Ballotpedia's Regional Breakdown: Northwest ballot measures

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September 30, 2010

Regional Breakdown of 2010 ballot measures: Northwest
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By Bailey Ludlam, Johanna Herman and Al Ortiz

NORTHWEST REGION, United States: In a little over one month, voters across the country will make their way to the polls to decide on ballot measures that will alter their constitution, create new laws, or allow their constitution to be changed in a constitutional convention. November 2 is on the horizon, and this week Ballotpedia will begin it's weekly Regional Breakdown of 2010 ballot measures. Each week leading up to the general election, a different region of the country will be reviewed as each state in that region will be combed over to bring you what's on the ballot, with both statewide and local ballot measure summaries. There are five different regions that Ballotpedia has broken the country up into, which are: Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast.

With five regions in five weeks, Ballotpedia begins it's breakdown with the Northwest region, which includes eight states. Below is a simple breakdown of how many statewide measures are on the ballot in the Northwest region and how that compares to 2008, followed by summaries of each Northwest state. The information was compiled by Ballotpedia's analysis of the 2010 ballot measures.


State Number of measures in 2008 Number of measures in 2010 Change between the two years
Alaska 5 5 0
Idaho 0 4 +4
Montana 3 4 +1
Nebraska 3 3 0
North Dakota 5 2 -3
Oregon 15 11 -4
South Dakota 7 4 -3
Washington 3 9 +6
Totals: 41 42 +1

Magnifying the states



Voters in the state of Alaska will see three ballot measures on their general election ballot, with two of those measures relating to bond issues. Bonding Proposition A would allow the state to guarantee residential mortgage bonds to veterans. The revenue bonds would be issued by the Housing Finance Corporation. Bonding Proposition B would create an approximately $380 million bond package that would be partially used to fund a new sports arena at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, among other projects.

Two interesting measures were on the August 24, 2010 primary election, one that was approved, and another that was soundly rejected. In what was perhaps the most controversial ballot measure in the state, Ballot Measure 2 forbids minors from getting an abortion without a doctor informing at least one parent before moving forward with the procedure. Although the measure was approved, potential litigation may be headed to the Alaska courts to challenge the measure.

Ballot Measure 2 on the other hand, was rejected by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. With virtually no campaign in support of the measure, opponents were seemingly able to sway voters to vote against the measure with their efforts.


For the first time since 2006, Idaho voters will see ballot measures on their ballot. A total of four measures will appear on the general election ballot, but the three debt measures that are on the ballot are creating quite a stir in the state. The airport debt amendment would allow airports in the state to take on debt for endeavors that would improve facilities, equipment and acquisitions such as real property. The hospital debt amendment would allow public medical facilities, including hospitals, to enter debt in order to upgrade facilities, including buying new technological equipment, acquiring new property for enhanced medical care and constructing improved resources. Finally, the power amendment would allow power producing cities in the state to reserve bonds in order to increase power capacity.


David Frazier, an Idaho resident, has concerns about the three measures, because it would remove a court decision back in 2006; a court decision that Frazier was apart of. The requirement to get voter approval for long-term debt originated from a ruling made by the Idaho Supreme Court in the case of Frazier vs. City of Boise. The ruling, according to reports, stated that the government could no longer take on multi-year debt for certain projects. The case was brought up in court when Frazier argued that the city's plans for a $27 million parking garage and a $19 million police station without voter approval should not happen.

No initiatives made the ballot in 2010, but that shouldn't exactly be surprising to the voters of Idaho. In the last ten years, only three initiatives made the Idaho ballot. In the year 2000, there were no initiatives on the ballot for voters to decide. In the year 2002, voters got a chance to vote on one citizen initiative. That year, the measure was Proposition 1, which asked voters to vote on the issue of Indian gaming. In 2006, voters had a chance to vote on a total of two initiatives.


Jumping over to Idaho's neighboring state, Montana, voters will see four ballot measures come November, with three of those four being citizen initiatives. Two of those three initiatives came under legal challenges in the same month.


The Montana Outfitters and Guides Association filed a lawsuit during the week of August 23, 2010, aiming to block a hunting initiative from being placed in front of voters on November 2, 2010. Mac Minard, the executive director the group, stated that the initiative should be removed from the ballot due to the allegations that there were violations of state law when the initiative process was in operation. The proposal, I-161, increases nonresident big game license fees and abolishes outfitter-sponsored licenses.

The other initiative that was under the legal process has already been decided on, and will stay on the ballot. On August 17, 2010, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the Montana interest rate limit measure could stay on the November ballot, after The Montana Consumer Finance Association requested that the court remove it. The measure was allowed to stay on the ballot after a 4-2 vote in favor of presenting it to voters, but changes in the for and against statements and the statement of purpose on the ballot had to be made, according to the ruling. The group requesting that the measure be taken off the ballot did so due to their concerns that the Montana Attorney General, Steve Bullock, did not comply with state law, because ballot statements prepared by the AG's office were not impartial.

The three initiatives that made it onto the ballot were a small percentage of the proposals filed with the Montana Secretary of State. A total of 26 total ballot initiatives were filed with the Montana Secretary of State, with some initiatives filing more than once. Only a total of eleven were approved for circulation for petition signatures in advance of the signature deadline. [[Montana Alcohol and Drug Treatment Proposal (2010)|One measure that was approved for circulation withdrew]] from doing so.



