The Tuesday Count: Minimum wage, equal rights measures certified for November ballots
Edited by Brittany Clingenminimum wage questions set to appear on statewide ballots in November, bringing the total number of certified measures addressing this topic to three. The most recent addition, the Illinois Minimum Wage Increase Question, is a non-binding advisory question that will ask voters whether they support increasing the state's hourly minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 by January 1, 2015. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed the advisory question on June 22, 2014, using the opportunity to attack his Republican opponent for the governor's mansion, Bruce Rauner. Rauner has been called out by the media and his opponent for inconsistent remarks regarding whether he supports raising the minimum wage.
In some areas of Illinois, the November advisory question will mark the second time this year voters have been asked to weigh in on the minimum wage debate without actually enacting any legal changes. In March, voters in 103 Chicago precincts overwhelmingly approved a non-binding measure that asked voters whether they approved of an ordinance requiring companies with an annual gross revenue of over $50 million to pay employees a minimum of $15 per hour. This measure only appeared in 103 precincts of the city, as an adequate number of signatures were collected in these precincts but not in the other 1,967. The measure was approved 86.68 to 13.32 percent.
Supporters of an initiated constitutional amendment in Oregon submitted enough valid signatures prior to the July 3, 2014, signature filing deadline, thereby landing their initiative on the November ballot. The measure, known as both the Equal Rights for Women Initiative and the Equal Rights Amendment, will guarantee that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex," if it's approved by voters in the fall. Supporters were required to collect a minimum of 116,284 valid signatures by the prescribed deadline. The petitioners submitted 143,463 unverified signatures on May 23, 2014. On June 13, 2014, the secretary of state's office verified that 100,357 of the signatures were valid. The petitioners then had until the final July deadline to gather the remaining necessary signatures. They submitted a second batch of 28,707 signatures on June 17, 2014. The secretary of state finished verifying signatures to place this measure on the ballot on June 20, 2014, when 118,388 signatures were found to be valid. This meant 71.78 percent of the signatures submitted were valid.
The movement for equal rights amendments goes back to 1923 when such an amendment was first proposed at the federal level by the National Women's Party. The strongest efforts to attempt to pass such an amendment were made in the 1960s and 1970s. The National Organization of Women (NOW) and other women's rights activist groups strongly supported an amendment ending legal discrimination based on sex. In 1970, the House approved the equal rights amendment, and the Senate followed in 1972. By 1973, 30 of the necessary 38 states had ratified the amendment. However, the amendment ultimately did not pass, after various forms of opposition rose against the measure. Some argued against it in favor of traditional roles for women in society, while others claimed it would remove laws that protect women, like sexual assault laws and alimony. The number of states ratifying the amendment slowed drastically, and several states even repealed their own approval of the amendment. By 1982, the amendment remained three states short of approval. While the federal effort did not succeed, equal rights amendments were added to 20 state constitutions between 1879 and 1998. These state measures guaranteed varying degrees of equality. Oregon will be twenty-first on this list if voters approve the proposed amendment in November.
|States:||Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming|
Conservationists push legislators for open space preservation in New Jersey: New Jersey Keep It Green and the League of Conservation Voters are calling on the New Jersey Legislature to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 84, also known as the Open Space Preservation Funding Amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would dedicate six percent of corporate business tax revenues to open space, farmland, and historic preservation. For the proposed legislatively-referred constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot, legislators would have to approve it by a three-fifths majority on or before August 2, 2014. A new poll shows that 76 percent of voters support the amendment, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Advocates for same-sex marriage in Ohio call off ballot initiative: Proponents of the Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, which would have legalized and permitted same-sex marriage, called off the ballot initiative for two reasons. One, FreedomOhio, the sponsoring organization, failed to collect enough signatures for the initiative's second version, which was certified on April 14, 2014. Nonetheless, FreedomOhio collected over 650,000 signatures for a different version of the initiative. Second, some prominent national pro-same-sex marriage organizations refused to support the initiative. Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry stated, "But if you know there’s a chance you’re going to lose, you have to ask whether now is the time to fight it." Michael Premo, campaign manager for Why Marriage Matters Ohio, a pro-gay marriage organization, also opposed the initiative, saying, "We can’t just be tilting at windmills. We have to go when the environment is conducive to a victory... To lose again would be a huge boost of momentum to the opponents of equality who have not had a victory in a long time." Proponents have decided to wait for a court's ruling on the same-sex marriage ban or for the 2016 election.
Initiative to expand background checks on firearm transfers filed in Nevada: A Background Checks for Gun Purchases Initiative was filed in Nevada on June 20, 2014, by the organization Nevadans for Background Checks. The measure seeks to require that an unlicensed person who wishes to sell or transfer a firearm to another person conduct the transfer through a licensed gun dealer who runs a background check. However, the initiative would exempt certain transfers from background checks, including transfers between immediate family members and temporary transfers while hunting or for immediate self-defense. Proponents of the initiative are required to collect 101,667 signatures by November 11, 2014. If supporters collect enough signatures then the legislature would approve or reject the initiative in 2015. If legislators reject the measure, it will go to voters in 2016.
Loveland voters to decide key fracking measure amid controversy over election date:
In the city of Loveland, Colorado, a saga of signature petitions, lawsuits, compromises and campaigns has led the city voters to today's decision on a two-year fracking suspension, which is significant for the future of the energy industry, in both the city and statewide arenas.
