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The Tuesday Count: 2013, 2014 and 2016 ballot measure developments swirl

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November 20, 2012

By Al Ortiz and Eric Veram

It is not expected for the infant 2013 Tuesday Count to grow in numbers this soon after the 2012 general election. So far, there have been no measures certified for the ballot in 2013, a year where not many measures are expected to make the ballot compared to an even-numbered year.

In 2011, only 34 ballot measures were on the ballot in 9 states. In the previous odd-numbered year before that, in 2009, 32 measures were on the ballot in 7 states.

There is no telling how many ballot measures on the ballot 2013 will see, but there is action being taken for both this year and the following year, 2014, in some states.

Proposals in Iowa could bring the issue of marijuana to the ballot if a petition drive effort, which is still in its very beginning stages, is successful in collecting enough signatures for 2014.

Josh Montgomery, a 20-year-old Iowa State University student, is hoping to get three voter initiatives on the ballot by 2014. The measures would decriminalize marijuana possession, would legalize medical marijuana, and would allow hemp production on Iowa’s farms.

Montgomery and his petition drive are aiming for 600,000 petition signatures to try to entice state legislators to get these measures on the ballot. Iowa is not an initiative and referendum state, therefore signatures would only be used in the capacity to lobby for the measures in legislative session.[1]

For 2013 efforts, the New Jersey State Senate Budget Committee voted on November 19 to raise the state minimum wage by $1.25. The current minimum wage in the state is $7.25 per hour. If the bill stalls, the legislature could choose to place the proposal on the ballot, as has been previously discussed.[2]

2012 ballot measure analysis

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Ballotpedia will conduct a 2012 ballot measure analysis, scheduled to be fully completed by mid-December. Included in this analysis:

  • Citizen initiative changes from previous years
  • Legislative referral changes from previous years
  • A breakdown of topics on the ballot
  • Initiative proposal activity throughout 2012
  • Campaign contributions for each measure
  • New features including tax and bond issues breakdown, voter turnout for measures and more.

Quick hits

Planning begins for Arkansas ballot measure due in 2016: Perhaps due to what many consider to be a changing tide in attitudes towards same-sex marriage, a group in Arkansas is in the initial stages of planning for a 2016 ballot measure legalizing the practice in the state. According to reports, the group began its planning on November 7 and are currently working on setting up a support network for the effort. According to Trey Weir, an organizer for the initiative, they hope on having something submitted by the beginning of 2013.[3]

Same-sex marriage measure may appear on Oregon's 2014 ballot: According to reports, Democrats in the Oregon legislature have enough votes right now to put gay marriage on the ballot in 2014 but are more likely to wait for a citizen initiative. Representative Peter Buckley says the only way the legislature will refer a measure itself is if polling was strongly in favor of its passage. Given that polling is, in most cases, quite close on the issue, legislators see a citizen-led effort as the better way to ensure success. Though many in the state are encouraged by the results form the general election, supporters face an additional hurdle by being the first state to attempt to legalize same-sex marriage after voters passed a ban on it in 2004.[4]


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Local 2012 school bonds and taxes report by Ballotpedia

Ballotpedia is working to update local ballot measure election results in the 11 states that are covered.

When that is completed, Part 2 of local school bond and tax question approval rates analysis will be completed. The report will list the statistics for school bond, tax and budget votes held in all of 2012 in the states of California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

The overall approval rate for the first half of 2012 was 75.9%.

The average approval rating for school property tax votes was 84.9% in the nine states[5] which had issues on their ballots. The average approval rating for school bond elections was lower with an approval rating set at 61.6% in a total of 10 states (California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin).

To view more of Part 1, click here.

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.


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BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Passage of marijuana legalization measures causes uncertainty: Even though marijuana was legalized for adult recreational use in both Washington and Colorado, the substance remains illegal at the federal level. This discrepancy, combined with the current administration's relatively lax enforcement of marijuana laws, is causing a great deal of anxiety for, lawmakers in those states. Reportedly, Colorado’s governor and attorney general held a meeting over the phone with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during which they asked him if the U.S. Justice Department had plans on moving against the measures. They received no clear response, however, and are holding off on making any plans to regulate and tax the substance until they receive such a answer.

Nanda Chitre, a Justice Department spokesperson, said that federal enforcement remains unchanged. In a statement made before the meeting with Attorney General Holder, she said, "In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time."[6]

Defeat of Michigan's Public Act 4 triggers lawsuit: After voters in Michigan turned down Proposal 1, and thereby striking down the law enabling emergency managers, the question remains of what will become of the emergency managers already appointed by the governor. Robert Davis, an opponent of the law, believes that all existing managers should be removed from their positions, and has filed a lawsuit pushing the courts for an answer. The Michigan Court of Appeals quickly reviewed the case and determined that the managers will stay in place under Public Act 72, the predecessor to PA 4. However, the case now goes to the Michigan Supreme Court and is set to be heard on December 5. Though Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette believes that the citizens essentially repealed PA 4's repeal of PA 72, thereby restoring the original law, early signs indicate that the supreme court may not agree. During a lawsuit over the referendum's placement on the ballot, Chief Justice Robert Young, Jr. said, "Whenever a statute, or any part thereof shall be repealed by a subsequent statute, such statute, or any part thereof, so repealed, shall not be revived by the repeal of such subsequent repealing statute."[7]


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References