Voters in Nebraska will have a decision to make relating to their elected officials when they flock to the polls this fall. Amendment 2 will ask voters whether or not to abolish the position of the state treasurer. The measure was introduced as a way to help save money for the state. According to Senator Dennis Utter, who proposed the measure, "I want to look for ways to make government smaller, more efficient, more transparent and more effective. I want to get the maximum mileage out of the taxpayer's dollars."

Two total measures will be on the ballot in November for state voters, with one already having appeared on the May 11, 2010 primary election ballot, bringing the state total to three. However, two statewide ballot questions were originally on the May 11 ballot, but were removed by Nebraska Secretary of State John A. Gale. One of those questions was later put back on the ballot, but in a revised form.

No initiatives qualified for the statewide ballot, as no signatures were even filed by the early July signature deadline. The signature requirements for a proposed constitutional amendment was approximately 117,000 and approximately 80,992 for a proposed state statute.


North Dakota

North Dakotans will see a very slim ballot this fall. Compared to ballots in the last year, 2010 proves to be the slimmest with only two measures certified. An average of four measures have appeared on even-numbered election ballots.

Following an early September state Supreme Court ruling that officially booted a proposed pharmacy initiative, North Dakota Attorney General Al Jaeger solidified the ballot.

Measure 1 calls for the creation of state legacy fund for the deposit of certain oil and gas tax revenues. Measure 2 asked voters to ban fenced hunting, such as game preserves where people pay to shoot big-game animals. Both measures currently face no known organized opposition.


Oregon is one of five states with more than ten measures on the ballot. A total of eleven questions were certified however, two measures were voted on during a special election in January and two more in May during the state’s primary election.


Of the seven measures on the November general election ballot, only one is seeing campaign activity both in support and opposition. Measure 74 proposes establishing a medical marijuana supply system, assistance and research programs and would allow limited selling of marijuana. Oregon is one of four states with marijuana related measures on the 2010 ballot.

According to an August 2010 Grove Insight poll, voters are largely in favor of Veteran Home Loans, Measure 70 and Minimum Criminal Sentence, Measure 73 but are opposed to Gaming Tax, Measure 75. On the other hand, polling for Annual Sessions, Measure 71 and Measure 74 did not reveal definitive results.


Four measures are certified for the November 2, 2010 ballot. Two are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments while one is an initiated state statute and the fourth is a veto referendum. A total of five initiatives were filed for the 2010 ballot but only two were approved following the last initiative deadline in April 2010. Unlike other states with tax heavy ballots, South Dakotans will cast their ballots on issues ranging from labor to marijuana.

South Dakota

Initiated Measure 13, a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, has become especially popular. If approved by voters this fall, patients and/or their caregivers would be allowed to possess up to 6 plants and 1 ounce of marijuana at a time. Campaigns in support and opposition of the measure have already been launched.

Another hotly debated measure, Referred Law 12, asked voters to voice their opinions on a expanding the state’s ban on smoking. Prior to its referral to the ballot via veto referendum the approved ban was scheduled to start July 2009. Following a legal challenge by the American Cancer Society the referendum was allowed to move forward to the statewide ballot. According to a March 2010 poll by Keloland TV/Argus Leader polled voters support the expansion by 66%.


Although Washington is featuring fewer measures than its neighboring state, Oregon, the ballot is heavy with hot topics. A total of nine questions are certified for the November 2 general election ballot. Three are legislatively-referred while six are Initiatives to the People.


In particular, two tax initiatives take different approaches to the state’s spending woes. Initiative 1098 calls for implementing a state income tax on incomes of $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples. The initiative is largely backed by Seattle lawyer William Gates Sr. and has raised more than $3.3 million. Current Gov. Chris Gregoire has also voiced her support for the proposed income tax.

Opponents have raised more than $505,000. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and founder and CEO Jeff Bezos have both contributed to the campaign in opposition to I-1098.

Initiative 1053, another tax-related measure, proposes requiring a two-thirds majority vote of the Washington State Legislature or a vote of the people for any tax increases. The initiative was proposed by political activist Tim Eyman. A similar measure was approved in 2007 but was repealed earlier this year after the two-year threshold lapsed.

In contrast to the spending issues on the ballot, Washington voters will also face two alcohol-related questions. Initiative 1100 and 1105 propose the privatization of alcohol sales in the state. However, aside from their common goal, both measures differ in how they would privatize alcohol sales. For example, I-1105 would require a licensed distributor to sell to retail outlets and would eliminate the state liquor tax. I-1100 does not include price controls however, I-1105 prices liquor licenses based on the volume of liquor sold.

According to state documents, $38.6 million has been raised thus far in either support or opposition for all citizen initiatives scheduled to appear on the ballot.

Local measure activity

Below is a summary on notable local ballot measures in the Northwest region:

In the state of Oregon, 16 counties have listed items on their county websites to be included on the November 2 ballot. Out of those 16 counties, 81 measures will be voted on, with a few in multiple counties. Of those 81 measures, 18 deal with various tax issues, 20 with different proposed charter amendments and 15 on issues on annexation. Only 9 school issues will be voted in the counties, 5 having to do with school property taxes and 4 dealing with school bonds. The rest of the issues deal with term limits, utility fee questions, bond issues and other various specific issues.

In the state of Washington, 22 counties have issues to be voted on this November. The total number of measures is 50, with 23 of those being various tax questions, 4 charter amendment questions and 6 dealing with annexation questions. There will be 7 school questions, 4 dealing with school taxes and 3 about school bonds. One red light camera issue will be vote on and the rest deal with various other issues in the counties.

Next week's Regional Breakdown: Southwest ballot measures.

See also

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