The Tuesday Count: Gargantuan rise in proposals leaves a hefty ballot measure total

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June 19, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

The Tuesday Count has been off the charts this past week. A slew of certifications has barged its way onto statewide ballots in various corners of the country, as the total has now shot up to 131 ballot measures in 34 states.

With the jump in the ballot measures total being one of the biggest for the 2012 Tuesday Count, newly-certified proposals have been broken down into two sections - legislative referrals and citizen initiatives.

Below is a summary of what made the ballot recently and in what states.

Legislative referrals

Louisiana saw the biggest influx of ballot measures this past week, where it was found that 8 more measures were certified for the ballot after being approved by the Louisiana Legislature. According to Ballotpedia's categorization of ballot measure issues, the political topics found in the proposals included three about taxes, two about administration of government, two regarding law enforcement and one relating to term limits.

Louisiana residents now have 11 measures to vote on this fall, tying Florida and Alabama for the most questions for state voters to chime in on.

Read more about these Louisiana measures here.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, six measures will grace voters with their presence in November after three more were found to have been added by the state legislature. The three that were added to the ballot included a measure to allow the creation of the Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund, another proposal to authorize the creation of a department or departments to provide for public welfare for state residents and finally a question to exempt all intangible personal property from ad valorem taxation.

All measures on the Sooner State's ballot are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

Missouri residents will see another measure on the ballot this year, as a health care exchange question was added to the state general election. The measure would prohibit the establishment, creation, or operation of a health insurance exchange unless it is created by a legislative act, a ballot initiative, or veto referendum. According to the text of the bill, the proposal is aimed at prohibiting the establishment of a health care exchange by the Missouri Governor.

In Montana, no certifications have been reported to have occurred. However, a measure was struck from the ballot on June 7 that leaves the state with four measures on the ballot. Leaving the ballot was the Montana Taxpayer Dividend Measure, also known as Legislative Referendum 123, which would have allowed residents to receive refunds of surplus state tax collections if those collections exceeded a certain trigger.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled that the measure was an unconstitutional delegation of power by the Legislature to an employee, saying, "Everyone, including the undersigned, would like to see a tax credit or refund. The Legislature could do so itself or could properly delegate this function to an executive agency. However the Legislature cannot delegate its power to one of its employees."

Read more about the origins of the lawsuit that ultimately decided the fate of this measure here.

Citizen initiatives

Plenty of citizen initiative efforts were deemed successful this past week, with three proposals obtaining ballot access in three different states.

Featured campaign quotes:
Oklahoma SQ 762 - Support
Speaker of the State House Kris Steele
Letting the governor focus on parole recommendations for violent crimes is a critical component of Oklahoma’s recent progress to build a stronger, more effective criminal justice system.[1]

Oklahoma SQ 762 - Opposition
State Representative Jason Murphey
When you take the governor out of [the parole] process [for non-violent crimes] the people of Oklahoma have no one to hold accountable...[1]

Starting in Washington, organizers behind Referendum 74 officially obtained enough signatures to place their initiative on the ballot after a random petition check by the Washington Secretary of State's office.

The proposed measure asks voters if same-sex marriage should be legalized in the state of Washington. Opponents of a legislative bill - Senate Bill 6239 (and HB 2516, its counterpart in the state House) - that would legalize same-sex marriage argued that the question should be put to a public vote. Referendum 74 was then filed with the Washington Secretary of State within a few hours after the state governor signed SB 6239 into a law.

Preserve Marriage Washington, the group leading the referendum effort, turned in the required signatures, which were reviewed by the secretary's office.

Directly south of Washington, Oregon voters saw an initiative make the November ballot after the Oregon Secretary of State found 122,342 petition signatures were valid for a real estate transfer tax proposal. Previously, on May 24, supporters submitted 163,278 signatures to the secretary's office. The measure would prohibit real estate transfer taxes.

No measures had been certified for the Michigan statewide ballot this year until the Michigan Court of Appeals recently qualified the emergency manager referendum for a fall vote.

