The Tuesday Count: Five advisory questions to appear on Washington 2013 ballot
Edited by Brittany Clingenadvisory questions will join two initiatives to the legislature on Washington's November 5, 2013 ballot. Though these advisory questions are non-binding, meaning they will not result in a new or changed law, they give voters an opportunity to publicly express their support or disapproval of certain measures passed by the legislature.
In 2007, voters approved I-960, which required tax increases be approved by either a two-thirds supermajority vote in the legislature or the people at the ballot box. In February 2010, however, the Democrat-controlled legislature voted to temporarily suspend I-960 for 16 months. In response to the suspension of I-960, its initiator, Tim Eyman, put another measure on the ballot, Initiative 1053, in 2010. This initiative would require that "legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval." Washington voters again approved the measure.
In 2012, voters approved I-1185, an initiative to the people, which put similar approval requirements in place in order to raise taxes. These three initiatives - all proposed by Eyman - are nearly identical. In order to keep the measures' approval requirements in place, Eyman had to continually refile his initiatives. In Washington, initiated statutes cannot be amended or repealed for two years without a 2/3 supermajority vote of both chambers. However, if the initiative is amendmended by a supermajority vote, it is not subject to veto referendum. Therefore, the initiator must refile and start over.
However, the state supreme court put an end to Eyman's constant refiling of this initiative.
On February 28, 2013, the Washington Supreme Court issued its ruling on League of Educ. Voters v. State and, in doing so, declared legislation requiring a supermajority vote for tax legislation unconstitutional. The challenge was initially filed against Initiative 1053, but is part of a larger issue concerning similar initiatives beginning in 1993 with Initiative 601.
The court found such supermajority requirements to be in violation of Washington Constitution, Article II, Section 22, which states that no bill shall become law unless a majority of each chamber votes in favor of it. The court's ruling concludes with,
This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
|“||Our holding today is not a judgment on the wisdom of requiring a supermajority for the passage of tax legislation. Such judgment is left to the legislative branch of our government. Should the people and the legislature still wish to require a supermajority vote for tax legislation, they must do so through constitutional amendment, not through legislation.||”|
Though the court's decision rendered all the previous initiatives' approval requirements regarding tax increases unconstitutional, these measures do ensure that the people will have their voices heard via the required advisory questions.
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Last Wednesday, August 7, marked the filing deadline for initiatives in Massachusetts. In total, 33 initiatives were filed, 29 of which propose 18 changes to various laws. These initiatives are on track to appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot. Four constitutional amendments were also filed, though these will likely appear on the ballot in 2016.
All 33 initiatives still face a long road ahead before reaching the ballot. The initiatives must gather 68,911 signatures by December 4, 2013. If they pass this first hurdle, they are sent to the legislature, which must act on them before May 2014. However, if no action is taken, the initiatives then go back to supporters, who must gather 11,485 signatures by July 2014 in order to land the initiatives on the 2014 ballot. The constitutional amendments must be approved by at least 25 percent of the legislature in 2014 and 2015 in order to appear on the November 2016 ballot.
Colorado Same-Sex Marriage Amendment clears title setting: On August 7, 2013, the Colorado Legislative Council approved the title of an initiative seeking to include same-sex unions in the state constitution's definition of marriage. Jeremy Mathis, the measure's sponsor, says he plans to submit a draft petition to state election authorities on August 19. Mathis is father to a 6-year-old transgender who won a civil rights suit against a school district refused to permit Mathis's child to use the girls' restroom. According to reports, Mathis and his friend, Lisa Starcher, submitted the initiative mere hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sections of the Defense of Marriage Act. As an initiated constitutional amendment, the supporters must obtain at least 86,105 valid signatures in order to place the measure on next year's ballot.
Efforts to legalize marijuana in Wyoming begin: The newly formed Wyoming-based chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has recently announced their plans to place an initiated state statute on the state's 2016 ballot. Contrary to most efforts that focus on legalizing marijuana for medical use only, the group is attempting a decriminalization effort similar to those in last year's measures in Washington and Colorado. Chris Christian, executive director of the group, says that she is in the effort of drafting a petition.
