The Tuesday Count: Tax initiative triplets make the ballot in the Golden State

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June 26, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

The avalanche of ballot measures that we've seen in the past few weeks seems to have slowed down to a glacial pace. Only three measures were placed on the ballot since the last Tuesday Count report, with all coming from the west coast state of California. All three of those measures related to taxes, and all three were a trio of citizen initiatives.

When all was said and done, the 2012 ballot measure count inched up to 134 ballot measures in 34 states.

The Golden State has seen a cornucopia of ballot initiatives proposed in 2012, and out of the 13 ballot propositions that have been or will be placed on the ballot this year, 12 have been successfully proposed by state residents, including the newly-added trio of tax measures. Only one was sent to the ballot by the state legislature.

The three that made the ballot this past week are sure to create an abundance of debates leading up to November, given that all three have a prominent figure behind them.

Starting off with Initiative #11-0080, the proposed state statute is primarily financially supported by Thomas Steyer, the founder and co-senior managing partner of Farallon Capital Management. The measure would require multi-state businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in the state.

In addition, the proposition would repeal an existing law that gives multi-state businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California.

The measure required 504,760 valid signatures since it is an initiated state statute.

Another initiated state statute that obtained 504,760 valid signatures to make the ballot was Initiative #11-0100, proposed by Pasadena-based attorney Molly Munger. The ballot item would bump state income tax rates for most Californians, resulting in increased state revenues of about $10 billion a year.

The state income tax rise would end after 12 years, unless voters reauthorize it.

The last of the three tax-related measures that landed on the ballot was an initiated constitutional amendment, which required 807,615 valid signatures. Initiative #12-0009 would raise California’s sales tax to 7.5% from 7.25%, a 3.45% percentage increase over current law. Also, it would create three new high-income tax brackets for taxpayers with taxable incomes exceeding $250,000, $300,000, and $500,000. This increased tax would be in effect for 7 years.

Read more provisions of this proposed tax increase here. The newly-certified state question is a merger of two previously competing initiatives; the "Millionaire's Tax" and California Governor Jerry Brown's Tax Increase Initiative.

Citizen-initiated ballot measures dominated the headlines in another state as well. Friday, June 22, was the petition drive deadline for Montana initiative efforts, meaning petition signatures must have been filed with county clerks by the end of the business day. According to the Montana Secretary of State's website, all measures filed signatures, but no official word has been released about how many were filed by each effort.

Reports have stated that at least one measure does seem to have enough signatures to make the ballot. That measure, a corporate contributions initiative, would determine state policy on prohibiting corporate contributions and expenditures in Montana elections.

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.[1]

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...[1]

There were five measures circulating around the state leading up to the deadline and all but one of them were initiated constitutional amendments. This means that signature requirements were not the same for each one; proposed constitutional amendments required 48,673 valid signatures and the single initiated state statute required 24,337.

Updates will be given as more information is released by the Montana Secretary of State's office.

Quick hits

Signatures submitted for Michigan Casino Gaming Amendment: On Tuesday, June 26, Citizens for More Michigan Jobs announced that it has submitted 509,777 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State in an attempt to qualify an amendment authorizing eight new casinos for the November ballot. To place the proposal on the ballot, 322,609 of the names turned in would need to be declared valid by the Secretary of State. Supporters have until July 9 to submit any additional signed petitions.[2]

Petition for North Dakota Smoking Ban Initiative approved by Secretary of State: On June 22 the North Dakota Secretary of State approved circulation for a petition for a citizen-initiated state statute proposing a ban on smoking in all indoor workplaces. The measure is being sponsored by Smoke-Free North Dakota.[3]

Poll released shows support for Massachusetts "Death with Dignity" Initiative: According to a late-May poll taken by both Western New England University and of 504 likely voters, 60% support the measure, 29% oppose the measure, and 11% remain undecided. The survey had a margin of error of +/-4.4 percentage points.[4]

Proposals with recent activity


Liechtenstein Prince faces referendum on veto powers

On Sunday, July 1, residents in the principality of Liechtenstein will get the chance to vote on the Prince's right to veto, or overturn, referendum results.

A pro-democracy group collected the needed signatures to put the issue to a vote, but there has been strong resistance to the proposal, with opponents saying democracy would hurt the principality and lead to financial ruin. There are only 36,000 residents in the principality and most do not want to be seen as against the ruling power, according to reports.[5]

Opponents to the measure have noted that the Prince brings stability and without him, chaos would ensue. Though the Prince has other executive powers, he has rarely used them, say opponents. The referendum was triggered by supporters of an abortion proposal which was voted on in September 2011. The Prince had promised that if the proposal to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy was approved, he would veto the results and make the vote void. In the end the abortion measure was defeated, but proponents argued that the fear of the veto caused more people to reject it even though they might have supported it initially.[5]

Some have noted a compromise may occur if the July 1 measure is defeated, which would not allow royals to speak out on an issue until after the vote so that their opinions would not sway an election. According to reports, most would agree that the relationship between the people and royal family is a symbiosis that neither want to disrupt.[5]

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.

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California considering bill requiring ballot initiatives to be translated: A new bill, SB 1233, is being considered by the state Assembly Appropriations Committee. If approved, the bill would require that all ballot initiatives and petitions be issued for circulation in all languages covered by the Federal Voting Rights Act by the Attorney General. The bill is sponsored by Senator Alex Padilla.[6]

State appeals decertification of Montana Taxpayer Dividend Measure: On Friday, June 22, the state appealed the case to the Montana Supreme Court. Attorney General Steve Bullock, representing the state in the case, argued that voters should be allowed to vote on the ballot measure before a court decides on whether it is legal or not.[7] The measure was previously stricken from the ballot by District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock who ruled that the measure is an unconstitutional delegation of power by the Legislature to an employee.[8]

A new update will be released on June 27. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard