The Tuesday Count: Referendum booted from AZ ballot after passage of new law
Edited by Brittany ClingenGov. Jan Brewer (R) signed a bill that essentially nullifies a measure that was slated to appear on the November 4, 2014 election ballot. In 2013, the Arizona Legislature passed House Bill 2305. This bill, among other things, required all candidates running for office to obtain the same number of signatures in order to get their names on the ballot - making the process more difficult for minor parties - rendered the act of picking up another person's early ballot illegal, and set stricter qualifications for those wanting to circulate initiative, referendum and recall petitions. Brewer signed the bill into law in June 2013. A collection of groups opposed to the law - which collectively referred to themselves as the "Protect your Right to Vote Committee" - launched an effort to repeal the law via a vote of the people.
In order to land their veto referendum on the 2014 ballot, supporters were required to collect at least 86,405 valid signatures by September 11, 2013. Supporters of the referendum began circulating petitions in July 2013. On October 29, 2013, the secretary of state confirmed that the measure received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Supporters turned in over 144,000 signatures, of which 110,770 were declared valid. The implementation of HB 2305 was delayed, pending the result of November's vote. However, recent action by the governor and the legislature has upended the process, preventing voters from casting their ballots on the issue.
Rep. Eddie Farnsowrth (R-12), the same person who sponsored HB 2305 in 2013, sponsored House Bill 2196, the legislation that sought to and successfully repealed the original law upon Brewer's signing of it. Democrats were against HB 2305 from the beginning and supported the referendum on it. However, they are equally peeved about the passage of HB 2196, claiming it is an affront to voters. Rep. Martin Quezada (D-29) said, "The governor's decision to sign HB 2196 is an insult to Arizona voters. They wanted a chance to have their voices heard on a law that created significant barriers to the voting process." The passage of HB 2196 currently leaves just one measure on the ballot: a measure that seeks to create a direct mechanism by which the use of state personnel and financial resources is guaranteed to be employed only for purposes that are congruent with the state constitution.
|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|
English could become the constitutionalized de jure language of Georgia: Sen. Don Balfour (R-9) doesn't think the statute recognizing English as the state's official language goes far enough. He has introduced the English as Official Language Amendment into the Georgia Legislature to constitutionalize the state's official language as English. The measure would provide that all official state actions be conducted in English, that English be used in all documents, meetings and presentations and prohibit discrimination against those who only speak English. The phrase "all official documents," critics point out, includes drivers licenses. Helen Ho of the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center said, "How are [immigrants] going to learn English if they can't drive to an English class? How are they going to survive if they can't drive to a job?" Sen. Balfour responded, "When you stop at the stop sign its says ‘Stop.’ We're in America and the test should be in English."
West Virginia may have opportunity to exempt nonprofits from property taxation: Receiving a request from the Boy Scouts, the West Virginia Legislature has taken up the Nonprofit Youth Organization Tax Exemption Amendment. The legislatively-referred constitutional amendment would provide that properties owned by nonprofit youth organizations that are used for "adventure, educational or recreational activities for young people and others" and that were constructed for no more than $100 million are exempt from property taxation. The measure would also permit a nonprofit property to be leased or used to generate revenue and still be exempted from property taxation. On February 26, 2014 the West Virginia House adopted the proposal in a 94-2 vote. Now the proposal is in the West Virginia Senate where, if approved, it will be placed on the general election ballot in November.
Marriage divorce process debated in South Carolina: A bipartisan group of state senators introduced the Separation Time for Divorce Amendment into the South Carolina Legislature in 2012. The amendment has been revived by the Senate Judiciary Committee, who voted in the proposal's favor on February 26, 2014. The potential measure would permit married couples to divorce after 150 days of separation, rather than the current time constraint of one year. However, not all legislators are thrilled with the idea. Rep. Ralph Kennedy (R-39) argued, “Isn't this an example of a slippery slope we're going down? Five years from now, is it going to be 3 months? In 15 years are we going to have drive-through divorces because they get in a fight that night?” House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister (R-24), who is also a family court attorney, responded to opponents, saying, “We should be looking at ways to make marriages better, not hold you into one you don't want to be in. It's too late for the General Assembly to say, 'Well, we're just going to make you and sentence you to a year and maybe you'll reconcile.”
