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The Tuesday Count: Mississippi voters to decide right vs. privilege

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February 18, 2014

Edited by Brittany Clingen

Tuesday Count Lineup:

1 certification
58 measures for 2014


Topics featured in this report:

Hunting & fishing (News)
Minimum wage (Quick hits)
Pensions (Spotlight)

Mississippi 2014 ballot measures
Voters in Mississippi will decide whether the right to hunt and fish should be written into the state constitution, bringing the number of certified measures on the 2014 ballot to 58. Though the legislature decided in 2012 to put this amendment before voters, they chose to do so in 2014 due to the fact there were already several hot-button amendments on the 2012 ballot. Jim Walker, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks spoke in support of the amendment, saying, "There are some states where it is considered a privilege to hunt and fish; other states it is a right. This is a little layer of protection ... making hunting and fishing steadfast against those who may want to infringe on those rights." Currently, 17 states have the right to hunt and fish written into their constitutions, while two states - California and Rhode Island - guarantee the right to fish but not to hunt.[1]

Those opposed to the measure, including the outspoken group "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals" (PETA), think adding specific language to the state constitution is unnecessary. However, supporters of the measure argue they need to protect their hobbies from animal rights groups who have attempted to change laws regarding hunting in the past. In Maine, a group is currently attempting to place an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would limit methods by which hunters can trap bears. Meanwhile, in Michigan, there has been an ongoing battle between hunters and the group, "Keep Michigan Wolves Protected." Voters will decide the fate of a veto referendum on the November ballot which seeks to overturn a law that established wolf hunting seasons in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Neither Maine nor Michigan have language addressing the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions.[1]

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2014 Count
Number: 58 measures
States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming

Quick hits

Following coal-related spills in West Virginia, Senate leader proposes water protection amendment: Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-16) proposed the Water Resources Protection Amendment on February 14, 2014.[2] The potential measure would constitutionally designate state waters as “valuable natural resources” for the citizenry's use. Unger cited the two recent major coal-related chemical spills in West Virginia as the primary reason for his proposal.[3] On January 9, 2014, a spill occurred that affected over 300,000 people, closed schools and businesses and caused water shortages at grocery stores. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) declared a state of emergency.[4] A second one - this time spilling “coal slurry” - occurred on February 11, 2014.[5]

Controversial marriage amendment fails to make the 2014 ballot in Indiana: A marriage amendment that would have defined the union as between one man and one woman failed to make the upcoming general election ballot in Indiana due to the removal of a sentence aimed at banning civil unions.[6] Since the failure was due to a text change, the proposed amendment may not be dead yet. To put a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the ballot, the Indiana Legislature is required to approve the measure in two successive legislative sessions. If the revised bill is approved in the next session as well, then the measure will be headed to the 2016 ballot.[7]

Michigan minimum wage proponents submit new proposal calling for $10.10 per hour: During the State of the Union, President Obama called for an increase in the federal hourly minimum wage to $10.10.[8] On February 10, 2014, Raise Michigan submitted their first initiative proposal to the Office of the Secretary of State. The first proposal would increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.50.[9] On February 17, 2014, however, Raise Michigan submitted a second ballot measure proposal based on the president's recommendation. The second proposal would increase the hourly minimum wage to $10.10. Frank Houston stated the organization's reasoning, saying, "The public support was there for a higher wage."[10]

Wyoming legislators seek to solve education department conflict in 2016: The Wyoming Legislature, Governor Matt Mead (R) and Superintendent Cindy Hill (R) have been debating the superintendent’s respective powers and duties. In 2013, Governor Mead and the legislature enacted a law removing the superintendent as head of the Wyoming Education Department. The Wyoming Supreme Court, however, ruled that removing such powers from the superintendent was unconstitutional.[11] A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment has been introduced in the Wyoming Legislature, which would eliminate the state superintendent of public instruction and assign public education oversight to the governor. Upon legislative approval, the measure would appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot.[12]

Spotlight

San Jose mayoral candidate proposes a ballot measure to boost the city's law enforcement budget:

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On February 14, 2014, San Jose Councilman and mayoral candidate Pierluigi Oliverio (District 6) proposed a ballot measure concerning police funding that would coincide with the June 3, 2014, mayoral primary election. His measure would require 40 percent of San Jose's general-fund tax revenue to be spent on the police department. In the 2013-2014 budget, city officials chose to spend approximately 30 percent of the city's $1 billion dollar budget on law enforcement.[13]

Oliverio, who is reportedly vying for a position in the public safety driven, packed mayoral race, said, "It's a good chunk of the budget but it's the most important part. If it's the biggest priority then we need to fund it."[13]

Mayor Chuck Reed is opposed to the measure. Reed said, "If this proposal goes into effect, it appears that we'd have to cut significant funding from firefighting, emergency response, gang prevention and intervention, libraries, community centers and road repairs next year just to meet (the) proposed police department guarantee. It's bad policy to guarantee funding for one specific service, even if it is our most critical city service, without regard to the city's fiscal situation or other pressing needs."[13]

Ventura County residents and officials have quickly picked sides on the proposed pension reform initiative:

Early in February, the Committee for Pension Fairness and other supporters of the Ventura County pension reform initiative began collecting signatures for their measure seeking to reform the county pension system, which is currently $1 billion in debt. On February 8, 2014, however, they were met by opponents of the initiative protesting against the measure and trying to dissuade voters from signing the petition. About 50 people opposed to the measure showed up with signs and chants at Home Depots in Simi Valley, Newbury Park and Camarillo where initiative petitioners were attempting to collect signatures. These protesters, including Sheriff Geoff Dean, one of the most outspoken initiative opponents, called the petition misleading and draconian in an effort to discourage potential signers. Supporters have until May 16, 2014, to collect about 26,000 signatures to qualify their initiative for the ballot. County Supervisor Peter Foy, one of the chief supporters of the initiative, was also on the scene at Newbury Park on February 8, discussing the initiative with county residents.[14]

David Grau, chair of the Taxpayers Association, which is backing the initiative, said of the protesters, “They are trying to outnumber and intimidate us. It’s sad to see this kind of reaction from our public servants. (We’re) just trying to gather signatures to put an initiative on the ballot.”[14]

Sheriff Dean, however, defended the demonstrators, saying, “They were exercising their First Amendment rights. I think it’s certainly the first step they will take in trying to get the truthful, factual information out to the voting public.”[14]

See also

2014 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2014 Scorecard

References