The Tuesday Count: Number of measures on 2014 ballots steadily increasing

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April 29, 2014

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Edited by Brittany Clingen

1 certification
82 measures for 2014



Certification (News)
LGBT issues (Quick hits)
Wages (Spotlight)

Oklahoma 2014 ballot measures
Last week saw the certification of two new measures for 2014, as four others took one step closer to the November general election ballot. Both chambers of the Georgia Legislature approved the Private College Buildings Tax Exemption measure by the required two-thirds vote, thereby referring it to the ballot.[1] If approved by voters, the measure would extend a "public property" ad valorem tax exemption to privately owned and operated student dormitories and parking decks, which are obliged by contract to serve the university, within the University of Georgia system.[2]

The statute is part of a larger legislative package related to the privatization of student dormitories. The package, taken together, would lease dormitories to private firms who would collect revenues from operating the dorms. The package would leave some control of student dorm boarding prices to administrators. The leasing companies would take on any existing debt on leased properties and have the option of building new dormitories. Leases would last from 30 to 65 years, and many would include a renewal option. Private companies would bid on contracts and be selected following the referendum.[3]

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Legislature sent the Service in Government and Military Amendment to the November ballot. If approved by voters, the measure would guarantee that government officials can also serve as officers and members of the National Guard, Officers Reserve Corps, Oklahoma State Guard or any other active militia or military force organized under state law. Thus, the amendment would exempt officers and members of the forces mentioned from restrictions on serving in more than one paying public position.[2] Four other legislatively-referred constitutional amendments may appear on Oklahoma's November 4, 2014 ballot after being approved by the state legislature. At least one, the Right to Bear Arms Amendment, has the potential to be controversial, given the topic it addresses. If it lands on the ballot and is approved by voters, the measure would detail what weapons citizens have a right to carry, for what purposes, and who the state is allowed to regulate. It would also prohibit registration or special taxation on the keeping of arms.[2] Under the terms of the measure, citizens would have a right to bear arms in regards to handguns, rifles, shotguns, knives, nonlethal defensive weapons and other arms in common use, as well as ammunition and the components of arms and ammunition, for security, self-defense, lawful hunting and recreation, in aid of the state when summoned or for any other legitimate purpose. The state would be allowed to prohibit the possession of arms by convicted felons, those adjudicated as mentally incompetent or those who have been involuntarily committed to any mental institution.[2] The remaining four measures address bonds, agriculture and the administration of government. In addition to the legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, at least two initiated constitutional amendments may appear on the state's November 4, 2014 ballot, if supporters submit the required 155,216 valid signatures by the deadline.

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2014 Count
Number: 87 measures
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, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming

Quick hits

Opponents of gender identity bill to gather signatures for veto referendum in Maryland: On April 29, 2014, MDPetitions.com, the brainchild of Rep. Neil C. Parrott (R-2B), announced a campaign to put on the ballot a Gender Identity Discrimination Referendum.[4] The veto referendum would, upon voter disapproval, overturn SB 212, which was passed by the legislature in March 2014. SB 212, known as the "Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014," adds "gender identity" to various state non-discrimination policies. MDPetitions.com and other opponents are specifically critical of the bill's "public accommodations" provision, which, they claim, would allow people to use rest rooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and showers based on their gender identity.[5] “Restrooms,” according to the Washington Post, “were included in the legislation because lawmakers said transgender people are often ridiculed and sometimes assaulted when they use restrooms assigned to the genders of their birth. They have argued that there is no evidence that this law will be used by sexual predators to commit crimes, and criticized opponents for their insensitivity.”[6]

Michigan Republican proposes minimum wage increase to counter initiative: Raise Michigan is circulating petitions to put a measure on the ballot to increase the hourly minimum wage to $10.10. Sen. Rick Jones (R-24) has offered an alternative plan that would increase the wage to $8.15. Jones said the bill is meant to counter the ballot initiative. He stated, "My intent is to stop the ballot initiative because of the crushing blow it will deal to Michigan restaurants."[7] The Michigan Restaurant Association, an opponent of the initiative, called the bill a "far more reasonable and rational" proposal. Danielle Atkinson of Mothering Justice and Raise Michigan replied to the plan, saying, "While it is somewhat encouraging that Republicans in the legislature have finally realized that Michigan workers deserve a raise, this proposal does little to lift families out of poverty and falls short of the goals of the Raise Michigan Coalition."[8]

New Hampshire Legislature considering ban on sexual orientation discrimination: CACR 17 was proposed in 2013 but has received increased attention in 2014. CACR 17 would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation by modifying Article 2 of Part I of the New Hampshire Constitution.[9] The New Hampshire Senate approved the amendment by 23 to 0 on March 13, 2014. The New Hampshire House is currently studying the amendment and has until the end of the legislative session, which is tentatively set for June 1, to determine whether or not the proposal will appear on the ballot in November.[10]

Spotlight

Seattle Mayor announces that his Income Inequality Advisory Committee was unable to agree about a minimum wage measure:

Kshama Sawant, member of the Seattle City Council

Since self-proclaimed Socialist Kshama Sawant made increasing the minimum wage a key element of her campaign and subsequently won an upset victory against incumbent Richard Conlin for a seat on Seattle's city council, Seattle employers and business owners, as well as their employees, have been watching to see where the swell of minimum wage activism would take the city. The question has not been whether low-wage workers would see a compensation boost, but rather when the raise would come and how much it would be.[11]