Local voters will decide parcel taxes today in the 3rd California local election:
Voters in both the Beyers Lane Community Service District in Nevada County, California, and La Canada Unified School District in Alameda County, California, will be deciding whether to approve or reject parcel taxes. In Beyers Lane Community Service District, the proposed tax would be at a rate of $350 per parcel, if a 2/3rds supermajority vote is given by electors. The revenue from this tax would go towards providing road maintenance and improvements.
The La Cañada Unified School District parcel tax measure, Measure LC, which would also require a 2/3rds supermajority vote for approval, seeks to create a total parcel tax of $450 per parcel, $150 of which is a renewal of previous taxation. Critics of Measure LC thought the information sent out about this tax was misleading since it referred to renewing a previous tax, but amounted to new taxation in the amount of $300 per parcel.
Berkeley redistricting map veto referendum was successful without a single vote cast:
Two important local measures in California were both recently decided without a single vote being cast. The City of Berkeley will not see the implementation of the new council-approved redistricting map, as the Berkeley Referendum Coalition collected 7,867 signatures in a referendum petition effort, surpassing the threshold of 5,275 valid signatures required to force a veto vote on a city ordinance. The Berkeley Referendum Coalition, led by Councilmember Kriss Worthington, along with his progressive supporters, disapproved of the map agreed upon by six out of the nine council members because it concentrated most of District 7, Worthington's district, on the south side of the college campus. According to critics and veto supporters, this resulted in a district more dominated by conservative students, as it excluded student co-ops and dorms on the north side of campus, which were perceived as progressive. Additionally, the map added fraternities and sororities on the south side of campus, which were considered more conservative. Many saw this as an attempt to oust the progressive Worthington from his position on the city council.
The successful referendum campaign run by the Coalition gave the council two options: either repeal the map themselves or put it to a vote of the people. They chose the first option during their February 25, 2014, meeting, preempting an expensive city election. Councilmember Kriss Worthington, speaking to petition volunteers and supporters in response to the referendum petition's success, said, "The odds were stacked against any sane person getting signatures. But all of you realized that the conventional wisdom does not always rule the day.” He later said, "The fact that about 15 percent of the voters of Berkeley signed the referendum petition, during (December), the single month that is the hardest to get signatures in Berkeley, is an amazing testament to how bad of a plan this was."
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- Arizona Capitol Times, "Governor signs bill to repeal 2013 election reform law, kills referendum," February 27, 2014
- Phoenix New Times, "Arizona's Voter Suppression Law: Referendum to Overturn HB 2305 Filed Today," July 1, 2013
- KTAR.com, "Arizona election referendum certified for 2014 ballot," October 29, 2013
- Arizona State Legislature, "HB 2305 initiatives, filings, circulators," accessed July 2, 2013
- Seattle Pi, "Arizona governor signs elections overhaul repeal," February 27, 2014
- KJZZ.org, "Arizona voters to decide state sovereignty measure in 2014," May 14, 2013
- Georgia Legislature, "2013-2014 Regular Session - SR 1031," accessed March 4, 2014
- WSBTV, "'English-only' resolution for drivers angers critics," February 26, 2014
- Charleston Daily Mail, "Resolution for Boy Scouts moves forward," March 2, 2014
- West Virginia Legislature, "House Joint Resolution 108 Status," accessed March 4, 2014
- South Carolina Legislature, "H. 3169 Text," accessed February 26, 2014
- The State, "Measure would shorten separation for SC divorce," February 25, 2014
- Beyers Lane Community Service District resolution calling for a special election, accessed March 3, 2014
- La Cañada School District resolution No. 14-13-14, accessed January 10, 2014
- La Cañada Valley Sun, "Letter: Reasons to vote no on parcel tax," February 19, 2014
- Berkeleyside, "Berkeley redistricting map splits council, community," December 18, 2013
- The Daily Californian, "Berkeley Referendum Coalition celebrates success, plans to meet Sunday," February 14, 2014
- Contra Costa Times, "Berkeley council delays redistricting decisions," February 26, 2014