The Tuesday Count: More marijuana measures possible in 2014
Edited by Brittany ClingenAlaska could soon become the third state to legalize marijuana, following on the heels of successful legalization campaigns in Colorado and Washington. A citizens' group calling themselves "The Alaska Campaign to Regulate Marijuana" says they turned in approximately 46,000 signatures on Wednesday, January 8, a day ahead of the state's deadline. The group only needs 30,169 valid signatures to land their initiative on the August 19 primary ballot.
If the measure makes the ballot and is approved by voters, it will allow people age 21 and older to posses up to one ounce of marijuana and up to six plants. It will also make the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana paraphernalia legal. The language of the measure is similar to that of Colorado's Amendment 64, which was approved in 2012 by a vote of 55.32 to 44.68 percent. A similar measure in Washington was also approved in 2012 by a vote of 55.7 to 44.3 percent. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state, after the approval of a 1998 ballot measure. Bill Parker, one of the initiative's sponsors, explained, "It's not that the initiative would bring marijuana to Alaska. Marijuana is already in Alaska. It would legalize, regulate and tax it. It would treat it like alcohol." State election officials have 60 days to certify or deny the measure.
The marijuana initiative would join a referendum on Senate Bill 21, also known as the Oil and Gas Production Tax, on the August primary ballot. A group called "Vote Yes-Repeal the Giveaway" is attempting to overturn the bill, which granted tax breaks to oil companies drilling in Alaska. The group sponsoring the referendum campaign has raised over $100,000, while the opposition group, "Vote No on One," raised approximately $1.6 million as of December 31, 2013. The campaign has been a contentious one from the start, with supporters of Senate Bill 21, including Governor Sean Parnell (R), saying an incentive is needed to bring oil companies back to Alaska, as the state relies heavily on revenue from oil to balance its budget. Meanwhile, supporters of the referendum contend oil companies will come to Alaska with or without the tax incentive and believe Alaska would be needlessly "giving away" its natural resources.
|States:||Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming|
The six states of California: Timothy C. Draper, a venture capitalist known for his involvement in Skype, submitted an initiative petition to the Attorney General known as the "Six Californias" Initiative. The measure would divide the state into six different states. He said, “Six Californias is an opportunity, an opportunity for Californians to get a fresh start, an opportunity for Californians to build new platforms for growth and prosperity. An opportunity to be awesome.” Draper expressed confidence that the measure will be on the ballot, declaring, "I'll make sure it gets on the ballot, so that Californians have a chance to make the decision." Draper needs not only to convince state voters, but also the U.S. Congress, who would ultimately need to approve the breakup and six new states upon the measure's approval by voters.
Competing bond measure proposals in New York: Two legislatively-referred bond questions have been proposed in New York, one by the legislature and one by the governor. Yet, only one bond question may appear on the ballot per general election, according to the state constitution. The New York Legislature has been working on the Bonds for Environmental Infrastructure Act since August. This bond would be the largest bond voters have ever been asked to approve in New York. The measure is sponsored by a plethora of Democrats, but some Republicans have vocalized support, as well, largely due to the legislation’s emphasis on infrastructure and the state’s outdated sewage system. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed the Bonds for School Technology Act in his 2014 State of the State Address. Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-11) was surprised by the governor’s plan and unaware until the address. He noted, nonetheless, that an environmental infrastructure bond is more important.
West Virginia legislator seeks measure on road repair bonds: Spurred on by a publication authored by TRIP, a non-profit involved in transportation issues, Rep. Margaret Staggers (D-32) proposed the Bonds for Road Repairs Amendment. The measure would authorize $2.1 billion in state bonds for road repairs and construction. According to TRIP, West Virginia has one of the worst road transportation systems in the country. The organization’s report found that 12% of West Virginia’s major roads are in poor condition, and 24% are in mediocre condition. These conditions cost the average motorist $333 annually in extra vehicle operating costs.
Legal recreational marijuana may be coming to the nation's capital–potential Washington D.C. referendum for November election:
Activists began a campaign called DCMJ 2014 to put an initiative measure before D.C. city voters that, if approved, would legalize the possession and use of up to two ounces of marijuana and the possession and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. Two immediate hurdles stand between this measure and the ballot: the District of Columbia board of Elections must affirm the legality and technical validity of the language of the initiative, called the "Legalization of Home Cultivation and Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014." Then the group DCMJ 2014 must collect about 23,000 valid signatures from Washington D.C. voters.
