The Tuesday Count: 2014 shaping up to be a remarkably light year for initiatives

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July 8, 2014

Click here for the latest Tuesday Count

Edited by Brittany Clingen

5 certifications
114 measures for 2014



Filing deadlines (News)
Birth control (Quick hits)
Wages (Spotlight)

2014 ballot measures
With the passage of each successive signature filing deadline, it is quickly becoming apparent that voters will have significantly fewer initiatives to vote on this year than in those past. The preceding week saw eight state filing deadlines come and go with few ballot measure campaigns submitting signatures for verification and even fewer achieving certification. Petition drive deadlines came and went in Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, Michigan and Arkansas. A total of 105 measures had the potential to appear on statewide ballots come November. However, of these measures, only 12 filed signatures by the prescribed deadlines, five of which have been certified.

Out of a total possible 26 measures, no signatures were filed at all in Ohio, Arizona and Michigan. In Oregon, only four out of 32 ballot measure campaigns submitted signatures by the July 3 deadline. Supporters of one such measure, the Equal Rights Amendment, submitted signatures early, and the measure was certified for the ballot prior to the deadline. Even if the remaining three make the ballot, 2014 will feature significantly fewer measures than the average 12 that have appeared on statewide ballots since 1996.

In Washington, a state well-known for active and contentious ballot measure campaigns, only one out of a potential 24 campaigns submitted signatures. Initiative 1351, which seeks to require fewer students per classroom in every grade, is the only Initiative to the People that will appear on the 2014 ballot, if the secretary of state confirms enough valid signatures were collected.

Massachusetts is the only state that has definitively certified signatures that were submitted by the state's deadline last week. Four initiated state statutes will appear on the ballot in November, allowing citizens to cast their votes on measures addressing taxes, environment, gambling and labor. The Bay State traditionally sees approximately four measures on the ballot annually, making this year an average one in terms of the number of measures.

Several petition filing deadlines have yet to pass, including those in Colorado, North Dakota and Oklahoma. However, based on the number of deadlines that have elapsed, 2014 ballots are still likely to be much lighter than in years past.

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2014 Count
Number: 114 measures
States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming

Quick hits

  • Illinois to vote on birth control question following Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed off on the Birth Control in Prescription Drug Coverage Question. The measure is a non-binding advisory question. The question asks voters whether prescription birth control should be covered in health insurance plans with prescription drug coverage.[1] Legislators finalized the question on May 30, 2014, but the governor did not sign the legislation until July 6, 2014.[2] Quinn criticized the US Supreme Court's recent ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, calling the ruling "disappointing and distressing." He continued, "It’s important that we here in the heartland of our country … have an opportunity at the ballot box for people to send a message that bosses shouldn’t be able to determine the personal health care decisions of their employees who are women."[3]
  • Democratic primary advisory questions get response in South Carolina: On June 10, 2014, Democratic Party primary voters were asked two questions about gambling, including one about legalizing gambling to provide funds for road repairs.[7] They overwhelming approved both.[8] House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-74) responded to his party's vote by proposing a Myrtle Beach Casinos for Transportation Funding Amendment. The amendment would permit "well-regulated, upscale casinos" and use the tax money generated by the casinos to fund transportation infrastructure repairs. Specifically, the casinos would be allowed in the vicinity of Myrtle Beach. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) opposes the plan. Rutherford responded to her opposition, saying, "She's against everything and for nothing. That kind of stubbornness won't fill our potholes, widen I-26, or create I-73. It's time to get serious about how we're going to pay for these repairs and Governor Haley's mystical 'money tree' is not a serious plan. For those who oppose this idea, I challenge you to come up with another way to fund our road repairs without raising taxes."[9]

Spotlight

The battle over the minimum wage in Seattle is far from over, voters may get the last word:

ForwardSeattle2014.gif

Kshama Sawant, 15 Now activists and low-wage workers across Seattle celebrated their victory when the city council unanimously approved an ordinance designed to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour on June 2, 2014. Opponents, however, immediately began working towards challenging the new ordinance at the ballot box. Proponents called the ordinance a historic victory for the working man, but a coalition of small business owners called Forward Seattle saw it as a drastic step that could prove potentially fatal to their livelihood. The group hired 80 paid circulators to collect signatures for a veto referendum petition. On July 2, 2014, one day before the law would have been enacted, the petitioners turned in slightly fewer than 20,000 signatures. According to law, Ordinance 124490 will be put on hold while the city clerk verifies that at least 16,510 of the submitted signatures are valid. If the petition is certified, the city council will be forced to put their ordinance before voters at a special election or the November 4, 2014 regular election.[10][11][12]

The targeted ordinance, unanimously approved by the council, was designed to make the following changes to the wage laws in the city:[13]

  • Increase the minimum wage for businesses with over 500 employees to $15 per hour over three years;
  • Give such large businesses that offer benefits four years to increase the wage to $15 per hour;
  • Require businesses with fewer than 500 employees to make the jump to $15 per hour over seven years;
  • Temporarily count tips, bonuses and alternate compensation toward the minimum wage, with this credit phased out over time;
  • Allow a temporary, lower training wage.

