 - Would protect the state medicaid trust fund for the elderly from budget cuts.
  • Amendment 2 - Adds additional constitutional protections to state gun rights.
  • Amendment 3 - Would require more advance filing for bills involving public employee retirement.
  • Amendment 4 - Would provide property tax exemptions to certain veterans' spouses.
  • Amendment 5 - Would allow the legislature to deny retirement benefits to any public employee or official who commits a felony related to their office.
  • Amendment 6 - Would authorize the city of New Iberia to grant contracts for the exemption of property annexed by the city.
  • Amendment 7 - Restructures the composition of constitutional boards and commissions.
  • Amendment 8 - Would allow local governments to opt-in to property tax exemptions for certain businesses.
  • Amendment 9 - Would establish certain requirements prior to legislatively creating certain special districts.

What people are saying

Approveda An argument for Amendment 2 found on the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action website:

The proposed amendment is needed now to restore our gun rights because Louisiana's current state guarantee is defective. The present Louisiana Constitution says that the right to bear arms shall not be "abridged," except that “this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit” carrying a concealed weapon. This wording is so faulty that it leaves open the possibility of regulation by the state of carrying concealed even in one’s own home. Further, the Louisiana Supreme Court has said that the right may be restricted if a majority in the legislature thinks it "reasonable" to do so. When it comes to rights, the standard for restrictions must be higher.[1]

Defeatedd An argument against Amendment 2 found in an editorial from the online newspaper News Star :

We believe this amendment would not only essentially remove current laws regarding concealed weapons, it would also allow challenges of legally established "weapon-free" zones for public spaces, schools and businesses. It could also potentially be used to weaken criminal law in crimes like kidnappings, robberies, assaults and drugs where penalties are harsher when firearms are used, and allow convicted felons to carry firearms.[1]

Nebraska

Nebraska

Despite a number of petitions started for initiated constitutional amendments and statutes, none qualified for the ballot. This means that each of the four measures that voters will see this year are all legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Three of the proposals deal with the legislature directly in some way, ranging from term limits to impeachment rules to legislative salaries. The other measure, Amendment 2 on the ballot, may be closer to the hearts of the public, however, in that it addresses hunting and fishing rights int he state.

The amendment does essentially two things. One, it establishes hunting, fishing, and the harvesting of wildlife as constitutional rights. Two, it states that hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. Supporters claim the amendment is necessary to keep animal rights groups at bay and to protect, what they claim is, a critical part of the state's economy. Opponents argue that since there has been no proposed threat to fishing and hinting in the state, the amendment in not necessary and serves only to trivialize the state's constitution.

The following are quick facts about Nebraska state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 44%

Ballot measure notesPencil.png

  • A total of nine initiated measures were proposed this year, none of which reached the ballot.
  • The state has seen ballot measures every even year since 2000.

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • Amendment 1 - Would make any misdemeanor while in pursuit of office grounds for impeachment of a civil officer.
  • Amendment 2 - Would protect the right of residents to hunt and fish in the state.
  • Amendment 3 - Would allow legislators to hold three consecutive terms instead of two.
  • Amendment 4 - Would raise lawmaker salaries to $22,500 a year.

What people are saying

Approveda Argument from Senator Pete Pirsch, the legislative sponsor of Amendment 2:

Since the founding of our state — and for that matter, for as long as humans have been here — hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife have been fundamental freedoms that people have engaged in. These activities are critical to our state's economy.[1]

Defeatedd An argument from Senator Steve Lathrop, an opponent of Amendment 2:

It is feel-good legislation. When we use the constitution to make a political point or to satisfy a constituency, we're not doing our job.[1]

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters will have to bring their fiscal minds to the ballot this November, as three of the six measures on the ballot deal with taxes and bond issues.

State Question 758 would prevent annual increases in property taxes in the state. Specifically, the proposal would put a 3 percent annual cap on future property tax increases, if approved by voters. State Question 764 would allow the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to issue bonds to provide a reserve fund for that board. According to reports, the fund would be reserved for water resource and sewage treatment programs. Finally, State Question 766 would abolish property taxes on intangible personal property.

Also worth mentioning is State Question 759, which would ban affirmative action programs in the state, and would prohibit special treatment based on race or sex in public employment, education and contracts.

The following are quick facts about Oklahoma state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 80%

Ballot measure notesPencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • State Question 758 - Would prevent annual increases in property taxes in the state
  • State Question 759 - Would ban affirmative action programs in the state, and would prohibit special treatment based on race or sex in public employment, education and contracts.
  • State Question 762 - Would decrease the power that the Oklahoma Governor has in the parole process in the state for nonviolent crimes.
  • State Question 764 - Would allow the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to issue bonds to provide a reserve fund for that board.
  • State Question 765 - Would abolish the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Commission of Human Services and the position of Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
  • State Question 766 - Would abolish property taxes on intangible personal property.

What people are saying

Approveda State Question 759 supporter and State Senator Rob Johnson:

I think we should judge people purely on their qualifications. I think at one point in time there was a need for affirmative action programs, especially right after the civil rights movement, but I think the time has come now where they’re doing more damage than they are good.[1]

Defeatedd State Question 759 opponent and Senate Democratic leader Andrew Rice:

It’s just more of a political game. And it will be on the 2012 ballot with an African-American president that is very unpopular in Oklahoma.[1]

See also

Ballotpedia News

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.