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The Tuesday Count: Amendment relating to judicial selection referred to the ballot in Tennessee

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March 12, 2013

Edited by Eric Veram

Tuesday Count Lineup:

1 certification
1 measure for 2013

Topics featured in this report

Judicial selection(News)
Gambling(2014 watch)
Signature requirements(Ballot law)

What to watch for:

Local ballot measure elections in Florida!

At last, we have another certification to report, this time in Tennessee! Other interesting developments include another "personhood" amendment filing in Mississippi and a proposal to repeal the legalization of casinos in Massachusetts. Be sure to also check out the local ballot measures being decided on today in a total of four states!

The Tennessee General Assembly gave its approval of the Judicial Selection Amendment on Monday, March 11, with the final vote being 74-14 in favor from the state house. The state senate had already approved the measure in late February with a vote of 29-2.

The measure makes various changes to the current system of judicial selection in the state. Specifically, the proposal eliminates the independent nominating commission and replaces it with the requirement that judicial appointments be confirmed by the general assembly. If the legislature fails to vote on a judge's appointment in 60 days, that judge is automatically confirmed. The amendment does maintain the current system of judicial retention elections every eight years.[1]

Supporters of the amendment say that it will help Tennessee to avoid costly and contentious judicial elections that take in place in other states. Opponents, however, argue that the proposal violates the state's constitutional requirement that supreme court justices "be elected by the qualified voters of the state."[2]

The measure will go to voters in the 2014 general election. Currently, there is one other measure also slated for the 2014 ballot, the Tennessee Abortion Amendment.

Nevada may see a certification at the end of this week.

The controversial Nevada Margins Tax Initiative, reportedly, gathered and submitted 150,000 signatures to the Nevada Secretary of State by the deadline in November 2012. The measure implements a two percent margins tax on businesses grossing more than $1 million annually and sets that revenue aside for education in the state.

Before going on the ballot, however, the Nevada legislature has the opportunity to approve the measure within 40 days of the start of the 2013 legislative session. That deadline is March 15, and though a formal hearing was held on March 5, no one expects the legislature to approve the proposal before the deadline lapses.

Instead, Republicans in the state senate have proposed a counter tax that would also raise money for education. The legislator's proposal, Senate Resolution 15, would raise the gross revenue tax paid by mining companies to the six and three-quarters percent currently paid by gaming companies. Supporters of the proposal say that it will yield around $780 million for education. The margins tax proposed by the Nevada State Education Association is estimated to generate roughly $800 million annually.

If the legislature does not act by the end of the week, the initiative will appear on the state ballot in 2014.

According to reports, the Arkansas Attorney General has rejected a medical marijuana proposal submitted by Arkansans for Medical Cannabis. Reports indicate that the proposal was rejected due to ambiguities and grammatical errors within the text of the measure.

2014 watch

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After an attempt at filing a veto referendum failed due to appropriations contained within the bill, opponents of the 2011 law legalizing resort casinos in Massachusetts are preparing a ballot measure, called the Massachusetts Casino Repeal Initiative, to overturn it.

Supporters claim that the state law allowing casinos was rammed through without public input. According to Robert Goodman, a member of Repeal The Casino Deal, the group sponsoring the measure, "Whether you are for it or against it, let’s get it on the ballot." Arguments in favor of the measure say that casinos promote gambling addiction and prey on the state's poor.[3]

The group must gather a minimum of 68,911 valid signatures and submit them to local election officials by late November 2013. Once this is done, another 11,485 will have to be submitted if the state legislature fails to act on the proposal. According to reports, the group plans to gather at least 100,000 names by the deadline. If the petition drive is successful, voters will see the initiative on the 2014 ballot.

Utah citizens hopeful for access to recall elections for elected officials will have to wait at least another year, according to reports. Representative Lee B. Perry (R) created a bill to address the issue and had plans to bring it up during this year's legislative session but the bill would have likely stalled due to the shrinking number of days left in the 2013 session.

2014 Count
Number: Five measures
States: California and Tennessee

Instead, Rep. Perry now has plans to work during the legislative recess on a proposal that would put place the question of whether to allow recall elections before voters in 2014. Reports indicate that Rep. Perry changed his mind after holding a consultation with legal advisers and after an announcement from Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (R) suggesting that several bills still in waiting would have no chance of moving through the legislature this year.

The state does allow for impeachment of elected officials charged with criminal offenses, but has no system at all for recall elections.[4]

On Tuesday, March 5, the Georgia State Senate voted 44-5 in approval of Senate Resolution 378, a constitutional amendment that would allow the sale of fireworks within the state. Although small fireworks such as sparklers and glow worms are currently allowed, the proposal would legalize explosive fireworks such as rockets, firecrackers, and Roman candles. Sales from fireworks would be slated for trauma care and firefighter services under the amendment.

If the house also approves the proposal, voters would ultimately get the final say in form of a question on the ballot in 2014.

Quick hits

  • Mississippi "right to life begins at conception" initiative may be on the ballots in 2014: Activists in Mississippi filed the petition paperwork for a proposed initiative which reads, "The right to life begins at conception. All human beings, at every stage of development, are unique, created in God's image and shall have equal rights as persons under the law." If the sponsors of this measure collect 107,216 in a year, the measure could be seen on the ballots in November of 2014 or 2015. According to reports, supporters of the initiative are confident that this new measure has a chance of passing because it is more clear than a similar measure that was rejected by 58% of voters in 2011. The 2011 proposed initiative read, "Should the term 'person' be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?"[7]


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Spotlight

Four states feature local ballot measure elections today, Phoenix voters could approve a new plan that would save the city over $1/2 billion: Local ballot measures are being voted on in four states today. Measures on the ballot include two pension reform measures in Phoenix that could save tax payers almost $600 million dollars by 2037. In Arizona, Florida, California and Oregon, voters will directly decide 83 different measures, including key issues such as pension reform, taxes and salaries of local officials. Below are a few of the notable measures being voted on today.

In Arizona, 2 Phoenix City measures seek pension reform for city employees. According to a City Council report, this pension reform could save the tax payers nearly $600 million over the next 23 years. Early voting on these issues began on February 23.

In California, there are only two measures on the ballots for this March 12 election, which is the second date in 2013 upon which local ballot measure elections were scheduled to take place in California. These two measures seek to authorize parcel taxes for the San Marino Unified School District and the South Pasadena Unified School District

The previous election date was March 5, 2013 on which day 16 ballot measures, six mayoral races and three Los Angeles Unified School Board races were decided.

For Florida voters, there are six measures in Delray Beach City in Palm Beach County. One measure removes charter protection against the reduction of the city manager salary. Another measure would allow for property tax exemptions to be granted to new and expanding businesses in an effort to motivate job growth.

There are also four measures in Boynton Beach City, which is also in Palm Beach County. One measure seeks to require at least six months residency in the city before running for city office.

A look at the Oregon elections shows us Albany City voters in Benton and Linn Counties will be deciding on two charter amendments today. The first amendment seeks to require voter approval for the creation of alteration of urban renewal districts. The second amendment seeks to establish more severe credit limitations for the city in order to cut down the amount of money borrowed by the city.

To read more about all of the ballot measures being decided today and to see the outcome of each race, follow Ballotpedia's coverage of the elections in Arizona, California, Florida and Oregon.

Election results for the Phoenix Pension reform measures will be reported here as soon as they become available when polls close tonight.

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

Idaho one step closer to tougher initiative laws: On Monday, March 11, the Idaho Senate approved a bill that would require initiatives in the state have signatures from six percent of voters in each of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. The state's current law has no geographical limitations on where petition signatures come from. Senator Curt McKenzie (R) is the bill's lead sponsor and has stated that the current proposal has nothing to do with voters' repeal of the controversial Students Come First education reforms.[8]

Tax increase amendment fails to make the ballot in South Dakota: On March 5, 2013, the South Dakota House of Representatives voted 35-34 against placing the Two-Thirds Majority for Tax Increases Amendment on the ballot. Later that day, a motion to reconsider was voted down, effectively defeating the proposal. Had the state legislature approved the measure, voters would have been asked if any ballot measure raising existing taxes or creating new ones should be required to receive a two-thirds majority in order to be approved.[9]

A new update will be released later this month. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2013 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2013 Scorecard

References