The Tuesday Count: Michigan measure to expand initiative and referendum approved for circulation

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February 11, 2014

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Edited by Ryan Byrne

0 certifications
56 measures for 2014



Direct Democracy (News)
Taxes (Quick hits)
Immigration (Spotlight)

Michigan 2014 ballot propositions
Two ballot initiatives have received regular media attention over the past month in Michigan. The first, a Minimum Wage Initiative which would increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.50, was submitted for petition certification on February 10, 2014, after organizations discussed the initiative's intent for two weeks.[1] Second, the Part-Time Legislature Initiative would reform multiple aspects of the state legislature, including legislative session length and legislator compensation.[2] Another measure, which would noticeably affect government and the state's constituents, was approved for circulation on February 6, 2014.

Known as the "Put the Citizens in Charge" Initiative by supporters, the measure would modify the state's statutes regarding the initiative and referendum process. Specifically, the measure would expand the initiative and referendum process to local ordinances and laws making appropriations, as well as authorize signature gathering activities in public places, eliminate circulator residency requirements and prohibit legislators from banning paid signature gatherers.[3] Citizens in Charge, an organization unaffiliated with the initiative's sponsors, endorsed the measure.[4] Supporters of the initiated constitutional amendment have until July 7, 2014 to collect and submit 322,609 valid signatures.

Meanwhile, organizations supporting a referendum to remove certain powers from the Natural Resources Commission have filed a federal lawsuit with Judge Robert Cleland of the Eastern Michigan District Court. The Humane Society Legislative Fund and Keep Michigan Wolves Protected have asked the court to strike down a state statute requiring petition circulators to be registered voters and residents of Michigan. The appealing organizations allege that an individual’s inability to circulate petitions due to residency infringes upon free speech. The lawsuit named Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R), Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) and Colleen Pero, chairperson of the Board of State Canvassers, as defendants.[5] The ACLU noted that circulator residency requirements have been recently struck down by federal judges in other states as unconstitutional.[6] The "Put the Citizens in Charge" Initiative would, upon ballot certification and voter approval, eliminate the circulator residency requirements in question.

Michigan Radio asked, “Just how many ballot questions will you be voting on in November?” They followed up with the statement, “Good question.”[7] Michigan’s 2014 ballot contains, thus far, only two measures, but seven citizen initiated measures have been approved for circulation and could potentially appear on the ballot. Michiganders will know more after the state's final petition deadline date in early July.

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2014 Count
Number: 56 measures
States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming

Quick hits

Oil companies spend millions to oppose tax cut referendum in Alaska: BP, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, all multinational oil firms, have contributed a total of $3.5 million to defeat the Oil Tax Cuts Veto Referendum in Alaska. The referendum would repeal Senate Bill 21, which granted a tax break to oil companies operating in the state. Former Senate President Chancy Croft (D-E), a referendum supporter, expected the “Vote Yes” campaign to be out-raised by 10 to 1. Recently he stated that the amount is more likely to be 50 to 1. The veto referendum’s proponents have raised $104,000.[8] These numbers indicate that the "Vote No" campaign has currently out-raised the "Vote Yes" campaign by a ratio of 1 to 34.

Court keeps Montana legislative referral on ballot: After a challenge from Western Native Voice, Montana Women Vote and four labor organizations, the Montana Supreme Court voted to keep LR-126 on the ballot. LR-126 would change the deadline for late voter registration from poll closing on Election Day to 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before election day, thus shortening the timeframe for late voter registration. Opponents argued that the measure's text was inaccurate. The high court agreed but ruled that the problem could be resolved with the rewriting of one sentence rather than expulsion from the ballot. Justice Michael Wheat was the lone dissenter. He said, “[T]he statement in the title of LR-126 to the contrary is a fatal defect that cannot be cured."[9]

Polls start weighing medical marijuana in Florida: Three polls have been conducted since mid-November related to the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative. A Quinnipiac University Poll from November found that 82% of respondents approved of medical marijuana legalization.[10] However, by mid-January, those in favor of medical marijuana fell to 65%, according to a poll by Public Policy Polling.[11] Gravis Marketing's late-January poll found the approval even lower at 57%.[12] Florida requires that initiated constitutional amendments, like the medical marijuana initiative, obtain 60% of the vote on election day.

Wyoming petition deadline passes with no initiatives filed: On February 10, 2014, the petition drive deadline for initiatives and referenda passed in Wyoming. No initiatives were filed with the Secretary of State.[13] Therefore, there will be none on the general election ballot in November. Without any additional legislatively referred measures, Wyomingites will have only one measure to vote on, the Nonresidential Trustees Amendment. The amendment would allow the governor to appoint nonresidents of the state to serve as University of Wyoming trustees.[14]

Spotlight

Two featured local ballot measures will be decided today, one in Nebraska, concerning illegal immigration and rental housing, and one in California:

