Ballotpedia's Regional Breakdown: Southeast ballot measures
|Regional Breakdown of 2010 ballot measures: Southeast|
By Bailey Ludlam, Johanna Herman and Al Ortiz
SOUTHEAST REGION, United States: In less than one week, the fate of proposed amendments, statutes, advisory questions and automatic ballot referrals will be decided across the country. Polls will open, levers will be pulled and decisions will be made as the anticipated day will have finally arrived: the 2010 general election. In the last week leading up to November 2, Ballotpedia breaks down the ballot measures of the Southeast region, the last section of the country in Ballotpedia's Regional Breakdown. This week serves up a hearty helping of hunting rights proposals, as three Southeast states have this issue on the ballot and ready for voters to decide on. Those states are Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee. One particularly unique measure can also be found in this region, as North Carolina voters will decide on an issue that could alter the positions of local county sheriffs across the state.
The states that Ballotpedia has included in the Northeast region are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Below is a breakdown of how many statewide measures are on the ballot in the Southeast and how that compares to 2008, followed by summaries of each state. In comparing the 2010 Southeast ballot measures to 2008, it was found that the biggest change came from Louisiana, which had 7 measures on the ballot two years ago, while today there are 12 measures on the ballot. The following 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|
The Alabama Constitution is a very interesting state document. There are a proposed total of 37 amendments to the Alabama Constitution on the November ballot, but only four will appear on the statewide ballot, while the rest will appear on certain local ballots. The reason being is that in order to pass local county laws, an amendment to the state constitution is needed. Alabama mandates that county governments seek legislative approval or legislatively-referred constitutional amendment ballot measures for approval of laws. A constitutional amendment committee decided in late August 2010 which amendments would appear on county ballots and which would appear on the statewide ballot.
The four measures that will be on the statewide ballot include three measures dealing with taxes, particularly one measure that deals with special educational taxes, "to provide that the taxes may be levied by a majority vote, not by three-fifths vote, of those voting at the election." The measure getting the most attention, however, seems to be Amendment 3, which calls for a ten year road and bridge construction program to be funded by appropriations from the Alabama Trust Fund, which would total out to be $100 million per year. The proposal was sponsored by State Senator Lowell Barron, who introduced the measure to improve transportation and create new jobs in the state. Supporters include The Alabama Jobs Coalition, the main campaign for Amendment 3, while opponents such as David Bronner, head of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, argue, "Amendment No. 3 lets politicians spend $100 million a year for 10 years across the state. Everyone gets what? A few loads of cement, asphalt or gravel, and no major results."
A total of five measures will have appeared on the Alabama ballot after November 2, after voters rejected a propane amendment that was placed on the June 1 primary ballot.
An initiative and referendum state, Arkansas saw no initiatives make the ballot this year, but will see three proposed amendments this November 2. All three measure are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, as the Arkansas Legislature can only refer that many proposals to the ballot, according to Arkansas law.
Like other Southeastern states such as South Carolina and neighboring Tennessee, the issue of hunting will be on the ballot this year. Issue 1 asks voters whether or not to allow residents the right to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest wildlife in the state. Steve Faris, sponsor of the amendment, stated: "It's better to be safe on the front end than wait and deal with the problem when it's too late. Hunting is a right that is a given, but it could be taken away – especially when we see more lawsuits asking for all kinds of hunting to be banned." Lindsay Rajt, manager of the campaign department for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, countered that the measure is unnecessary, claiming, “If we have the right to hunt and trap, then what’s next? The right to shop or golf?”
The issue that has stirred up quite a controversy the past few months is Issue 2, which would modify interest rates limits on loans to three groups of lending entities: Government entities, federally insured depository institutions and other lenders.
A challenge to the measure was filed with the Arkansas Supreme Court opposing the question and asking the court to take the issue off of the November ballot. The lawsuit argued that the measure violated single-subject law and that the proposal combined three separate issues into one measure, sidestepping the limit on Legislature to refer only up to three measures in an election year. Lawyers for April Forrester, who resides in Jacksonville and is the plaintiff, also filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court challenging the measure.
On October 22, 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court threw out the lawsuit. According to Associate Justice Donald Corbin, "Our review of Amendment 80 and this court's well-established precedent leads us to conclude that our jurisdiction to hear challenges to amendments referred by the Legislature remains appellate in nature." However, the lawsuit that was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court is still ongoing.
Litigation was heavy in Florida’s 2010 election year. Measures were certified, lawsuits were filed and measures were booted off the ballot this year a total of three times. At its all time peak, the Florida ballot had a total of 10 certified measures; however, voters will cast their votes on only 7 measures.
Florida is certainly one the states with the some of the most disputed measures and not just due to the post-certification legal battles. Voters will see 3 legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, 1 advisory measure, and 3 initiated constitutional amendments.
Amendment 4 supporters have raised an estimated $1.7 million since their effort in support of the measure began in 2003. In 2010 alone an estimated $200,000 were raised. The PAC in opposition, however, has received a reported $5.9 million. Polls throughout the year by The Nielsen Company, Mason-Dixon Polling and TCPalm/Zogby reveal that most voters support the proposed measure.
