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Election results certification yields a victory for the SeaTac, WA, minimum wage increase, litigation already underway:

November 27, 2013

By Josh Altic

The highly contentious measure in the small city of SeaTac was one of the most narrow races on the November ballot. Although, according to initial counts, the proposition was ahead by a fair margin, the margin was reduced to as little as 19 votes in later vote count updates. Finally, on November 26, the results were certified and the measure was declared approved by a margin of only 77 votes, with 3,040 voting for the measure and 2,963 voting against it. Prop 1 had fallen into the national spotlight because it was the first municipal ballot measure that sought to raise the minimum wage; Prop 1 asked voters to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Many living-wage advocates think this measure might be the beginning of local movements, across the state and across the nation, to increase legally mandated wages of low-rank employees.[1]

Proposition 1 had produced a very disproportionately well funded battle in the small city of SeaTac. In the city of only 12,100 registered votes, support and opposition campaigns had received contributions totaling $1,585,763. This amounts to $131.05 per registered voter and, with the projected voter-turnout of 55%, this figure rises to about $238 per vote. Evidence of the strong support and opposition to this measure was also given by the litigation that already surrounds it. The measure drew an attack early on, when opponents, including Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association, filed a lawsuit questioning the validity of the petition signatures used to qualify the measure for the ballot. After the election, even before results were certified, the same opponents have filed another lawsuit claiming the measure is unenforceable and lies outside the power of the city and the city's voters.[2][3]

Bigger campaign spending pays off, Albuquerque voters say no to late term abortion ban:

November 20, 2013

Updated: November 21, 2013

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
as of November 15, 2013
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $183,336.71
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $712,459.18

By Josh Altic

Yesterday featured a historic election on the abortion issue. Albuquerque voters rejected an initiative that would have banned abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If this measure had been approved by voters, it would have made Albuquerque the first city to ban abortions after 20 weeks and would shut down the Southwestern Women's Options clinic, which is one of the few clinics in the nation that offers late term abortions during or after the sixth month of pregnancy. While many states have passed similar legislation, this is the first attempt to ban abortions after 20 weeks on the municipal level, making yesterday's election unique. Although this was a local measure, it would have had state and even nation wide effects, as women from many areas often travel to the Southwestern Women's Options clinic in Albuquerque to have a late term abortion procedure.[4]

Although polling done by the Albuquerque Journal in early September showed 54% of voters were likely to support the initiative, the measure lost at the polls by just a little more than that majority, with 55.3% of voters saying "no" according to the current unofficial vote count. Some have tried to explain this shift in apparent voter position on the issue through the heavily unequal campaign spending seen from each side of the campaign. As of November 20, campaign finance reports showed the campaign in opposition to the abortion ban with a war chest of a little over $700,000, while the initiative supporters had collected $183,336. Moreover, donors on both sides of the issue were not restricted to local groups. Main contributors to the "No" campaign include Planned Parenthood organizations from several states, which donated a total of $344,655, and the New Mexico ACLU, which donated $245,000. The "Yes" campaign has seen its largest donations from the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization, and from residents of Albuquerque.[5]

November 7, 2013

Updated November 12, 2013[6]

By Josh Altic

Ballotpedia provided comprehensive coverage of all 70 local measures decided in California in the November 5, 2013 election. Ballotpedia also covered local measures in Arizona and notable measures in Colorado, Ohio, Florida and Washington. All together Ballotpedia covered 139 measures on the ballot. As of November 7, 82 were approved, 49 were defeated and 7 are too close to call before certification.

  • Ohio:

The notable measure that was overwhelmingly defeated on the ballot in Ohio by Cincinnati voters is Issue 4, which was an initiative put on the ballot through a signature petition drive backed by a committee called Cincinnati for Pension Reform. Issue 4 sought a solution to the $862 million in unfunded pension debt featured by the city's public pension fund. It proposed converting the pension system for new city employees from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, implementing contribution caps for the city, making cost of living adjustments compatible with actual increases in the consumer price index, with a cap at 3% annually, and prohibiting city employees from earning income from a city or government job while also simultaneously receiving retirement benefit payments. Although the committee behind the measure had a war chest of $469,205, Issue 4 was defeated by a 78.33% majority.

  • California:

47 measures out of 70 total in California were approved. 3 measures are too close to call until the results are certified. The remaining 20 measures were defeated.

45 of the 70 measures on the November 5 ballot pertained to local tax and bond measures $22 billion of borrowing in 87 school districts. Stay tuned after the election to see how this year's approval rate for tax and bond measures compares to years past.

