The Tuesday Count: Genetically modified food, marijuana and Croatian golf courses

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April 30, 2013

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Edited by Brittany Clingen

1 certification
2 measures for 2013

Food labels(News)
Guns(2014 watch)
Marijuana(Ballot law)

With the end of Washington state's regular legislative session, comes a new Initiative to the Legislature that will be on the ballot in the general election on November 5, 2013. Since the legislature did nothing with the bill - it neither adopted nor amended it - voters will determine whether or not genetically modified foods will be labeled as such.[1]

The initiative is similar to California's defeated Proposition 37 in that it would allow citizens to file lawsuits in order to enforce proper labeling and then recover costs incurred during such a suit. However, I-522 does not include any language that seeks to define what foods are considered "natural," or if it is acceptable for "natural" foods to contain genetic modifiers.[2]

The text of the measure will read as it was originally written by its sponsors.[1] The full text can be found here.

Also in Washington state, a battle is brewing between initiative promoter, Tim Eyman, and state lawmakers. Eyman's most recent previous measure, the Washington Two-Thirds Vote Required to Raise Taxes Initiative, was approved by voters in the November 6, 2012 election. However, it was subsequently ruled unconstitutional and overturned by the courts. If his new measure appears on the November 2013 ballot and passes, it would cause all legislatively-passed tax raises to expire after one year; however, this annual expiration stipulation would be dissolved if and when a constitutional amendment is approved requiring legislators to pass tax-hikes or eliminate tax breaks only with a supermajority vote.[3]

In Texas, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment took one step closer to the November 2013 ballot last Tuesday, April 23, when the Senate passed a bill that would allow voters to decide whether or not an amendment should be created that would permit approximately $5.7 of the current $8 billion to be withdrawn from the Economic Stabilization Fund - colloquially referred to as the Rainy Day Fund - to fund water infrastructure, transportation and education. The measure is a joint resolution, so it does not require the governor's signature, however it will need to pass at least two-thirds of the House.[4][5]

would ask voters whether or not an amendment should be created that would permit approximately $5.7 of the current $8 billion to be withdrawn from the Economic Stabilization Fund - colloquially referred to as the Rainy Day Fund - to fund water infrastructure, transportation and education.

2014 watch

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After the Washington State Legislature's session ended last week without the passage of firearms reform, the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility decided to pick up where the lawmakers left off and launch an initiative campaign which will attempt to put new gun laws before voters, who would then decide whether or not universal background checks should be mandatory for everyone purchasing a gun in the state of Washington. The campaign is still in its early stages, with the group not anticipating collecting many signatures or contributions until a May 2013 fundraiser.[6]

For the legislature to consider the proposal, a minimum of 246,372 valid signatures are needed by January 3, 2014. If the campaign is successful in gathering enough signatures, the legislature must decide whether to grant it an up or down vote. If it is voted down, the question would go to voters in the November 4, 2014 general election. The measure still faces many potential changes in the months to come, including the possibility of significant revisions to its language and wording.[6]

2014 Count
Number: Sixteen measures
States: California, Montana Nevada, Tennessee, Washington, and Wyoming

International Measures

Since gaining its independence in 1991, Croatia has only ever had two referendums in the entire country. This is about to change, however, as residents of the seaside city of Dubrovnik will vote on whether or not to approve the building of a large golf course resort designed by Australian golfer, Greg Norman. Supporters argue that the project will create jobs and encourage tourism in the financially distressed country. Opponents, however, worry that the modern construction will detract from the old-world beauty and charm of the locale that has come to be known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic." Tourism is essential to Croatia's economy, as it brings in approximately 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion) per year.[7]

Quick hits

Senate approves bill to sidestep wolf hunting referendum in Michigan: Last week we reported on a proposal in the Michigan legislature that would give the Natural Resources Commission the authority to designate a species as a game species without first needing the legislature to do so through a bill. On April 25, the senate approved Senate Bill 288 with a vote of 25-11. If approved by the House and then signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, the Wolf Hunting Referendum could be rendered meaningless. SB 288 originally also included minor appropriations which would protect it form any future referendum. That language was removed from the bill last Thursday.[8]

Montana legislative session ends with fewer referrals than expected: Earlier in the month, the state legislature voted to approve six separate referral proposals by the April 5 transmittal deadline. Of those six, only the two originating in the Senate were placed on the ballot. These referred statutes, the Late Voter Registration Revision Measure and the Primary Election Revision Measure, will join the State Auditor Renaming Amendment on the November 2014 ballot. Both of the Senate's proposals will have sweeping impacts on the state's election system if approved at the ballot box. This means voters will see three legislative referrals on the statewide ballot, the same number they saw in 2012.



Florida's Hamilton County School District again seeks a tax levy renewal in today's special election

Hamilton County Schools are asking voters for the third time to approve a property tax levy at a rate of a quarter for every $1,000 of assessed value.

This tax was originally approved in order to supplement school funds after budget cuts of about $1.5 million. The taxpayers have been paying this tax for four years, and now the district is requesting that they pay it for four more years, as the end of the current approval period looms ahead on June 30, 2013.[9]

This is the question voters will see today as they decide whether to keep paying a tax that adds approximately $200,000 to school funding:

Shall The School District of Hamilton County voter-approved ad valorem millage be 0.25 mill for school operational purposes, beginning July 1, 2013, and ending June 30, 2017?[10][11]

You can find the results of this election on this page after the polls close and ballots have been counted.

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Ballot Law Update

Colorado Court of Appeals says federal law trumps state: The Colorado Court of Appeals recently ruled 2-1 to uphold the firing of a man who used medical marijuana while not at work. Brandon Coats is a quadriplegic who has a prescription for the drug in the state and contested the firing by claiming he was protected by the Colorado Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute. The law prohibits employers from firing employees for engaging in legal activity outside of work, however it is silent on the matter of federal versus state law. The court refuted the claim by ruling that the statute does not extend to protecting individuals who violate federal outside of work.[12]

Arkansas term limits proposal meets roadblock: Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has recently rejected a proposed ballot measure because of the wording of its ballot title. The proposal is a constitutional amendment that would establish ten-year term limits for total time served in the Arkansas State Legislature. Currently senators may only serve eight years, and representatives are limited to six. However, there are no rules regarding total time spent in the legislature. The measure would also increase the current period during which legislators are prohibited form becoming lobbyists from one year to four.[13]

A new update will be released next month. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2013 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2013 Scorecard