Protect Our Loveland (POL), the group sponsoring Question 1, known as the Loveland Public Health, Safety and Wellness Act, qualified the measure for the November 5, 2013 election ballot, where it would have had the company of several other local bans across the state. The city council postponed the election, however, because Larry Sarner, a candidate for Colorado's 2nd Congressional District of the U.S. House, challenged the validity of the initiative petition in court. Ultimately the court ruled against Sarner and in favor of the clerk's certification of the initiative. As Sarner appealed the court ruling, POL won its own lawsuit against the city to force the council to put Question 1 on the ballot.
The council decided to hold an election on the July 29, 2014, ballot in order to consolidate it with the county election and save approximately $30,000. Sarner, apparently convinced that separating the city and county election and putting the measure on the state's primary ballot would put Question 1 at a disadvantage, agreed to drop his lawsuit in appellate court only if the city would change the election date to June 24, 2014. This date coincides with the primary election, in which Republicans have a full ballot, while those registered as Democrats have less reason to come out to vote. It is expected that the June 24, 2014 election date will see a large turnout for voters affiliated with a major party, while independent or unaffiliated voters could show less of a presence. The POL wanted a July 29, 2014 election date.
Protect Our Loveland supporters present the ballot measure as deserving of an obvious "yes" vote from residents, arguing that it simply asks for time to research the potentially harmful side effects and economic repercussions of fracking. They claim many instances of oil spills, chemical leaks, decreased property value and illnesses linked to fracking and argue that the city must be certain and "fully" knowledgeable of all possible complications that accompany the contentious oil and gas extraction process.
The POL wrote:
Effects from the processes, transportation, refinement, storage and waste of unconventional oil and gas extraction on the health of any living thing, be it human, animal or vegetable, have not been fully studied.
The rush of the industry to drill in open spaces and municipal areas, regardless of the effects it may have on our health, safety and welfare, has made it necessary for us to be responsible for calling a time out while the information is gathered, the research conducted and the reports issued.
The information that is available to us so far, however, makes it clear that we need answers BEFORE the drilling begins.
—Protect Our Loveland
POL volunteer Linda Sandahl said, “A lot of people don’t really know the process. People need to look it up and understand what could happen, what could happen down the road. We don’t want to be 10 years from now saying, ‘What the hell were we thinking?’”
LEAP, "Vote No on Question 1," June 6, 2014
The Loveland Energy Action Group (LEAP) and other opponents, however, contend that Question 1 is a deceptive and inimical law masquerading as an innocuous safety precaution. Some opponents, including the Loveland Reporter-Herald editorial board and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Clark, object to the wording of the measure, which requires "fully" studying the effects of hydraulic fracturing. They contend that Question 1 will allow for continual renewals of the suspension since research opportunities on the multi-faceted effects of fracking could be boundless. They argue the true intent behind Protect Our Loveland is a full prohibition of fracking, rather than a temporary suspension. Clark said, "We’ve already had a two-year or more moratorium on this thing. Nothing’s happened. The intent is not a moratorium, obviously. This group’s intent is a ban. I mean, it’s kind of obvious. They’re using this as a way to call a timeout—but they really want a ban.”
B.J. Nikkel (R), a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and leader of LEAP, wrote that Question 1 was a way to "kick the can down the road and avoid developing a viable solution," even though fracking can be safely used if adequate regulations are imposed. He also pointed to many harmful effects of postponing energy development such as fracking any longer. Some of his concerns were:
- questions of property rights violations, with subsequent lawsuits and private value compensation, costing the city millions
- the threat to jobs provided by the energy industry
- the loss of tax revenue from oil and gas companies
- movement away from energy independence
| 2014 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2014 Scorecard|
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- Illinois General Assembly, "Full Text of HB3814," accessed May 21, 2014
- Chicago Sun-Times, "Quinn signs measure to put minimum-wage increase on fall ballot," June 22, 2014
- 5 NBC Chicago, "Minimum Wage Question Set to Appear on March Ballots," December 17, 2013
- ChicagoElections.com, "Online Election Results," accessed June 24, 2014
- Oregon Secretary of State, “Equal Rights Amendment For Women to be Equal to Men," accessed on June 23, 2014
- U.S. History.org, "57c. The Equal Rights Amendment," accessed June 23, 2014
- CRS Report for Congress, "Equal Rights Amendments: State Provisions," August 23, 2004
- NJ.com, "Lawmakers, environmentalists urge Assembly action on NJ open space funding," June 23, 2014
- New Jersey Legislature, "Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 84," accessed June 24, 2014
- NJ Spotlight, "Key Findings from Recent New Jersey Voter Survey," June 22, 2014
- The CantonRep, "Gay marriage amendment won’t be on fall ballot," June 20, 2014
- Washington Post, "Same-sex marriage is gaining momentum, but some advocates don’t want it on the ballot in Ohio," June 14, 2014
- Las Vegas Review Journal, "Nevada petition filed to require background checks for gun purchases," June 20, 2014
- Nevada Secretary of State, "The Background Check Initiative," accessed June 24, 2014
- Courthouse New Service, "Group Wants Fracking Ban on Local Ballot," October 2, 2013
- Reporter-Herald, "Loveland fracking vote to be July 29," April 8, 2014
- Reporter-Herald, "Loveland City Council declines to take up fracking election proposal," December 18, 2013
- Protect Our Loveland website, "Our Health," archived June 19, 2014
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- The Colorado Observer, "Loveland Voters to Decide on Fracking Moratorium," May 26, 2014
- Reporter-Herald, "Moratorium is not merited in Loveland," June 8, 2014, archived June 23, 2014
- Reporter Herald, "Question 1 will harm Loveland if passed," June 22, 2014, archived June 23, 2014