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The Tuesday Count: Florida adds more juice to 2012 total with 7 measures

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May 10, 2011

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By Johanna Herman, Bailey Ludlam, Tyler Millhouse, Al Ortiz

It has been a busy week in the ballot measure world, with the nerve center of the activity located in the state of Florida. This week, the count for 2012 quickly swelled from 24 statewide questions to 32, with the Sunshine State pouring in 7 of the 8 additional measures. The 2011 count, yet again, remains the same.

The Florida legislature ended its 2011 state legislative session on Friday, May 6, with an estimated 15 ballot measure proposals being made during the lawmaking session. Other proposals may be reconsidered during the 2012 legislative session, but for now, the measure count will stand at 7, with all of them being legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

Among these Florida measures that were certified for the ballot include a potential supreme court amendment, which would revamp the state supreme court, and a health care amendment that aims to prevent penalties for not purchasing health care coverage in order to comply with federal health care reforms.

Missouri added its own measure, with the state legislature sending a voter identification proposal for public vote. The proposed constitutional amendment would require voters to show photo identification prior to casting a ballot.

In Minnesota, the state's ballot measure action is peaking, with a slew of proposals being considered by state lawmakers. At least 19 potential statewide questions have been proposed during session, all for the 2012 ballot. The topics included in these measures range from hunting, to social issues such as marriage, to government administration issues such as elections, taxes, state budgets and term limits.

Time could be factor for these proposals, as the conclusion of Minnesota's legislative session is May 23, 2011. If any measures fail to get certified before then, they would have to be re-introduced during next session to make the 2012 ballot. More information on these questions can be found here.

While some states are seeing developments concerning certified measures, Arizona could be finding itself in the middle of a battle over an already certified 2012 ballot question. You can read more about this in this article.


RECENT PROPOSALS:

  • Minnesota Judicial Retention Election Amendment (2012) - proposes retention elections for state judges and would create a nonpartisan judicial performance evaluation commission to "evaluate in a nonpartisan manner the performance of judges according to criteria that the commission develops and publishes, and any other criteria established by law." The Governor would also be required to choose nominees from a list created by a merit selection commission.
  • Ohio Medical Marijuana Initiative (2013) - the measure would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the state. It has not been filed yet with the Ohio Attorney General's office. The measure is supported by Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance.[1]
  • Oregon Caged Hens Measure (2012) - would mandate more room for egg-laying hens. Specifically, the measure would require 1 1/2 square feet of space per hen by 2019. Currently, an estimated 67 square inches are allotted to each hen. The measure is similar to a 2011 proposal in the State of Washington.


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SPOTLIGHT: May 17 elections in Arizona, Florida, Oregon and Washington
Another election is set to be held on May 17 in the states of Arizona, Florida, Oregon and Washington. While Florida just has one county with issues on the ballot, Oregon has the most issues presented on their ballots with eighteen counties with issues to be voted on.

Some significant issues include the Portland School Bond question and the Eugene City Income Tax question, both in Oregon. The Portland bond measure would issue a bond in the amount of $548 million, the largest in district history. Supporters have a little over $1 million which they are using to help promote the bond with TV, radio and other advertisement. They have also sought paid canvassers in order to help supplement the volunteers work for getting people out to vote. The Eugene City issue would implement an increase to the current income tax rate by .49 to .90 percent in order to help pay for the Bethel and Eugene city school districts. Both school districts have experienced shortfalls in their budget and the city saw this as a different way to get needed money to the schools. Opponents and proponents have both raised money for their campaigns in order to influence residents in their direction, though opponents have been able to raise more money than the campaign in support of the increase.

In Washington, the Lyndon School Bond measure is a repeated attempt by the district to get it approved, the measure had been defeated in the February election. The measure seeks to issue a bond in the amount of $33 million which would go towards building a new middle school and renovating the current facility. The May measure is less money than what was presented in February, school officials hope the lesser amount will have a better chance of approval by residents.


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BALLOT LAW UPDATE

Court decisions concerning I&R: A lawsuit challenging Nebraska's residency requirement got underway on April 20. In Citizens in Charge v Gale, the ACLU is representing the Citizens in Charge Foundation and Libertarian Party against Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale. The presiding judge is Joseph F. Bataillion of the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. The lawsuit also challenges an increase in the signature requirements for placing an independent candidate on the ballot and a law requiring petitions to indicate whether the circulator is paid or volunteer.[2] The case may ultimately appear before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals which has recently handed down rulings which seem opposed restrictions on ballot measure campaigns.[3][4]

Recent legislation: California Assembly Bill 481 would require petition circulators to wear a badge designating whether they are a paid or volunteer worker. The law, known to opponents as a "scarlet letter law," specifies that the terms “paid circulator,” “paid signature gatherer,” “volunteer,” or “volunteer signature gatherer” must be printed in at least 30 pt. font on the badge. Similar language must also appear on the petition sheets. The bill has been passed out of committee.[5][6] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.

Click here for the complete Ballot Law Update report!
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Minnesota is looking to repeal a 2008 tax increase. What kind of tax are they referring to specifically - a property tax, sales tax, cigarette tax or gas tax? Click here to test your ballot knowledge!


See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard

References