The Tuesday Count: Assisted death may look voters in the face in New Jersey

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February 12, 2013

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Edited by Al Ortiz

0 certifications
0 measures for 2013

Assisted death(News)
Voter I.D.(2014 watch)
Initiative law(Ballot law)

With still no measures certified for 2013, some proposals are as close as ever to making the 2013 ballot.

New Jersey legislators are busy working to put certain proposals on the fall ballot this year, with one proposal advancing to a full chamber debate this past week.

Below are the details followed by the rest of this week's latest news developments!

Tuesday Count weekly news...

In November 2012, Massachusetts voters decided to reject a measure that dealt with the topic of assisted death. In the months leading up to the election, the measure accumulated much attention through campaign contributions and news coverage.

In 2013, a similar measure is being proposed for the New Jersey ballot by state legislators, and it seems to be getting just as much attention as its Massachusetts counterpart.

The New Jersey "Death with Dignity" Act may appear on the November 5, 2013 ballot, where it would ask voters to allow terminally ill citizens with six months or less to live to end their lives through a lethal dose of medication. The measure was introduced during the 2013 state legislative session. The bill was authored by State Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Timothy Eustace.[1]

On February 10, 2013, the Health and Senior Services Committee voted 7-2 to send the measure to the state House and Senate. If approved by both chambers, the measure will be placed before voters.[1]

The Massachusetts measure, Question 2, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot. The measure was a citizen initiative, and would have established, according to those who filed the measure, an "Act Relative to Death with Dignity."

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According to the text of the initiative, the proposed measure would have allowed for a terminally ill patient to be given lethal drugs. A terminally ill patient was to be defined as a patient being given six months or fewer to live, much like the New Jersey proposal. The patient requesting the medication had to be mentally capable to make medical decisions while consulting their respective doctors.

Patients would have been required to submit their request orally twice and witnessed in writing, and the initial verbal request would have been fifteen days prior to the written request and second oral request. The patient's terminal diagnosis and capability to make health care decisions would have had to have been confirmed by a second doctor.

Elsewhere, in Texas, legislators are also revisiting an issue that was present on the 2012 ballot - an issue that has been under high scrutiny in the past few years.

A health care amendment, filed as Senate Joint Resolution 5 in the state legislative session, may appear on the November 2013 ballot. The measure would allow residents in the state to decide on whether or not they purchase health care insurance. The measure stems from the events surrounding the Affordable Healthcare Act. The author of the bill is State Senator Donna Campbell.[2]

A 2/3rds vote in both chambers of the Texas State Legislature is required to refer an amendment to the ballot. Texas is one of sixteen states that requires this.

2014 watch

The debate of voter identification is back. This time, the battle ground has shifted to the state of Missouri.

A proposal currently under debate in the state legislative session would mandate that voters show a government-issued photo identification when voting in a state election. The proposal, House Bill 2016, is sponsored by State Representative Stanley Cox.[3]

Reports suggest that there may be more similar pieces of legislation being discussed among lawmakers.

2014 Count
Number: Four measures
States: California and Tennessee

Cox stated, "This is about protecting the sanctity of our vote. It is certainly one of the highest principles that exist in a representative government."

However, State Representative Brandon Ellington countered by saying, "This is nothing more than a modern-day poll tax. Voting is a right. It’s not a privilege. They’re trying to turn it into a privilege.”

Proposed amendments must be agreed to by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Missouri General Assembly before being placed on the ballot.

In 2012, the voter identification showdown occurred in Minnesota, where Amendment 2 was defeated in the general election.

The proposal would have required that all voters in the state show photo identification before voting. Legislation to enact similar laws without a constitutional amendment passed both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature, but were vetoed by Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton. Therefore, the issue was sent to a public vote.