The notable measures in California were found in San Francisco, where a public retiree health care fund reform measure was approved with a 68.7% majority. Two measures concerning a waterfront development project known as the "8 Washington Street development were decisively defeated.

  • Colorado:

Four measures proposing a moratorium or permanent ban on fracking in cities across Colorado found their way onto the November 5 ballot in Colorado. One other, a City of Loveland Two Year Fracking Suspension Initiative, is awaiting a court case decision and may or may not be put on a later special election ballot. Of the four on the ballot, 3 were approved and 1 is currently too close to call.

There were also sales tax increases for recreational marijuana on the ballot in the cities of Denver and Boulder and a marijuana occupation tax measure in the town of Eagle, which were on the ballot in concert with the proposed state-wide measure seeking a excise and sales tax on all recreational marijuana, Proposition AA. All three local measures and the state measure were approved.

In eleven counties, voters decided on a resolution requiring their respective county commissions "to Pursue the Creation of a 51st State" in concert with the other counties seeking to secede. According to the current, unofficial vote count, 6 counties rejected the "51st state initiative," while five approved it. The counties in which this question was before voters on November 5 were:

Defeatedd Weld
Defeatedd Logan
Defeatedd Sedgwick
Approveda Phillips
Approveda Washington
Approveda Yuma
Defeatedd Elbert
Defeatedd Lincoln
Approveda Kit Carson
Approveda Cheyenne
Defeatedd Moffat

  • Arizona:

There were 43 measures on the ballot in Arizona. 18 were approved, 22 were defeated and 3 are too close to call until results are certified.

The 2013 local measure to watch in Arizona was the initiative in Tucson seeking to change the pension system for new public employees from a defined benefit plan to a 401(k) style defined contribution plan. This measure, however, was removed from the ballot due to a lawsuit based on circulator qualifications and petitioner regulation technicalities.

Nevertheless, Tucson voters still had decisions to make. Two other measures, a base expenditure limitation increase and a general 10 year city plan were approved by electors on November 5.

The other measures on the ballot in Arizona mainly consisted of city and school district bond issues and capital overrides.

  • Florida:

One pension measure was approved by voters in the city of Hialeah. This measure eliminated the relatively generous pension plan offered to retired city council members. According to the 2012 U.S. Census estimate, Hialeah is the 88th largest city in the nation and the 6th largest city in Florida with a population of 231,941.[7] This was the only notable measure covered by Ballotpedia in Florida.

  • Washington:

For the November 5, 2013 election, three very notable and high-profile measures were covered by Ballotpedia in Washington, including two Spokane measures, which sought to establish a "Community Bill of Rights" and a "Voter Bill of Rights" respectively. Both of these measures, however, were booted from the ballot in court on the grounds that the proposed laws fell outside the jurisdiction of city authority and the authority of the peoples' initiative.

But the groundbreaking measure in the small city of SeaTac was still on the ballot and, while garnering enough votes early in the vote count to prompt proponents to announce victory, is, after updated vote counts, clinging to the status of approved by only 43 votes. There are many more votes to count, making a Prop 1 victory very uncertain. Stay tuned to this page for immediate election results updates. Prop 1 had fallen into the national spotlight because it was the first municipal ballot measure that sought to raise the minimum wage; Prop 1 asked voters to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Many living-wage advocates think this measure might be the beginning of local movements, across the state and across the nation, to increase legally mandated wages of low-rank employees.

Proposition 1 had produced a very disproportionately well funded battle in the small city of SeaTac. In the city of only 12,100 registered votes, support and opposition campaigns had received contributions totaling $1,585,763. This amounts to $131.05 per registered voter and, with the projected voter-turnout of 55%, this figure rises to about $238 per vote.

October 8, 2013

By Brittany Clingen

2013 ballot measures
The five most notable ballot measures on the November 5, 2013 ballot include a measure to label genetically-modified foods in the State of Washington, a $950 million tax increase in Colorado, a proposed minimum wage increase in New Jersey and a proposed constitutional amendment in Texas that would take money out of the state’s Rainy Day Fund and spend it on water projects. A city-wide initiative in Cincinnati to address the city’s $862 million in unfunded pension liabilities rounds out the list of 2013’s measures to watch.

The list of this year’s most notable measures was compiled by Ballotpedia, which has provided comprehensive coverage of statewide ballot measures since 2008.

Leslie Graves, Ballotpedia’s executive editor, noted a unique feature of the 2013 ballot: With only 31 statewide measures on the ballot in 6 states, 2013 will have 28 percent fewer measures than the average number of measures on the ballot in an odd-numbered year. Historically, elections in even-numbered years see an average of 175 measures, while those in odd-numbered years see approximately 45. The statewide ballot measures in 2013 are light, even in comparison to ballots from other odd-numbered years.

