The Tuesday Count: Healthcare becoming a prominent issue on 2014 ballots

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September 3, 2013

Edited by Brittany Clingen

Tuesday Count Lineup:

0 certifications
25 measures for 2013


Topics featured in this report:

Healthcare (News)
Gambling (Quick Hits)
Not on ballot (Spotlight)

Washington 2013 ballot measures
With enrollment for the Affordable Care Act just around the corner, it's no surprise that health care and insurance measures are popping up on statewide ballots.[1] In Ohio, a group called the Ohio Alliance for Health Transformation is sponsoring an indirect initiated state statute in hopes of landing it on the November 4, 2014 ballot. If approved by voters, the measure would expand Medicaid, the federally-subsidized insurance program for low-income people and families.[2] If the measure passes, approximately 366,000 people would meet the qualifications required to participate in the program. Single people making $15,000 or less annually and families of at least three making $26,000 or less annually would become eligible.[3] If the measure is certified for circulation, the campaign will likely be contentious, given the divisive nature of the subject matter. Jon Allison, a member of the Ohio Alliance for Health Transformation and a supporter of the initiative, explained that Medicaid expansion is his group's number one priority.[2]

Meanwhile, those opposed to the measure, including Rep. John Becker (R-65), contend expanding the program would put too great a burden on taxpayers. Becker said, "I have issues with the federal government reaching into one person's pocket and taking money and giving it to another person. You have this issue of expanding a dependency class. You know, I hate the idea of that as well. I'd rather see people off the government rolls."[3] This measure will need to clear multiple hurdles before it can appear on the ballot. First, supporters must collect at least 1,000 valid signatures. Supporters must file these signatures, along with a copy and summary of the proposed measure, with the Ohio Attorney General. Supporters must also select a group of between three to five people to represent the petitioners. Once the Attorney General deems the measure fair and accurate, it is forwarded on to the Ohio Ballot Board to ensure it addresses only one subject. It is then transferred to the Secretary of State who must certify it for circulation. Upon certification, supporters must collect at least 115,574 signatures in order to put the measure before the legislature. If the legislature does nothing with the proposal, supporters must collect an additional 115,574 signatures to put the measure before voters. However, supporters do not have to wait for the legislature to act before collecting the second round of signatures. If a group believes the legislature will not do anything with the measure, they can begin collecting the required signatures right away. Any additional signatures from the first round of canvassing can be applied to the number required for the second round.[2]

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2014 Count
Number: 37 measures
States: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming

In South Dakota, three doctors are sponsoring an initiative that, if approved, would end the restrictions put in place by insurance companies regarding which health care providers their clients can and cannot see. The measure would allow any health care provider to join an insurance company's network, assuming the provider agrees to the company's terms and conditions and works within the company's coverage area.[4] A similar measure, House Bill 1142, was defeated in the legislature in March 2013. However, the doctors sponsoring the measure believe patients should be able to choose their health care providers. Those opposing the measure contend that such plans already exist, they simply cost more. Supporters must collect a minimum of 15,854 valid signatures by November 4, 2013 if the measure is to appear on the November 2014 ballot, as planned.[4]

So far, in addition to Ohio and South Dakota, Arizona, California, Colorado and Louisiana all have the potential to see health care issues on the ballot in 2014. For a full history of health care on the ballot, see here.

Quick hits

Ohio group to submit signatures for electronic sweepstakes referendum: Supporters are set to submit around 400,000 signatures today, calling for a veto referendum on House Bill 7. The law was originally passed in June in order to curtail the activities of some 620 Internet cafes operating throughout the state. Supporters of the bill say that these cafes were harboring illegal gambling in the form of electronic sweepstakes machines. The campaign to repeal the bill is sponsored by the Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs. The group wants the law overturned and legislatures to pass less stringent regulations on the industry. At least 231,149 of the submitted signatures need to be valid in order to place the bill on next year's ballot.[5]

Petitions approved for North Dakota Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment: On Thursday, August 29, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger approved the petition format of a ballot measure seeking to shore up funding for conservation efforts with revenue from oil taxes. The measure, which is an initiated constitutional amendment, would set aside five percent of the state's oil extraction tax revenue for use in the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Trust. The fund would then be managed by the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner. Supporters will now have until August 6, 2014, to collect the 26,904 signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot.[6]

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Spotlight

Two controversial initiatives which gained abundant signatures to qualify for the ballot in Spokane are thrown out by court decision:

On August 23, Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno ordered the controversial "Community Bill of Rights" and "Voter Bill of Rights" initiatives to be removed from the November ballot, despite a successful petition drive which garnered significantly more signatures than the number required to place the measures on the ballot. Initiative 3, known as the "Community Bill of Rights," sought to grant voters more control over development projects and open the door to citizen lawsuits to stop pollution of the Spokane River. It also looked to increase union rights and challenge corporate rights. Initiative 4, known as the "Voter Bill of Rights," would have banned corporation representatives or employees from communicating with city officials about proposed legislation outside of a public forum. The initiative also sought to prohibit corporations from making monetary contributions to any city election campaign.[7]

The coalition - which consisted of several council members - that filed the lawsuit, the Spokane County Commission, along with multiple organizations and businesses, argued that both initiatives sought to create regulations and protections that were unenforceable by the city and existed outside of the city's jurisdiction regarding the authority of the initiative process. They also argued the initiatives would hurt local government and business. In Moreno's decision in favor of the plaintiffs, she cited the Clean Water Act, Growth Management Act, federal and state labor laws, the First and Fifth Amendments, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and campaign exposure law to back up her decision to strike the measures from the ballot.[8]

Chris Nerison, leader of the group Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution, which sponsored Initiative 4, stated that he would not be appealing the decision. According to Nerison, “The judge said that she was not going to rule on the constitutionality of the initiatives. And then she did rule on the constitutionality of the initiatives." Nerison also stated that he believed Moreno was “moved to submit to corporate interests.” According to its president, Brad Read, Envision Spokane, the group behind the "Community Bill of Rights," will likely appeal Moreno's decision in the near future. Envision Spokane also filed a counter suit in July. Read had this to say about the efforts to remove the initiatives from the ballot: “They really don’t have grounds to prevent it from appearing on the ballot. This is a move to stifle public participation.”[8][9]

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Ballot Law Update

Judge rules on fiscal summary of Missouri Lending Charges Limits Initiative: Judge Dan Green, of the Cole County Circuit Court, has upheld the fiscal note and ballot summary prepared by the Missouri secretary of state for a measure that seeks to limit interest, fees and finance charges on certain loans. The fiscal note, which states that the state could lose up to $17 million in tax revenue if the measure leads to significant closures, was challenged by supporters as being misleading. Judge Green ruled that both the note and the summary are fair and sufficient. Supporters have until May 4, 2014, to turn in a minimum of 91,818 valid signatures.[10]

Wording for proposed Arkansas "personhood" initiative rejected again: On Friday, August 30, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the wording of a proposed initiated constitutional amendment that would grant "personhood" status to fetuses from the time of conception. According to reports, the submitted wording required the state to protect fetuses from conception until birth. Currently, the state constitution only allows protection insofar as the federal constitution does. McDaniel said the proposal was unclear on whether or not the term "protect" conflicted with federal law. This is the second time this year the wording of the measure has been rejected; the first time occurred in July.[11]


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See also

2013 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2013 Scorecard

References


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