The Tuesday Count: More ballot removals than certifications lead to total decrease

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August 14, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

Although certifications are slowing down, ballot measure litigation is picking up.

After a flurry of events that transpired in the past seven days, the ballot measure count across the country is now 160 ballot measures in 35 states.

The decrease in statewide proposals comes from both Nevada and Louisiana.

Two Nevada measures were taken off the ballot due to a lawsuit that left the Silver State's ballot empty of statewide proposals. A lawsuit was filed against a citizen initiative in the state that lead to the Nevada Supreme Court striking that measure from the ballot, and therefore removing the competing measure from the 2012 ballot at the same time.

The citizen initiative that was taken off of the ballot was the sports arena initiative that would have allowed a 20,000-seat sports arena on the Las Vegas Strip. Specifically the initiative would have imposed a 0.9 cent sales tax in a taxing district near the proposed arena. The revenue would have financed bonds to construct the arena. The state supreme court ruling stated that the initiative's petitions were invalid because they didn’t say where the arena would be built.

The competing measure would have prohibited a special tax district in the state. Also, the bill would have prohibited the creation of an area in which the sales tax was higher than other parts of the county. The measure was introduced by the Senate Revenue Committee, and if it had made the ballot along with the arena measure, the proposal that received the most votes in the 2012 general election would have been enacted.

Along with the two measures that were taken off of the ballot in Nevada, it was also found that the state of Louisiana placed 9 measures in the 2012 general election, instead of 11, as was originally reported by state media outlets. As a result, the state ballot measure count changed.

The lone addition to the Tuesday Count was in Ohio, where the redistricting amendment effort was found to have collected enough signatures to make the ballot. The measure would create a 12-person citizen commission to draw legislative and congressional district maps. According to supporters of the measure, the commission would create districts that would reflect the state's geographic, racial, ethnic and political diversity. The initiative would also bar lobbyists and elected officials from joining the commission.

Currently, the Ohio Legislature redraws district maps every ten years due to population shifts.

Additional signatures submitted in Arkansas

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question may appear on the 2012 ballot after all, as supporters collected additional signatures and submitted them to the Arkansas Secretary of State on August 13.

A spokesman for the state secretary of state commented that signatures could be verified by the end of August.

Supporters of the potential statewide question were allowed 30 additional days to circulate petitions after it was found that not enough valid signatures were collected by the petition drive deadline in early July.

The measure would allow the use of marijuana by people who choose to use it for medical purposes. Those who choose to use it for medical purposes would be free from legal penalty. A group called Arkansans for Compassionate Care are sponsors of the proposed law, which is formally called, "The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act," according to the ballot title.

According to reports, patients with possession of cards issued by the state Department of Health would be allowed to purchase and carry marijuana for medical purposes. Medical marijuana would be purchased from dispensaries or they could grow the cannabis plant themselves.

Quick hits

Proposals with recent activity

Fight for North Dakota University nickname may carry into 2014: Supporters of the "Fighting Sioux" nickname for UND sports teams have decided not to put the issue before voters again this year and are instead gearing up for a spot on the June ballot in 2014. The measure being proposed differs from the referendum voted on earlier this year in that it is a constitutional amendment and would be much more difficult to overturn if passed. To make the 2014 ballot, supporters have until December 12, 2012 to turn in 27,000 signatures to Secretary of State Al Jaeger.[1]

Four Michigan ballot measures advance to Board of State Canvassers: Of the six measures that filed signatures with the Michigan Secretary of State, four have been confirmed as having enough names to move on to the ballot. First, however, they will have to be fully certified by the Board of State Canvassers. The board will meet tomorrow, August 15, to determine if the petitions meet requirements set out by state law. The four measures being considered relate to renewable energy, new casinos, collective bargaining, and the unionization of home health care workers. The state is still reviewing signatures for the remaining two measures that were filed.[2]


Primary elections today in Wisconsin and Florida

On August 14 voters in Wisconsin and Florida will vote on 13 ballot measures at the local level.

In Wisconsin, there are three school measures on the ballot. All would allow their school districts to levy additional taxes for operational and maintenance costs. The three districts that have this measure on their ballot are the Barron, Hartland-Lakeside and Oconto Falls. The levy increase would be in place for five years in the Barron and Hartland-Lakeside school districts but just in place for three years in the Oconto school district.

In Florida, Flagler and Indian River County school districts residents will decide whether to renew current levies which support school funding. In Miami-Dade County, a county ordinance measure asks if voters want to allow Pit bull dogs in the county. Currently there is a ban in place which does not allow any resident to own a Pit bull. The ban was put in place 23 years ago when a young girl was mauled by a Pit bull.

In total, eight counties in Florida will decide on 10 measures and four counties in Wisconsin will vote on three measures.

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.

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Arizona sales tax question heads to court: Legal briefs have been filed with the Arizona Supreme Court arguing that the measure should be kept off the ballot due to an error with petitions filed at the start of the initiative's campaign. The error resulted in the original filing missing a full two paragraphs from the petition that was eventually circulated. According to the brief filed by the state, "Confusion has been created by virtue of the fact that one version of the proposed initiative was attached to the petition sheets while a substantially different version was simultaneously posted on the secretary’s website."[3]

California Proposition 32 undergoes another change of ballot title: On Monday, August 13, the Sacramento County Superior Court ordered that the language of Proposition 32 be changed following a legal challenge by supporters of the measure. The new title given by the court ruling reads as: "Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees." The older title used the word "restricts" in place of "prohibits."[4]

A new update will be released later this month. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!