The Tuesday Count: Effort underway to introduce "Right-to-Work" laws in Ohio
Edited by Eric Veram
Though there were no certifications since our last report, the week has not been short on interesting developments.
One such instance is a initiative attempt in Ohio that would introduce so-called "right-to-work" legislation similar to that in Michigan.
The story, and news on states looking to oppose the recent Citizens United decision, are detailed below!
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Our first highlight is actually a story that began in December 2012. Shortly after the governor of Michigan signed a bill into law outlawing the payment of union dues as a condition of employment, a group began circulating petitions in Ohio for a ballot initiative that closely resembles that piece of legislation. Chris Littleton, of the group Ohioans for Workplace Freedom, is sponsoring the initiative effort and believes he will be able to deliver the necessary 396,000 names by July in order to place the measure on the ballot this year. Littleton believe that right-to-work laws are beneficial to the states that have them and, in a statement made to the Associated Press, said, "For job growth alone, it's jet fuel for an economy."
Union leaders, however, disagree with that sentiment. Dave Green, President of United Auto Workers Local 1714, illuminated the unions' viewpoint saying, "Clearly we're opposed to it. It creates really an unfair disadvantage for us because you get these free riders in the union. People who pay no dues, but by federal law we still have to represent them." According to Green, worker in states with the legislation typically receive lower pay and more governmental assistance than those with similar jobs in states without the laws.
Interested parties on both sides are, reportedly, preparing for a fight similar to that over Issue 2 in 2011. That battle was ultimately won by pro-labor groups who led a successful referendum against legislation limiting collective bargaining in the state.
Another hotly contested issue may make its way to the ballot in New Jersey this fall. According to reports, Democratic leaders in the state are organizing efforts to push through legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in the state despite Governor Chris Christie's veto last year. One of the options available to supporters in the legislature is to refer the matter to the ballot.
The possible shift in tactics comes after Senate President Stephen Sweeney's change of heart regarding the matter. In previous years, he was not only opposed to same-sex marriage but also the idea of placing the issue before voters.
However, Sen. Sweeney's preferred method of passing the bill would be a direct override of the veto, an effort that would require a two-thirds majority vote from both the senate and the assembly. Troy Stevenson, head of Garden State Equality, a leading same-sex rights organization in the state, also prefers an override. According to him, ballot initiatives should be avoided if possible because they are divisive and expensive.
The current legislature, which contains a Democratic majority, has never successfully overridden a veto from Gov. Christie.
In news from the East Coast, Tim Eyman's recent proposal, Initiative 517, has cleared its first committee hearing. On February 19, Senate Committee on Governmental Operations passed the measure on to the Rules Committee. If it clears that stage, the initiative would then go on to the senate floor. If it does, it would be the first to receive a full vote from the chamber in nineteen years.
Among other things, the measure would expand the time allowed to gather petition signatures, as well as, expand legal protections for those doing the collecting.
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Montana, or more specifically its attitude, features prominently in this week's 2014 watch.
Firstly, a new legislatively-referred state statute, being called the "Sheriffs First" Bill, has cleared the House Judiciary Committee. This bill essentially declares local sheriffs to be above federal agents when it comes to authority within the state. The measure would require that all federal agents operating within Montana to obtain permission from local sheriffs before making arrests or serving warrants.
Failure to comply with the law could result in federal agents being charged with trespassing and kidnapping.
A simple majority in both chambers of the state legislature is all that is required to pass the measure on to the 2014 ballot.
|States:||California and Tennessee|
The other significant Montana-related event is a new proposal making its way through the California legislature that would ask voters if member of Congress representing California should support an amendment to the [[Constitution that would essentially overturn the recent Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
A similar measure was approved by voters in Montana during the 2012 general election. That ballot measure, I-166, as actually a state statute that "establishes a state policy that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings." The measure goes on to further charge representatives from Montana to support a Constitutional amendment overturning the Court's decision.
The proposal in California is slightly different in that it is merely an advisory question. This means that the measure's approval is more about sending a message than declaring any concrete state policy.
Common Cause, a group dedicated to campaign finance related issues, has come out in support of the bill. Phillip Ung, a member of the group, has stated that the effort in California is significant because of the state's size. Ung said, "Giving the voters of the most populous state, the world’s ninth-largest economy, the chance to declare that Citizens United should be reversed would be historic and the momentum this reform movement needs to sweep the nation."
- 41,000 signatures collected petitioning a water and land conservation amendment in Florida: According to reports, a circulating petition for an amendment guaranteeing funds for the Florida Forever land-buying program requires 676,811 signatures to earn a place on the 2014 ballot. This amendment would earmark a third of the state’s revenue from documentary stamp taxes for conservation of land and water in Florida, providing an estimated $5 billion in revenue in its first ten years. But it is still over 600,000 signatures away from the qualifying for election and even if it makes it to the ballot, it would require 60% voter approval to pass.
- Arizona voters may see a 2012 business equipment tax exemption question again in 2014: Last year voters rejected Question 116 that would allow large equipment tax exemptions for businesses. The House and Means Committee unanimously approved the same measure on February 21 and passed it on to a vote by the full Arizona House. If this measure gets legislative approval, voters will decide this issue for a second time in 2014. According to Farrell Quinlan, the state director of National Federation of Independent Business, this HCR 2011 measure would permit up to $2.4 million of company equipment to go un-taxed. Quinlan said that more money must be spent in campaigning for this measure to prevent the recurrence of last year's 12-point margin defeat.
Today's Michigan special elections feature over $83 million in requested school bond money: It is election day in Michigan and voters will be deciding on 38 measures, 28 of which concern school funding issues such as property taxes and bonds.
Below is a breakdown of the election:
- 10 measures seek to increase property taxes, 5 of which are for school district tax increases.
- 13 measures seek to renew property taxes, 10 of which are requests from school districts.
- 13 measures request school bond measures, totaling $83,795,000 in bond money requested by school boards for various construction, equipment and renovation projects throughout the Michigan.
- The remaining measures concern zoning amendments, school redistricting and municipal governance
The Lakeview Community School District bond proposal in Montcalm, Mecosta and Kent Counties requested the most bond money at $12.25 million.
Stay tuned to Ballotpedia's coverage of this election here for more details and election results as they are posted.
Ballot Law Update
Missouri sees push to re-establish campaign contribution limits: Voters in Missouri first approved limits on how much could be donated to political campaigns in 1994 with Proposition A. That law was repealed, however, by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2008. Though many members of the legislature are not in favor of reinstating the limits, Governor Jay Nixon has declared his intentions to pursue a ballot initiative doing just that if lawmakers don't. Representative Kevin McManus has filed a bill that would limit the amount of cash that can be spent by lobbyists on gifts, meals, and trips for public officials, but it remains to be seen how far it will go.
West Virginia may see an end to straight-ticket voting: Delegate Ryan Ferns is currently sponsoring legislation that would eliminate straight-ticket voting as an option on election day. According to Del. Ferns, the practice encourages uneducated voting, and said, "We're telling people if they don't want to go through the read on a ballot, they have the option of voting for just one party. At the very least, voters should have to read the names for each candidate on the ballot." Reports indicate that West Virginia is one of just fifteen states that allow for straight-ticket voting.
| 2013 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2013 Scorecard|
- Ballotpedia's Tuesday Count for 2012
- Ballotpedia's Tuesday Count for 2013
- 2013 ballot measures
- Local ballot measure elections in 2013
- Potential 2013 ballot measures
- Associated Press,"Petitions circulated in Ohio to put right-to-work initiative on November 2013 ballot," December 17, 2012
- Associated Press,"NJ Dems to try to override veto on gay marriage," February 23, 2013
- Washington State Wire,"After Years of Assaults on Initiatives, Senate Now Casts a Friendly Eye — Eyman’s ‘Initiative on Initiatives’ Passes Committee and Heads to Floor," February 20, 2013
- Associated Press,"Montana closer to declaring sheriffs supreme," February 16, 2013
- Eve Samples: Land-preservation push is worth a shot in amendment-weary Florida, February 21, 2013
- State ballot measure would expand business tax exemption, February 23, 2013
- Associated Press,"Money in politics? The sky is the limit in Missouri," February 26, 2013
- Wheeling News-Register,"Straight-Ticket Voting Would Be Eliminated," February 25, 2013