In the City of Fremont, Nebraska, voters will decide whether to repeal certain sections of an ordinance approved in 2010 that was designed to prevent illegal immigrants from qualifying for rental housing. One of the provisions in question requires everyone renting housing in Fremont to pay $5 for an "occupancy" license, which would only be issued after local police confirm a would-be renter’s immigration status. The other would impose fines of $100 dollars on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants. This measure has been highly contentious in the city of about 26,000 since it was introduced in 2008. It remains so today, as the city elections office saw nearly 650 early voters for this election as of February 7, 2014, while only 489 residents voted early in 2010. Two hundred and eighty additional voters registered between the time the city council put this measure on the ballot and the registration deadline for today's election.[15]

Proponents have expressed irritation at having to defend the ordinance, particularly after voters approved it in 2010. They argue that the local law is necessary because federal agencies are not enforcing federal immigration laws. Ginger Rosenthal, owner of the Blue Bottle Coffeehouse on downtown's Main Street, said, “All people see and hear is the negative. We're a town rich in diversity and offerings. We need to settle this and focus on what we have.”[15]

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Ron Tillery, executive director of the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, along with others who want the law repealed, argue that it opens the city up to expensive lawsuits and is not enforceable within the city's authority and jurisdiction. Tillery said, “The federal government says it's their job, and whether we agree they're doing a good job or not, it is their job and we should not interfere in that."[15]

Stay tuned tonight to Ballotpedia's article on this measure for election results as they are reported.

The second local California ballot measure election in 2014 is being held today, as well. It features a single ballot question for residents of the City of Solana Beach in San Diego County, where residents will decide whether to amend the Solana City Charter to ensure that special use permits are available to city residents for private use of the Fletcher Cove Community Center and the adjacent patio and lawn areas. Proponents have been frustrated by restrictions on use of the community center facilities enforced by city officials. They argue that this measure would keep the community center accessible to the community, which it is supposed to serve. Opponents argue that the measure would take the ability to enforce important rules regarding the use of the center away from the city council.[16][17]

Stay tuned tonight to Ballotpedia's article on this measure for election results as they are reported.

A referendum allowing residents of Pocatello, Idaho, to repeal a city ordinance prohibiting LGBT discrimination set for May ballot:

In the city of Pocatello, a referendum question asking whether to repeal or reaffirm a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination with regard to housing, employment and public accommodations based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity and gender expression will be on the ballot on May 20, 2014. The ordinance, Pocatello City Ordinance No. 2921, was approved by the city council in a four to two vote in 2013. In fall 2013, Pocatello resident Ralph Lillig successfully led an effort to put a veto referendum regarding the ordinance on the ballot. A "yes" vote on this ballot question will result in the repeal of the ordinance, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression, and a "no" vote will allow the ordinance to remain in effect.[18]

During public hearings on the ordinance, those in favor of it, who are now opposed to the referendum, gave testimony about the discrimination against the LGBT community that existed in the city. Many recounted personal experiences. Those opposed to the ordinance, who now support the veto referendum, expressed concerns about transgender adults sharing bathrooms with children and also stated doubts about the necessity of the ordinance.[18]

See also

2014 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2014 Scorecard

References

  1. Detroit Free Press, "Supporters ask Michigan voters to OK minimum wage of $9.50," February 10, 2014
  2. MLive, "Committee to 'restore Michigan's part-time Legislature' submits proposed ballot language," January 24, 2014
  3. Michigan Secretary of State, "State of Michigan Statewide Ballot Proposal Status," February 6, 2014
  4. Citizens in Charge, "Michigan Group Launches Pro-Initiative Initiative," February 7, 2014
  5. MLive, "Wolf hunt opponents challenging Michigan law on collecting signatures for ballot questions," February 10, 2014
  6. Washington Times, "Mich. sued over residency rule in petition drives," February 10, 2014
  7. Michigan Radio, "Just how many ballot questions will you be voting on in November? Good question...," February 7, 2014
  8. The Republic, "Oil companies report spending millions to oppose Alaska oil tax referendum," February 10, 2014
  9. Missoulian, "Montana Supreme Court OKs voter registration referendum," February 5, 2014
  10. Quinnipiac University Poll, "Florida’s Scott Stats Re-election Year 7 Points Down, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Divided on Marijuana for Fun, but Back Med Use 5-1," November 21, 2014
  11. Public Policy Polling, "Crist Holds onto Narrow Lead over Scott," January 22, 2014
  12. Gravis Marketing, "Florida Polling – Governor’s Race Tight … AG Interesting … Marijuana Inconsistent," January 31, 2014
  13. Ballotpedia Staff Writer Ryan Byrne interview with Debra Lee, Election Division, Wyoming Secretary of State's Office, February 11, 2014
  14. Wyoming Secretary of State, "2014 General Election Ballot Issues," accessed February 11, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Omaha.com, "Fremont residents vote Tuesday on immigrant housing ordinance," February 9, 2014
  16. Smartvoter.org, San Diego County, California, February 11 election information, accessed January 15, 2014
  17. Yes on B website, accessed February 10, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 Idaho State Journal, "Council OKs LGBT initiative’s wording: Referendum to go before voters May 20," February 7, 2014


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