Early in March, 2014, activists in the group 15 Now and the Socialist Alternative Party announced that they would give the mayor and city council a chance to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour but were prepared to force their own initiative measure onto the ballot if they were not satisfied by the council's action. Hoping to develop a proposal that would satisfy all, Mayor Ed Murry put together a 24-member Income Inequality Advisory Committee, consisting of labor advocates, business and commerce interests and Sawant herself.[12]

Representatives from both sides of the aisle seem to take the number "15" for granted, but this is as much compromise as Mayor Murry has been able to achieve; proposals from labor advocates and business representatives differ in every other way.[11][12]

15 Now, Sawant's socialist following and labor activists have proposed a measure that would:[11][13]

  • Prohibit companies from counting benefits, health insurance, commissions, bonuses and tips towards the minimum wage
  • Increase the minimum wage for large businesses to $15 per hour immediately - January 1, 2014
  • Increase the minimum wage for businesses with fewer than the equivalent of 250 full time workers to $11 per hour in January 2015, with the full increase to $15 per hour phased in over three years
  • Enact strict provisions designed to prevent "wage and tip theft"
OneSeattle logo

The Seattle chamber of commerce and business representatives, spearheaded by the group called the One Seattle Coalition, have proposed the following provisions:[14]

  • The ability to count health insurance, medical and retirement benefits, commissions, bonuses and tips towards the $15 per hour minimum wage
  • A phased in approach to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour for all businesses
  • A temporary, lower training/probationary period wage allowed

Louise Cernin, president of the Greater Seattle Business Association, which is a member of One Seattle, said, "It's easy to have slogans and numbers, but it's a complex issue. Making big leaps at any one time can harm the people we're trying to help."[12]

Jess Spear, a 15 Now organizer, said, "There's so much support for 15 they can't oppose it now. What they are trying to do is change it so they don't have to pay 15."[12]

On April 24, 2014, Mayor Murray announced that his advisory committee had failed to arrive at a consensus. Murray said, "We're stuck at the moment. I'd rather be late and get it right than rush it and get it wrong." He also expressed the wish to achieve a super-majority agreement among his committee and said that, if the group fails to collaborate to that extent, he will propose his own measure to the city council, independent of the committee.[15]


San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria proposes measure seeking a minimum wage of $13.09, meeting with opposition from Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce:

City Council President Todd Gloria first announced his effort to seek a minimum wage increase for the city of San Diego in January of 2014. On April 23, 2014, this intention came to fruition with a proposal that would increase the minimum wage of the city to $13.09 per hour over three years - $11.09 by July 2015, $12.09 by July 2016 and $13.09 by July 2017. It would also require employers to offer a minimum of five paid sick days to all employees. The measure needs to be approved by the city council in order to go before voters in November. Gloria said he was willing to entertain amendments to the measure during the council's discussion.[16][17]

Gloria said, "The San Diego proposal would have a major, positive economic impact for workers and their families and on the San Diego economy. To those who fear losing their businesses, please remember that these additional wages will be spent by workers on necessities like food and services -- it will go right back into San Diego's economy."[16]

Both Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Jerry Sanders, CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, announced opposition to the proposal. They said that, in order to maintain a job market that is competitive with other areas in California, the city should remain at the state minimum wage, which is currently $8 per hour, with an increase to $10 per hour planned over the next two years. Faulconer said, "I believe the better way to support San Diego small businesses and protect jobs is to follow the minimum wage increases set at the state and federal levels, which ensures our city remains on a level playing field with surrounding cities that compete with San Diego for jobs. I am concerned about any proposal that puts our city at a competitive disadvantage against other cities, which can hurt job growth and San Diego working families."[16]

See also

2014 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2014 Scorecard

References

  1. Greenwich Time, "Ga. governor approves referendum on dorm taxes," April 24, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Georgia Legislature, "HB 788," accessed March 19, 2014
  3. Diverse, "Georgia Could Become Biggest Test of Private Dorms," April 6, 2014
  4. Capital Gazette, "Group launches effort to place Maryland transgender rights bill on 2014 ballot," April 29, 2014 (dead link)
  5. The Washington Times, "Public accommodations provision in Md. transgender rights bill draws outcry," March 6, 2014
  6. Washington Post, "Conservative activists launch petition to put rights for transgender people on the Md. ballot," April 29, 2014
  7. Michigan Radio, "State senator offers minimum wage hike alternative," April 24, 2014
  8. MLive, "Republican Senator proposes Michigan minimum wage increase to undermine ballot proposal," April 24, 2014
  9. New Hampshire General Court, "CACR 17," accessed April 28, 2014]
  10. New Hampshire General Court, "CACR 17 Bill Status
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Puget Sound Business Journal, "15 Now taking steps toward Seattle minimum wage ballot measure," April 14, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Oregon Live, "Seattle minimum wage increase on track, but business group weighing in," April 20, 2014
  13. 15 now website, accessed March 13, 2014
  14. One Seattle Coalition website, accessed April 21, 2014
  15. ABC News, "Seattle Stymied in Efforts to Raise Minimum Wage," April 24, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 La Jolla Patch, "Local Ballot Measure Would Push Minimum Wage to $13.09 Per Hour," April 23, 2014
  17. U-T San Diego, "Measure would push min wage to $13," April 23, 2014