The Tuesday Count: CO school tax officially certified for 2013 ballot
Edited by Brittany ClingenColorado school tax initiative, now known as Amendment 66, was officially certified for the November 5, 2013 ballot after the Secretary of State announced that supporters had collected the 86,105 signatures required to place the measure on the ballot. On August 5, 2013, supporters turned in 165,706 signatures, nearly double the number required. However, after taking a random sample of 8,286 signatures, 3,641 were determined to be invalid. Supporters needed to attain a verification rate of at least 110 percent per any random sample; the sample rate from the signatures selected yielded only 107.88 percent. This triggered the tedious process of reviewing the signatures "line-by-line," delaying the official certification of the measure. Secretary of State Scott Gessler ultimately determined that 89,820 signatures were valid, thus allowing voters to decide whether or not to raise taxes in order to collect approximately $950 million for public education funding.
Amendment 66 is part of a larger effort by various groups and legislators to overhaul the state's public education system. In April 2013, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 213, known as the Future School Finance Act. The bill is an amendment to the Colorado Public School Finance Act that affects how the state finances individual schools, not how the state education system itself is funded. That task is left to Amendment 66, which seeks to raise taxes to fund the legislation laid out in SB 213. There is a clause built into SB 213 that prevents it from taking effect unless Amendment 66 is passed in November.
Colorado's Amendment 66 is the final measure to be approved for the November 5, 2013 statewide ballots. Voters in Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington will decide the fate of 26 different measures.
|States:||Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming|
Another measure has been certified for a 2014 ballot, this one in Alaska. On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai officially certified the measure for the 2014 primary ballot on August 19, 2014. The measure is a veto referendum on Gov. Sean Parnell's (R) Senate Bill 21, which grants tax breaks to oil companies. The group "Vote Yes - Repeal the Giveaway" is leading the charge on the repeal effort. Jim Whitaker, one of the sponsors of the referendum, said, "I think all Alaskans should be pleased that we have a chance to make a decision individually about something that is going to affect the future of our state for a long time. And this is our shot. This is our chance to do what we think is right."
Under the current tax code, oil companies pay a base rate of 25 percent on the first $30 of net profits from a barrel of oil, plus a 0.4 percentage point increase in tax rate for each subsequent $1 in profit per barrel. Under SB 21, oil companies will pay a base rate of 35 percent, but the additional add-on tax matching the market price of oil will be removed. Given the new provisions detailed in SB 21, it is estimated that the tax on oil will be approximately 14 percent.
Effort underway to enact new public employee pension restrictions: GOP activist Roy Miller has filed an initiative in Arizona that seeks to place new limits on the state's pension debt. If enacted by voters, the measure would limit the annual budget growth of city and county budgets until their existing pension funding is at 80 percent of all future payment obligations. The measure would also eliminate any pension benefits for any elected official not already in office. Regarding the measure's second provision, Miller said, "I believe that elected officials ought to be policymakers. They ought to not be career positions." Arizona State Retirement System spokesman David Cannella said that pensions are currently funded at about 75.7 percent. According to Cannella the system would probably not achieve a funding level of 80 percent until 2021, meaning local governments could face substantial service cuts if the measure is approved. The measure was filed as an initiated state statute, which means supporters must collect 172,809 signatures by July 3, 2014, to place the measure on the 2014 ballot. The full text of the measure may be found here.
Alaska marijuana measure halfway to signature goal: Timothy Hinterberger, sponsor of the Alaska Marijuana Legalization Measure, announced that supporters of the measure have collected approximately half of their 45,000 signature goal. That total would give them a significant cushion above the 30,169 signatures that are actually required to be turned into the secretary of state by December 1, 2013. According to Hinterberger, support for the measure accelerated with the August 29 announcement by the U.S. Justice Department that it would not enforce federal drug laws against possession, production and purchase of marijuana in states where it has been made legal. If the measure is approved by voters, it will make it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of pot anywhere, except where banned by a property owner. The measure also establishes a regulatory body for the drug and institutes a $50-an-ounce excise tax. Supporters are attempting to secure a place for the initiative on the state's 2014 primary ballot.
Legal wrestling match in SeaTac, Washington, ends with minimum wage increase activists on top, "Good Jobs Initiative" is back on the November ballot:
After a Superior Court Decision was overthrown in appeals court, SeaTac voters will now get a chance to decide a ballot initiative seeking to increase the city's minimum wage from $9.19 to $15 per hour, the highest in the nation.
On August 26, Judge Andrea Darvas of the King County Superior Court caused the initiative, known as the "Good Jobs Initiative," to be removed from the November ballot by ordering both versions of duplicate signatures to be entirely thrown out, leaving petitioners 61 signatures short of the required 1,536. However, on September 6, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington, taking into account 248 more signatures submitted on August 27, overruled Darvas and ordered the measure back on the ballot.
The measure, known by supporters as the "Good Jobs Initiative," will require city employers pay sick leave to employees, as well as a minimum wage of $15 per hour and other regulations regarding wages and the hiring process. Heather Weiner, founder of the group "YES! For SeaTac," which supports the initiative, stated that she expects Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association will lead a last minute effort to keep Proposition 1 from the ballot. Reportedly, airlines, rental car companies and other corporations contributed almost $250,000 to overturn the initiative. Weiner, speaking about the recent appeals court decision to put the initiative back on the November ballot, said, "This is an important victory. We want good middle class jobs back at the airport. Over the last ten years or so it's really declined. People who have worked there for 20 or 30 years are still making minimum wage with no paid sick leave and no job security."
Nearly all businesses in SeaTac opposed this measure and several stated that, if it is approved, the proposed minimum wage increase would force them to close down. Quiznos owner Brett Hebernicht said, "The $15 an hour minimum wage would - I'll tell you right now frankly, and I'm not exaggerating - it would put us out of business. It would absolutely put us out of business." Scott Ostrander, manager of Cedarbrook Lodge and part of the group Common Sense SeaTac, which opposes the initiative said, “As with any business, people get paid according to their skill sets and their business. This is going to impact the entire employee base because you are going to have to put everyone up to a higher wage.’’
Ballot Law Update
Supporters of Oregon Measure 67 considering alterations for the next legislative session: In 2010, voters approved replacing Oregon's $10 corporate minimum tax with a tiered tax structure that maxes out at $100,000 in the form of Measure 67. In May of this year, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that corporations were permitted to use tax credits to pay the corporate minimum tax, a decision that the measure's supporters say violates the spirit of the law. The state legislature is set to convene in February, and Democrats are already considering what changes could be made to prevent revenue losses, projected at $90 million over the next decade, from the court's ruling. However, due to fear of legislative gridlock, some of Measure 67's campaign organizers are considering another initiative. Scott Moore, spokesman for Our Oregon, is one such supporter and said, "When voters passed the reforms to the corporate minimum tax, they did so because they believe that corporations, especially the very large ones, should be paying something." At least six such measures have been filed so far for the 2014 ballot.
Big change made to California initiative law: On Monday, September 9, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 213 into law. The act repeals all residency requirements for petition circulators in the state, including those petitioning for ballot measures and political candidates. According to reports, this will settle two lawsuits currently pending against the state. One is Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County v Bowen, a suit currently in federal court in Los Angeles. The other case is actually a series of nineteen lawsuits filed by a Wisconsin resident against nineteen separate counties in California. The bill's legislative analysis indicates that the law was drafted in response to U.S. Supreme Court case Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, Inc. that struck down state statutes requiring petition circulators to be registered voters.
| 2013 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2013 Scorecard|
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- The Denver Post, "$950 million Colorado school finance measure officially on ballot," September 4, 2013
- The Watch, "School Funding Initiative is Delayed, Pending Signature Review," August 27, 2013
- OpenStates.org, "Colorado SB 13-213," accessed September 10, 2013
- The Denver Post, "Colorado school finance revamp next takes tax increase to voters," May 5, 2013
- Alaska Public Media, "Oil Tax Referendum to Appear on Ballot," September 5, 2013
- Alaska Dispatch, "Deadline looming, Alaska oil tax repeal petition gains momentum," June 11, 2013
- Arizona Daily Star, "Initiative to curb public employee pensions launched," September 10, 2013
- Anchorage Daily News, "Alaskans may get chance to 'just say yes' on marijuana ballot measure," September 7, 2013
- http://q13fox.com/2013/09/06/court-orders-seatac-15-an-hour-wage-measure-back-on-ballot/#ixzz2eVOsYxGt Q13Fox, "Court orders SeaTac $15-an-hour wage measure back on ballot," September 6, 2013]
- Q13Fox, "Lawsuit filed over removal of SeaTac minimum wage initiative from ballot," August 28, 2013
- MYNorthwest.com, "Appeals court approves SeaTac minimum wage ballot measure," September 6, 2013
- Seattle Times, "Group says it has signatures for SeaTac wage initiative," August 27, 2013
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- Oregonian, "No easy path for law targeting Oregon corporate minimum tax break," September 3, 2013
- Ballet Access News (blog), "California Repeals All Residency Requirements for Petition Circulators," September 9, 2013