The Tuesday Count: Southern state cooks up a hefty plate of ballot measures for voters
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Edited by Al Ortiz
Following the ferocious flood of ballot measure certifications from last week is a similar gush of ballot-approved statewide proposals, this time in two states. However, unlike last week, not all certifications were from state legislatures.
With these new developments, chalk up another intense increase to the Tuesday Count, with the total now 117 ballot measures in 33 states across the country.
Starting with Alabama, the whirlwind of ballot measure activity has finally come to a halt.
The Alabama Secretary of State rounded out the list of 2012 measures on the statewide ballot by recently adding four more questions to be placed before voters.
The four questions added to the ballot included a measure to allow the state to issue general obligation bonds of no more than $750 million for economic development; a proposal relating to the authority of state legislature and banking in the state; a measure to allow the state legislature to implement a business privilege tax on corporations, among other provisions; and a question relating to legislative compensation for state legislators.
In all, 11 statewide ballot measures will appear on the state ballot, and all but one is slated for November 6. The one measure that will not be on the ballot on this date is a medicaid amendment, which would authorize the transfer of $145.8 million from an oil and gas trust fund to the General Fund for the state Medicaid budget. That measure will appear on the September 18 special election ballot.
Last week, it was reported that Florida had the biggest ballot measure total of any state with 11 statewide questions. With the addition of the four Alabama measures, these two states are now tied.
Meanwhile, the state of California refuses to quiet down, despite holding its primary election on June 5. While two measures were decided that day, two more were placed on the ballot via the citizen's initiative process soon after.
On June 11, sponsors of the proposed "Three Strikes" law and the genetically engineered food information initiative were informed by the California Secretary of State's office that their initiative made the November 6 ballot.
The "Three Strikes" initiative would revise the three strikes law to impose life sentence only when the new felony conviction is "serious or violent". In addition, the statute would authorize re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike conviction was not serious or violent and if the judge determines that the re-sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.
The genetically engineered food information initiative would require labeling on food offered for sale if the food is made from plants or animals with modified genetic material. It would also prohibit labeling or advertising such food as "natural."
Both measures required 504,760 valid signatures for qualification purposes.
Signature goals reached in Arizona?
Developments in Arizona could have an impact on the state's ballot measure count, as supporters of two separate ballot measures have stated that they collected enough signatures for their initiatives to be placed on the November ballot.
Although enough signatures were allegedly collected, supporters say they will keep circulating petitions leading up to the deadline in order to ensure that their efforts have room for error.
The two measures were:
- "Open Government Act" Initiative: The measure would implement a top-two style open primary system. In a top-two open primary, candidates for a government position run on the same primary ballot regardless of party affiliation. All registered voters are then able to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. The two candidates with the most votes are then placed on the November. Supporters are required to collect a minimum of 259,213 valid petition signatures by July 5, 2012.
- Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Initiative: The proposal would renew a 2010 voter-approved one-cent sales tax to provide funding for education for students in the state who meet certain requirements, scholarships for college students and reinvestment in vocational education and new jobs, according to reports. Petition drive organizers must collect 172,809 valid signatures from registered voters by the July 5, 2012 petition drive deadline in order to make the ballot.
|Featured campaign quotes:|
|Oklahoma SQ 762 - Support|
| Speaker of the State House Kris Steele
|Oklahoma SQ 762 - Opposition|
| State Representative Jason Murphey
Minnesota Supreme Court expedites Voter ID Amendment case: The Minnesota Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for a case involving the Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment for July 17. The court is speeding up the process for reaching a ruling so that the ballot can be modified before the November election, if necessary.
Polls released for North Dakota measures: An early-June 2012 poll by Mason-Dixon revealed that 70% of those polled would vote against North Dakota Measure 2, 21% would vote for it, and 9% were undecided. A total of 404 likely primary voters were polled. The margin of error was +/-5%.
Final arguments made against the Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum: Supporters of Maryland's Dream Act made their last arguments before the Maryland Supreme Court before the court's summer recess. It is unclear how soon the court may rule on the subject, but reportedly, both sides expect the court to uphold a lower court's ruling and keep the measure on the ballot.
|Proposals with recent activity|
SPOTLIGHT:North Dakota residents to decide on local issues
Residents in select North Dakota areas will also have local issues to decide on today in addition to the four statewide issues on the ballot.
Residents in Griggs County will vote on a $3.1 million bond measure, which seeks to pay for renovations for the county courthouse. A similar measure was voted down last November, which was for $4.7 million. However, officials scaled down the project in the hopes that residents would approve the lower rate this time around.
The building is reportedly considered a historical landmark that needs upgrades, such as handicap accessibility and heating and cooling system repairs. Mold and other health-related issues have also allegedly been a constant problem, which have forced departments to move out of the building. A federal grant was given to the county to help restore the building, allowing for the lower bond rate. For this measure to be approved by voters, it will need a 60% approval.
Other issues in Griggs county include an increased sales tax in Finley and an addition to the library levy by a rate of 5 mills in Mayville.
In Mountrail County, a measure to expand the county commission board from three members to five will be decided today.
The measure was placed on the ballot through a successful petition drive, which collected more than the 588 valid signatures needed for approval. Proponents of the measure note that the workload of the commission has continued to increase and having two additional members would help ease the burden on the other members. On the other hand, opponents claim that a larger government is not in the public's best interest. If the measure is approved, the county would have to be redistricted.
BALLOT LAW UPDATE
ND tax opponents lose case: On June 7, a lawsuit against several public officials was unanimously rejected by the North Dakota Supreme Court. The plaintiffs argued that the public officials have been misleading voters about Measure 2, the property tax elimination amendment. In addition, the plaintiffs argued that the officials used taxpayer dollars to advocate against the measure. North Dakota has criminal statutes prohibiting such actions. However, for this reason, the state Supreme Court held that prosecutors, rather than the plaintiffs, are responsible for enforcing the restriction.
Lawsuit filed against CA red-light cam ban: Steve Flynn, a Murrieta resident instrumental in establishing the city's red-light camera program, has filed suit against a local ballot measure that seeks to eliminate the cameras. Flynn contends that regulating traffic is a "statewide concern" and, thus, outside the purview of the local initiative process. In 2011, a number of Washington measures were rejected on similar grounds.
- Star Tribune "Minnesota Supreme Court to Rule on Voter ID Ballot Question," June 8, 2012
- KFYR-TV "Primary Election Poll: Measures 2 and 4," June 11, 2012
- Washington Post "Immigrant tuition referendum in hands of Maryland high court," June 12, 2012
- Grand Forks Herald, "Few choices await voters on local ballots," June 10, 2012
- Minot Daily News, "Mountrail measure would increase size of county board," June 3, 2012
- NECN.com, "ND Supreme Court rejects property tax lawsuit," June 7, 2012
- The Californian, "MURRIETA: Suit challenges red-light camera ballot initiative," June 12, 2012