Edited by Brittany Clingen
In Wisconsin, voters will see a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment addressing the state's judiciary system on the April 7 ballot, bringing the total number of 2015 statewide measures to four. In the meantime, marijuana continues its reign as one of the most prevalent topics on state and local ballots. Most recently, local measures have materialized in Tennessee, Kansas and California.
First statewide measure of 2015 to be voted on in Wisconsin:
The first statewide measure to go before voters in 2015 will appear on the April 7 ballot for voters in the Badger State. The measure, if approved, would provide for the election of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice by a majority of the justices serving on the court. The justice would serve a two-year term.
Currently, the Wisconsin Constitution mandates that the Chief Justice be appointed based on seniority from the pool of justices sitting on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson has served as the court's chief justice since 1996. She's considered a "liberal," but the court majority is considered "conservative," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Opponents argue that the amendment is a political attack on Chief Justice Abrahamson. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley of the Wisconsin Supreme Court deemed the amendment a "tool to settle political scores," saying,
"I think the constitutional amendments are being targeted at replacing our chief justice. That's short-sighted because the political pendulum swings; all of us know that. And we don't want 10 years from now, this constitution, which is the foundation of our state, to be used by another party that may be in power as some kind of political pingpong to go back and forth."
However, supporters argue the amendment is a "common-sense measure" that would allow for a more democratic system of choosing the Supreme Court Chief Justice. Rep. Rob Hutton (R-13), one of the measure's supporters, said, "[The measure] not only minimizes the politics but it introduces more collaboration and cohesion."
In order to refer the measure to the ballot, the state legislature was required to approve the amendment by a simple majority vote in two successive legislative sessions. The measure was approved by the legislature in November 2013 and again in January 2015. No Democrats voted in favor of the amendment during the 2015 vote. However, it was still approved by margins of 54.84 percent in the senate and 64.58 percent in the assembly.
- ↑ Wisconsin Legislature, "2013 Senate Joint Resolution 57," accessed May 8, 2014
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Constitutional amendment would let court select chief justice," October 29, 2013
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Capital Times, "Justice Ann Walsh Bradley says constitutional amendment improperly being used as 'tool to settle political scores'," January 18, 2015
- ↑ Hudson Star-Observer, "Supreme Court governance issue inches toward April ballot; state's housing market nearly recovered; 12 more Wisconsin stories," January 20, 2015
- See also: School bond and tax elections in Kansas
Kansas requires ballot questions for issuing new bonding and exceeding the capital outlay levy cap. In Kansas, no capital outlay levy can exceed five years in length without voter approval. Also, ballot questions are mandatory in Kansas for issuing new bonds. In Kansas, a school district cannot have more than fourteen percent of its debt come from bonds. Kansas is one of a handful of states that requires school districts to seek approval from the state government before having a ballot question presented to the voters to issue new bonds.