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Local measures post election report: Fracking bans and marijuana taxes approved but Cincinnati pension initiative suffers crushing defeat

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November 7, 2013

Updated November 12, 2013[1]

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, 81 were approved, 49 were defeated and 8 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 succeed. 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.[2] 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, although according to initial counts was ahead by a fair margin, is currently clinging to its status as approved by only 43 votes. And there are many more votes left to count, making the Prop 1 victory very uncertain. 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.


  1. This article was changed to show that the SeaTac Proposition 1 is not necessarily approved but is currently too close to call.
  2. US Census, "2012 Population Estimates"