By targeting the 2016 ballot, supporters will face lower signature hurdles than in non-presidnetial election years. This is because initiated state statutes and veto referendums in Wyoming require signatures equal to fifteen percent of the total ballots cast in the previous general election. This is the highest signature requirement of any state. For more information on Wyoming signature requirements, see here.
Cincinnati petitioners gather thousands of surplus signatures in record time to qualify pension reform amendment initiative for November ballot:
A young pension reform petition effort featured in the July 23 edition of the Tuesday Count has already met with success. The committee behind the petition for a Cincinnati charter amendment to overhaul the city's pension plan turned in an abundantly adequate number of valid signatures to qualify their measure for the November ballot.
In the face of Cincinnati's $862 million in unfunded pension liabilities, the committee Cincinnati for Pension Reform began collecting signatures on July 16 for a charter amendment initiative seeking to change the city pension system from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. In less than a month, the petitioners gathered thousands of signatures for the charter amendment petition. Of the 14,215 scrutinized so far by the Hamilton County Board of Elections, 8,653 signatures proved valid, which is already over 1,200 more than the 7,433 required by law to qualify the initiative for the November election ballot. The Cincinnati for Pension Reform Committee paid California-based Amo Petition Consultants nearly $70,000 to collect the thousands of signatures obtained throughout the city.
Ballot Law Update
Bills affecting California I&R laws see movement in legislature: On August 12, Assembly Bill 857 was heard and amended by the California Senate, and is expected to be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 19. This bill would require that twenty percent of signatures gathered for an initiative would have to be collected by volunteer circulators, meaning petitioners not receive compensation for the specific purpose of collecting signatures. The bill would also require paid petition firms to register with the California secretary of state and to use petitions of a different color than those being circulated by volunteers.
Effort underway protect North Dakota initiative and referendum processes: Dustin Gawrylow and a supporting campaign group called "Protect ND" are preparing for an initiative effort largely in response to recent state efforts to toughen I&R laws, such as tighter signature requirements and outlawing petitioning at the state fair. The measure is an initiated constitutional amendment that takes away the legislature's power to refer to the ballot constitutional questions that would amend Article III of the North Dakota Constitution. Since the state's constitution may only be amended by a vote of the people, the initiative would essentially strip the legislature of any power to change the state's fundamental I&R provisions. For example, Measure 1, which is set to go before voters in June 2014, would be forbidden if Gawrylow's proposal was to pass.
| 2013 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2013 Scorecard|
- Ballotpedia's Tuesday Count for 2013
- 2013 ballot measures & 2014
- Local ballot measure elections in 2013
- Potential 2013 ballot measures & 2014
- Official Election Results from State of Washington
- Seattle Times, "Eyman will push to restore tax barrier", January 12, 2010
- Seattle Times, "Senate Democrats propose bill to make it easier to raise taxes", February 3, 2010
- Associated Press,"Wash. Legislature OKS suspension of I-960," February 22, 2010
- Seattle Times, "Eyman will push to restore tax barrier", January 12, 2010
- Associated Press,"State Supreme Court strikes down two-thirds vote for tax hikes," February 28, 2013
- League of Educ. Voters v. State 87425-5 (2013)
- Wicked Local Salem, "Eighteen new Massachusetts laws proposed for 2014 ballot," August 8, 2013
- LGBTQNation.com, "Father of Colo. transgender child to lead ballot initiative for marriage equality," August 9, 2013
- Caspar Star-Tribune, "Wyoming weed laws leave patients with difficult choice: suffer or risk imprisonment," August 11, 2013
- Citybeat.com, "Pension Amendment Earns Spot on November Ballot," August 12, 2013
- The text of the proposed charter amendment
- Source: Phone interview with initiative petition expert Paul Jacob, president of Liberty Initiative Fund
- Cincinnati.com, "Pension reform petitions filed," August 6, 2013
- [Information obtained from the California Legislative Information website, search AB 857, accessed August 13, 2013]
- Citizens in Charge (blog), "Enough! North Dakotans Launch Initiative to Block Legislature," August 8, 2013