The Tuesday Count: One western state sees measure certification, other has initiative deadline arrive

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May 1, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

In a relatively slow week for measure certifications for the 2012 ballot, the Tuesday Count crawled up by one proposal. The total is now at an even 90 measures in 30 states.

The state with the newly-added ballot question was in Arizona, courtesy of the state legislature who voted in favor of placing a business tax break option in the November 6 election. The legislatively-referred constitutional amendment would give businesses in the state a break on property taxes on newly acquired equipment.

Arizona residents will now face three ballot measures this fall, joining two other legislative referrals. The other statewide questions can be found here.

Although the legislature has the power to place amendments and statutes on the ballot, state citizens can also do the same. As of today, May 1, there are a total of 22 ballot initiative efforts circulating petitions in order to submit signatures by the July 6 petition drive deadline. Therefore, the statewide ballot measure total could potentially grow.

Unlike Arizona, signature collection for ballot initiatives in Idaho must cease today. The May 1 petition drive deadline has arrived, as initiative sponsors must submit petitions by the end of the business day.

Initiative supporters must collect at least 47,432 valid signatures from registered voters in order to place their proposals on the ballot. This equals to 6% of the qualified electors of the state at the time of the last general election.

Currently there are three measures that are circulating for ballot access. Since Idaho citizens cannot propose constitutional amendments, all circulating petitions are potential state statutes. Proposed initiatives include a measure to legalize medical marijuana in the state, a proposal to make animal cruelty a felony, and an initiative to cut the sales tax in the state from 6 to 5 percent.

According to early reports, however, the animal cruelty effort has fallen short of the required amount of signatures. Supporters of the effort, a coalition called Idaho 1 of 3, stated they had collected more than 30,000 signatures as of the deadline.[1]

According to reports, the details of the law would include: defining the specifics of animal torture, increasing misdemeanor fines to $400 for a first offense, $600 for a second, and would make a third charge in a 15-year span a felony. The punishments for the third offense would be between six months and three years in prison and, at most, a $9,000 fine. Idaho is one of three states that does not consider animal cruelty a felony, hence the name of the supporting coalition. Read more about this measure, and recent legislative action that brought controversy to the subject, here.

Also, stay tuned for updates from Ballotpedia on who filed signatures by the deadline in Idaho.

The next statewide ballot measure petition drive deadline is in Missouri on May 6. Last week's Tuesday Count report highlighted the dilemma surrounding state ballot initiatives.

Featured campaign quotes:
Oklahoma SQ 762 - Support
Speaker of the State House Kris Steele
Letting the governor focus on parole recommendations for violent crimes is a critical component of Oklahoma’s recent progress to build a stronger, more effective criminal justice system.[2]

Oklahoma SQ 762 - Opposition
State Representative Jason Murphey
When you take the governor out of [the parole] process [for non-violent crimes] the people of Oklahoma have no one to hold accountable...[2]

In short, on February 28, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetum struck down a law that directs the state auditor to prepare fiscal analysis for proposed ballot initiatives.[3]

According to reports, Beetem stated that the law was in violation of the Missouri Constitution. Specifically, the ruling stated that the 1997 statute conflicts with a constitutional provision that prohibits laws mandating the state auditor to perform duties unrelated to overseeing the spending and receiving of public money. Ballot initiatives must have the official financial summary included with submitted petition signatures, making it unclear as to what will happen to proposed ballot initiatives for the time being.

In other initiative news, California residents could find themselves voting on the state's "three strikes" law, as sponsors submitted more than 830,000 signatures to the California Secretary of State's office on April 26. Proposed initiated constitutional amendments only need 807,615 valid signatures to make the ballot. Read more about that measure here.

Quick hits

  • Tie in State Board of Canvassers keeps emergency manager veto referendum off the ballot: On April 26, the Michigan State Board of Canvassers voted 2-2 on the emergency manager veto referendum. The party line split in the vote means, barring any action by a court, the measure will not appear on the ballot this fall.[4]

Proposals with recent activity


SPOTLIGHT:California election today and Michigan election next week
Next week, May 8, Michigan residents will have their opportunity to vote 123 measures. 93 of those deal with either school bond or tax measures.

Some notable school issues include the Brighton school bond measure which is asking for $88 million to help pay for upgrades to the schools as well as make renovations and improvements to school sites as needed. Proponents note the need to keep the school up to date to remain competitive as well as ensure the safety of students. Opponents on the other hand have stated that the district is asking too much when everything asked for is not necessary. A number of schools are also asking for renewals of non residential property taxes; taxes on properties which are not the main residential home of residents. Along with school issues, 30 measures will also be on the ballot, which deal with other local issues, municipal property taxes or bonds.

Also, today in Riverside County, California, residents in the San Gorgonio healthcare district will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want to renew the district's property tax for another ten years. The money from the parcel tax goes towards ensuring emergency services offered in the district would continue to be offered to residents.

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The death penalty will be the subject of a ballot measure in what state this November?Click here to find out!
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Missouri House passes initiative changes: On April 13, the Missouri House passed House Joint Resolution 47 which would lower the state's Missouri signature requirements but institute a distribution requirement. HJR 47 is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment and must be approved by the Senate and the voters in order to take effect.[6]

In addition, on April 26 the House approved House Bill 1869 revising a number of the state's ballot measure statutes. For a summary of HB 1869, see our recent news story on the bill here.

OK personhood amendment removed from ballot: In late March, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against an Oklahoma initiative that would define personhood as beginning at the moment of conception. The group argued that the law is in violation of the US Constitution. On April 30, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the amendment. Although the court did not find the proposed amendement in direct violation of Oklahoma Constitution, the state constitution forbids amendments that conflict with the U.S. Constitution. The court held that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey governed in the case.[7][8]

  • The order in the case can be found here.
A new update was released on April 25, 2012. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard