The Tuesday Count: February begins with nearly double the number of proposed citizen initiatives
By Bailey Ludlam
Ballotpedia's Tuesday Count is holding strong for the 2011 ballot at a total of four certified measures in Mississippi and New Jersey. The same can be said for the 2012 ballot. A total of six questions have been certified for 3 statewide ballots.
Legislatures in approximately 44 states across the country are in session, including the state of Oregon who went into session today, February 1. As lawmakers sit down and tackle state budgets, some have already begun to discuss amendments to their state constitutions or state statutes. For upcoming 2011 elections, Ballotpedia has tracked 13 legislative referrals in California, Colorado, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Washington.
Historically, odd-numbered election years feature significantly fewer measures than even-numbered years. Since 1970 odd-numbered years have had an average of 46 ballot questions. In 2009, voters cast their ballots on a grand total of 32 questions. To follow with that trend, we have tracked 38 legislative proposals for 2012 in 20 states. (Potential measures for the 2012 ballot can be viewed here.)
But the state legislatures aren't the only ones proposing changes. According to Ballotpedia's 2011 initiative tracking, the number of citizen proposals has nearly doubled in the last month. An estimated 28 initiatives kicked off the new year in Colorado, Maine and Mississippi. In the last month, petition deadlines for Maine have come to a close. However, in the last few weeks, Washington added their name to the list with a total of 24 proposals. This takes the total count of filed citizen initiatives to 52.
RECENT PROPOSALS: health care and international law
- Montana joins Florida, Kansas and Wyoming in their efforts to qualify a measure regarding federal health care for the 2012 ballot. Montana's proposal would allow residents in the state the choice to decide if they want health insurance or not, and which health insurance to buy if they choose to do so. All four pending measures are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Two similar citizen initiatives are currently pending for 2011 ballots in Ohio and Washington.
- An Oklahoma measure regarding international law remains pending in court but that isn't stopping other states from making similar proposals. On January 19, 2011 Mark Christensen introduced a measure that would prohibit Nebraska courts from using foreign laws in decisions. A similar proposal was also filed in the Texas State Legislature. The proposed ballot measure would prohibit a Texas court from "from enforcing, considering, or applying a religious or cultural law."
SPOTLIGHT: Red Light camera debates hit the state of Washington
Four cities are looking to start petition drives to allow their residents to be able to vote on it they want red light cameras to remain in use. In the month of January Bellingham, Longview, Monroe and Wenatchee all launched petition drives and looked for help from Tim Eyman who was successful in petitioning for a red light camera ballot measure in Mukilteo in November 2010.
Several dozen cities have installed cameras in Washington and Oregon, more city residents may take up the petition drive and follow the example of these four cities. While citizens insist the city is out just for money with using the cameras, officials continue to state that they are installing the cameras as a public safety factor.
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