Amendment 4 isn’t the only measure with high campaign donations, Amendment 5 and 6, two redistricting measures, have raised an estimated $4.2 million in support. The measures are both supported by Fair Districts Florida. It proposes amending the current practice of drawing legislative district boundaries in such ways that they establish "fairness," are "as equal in population as feasible" and use "city, county and geographical boundaries." A similar measure was previously referred to the ballot by the legislature but following a court ruling on July 8 the measure was booted off the ballot.
Like the rest of the Southeast region, Georgia has a relatively heavy ballot this year: five constitutional amendments and one referendum. Only one, however, has drawn the most attention thus far.
Amendment 2, also known as the “Trauma Care Funding” measure, calls for imposing a $10 registration fee on motor vehicles to raise funds for the state's trauma care centers. The new fee is projected to generate $80 million per year.
According to reports, advocates argue that the proposed fee is necessary because most hospitals in the state are not prepared for injuries such as car crashes, gun or knife attacks. Specifically, they said only 16 of the state's 152 hospitals have designated trauma centers; the trauma death rate in the state is 20% higher than the national average; and they estimate that if improvements are made to the state's trauma centers as many as 700 lives would be saved. Opponents argue that the proposed fee is simply another form of government assistance of the state's hospitals. An October poll by Insider Advantage revealed that 26% of polled voters support the proposed measure, while 48% are opposed and 26% are undecided.
In addition to Amendment 2, voters will cast their ballots on labor, administration of government (3) and tax issues. With the exception of the tax-related inventory exemption referendum, five of state’s six measures propose amending the Georgia Constitution.
Legislative referrals are alive and well in Louisiana. In the last decade the state has averaged 10 measures per even-numbered year and 2010 is no exception.
In one of the last primaries of the year, voters approved two measures on October 2nd. But that’s not the end. An additional 10 measures await voters on the November 2 ballot. All measures propose amending the state’s constitution.
Analysis of this year’s topic trend is effortlessly reflected in the southern state’s measures. Topics on November’s ballot include: taxes (5), administration of government (3), labor and judicial reform.
October 26 marked the end of the early voting period for residents in Louisiana. According to early reports, voter turnout has shown no significant increase compared to previous early voting periods.
In 2008, North Carolina voters had no statewide measures to vote on during the general election, but this year, one lone measure will appear before them. The measure will ask voters whether or not previously convicted felons can run, and obtain, the position of county sheriff. The measure was introduced by Senator Stan Bingham during the week of May 17, 2010, in light of the Davidson County sheriff race where candidate Gerald Hege ran as a former convicted felon. Hege was running for the position five years after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice charges. His bid for the position failed.
The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA) voted on March 17, 2010 to back the measure. According to the group's press release, "The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association does not want something as crucial and fundamental to professional law enforcement as the public trust to be placed in the hands of a known felon, having been found to be such in a court of law."
The North Carolina Libertarian Party opposed the measure in a press release, stating, "The proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution to ban convicted felons from running for county sheriff is yet another unnecessary, unwarranted, and immoral restriction on the voting rights of the people of North Carolina."
In the state of South Carolina, voters have four ballot measures to consider, one being a measure asking voters for the right to hunt and fish in the state. South Carolina is one of four states in the country this year that has this measure on the ballot, with fellow Southeast state Tennessee being one of them. Two measures on the ballot deal with fiscal issues in the state, more specifically with one question asking if the state should be required to keep more in its rainy day fund and another asking if the Capital Reserve Fund should to be used to replenish a percentage of state General Reserve Fund.
Another question to be placed before voters, Amendment 2 deals with the issue of secret ballots. Similar to the measure in the state of Arizona, the proposal, if approved, would allow secret ballots to be fundamental rights in determining if workers are represented by a specific labor organization.
According to Ballotpedia's database of South Carolina ballot measures, the four measures that will appear on the statewide ballot coincides with the average number of measures that have appeared on the ballot during election years in the past decade. That average came out to 3.4, not including 2010 ballot measures. The most proposals that South Carolina voters have seen in an election year this decade was in 2006, when 7 measures were placed on the ballot.
Tennessee has one of the lightest ballots this year. Only one measure is scheduled to appear on the November 2 ballot – Tennessee_Hunting_Rights_Amendment_(2010). The legislatively-referred constitutional amendment calls for the personal right to hunt and fish within state laws and existing property rights. Additionally, the amendment allows for hunting and fishing of non-threatened species.
Supporters of the proposed measure argue that the measure will "prevent radical animal rights activists and an increasingly urban state legislature from one day shutting down the activities." On the other hand, opponents of the proposed measure argue that the measure is "frivolous" and "unnecessary." Some argue that the proposed measure could set a precedent for cluttering the Tennessee Constitution with political statements by special-interest groups.
Local measure activity
This week's breakdown focuses on local ballot measures that voters in Florida will decide:
Florida has local measures being voted on in 44 different counties with 155 combined measures. No school bonds will be voted on this election, but there are 24 school levy measures on the ballots. There will be 87 proposed charter amendments being decided on in both the county and city/town level along with 14 measures dealing with giving business property tax exemptions. The rest of the measures deal with term limits, curfew times and election questions.
- 2010 ballot measures
- Ballotpedia:Analysis of the 2010 ballot measures
- Ballotpedia's Tuesday Count for 2010
- Ballot Measure Scorecard, 2010