The measure had previously been rejected from ballot qualification after the State Board of Canvassers voted against doing so on April 26. Before then, Stand Up for Democracy Campaign, the group behind the measure, delivered around 226,000 signatures to the state capitol. The group only needed 161,304 signatures to make the ballot.

Read more about these developments in the Ballot Law Update section of this article.

Quick hits

Nevada Personhood Amendment misses signature deadline: In a statement made Friday, June 15, supporters of the amendment revealed that they would not have enough signatures to meet the June 19 deadline. The amendment would have granted all persons the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and redefined the word "person" as "every human being from beginning of biological development until death."[2]

Petition to place smoking ban on the ballot filed in North Dakota: On Wednesday, June 13, the group Smoke-Free North Dakota submitted a petition for the North Dakota Smoking Ban Initiative to the North Dakota Secretary of State for circulation approval. If enacted, the measure would ban smoking in all indoor workplaces. If approved for circulation, supporters will be required to collect a minimum of 13,452 valid signatures and deliver them to the North Dakota Secretary of State by August 8 in order to qualify the measure for the November 2012 ballot.[3]

Poll released on marijuana legalization in Colorado: The results of a survey conducted by Rasmussen Polling on June 6 have just been released and show strong support for the Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative. According to the findings, 61% of those polled support the legalization of marijuana if it is regulated like alcohol and cigarettes. In contrast, 27% were opposed to any legalization and the remaining 12% were undecided.[4]

Proposals with recent activity


Swiss residents decided issues on Sunday
On Sunday, June 17, residents in Switzerland decided on three national referendums as well as a variety of local issues.

The three national issues were: forcing a national referendum whenever the government sought to enter into a treaty agreement or other national agreement, limiting access to medical care through a new Managed Care program and a proposed plan for tax breaks on residents seeking to buy new homes.

All three measures were defeated by residents. The first issue was brought to the ballot through a successful petition drive by the conservative party in the country. According to reports, the part sought to ensure that every major treaty the country was going to enter had to be put to a vote before it could be approved by the government. Proponents noted that residents should have more say on issues of such national importance, but opponents had argued that voting on every treaty would gridlock the government and make it so that nothing could get done.

The second measure related to a government initiative that would have implemented a revised health care system. However, the Swiss Medical Association and two party groups gathered the needed signatures to place the issue to a national vote. The national government sought to introduce a health care system which would have cost less for residents but still would have provided the same level of care. Healthcare is mandatory in Switzerland and prices have been increasing over the years, according to reports. Since this measure was defeated, the new proposed Managed Care system will not go into affect.

The last issue sought to increase home ownership in the country. A similar measure was also voted on three months ago and was also defeated by residents. The Home Owners’ Association had been supporting this measure, noting that home ownership in Switzerland is one of the lowest in Europe and that tax breaks for first-time buyers would encourage more ownership. Opponents noted that the tax breaks would only benefit those who are rich and can buy land and the measure would also interfere with local canton governments. Overall participation on Sunday amounted to 38 percent nationwide.[5]

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.

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How many statewide ballot measures passed and failed during North Dakota's 2012 primary elections on June 12? Click here to find out!
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Disqualification of Michigan referendum overturned: On June 8, the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the Board of State Canvassers' decision to keep the Michigan Emergency Manager Referendum off the ballot. The court said it reached its decision based on a precedent set by an earlier case which said technical violations such as the wrong font size shouldn't keep a question off the ballot. The court's ruling effectively places the measure back on this year's ballot, though the emergency manager law will not be suspended until State Board of Canvassers meets and certifies the measure in compliance with the decision.[6]

  • The full decision can be found here.

CA bill to impose distribution requirements on amendments: Today, the California Assembly Elections Committee will hear Assembly Constitutional Amendment 10. ACA 10 was sponsored by assembly member Mike Gatto (D). If passed and approved by voters, the amendment would impose a distribution requirement on initiated constitutional amendments. At present, amendment sponsors must collect signatures equal to 8% of the last gubernatorial vote in order to qualify for the ballot. Under the new law, some of these signatures would have to be collected from around the state. Sponsors would be required to collect signatures equal to 8% of the last gubernatorial vote in each of at least 27 State Senate districts.[7]

A new update will be released on June 27. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard