The Tuesday Count: Initiative news elevated by flurry of signature filing deadlines

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January 31, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

Much like 2010, initiatives are expected to be proposed in waves in 2012. Recent occurrences with initiative filings across the country give no reason to suspect otherwise.

While 60 ballot measures are still certified in 24 states, two states in particular are gearing up to pile more onto the total with their petition drive deadlines arriving.

The big day for initiative supporters in the state of Maine came and went this week. The day of the deadline started off with six potential ballot initiatives vying for a spot on the statewide ballot; it ended with just one hoping for a chance for public vote.

January 30 marked the petition drive deadline, as any and all ballot initiative efforts that hoped to place their proposal on the 2012 ballot must have submitted signatures to the Maine Secretary of State's office by the end of the business day. However, when contacted by Ballotpedia, the Maine Secretary of State's office stated that only one measure had submitted signatures.

That measure was the same gender marriage question, whose supporters claimed they had collected enough for the ballot. Equality Maine collected about 100,000 names, with 36,000 of those signatures collected on Election Day, November 6, 2011, surpassing the required number of 57,277.

Since 2003, a calculated average of about 2 citizen initiatives appeared on the ballot each year in the state.

Next up in line for petition drive deadlines is the state of Florida. February 1 marks the deadline to collect signatures, and 24 public initiatives are currently in circulation. Supporters of these petitions must gather at least 676,811 valid signatures and submit them by the deadline if they wish to qualify for the 2012 ballot. However, in the state of Florida, if the petitions fail to acquire the required amount by this year's deadline, the signatures on it will remain valid for two years before petitioners are required to start over.

Also raising some news are proposals in North Dakota regarding Fighting Sioux mascot of the University of North Dakota. The proposed referendum would allow for the University of North Dakota to use the "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo by repealing Senate Bill 2370, a law that repealed an earlier mandate requiring the use of the nickname.

After years of debates and lawsuits, supporters of the use of the "Fighting Sioux" nickname by the University of North Dakota filed two initiatives: a veto referendum and an initiated constitutional amendment.

In order to qualify the referendum for the June primary 2012 statewide ballot a minimum of 13,500 valid signatures are required by February 7.

The state of Washington's signature filing deadline is not until July 6. That didn't stop supporters of Initiative 502 from submitting more than enough signatures for ballot consideration in 2012. According to the Washington Secretary of State's office, those signatures were verified, taking the proposal to the next level in the state initiative process. Unlike most initiatives that head directly to the ballot following verification, this Initiative to the Legislature will first head to the Washington State Legislature for consideration.

The legislature can adopt the measure, reject it and send it to the ballot, or approve an alternate version of the proposal.

Initiative 502 would legalize the production, possession, delivery and distribution of marijuana. The initiative would regulate the sale of small amounts of marijuana to people 21 and older. According to reports, marijuana grow farms and food processors would be licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

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]

More developments on this measure are available in the Quick hits section.

In Nebraska, a legislative referral is dipping its hands into another controversial social issue that could also be big in 2012, much like marijuana.

State Sen. Paul Schumacher has proposed an amendment lifting the state's constitutional ban on gambling. The law would not immediately legalize gambling but grant the Legislature power to "authorize and regulate" gambling in the Nebraska.

The amendment also contains a unique provision designed to draw gambling revenues from neighboring Iowa and South Dakota. Specifically, the amendment would ban any gaming enterprise within 60 miles of a state that agrees to share gambling revenues with Nebraska. Neighboring states would have just one year to agree to share their income or face the possibility of out-of-state competition.[2]

Quick hits

  • Effort to privatize liquor sales comes to Idaho: Encouraged by success in the privatization of liquor sales in Washington, a similar effort has been started by the Idaho Federation of Reagan Republicans in Idaho. The group submitted an initiative for approval by the Idaho Secretary of State on January 23.[4]
Proposals with recent activity
  • Donations rise for MO Income Tax Replacement Initiative: In January, businessman Rex Sinquefield reportedly donated $1.224 million to the group Let Voters Decide in support of the measure. This amount adds to the $1.3 million he already donated to the group in October 2011, bringing the total to pass the initiative to $5.524 million.[5]
  • Lawsuit over Maryland measure: An immigrant advocacy group has filed a lawsuit to invalidate a referendum petition meant to strike down a proposed 2012 measure that would grant in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants.[7]



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SPOTLIGHT:Few Missouri local measures make Feb 7 ballot
On February 7, a few local issues will be decided in Missouri. The issue that has been getting the most attention is in Springfield, where city residents will decide if the E-Verify program would have to be used by all businesses hiring new workers. The program is used to help sort out if a potential worker is an illegal immigrant, but opponents to the measure state that there is no illegal immigrant issue in the city, leading to no point to voting on the issue. Also, opponents cite that if this measure is approved and businesses are forced to use the system, it could end up being very costly for smaller businesses who may not have the resources to investigate a worker's background. This measure was brought to the ballot by the Ozark Minutemen who are also the strongest supporters for the measure. There will also be two school bonds decided in the districts of Nixa and Grain Valley. Both bond measures seek to renovate and add to their respective districts and allow for further school facility development.

Also, the Florida Primary election is being held today where some local residents will decide other issues aside from their Presidential choice. Notable issues include Miami charter amendments and slot machine questions in both Gadsden and Washington Counties.


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The first 2012 ballot measure election will be on May 8 in what state?
Click here to find out!
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BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Measure to modify NE signature requirements: Kent Bernbeck, a ballot measure proponent in Nebraska, has started an initiative campaign to lower Nebraska's signature requirements. In 1994, the basis for calculating the number of required signatures was changed from voters in the previous gubernatorial election to total registered voters. The decision, Duggan v Beermann, was based on an ambiguity in the Nebraska Constitution.

Since the requirement is based on the present number of registered voters, petition sponsors can't be sure of the total number of required signatures until the day they submit their signed petition. The proposed measure would restore the previous method of calculation and effectively lower the requirement. Bernbeck was involved in a successful lawsuit last year, Bernbeck v. Gale, that overturned Nebraska's residency requirement for local petition sponsors.[8]

Wisconsin officials get extension: On January 20, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board asked a Dane County District Court for an extension to its 31-day window for checking recall petition signatures.[9] On January 25, the court extended the window to 61 days. This decision follows an earlier ruling which required a more detailed review of submitted signatures.[10]

A new update will be released on February 29, 2012. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard

References