The Tuesday Count: Death penalty proposals alive in another western state

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January 22, 2013

Click here for the latest Tuesday Count
The Tuesday Count reports on ballot measure news and tracks all measures that make statewide ballots across the country (ballot certifications).

Edited by Al Ortiz

0 certifications
0 measures for 2013

Death penalty(News)
Marriage(2014 watch)
Initiative law(Ballot law)

The drought continues for 2013 ballot measures.

As of today, January 22, no ballot measures have been placed on a 2013 special, primary or general election ballot.

However, as highlighted last week, the Maine initiative drive deadline is on January 24. On that day, Ballotpedia will give real-time updates on filings that occur for proposed statewide ballot measures by citizens.

Tuesday Count weekly news…

Colorado is one of a handful of states that allows measures to be placed on odd-numbered year ballots. Although this is allowed, some state legislators are beginning a push to tackle one particular issue either this year or in the following year.

The 2013 legislative session in the state is in full swing. One of the issues at hand is the death penalty, set to be considered in the form of two competing bills that are expected to be introduced in the near future, reports say. State Representative Claire Levy stated that she wanted to make the maximum sentence in the state life in prison without parole. Moral grounds, she says, is the key reason behind her efforts to stop the death penalty. Levy stated that the death penalty can include a lengthy appeals process, multiple hearings and extensive media coverage that make it difficult for victims' families.

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According to Levy, "With a life sentence, they serve out their sentence, they die in prison, they're forgotten by the public, so they don't get the notoriety."

On the other hand, Rhonda Fields, state representative from Aurora, plans to introduce a competing bill that would put the issue of the death penalty up for a vote in 2014, a vote that would be similar to what California voted on in 2012.

2014 watch

The 2012 election could retrospectively be looked upon as the springboard for multiple states across the country coming forward to visit the issue of same-sex marriage. While various states have been highlighted in past Tuesday Count reports regarding the topic, the most recent state to possibly weigh in is Indiana.

Lawmakers in the state could have their plates full this legislative session with a proposal that voters may have a chance to chime in on. Recently, State Senate President Pro Tem David Long commented that the chamber is delaying their announcement on how they'll proceed with a proposed same-sex marriage ban. Long stated that he's evaluating how the United States Supreme Court's decision to review the issue might impact the bill.

2014 Count
Number: Four measures
States: California and Tennessee

During 2011 legislative session, the General Assembly approved the bill, allowing it to be considered during this year's session. According to the Indiana Constitution, a proposed constitutional amendment in the legislature must be approved by both chambers in two successive sessions in order to be placed on the ballot. If approved, the measure would be sent to the next general election ballot, which would be in November 2014

To view same-sex measures that were on the ballot in 2012, click here.

Quick hits

Georgia could see the abolishment of state income tax in its future: State income tax could be phased out by 2027 if a recent senate proposal is approved by voters. The bill, Senate Resolution 8, was proposed by Senator Joshua McKoon and would reduce the income tax rate by 0.5 percent every year until it is eliminated. The proposal calls for a constitutional amendment and would need to be approved by a two-thirds majority of both legislative chambers before it could be referred to the ballot. According reports, Senator Mike Dugan is cosponsoring the bill and has said that a consumption tax could be a viable alternative the current income based revenue system.[1]

SPOTLIGHT: D.C. Attorney General hopes voters do not force hand of Congress in April budget amendment

Despite much controversy and vehement arguments against a referendum, Washington D.C. Elections Board members unanimously authorized a ballot measure that gives the people a chance on April 23 to vote for long sought-after budget autonomy. This proposal, if approved, would authorize a charter amendment to remove the city's budget from the congressional appropriations process, allowing the D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the City Council to decide on all local spending and set the fiscal calendar.[2] According to reports, voters will likely support this amendment and, if they do, Congress will be forced to actively pass a disapproval resolution to keep control of the City's budget.[3]

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No quiz this week due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Click here to take previous ballot quizzes!

Supporters of the measure are numerous and include D.C. Council's general counsel and activists groups such as the D.C. Voting Rights Coalition.[2] Speaking on behalf of this group, James Jones said, "A yes vote on [the question] will free D.C.'s local tax dollars from a dysfunctional Congress. Our local tax dollars should not be held hostage by people we did not elect to serve."[4] The D.C. Vote group also released a document supporting the referendum (dead link) that proposes the charter amendment as the key to granting D.C. residents "the democratic rights enjoyed by all other Americans to control their own local tax revenues" and that budget autonomy will allow the District government to more effectively govern and administer to the needs of the people.[5]

The argument proposed against this referendum by the D.C. Attorney General, Irvin B. Nathan, is simple: the amendment is illegal. Nathan, along with other critics of the amendment such as D.C.'s own Mayor, Vincent Gray, argue that the measure would likely lead to a drawn-out and pricey battle in court because the Anti-deficiency Act forbids the City of Washington D.C, as a federal entity, from spending funds without congressional approval.[2] Nathan supports an effort to achieve budget autonomy for the district residents, but he asserts that a law passed by Congress is the only legal way to do it. When pressed, he stood firm on his position, insisting that this amendment could result in political backlash from Congress who could see it as a violation of their oversight powers. Concerning the reaction on Capitol Hill, Nathan said, "To put it mildly, it is not likely to be pretty."[6]

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

Michigan lawmakers consider changes to petition process: On January 16, Senator Tory Rocca introduced a bill which would create more transparency in the initiative process. The bill, SB 10, would require that the names of paid petition circulators be listed on the front page of the petition of any ballot initiative. The bill goes further still and requires that the organization paying the petition circulators also be prominently displayed.[7]

Idaho joins growing list of states in seeking to make the initiative process more difficult: Senator Curt McKenzie introduced a bill to the Idaho Legislature on January 21 that would make it more difficult to place citizen initiatives on the ballot. The bill would alter signature benchmarks by requiring that names come from six percent of the registered voters of twenty-two of Idaho’s thirty-five legislative districts. The bill is similar to a court overturned law that required signatures from six percent of the voters in at least twenty-two counties. In that instance the court ruled that the law gave more power to the rural counties over the urban ones and was therefore unconstitutional. According to supporters of the new bill, the new requirements would treat urban and rural residents equally. Russ Hendrick, a lobbyist for the Idaho Farm Bureau and is the individual responsible for requesting the new bill, says, "The bottom line is just to ensure that there’s broad support across the state for an issue before it qualifies on the ballot."[8]

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