Working Washington sound clip of a circulator misleading a signer

Forward Seattle believes that voters were not given enough of a chance to debate and discuss the issue before the city council enacted the law. Opponents of the council's ordinance argue that the city council members hastily approved a measure that will harm Seattle's economy and job market because they were pressured by threats of an initiative from 15 Now. Angela Cough, co-chair of Forward Seattle, said, “We want people to vote because it gives us an opportunity to educate them. There are plenty of people out there in the city of Seattle that have no clue what’s just gone on.” By qualifying a referendum for the ballot, Forward Seattle hopes to give voters a chance to overturn the $15 per hour minimum wage. Some supporters of the referendum, including Angela Cough, are in favor of a less extreme minimum wage increase, such as $12.50 per hour.[14][12]

Sage Wilson, spokesperson for a group of labor and community organizations called Working Washington, is opposed to the referendum effort. Wilson said, “These business owners have had ample voice in the debate. They simply failed to win over the public. Losing a debate is not the same as not having a debate.”[14]

Many minimum wage proponents are resentful of the way in which Forward Seattle has proceeded with the referendum. They argue that referendum circulators disseminated more misinformation than fact. Specifically, they accused the signature gatherers of taking advantage of those who did not know about the council's ordinance by saying their petition was designed to increase the minimum wage, rather than overturn the council's increase.[14]

Proponents of a $10.10 per hour minimum wage attempt statewide change through local ballot questions:

Raise Wisconsin logo

A group call Raise Wisconsin is running a collaborative effort to put advisory questions - either through initiative petitions or lobbying local legislators - on as many local ballots as possible during the November 4, 2014 election. The group is hoping that they can get enough attention and votes through local measures to urge state lawmakers to impose a higher minimum wage. Although a 2005 state law prohibits local government agencies from enacting a minimum wage different from the state minimum wage, the counties and cities that are participating in the Raise Wisconsin effort are trying to use advisory referenda to impact a statewide change in the minimum wage. The movement has succeeded in putting questions on four county ballots and three city ballots and expects many more to follow suit before the November election.[15][16]

Kevin Kane, the lead organizer for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a supporter of Raise Wisconsin's efforts, pointed out that Wisconsin is surrounded by states with a higher minimum wage, but the state's job market, as well as the economy generally, is lagging. Kane said the issue stems from a lack of purchasing power to boost the economy and provide for thriving businesses. The goal of activists seeking a higher minimum wage is to put more money in the hands of Wisconsinites, allowing them to spend more at local businesses. According to the Raise Wisconsin website, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would inject over $517 million into the Wisconsin economy and would generate 3,800 new jobs to meet the demand from the surge in the economy.[17][18]

See also

2014 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2014 Scorecard

References

  1. Illinois General Assembly, "Full Text of HB5755," accessed May 30, 2014
  2. The State, "Illinois House OKs birth control ballot measure," May 30, 2014
  3. Chicago Tribune, "Quinn signs birth-control measure, says court ruling 'distressing'," July 6, 2014
  4. Stop Higher Health Care Costs, "Homepage," accessed July 3, 2014
  5. California Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance," accessed June 9, 2014
  6. Los Angeles Times, "Backers of malpractice cap ballot measure submit signatures," March 24, 2014
  7. Beaufort County, South Carolina, "Sample Ballots," accessed July 8, 2014
  8. South Carolina State Election Commission, "2014 Statewide Primary Election," accessed July 8, 2014
  9. The Post and Courier, "State Rep.: Grand Strand casinos could fuel road repairs," July 2, 2014
  10. KUOW, "New Frontiers On The Minimum Wage Fight," June 25, 2014
  11. Hot Air, "Seattle pushing back on the $15 minimum wage," July 6, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Forward Seattle website
  13. The Seattle Times, "Mayor Murray announces his $15 wage plan," May 1, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Vice News, "Meet the Group Trying to Kill Seattle’s Minimum Wage Hike," July 7, 2014
  15. BizTimes, "MADISON – Several Wisconsin counties to hold minimum wage advisory referendums," June 27, 2014
  16. Wisconsin Legislature website, "2005 Assembly Bill 49," accessed July 8, 2014
  17. Ballotpedia staff writer Josh Altic, "Phone interview with Kevin Kane, Lead Organizer of Citizen Action of Wisconsin," July 8, 2014
  18. Raise Wisconsin website, "Facts and Figures," accessed July 8, 2014