The Five Most Notable Measures are:

  • Washington State’s I-522: I-522, if approved, will require that foods produced entirely or partly with genetic engineering be labeled as such when offered for retail sale in the state, beginning in July 2015. A similar measure, California’s Proposition 37, lost narrowly on that state’s November 6, 2012 ballot after a long list of food companies spent more than $45 million in the waning weeks of the campaign to defeat it.
  • Texas Proposition 6: Texas typically votes on a significant number of proposed constitutional amendments in off-years. 2013 is no exception, with nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot. In previous years, the practice of holding off-year elections has led to voter turnout in the single digits. This doesn’t mean that the off-year amendments are unimportant. Proposition 6 in 2013 proposes to take $2 billion out of the state’s Rainy Day Fund and spend it on water projects. This has led to fierce opposition from fiscally conservative groups in the state.
  • Cincinnati Pension Reform Charter Initiative: This initiative aims to change Cincinnati’s underfunded pension system from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan. It is opposed by the city council and city unions. Two cities in California, San Diego and San Jose, voted on and overwhelmingly approved city-wide measures to reform their faltering pension plans in June 2012. Initiatives similar to the Cincinnati plan are under discussion in other cities. Election-watchers looking for insight into the mood of the electorate on pensions should keep an eye on how Cincinnati's citizens vote on this one.

August 14, 2013

By Brittany Clingen

Missouri

Jefferson City, Missouri: Rex Sinquefield, a retired financier and frequent contributor to campaigns and candidates in Missouri, has filed a lawsuit to block a campaign finance reform measure from appearing on the 2014 ballot. If approved by voters, this measure - which is sponsored by the group, The Missouri Roundtable for Life - would amend the Missouri Constitution and cap campaign contributions to those running for statewide office or a legislative seat at $2,600. Currently, there are no caps or restrictions on contributions to campaigns and candidates in the state. The measure is currently collecting signatures, and if supporters gather at least 211,000 valid signatures, the measure will be placed on the ballot.[8][9]

Sinquefield and lobbyist Travis Brown are both listed as plaintiffs. They claim "the initiative doesn’t adequately measure the financial impact of the amendment, unfairly restricts free speech and freedom of association and contains unfair language that could manipulate voters." Brown told the Missouri Times, "This ultimately is about freedom of expression and speech. An individual should have the right to express themselves by support or opposition to a candidate or committee." Sec. of State Jason Kander responded, saying he believed the language of the measure would be upheld in court. Courts have historically struck down attempts to limit campaign contributions, saying that the ability to donate money to campaigns and candidates is a form of free expression, which is protected by the first amendment.[8]

July 15, 2013

Wyoming

By Eric Veram

CHEYENNE, Wyoming: Supporters of a referendum on Senate File 104 submitted piles of signed petitions to the Wyoming secretary of state's office on May 28, the deadline by which 37,606 signatures were needed to place the legislation before voters. Despite high hopes from supporters, Wyoming election director Peggy Nighswonger announced on May 31 that only 21,991 signatures had been collected, thereby disqualifying the measure.[10]

The story doesn't end there, however, as the effort's leading sponsor, Jennifer Young, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the secretary of state violated the rights of referendum supporters by taking two weeks to provide them with petition forms. According to the lawsuit, those two weeks account for about sixteen percent of the ninety-day period citizens are given for circulating referendum petitions. The lawsuit names Secretary of State Max Maxfield as the only defendant. Young is asking the court to award her and other supporters of the referendum another ninety days to circulate petitions for the 2014 ballot.[11]

May 31, 2013

CHEYENNE, Wyoming: Tuesday, May 28, was the deadline to submit signed petitions for anyone looking to hold a public referendum on legislation passed by the Wyoming legislature this session. In contrast to the last seven years, this time signatures were actually turned in to the secretary of state's office.[12]

The petitions were filed by the opponents of Senate File 104, also known as the "Hill bill." The bill stripped a number of duties from the elected state superintendent of public instruction and transferred them to the newly created education department director, a position to be filled by an appointment by the governor. The petition drive was spearheaded by the Wyoming Constitution Party, who say that the bill is in opposition to the will of the public because it transfers power from an elected position to an appointed one. Members of the legislature who voted in favor of the bill say that current superintendent Cindy Hill was mismanaging the state education department and preventing legislative work aimed at overhauling the state's public school system.[12]

The secretary of state has sixty days from the filing deadline to count and verify the submitted signatures. If the necessary 37,606 are certified, the Wyoming Education Department Director Referendum will head to the 2014 general election ballot.[12]

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References