Adam Eidinger, co-owner of Capital Hemp and organizer of DCMJ 2014, believes the measure has a shot and said, "I imagine the President rolling up a tobacco-marijuana cigarette with John Boehner and sitting on the back porch of the White House to work out their problems." But Eidinger is concerned that a competing city council bill, sponsored by Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), may steal support away from his "Legalization for Personal Use Act." Instead of legalizing marijuana, Wells' "Marijuana Decriminalization Bill" would sharply decrease the consequences of getting caught with the drug. The maximum punishment for possession of up to an ounce would go from six months in prison and a $1,000 fine to a mere $100 fine.
Eidinger, who disapproves of Wells' bill, said, "Sixty-four percent in our poll in April supported legalization." However, he expressed concern that support for the decriminalization bill might divert support from his initiative and stated that he might withdraw his initiative if support waned too much. Eidinger said, "I won't do it if it's under 60 percent, you can mark my words. If we're at 59 percent in our next poll of D.C. voters for legalization, if we're losing support for legalization because of Wells' efforts, then we won't do it." Eidinger explained he disapproves of the decriminalization bill due to its many flaws, one being its inability to put a stop to drug-related violence.
Police brutality prevention activists are rolling out a new insurance-based strategy in a Minneapolis ballot measure:
The Committee For Professional Policing (CFPP), formed with the support of the Minneapolis based organization Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), is proposing that all police officers carry personal liability insurance, comparable to malpractice insurance for doctors. Their city charter amendment, if approved, would allow the city to provide for base insurance rates covering all officers, in order to avoid punishing good cops, but would require police personnel to be individually responsible for any additional insurance premiums caused by improper, overly violent or "risky" conduct. This initiative seeks to prevent police misconduct or irresponsible police behavior by transferring any increased insurance bills from the city to the officers themselves via insurance costs. The CFPP needs to collect 10,000 valid signatures to put their proposal before voters in November.
According to the CFPP website, the city has spent $20 million to cover successful lawsuits against police officers over the last seven years. Dave Bicking, the Chair of CFPP, spoke about the current city policy saying, "Right now, the city covers pretty much all acts of misconduct by police officers, but it's not actually required to do so."
Michelle Gross, President of CUAPB said, "Statistics about police brutality [are] not collected by the police. No cities keep this data in any real way. The FBI is mandated to keep this data, but no one really does it. So it's this big problem that everyone knows about, but nobody wants to quantify."
Bicking compared the police insurance proposal to car insurance, saying, "If you're a really, really bad driver, it becomes too expensive to drive or even own a car anymore. Similarly, some officers would become uninsurable, and that would finally get those officers off the force." Gross also spoke to this point, saying, "This is not an anti-cop deal by any means. It is a way to get rid of the bad officers and keep and protect the good ones."
| 2014 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2014 Scorecard|
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- StarTribune, "Organizers turn in signatures for Alaska marijuana legalization initiative," January 8, 2014
- The Washington Post, "Alaska could become the third state to legalize marijuana—as soon as August," January 8, 2014
- Anchorage Daily News, "Backers of vote on legal marijuana in Alaska turn in signatures," January 8, 2014
- Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska oil tax repeal group raises $34,000," January 13, 2014
- Anchorage Daily News, "Critics of oil tax cuts move ahead with referendum to repeal the legislation," April 18, 2013
- The Washington Times, “Break Up: Will California splinter into 6 states? Voters, Congress could soon decide”, January 6, 2013
- Tech Crunch, "Tim Draper Wants To Split California Into Pieces And Turn Silicon Valley Into Its Own State," December 19, 2013
- Capital New York, "Cuomo’s school bond would stall environmental measure," January 9, 2014
- New York Senate, "Bill A8121-2013," accessed January 14, 2014
- The Journal News, "State of the State: Cuomo focuses on tax cuts, education," January 8, 2014
- Cumberland Times-News, "W.Va. lawmaker wants ballot measure to pay for roads," January 9, 2014
- TRIP, "West Virginia Media Advisory," January 9, 2014
- Fox News, "Pot legalization ballot initiative filed in DC," January 10, 2014
- DCist, "Marijuana Activists Fight For Full Legalization, Home Cultivation In D.C.," October 18, 2013
- Twin Cities Daily Planet, "Police brutality cause for Minneapolis ballot issue," January 10, 2014
- The Spokesman-Reporter, "New campaign to end police brutality," December 11, 2014
- CFPP website, accessed January 14, 2014
- CUAPB website, accessed January 14, 2014