Quick hits

  • North Carolina Private Property Amendment sees revival in the state legislature: On Wednesday, February 6, the house judiciary committee voted in favor of passing a constitutional amendment strengthening landowner protections against eminent domain. The amendment will now go before the full state house of representatives and if it receives sixty percent approval both there and in the state senate, it will be passed on to voters in the November 2014 election. The amendment was proposed during legislative sessions in 2007, 2010, and 2011 as well, but failed to secure a place on the ballot. The amendment is in response to a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a municipality's decision to condemn waterfront homes for private developers under the power of eminent domain.[4]
  • Initiatives overturning ban on same-sex marriage filed in Oregon: According to reports, the group Basic Rights Oregon has filed two separate initiatives with the Oregon Secretary of State which seek to overturn a voter approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state. The group's spokeswoman, Amy Ruiz, in a statement made to the Oregonian, said that the two measures have only minor differences in wording and that the group will campaign for whichever one receives the favorable ballot title from the secretary of state. The Oregon Family Council, a group which opposes same-sex marriage, has announced that it has plans to analyze the measure for possible openings for legal challenges.[5]

SPOTLIGHT: Phoenix City Pension reform to be voted on in March

In the light of the reported jump in Phoenix City pension costs from $28 million in 2000 to $110 million in the 2012 fiscal year, some councilmen say that a proposed city pension plan may not be enough to save the city from grave fiscal problems.

On September 25th, 2012, after several presentations from the Pension Reform Task Force (dead link) appointed by the City Council in January of 2011 and a court case limiting possible reform to new hires only, the council finally approved a pension reform plan to put before voters in the March 12, 2013 election. This reform took the form of two Phoenix Charter amendments.

If approved, the first amendment, proposition 201, would make five changes in the Phoenix Employees' Retirement Plan. The most important of these changes would require any member of the Plan to contribute half of the funds for his or her retirement and establish retirement eligibility to occur when the sum of the employee's age and years of service equals 87 instead of 80, which is the current rule. This proposal, however, leaves intact the retirement eligibility rules of 60 years of age with 10 years of service and 62 years of age with 5 years of service. This amendment also establishes certain multiplier benefits to increase over time instead of decrease in order to encourage later retirement.[6]

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The second amendment, Proposition 202, seeks to put in place a prudent investor rule, ensure that the Retirement Plan remains tax-exempt and make the amended plan compatible with all applicable federal tax laws.[7][8]

Mayor Greg Stanton was among those who supported the reform decided on by the council and argued that it was well balanced in its expectations from the employees and the city. With regard to these two amendments, Stanton said, "We are going to be able to put significantly more resources into police, fire, our library system, parks and recreation. Under the proposal, it's a true partnership with our employees. We share in the risk. We share in the benefit."[6] But Councilmen Jim Waring and Sal DiCiccio argued that this reform was not drastic enough and called for contribution caps on the city's portion of retirement funding to protect the taxpayers from over spending.[6] However, these contribution caps were rejected by the Council in a six to three vote.[8]

Meanwhile, it is Election Day in Washington today. See this page for details on the 86 measures on the ballots, including the 17 school bond measures requesting $1,160,652,554 in bond money, and the 50 school tax measures. Return here to view election results as they are posted.

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

South Dakota legislature proposes amendment aimed at limiting ballot measures' effect on taxes: A proposed constitutional amendment, sponsored by Senator Corey Brown would limit voters' ability to pass new taxes or raise existing ones via the ballot measure process. The amendment would require a two-thirds majority to do so, the same requirement the legislature must meet in order to increase taxes. The measure was passed on to the full state senate by a 6-1 vote from the Senate Tax Committee. If approved by both chambers, the measure would move on to the 2014 general election ballot.[9]

A Democratic supermajority in the California legislature might mean changes to the initiative process: According to reports, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has several initiative reforms in the works and may unveil some of them by the end of February. One proposed reform would involve removing the current requirement of a two-thirds majority to place tax increases on the ballot. Another proposed reform is re-instigating a process known as "indirect initiative." This form of initiative would allow the state legislature to amend initiatives or pass their own versions if the measures' proponents agree to it. Sources have also mentioned a possible proposal to restrict the current trend of high-donor financing of ballot measures. Supporters of the reforms say that they would make the initiative process more streamlined and would create a better process for passing state budgets.[10]

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

See also

2013 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2013 Scorecard