The Tuesday Count: Texas thrusts 2011's ballot in to the double digits
Edited by Bailey Ludlam
There are finally some signs of life in the 2011 ballot measure count, as the regular Texas legislative session ended Tuesday, May 31, sending 10 certified measures to the November 8, 2011 general election ballot. Ballotpedia will continue to refresh the list of those certified measures as more information continues to develop. This puts 2011's total at 16 ballot questions on 4 statewide ballots.
There is still work to be done in the Lone Star State, however. This year, the number of days state lawmakers will convene may be more than usual, as a special session will be held following the regular session. This means that there is a possibility that more proposals may make the 2011 ballot. Keep an eye out for Ballotpedia's updates on these events.
Not to be outdone, 2012 has yet again bumped up it's total in the 2012 ballot measure count, with four measures being injected into the ballot measure list for that year.
In Nevada, a special tax district ban measure has been approved for ballot placement as a competing question to the sports arena initiative. This ban essentially prohibits what the sports arena initiative proposes to do: impose a 0.9 cent sales tax in a taxing district near the proposed 20,000 seat arena. The revenue would finance bonds to construct the arena.
According to reports, the proposal that receives the most votes in the 2012 general election would win. However, if neither measure receives 50 percent of the vote, both would be considered rejected by voters.
In North Dakota, Measure 3, the formal name of the statewide question, will be decided by voters, with the initiated constitutional amendment stating that a person's right to act or refuse due to a religious belief may not be burdened by the government unless the government proves it has a "compelling interest" in regulating behavior.
Wyoming added one more measure to the statewide list, which would allow district court commissioners to act even if the district court judge is present and even if the district court judge could properly hear the case.
Maryland is the newcomer in the group of states sending proposals to the voters, as state legislature proposed a constitutional amendment that would require judges of the Orphans' Court for Prince George's County to have been admitted to practice law in Maryland and be in good standing with the Maryland Bar. The question is similar to that of a Maryland 2010 question that asked the same, but dealt with the Orphans' Court for Baltimore City.
These measures bring the 2012 count to a total of 39 ballot measures in 17 statewide ballots.
Finally, June 1 marks the petition drive deadline for the three education reform veto referenda proposals that are currently circulating in Idaho. Ballotpedia will be reporting on the initiative efforts as signatures are filed. You can also read more about the laws the veto referenda are targeting here.
- California Electoral College Reform Act (2012) - it will change the way California allocates its presidential Electoral College votes. Currently, the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all 55 of California's electoral college votes. The winner-take-all system would be replaced with one that awards 53 of the state’s 55 electoral votes individually to whichever presidential candidate gets the most votes in each congressional district. The proposed initiated state statute's petition circulation period ends on July 5, 2011.
- Minnesota Corporate Personhood Amendment (2012) - the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment would define the term "person" as "natural person" wherever it appears in the Minnesota Constitution, excluding corporations as persons.
- Washington Marijuana Criminal Penalties, Initiative 1149 (2012) - would remove existing state civil and criminal penalties regarding marijuana. According to reports, although the measure was filed in 2011, supporters aim to refer the measure to the 2012 ballot.
SPOTLIGHT: Red light camera measures come to a screeching halt
The red light camera issue in Washington has been heating up as multiple city residents attempt to get the right to vote on if these cameras should be allowed. In the city of Longview, signatures were turned in but the City Council chose to just make an advisory vote in November on the issue rather than allow for a binding referendum as required by state law. Petitioners noted that they will be filing a lawsuit against the city on Tuesday May 31, stating that the Council was legally obliged to send the signatures to the county for verification and allow a binding vote for residents. "Initiative king" Tim Eyman is also supporting the lawsuit, stating that it was completely illegal for the council to decide on their own to just allow an advisory vote and not follow the law of the state. The Washington Supreme Court has also been asked to weigh in on the issue, they had issued a statement before that said the cities may be infringing on the initiative rights of the people by not allowing these votes to proceed. Other cities in Washington - Bellingham, Wenatchee, Redmond and Monroe - all have petitions pending to allow for votes on red light cameras in their respective cities.
A previous red light camera vote in Mukilteo is also facing opposition. The city council decided not to implement the results of the vote, 71 percent of residents were against red light cameras being put up in the city. The group who petitioned for the vote is now asking the State Supreme Court to rule on the validity of the measure, the result of the ruling could have a broader impact on the other pending red light issues throughout the state.
BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Court actions concerning I&R: More than 30 Colorado officials from both political parties have filed suit in federal court, challenging the state's almost 20-year-old Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). The ballot measure, passed in 1992, requires voter approval for tax/revenue increases that exceed a certain limit. This limit is variable and calculated by considering increases in population and the rate of inflation. Opponents charge that the measure is unconstitutionally restrictive since it "deprives the state and its citizens of effective representative democracy." Proponents of the bill expressed strong skepticism about the lawsuit's prospects.
Approved Bills: Florida House Bill 1355 contains extensive modifications to Florida's election law. With respect to initiative and referendum, the bill cuts the signature gathering period from 4 to 2 years. It also shortens the window for challenging legislatively-referred ballot questions. Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.
A Virginia measure in 2010 dealt with what kind of tax exemption for veterans? Click here to test your ballot knowledge!
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