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The Tuesday Count: days for legislative sessions are numbered
By Bailey Ludlam
Petition drive deadlines are still a ways out in most states, but legislative sessions for 2011 are numbered. Of the states in session in 2011, an estimated 11 states have already ended for the year. Another 8 states - Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota and Washington - are expected to end later this month. The close of the sessions marks the end of legislative-referrals to the upcoming 2011 ballot. Additionally, most proposed 2012 measures will be put on hold if they are not voted on at the conclusion of the sessions.
According to the Tuesday Count ballots for 2011 remain unchanged, at six ballot questions in three states. Ballots for 2012, however, continue to fluctuate. This week, the Tuesday Count reports a total of 15 certified questions in nine states.
With the end of legislative sessions just around the corner, lawmakers are finalizing their decisions on proposed measures. This week, a Missouri House committee killed a proposed measure to decrease the number of representatives in the House from 163 to 103.
In Georgia, several issues remain on the table, including 4 proposed constitutional amendments. In order to qualify a measure for the statewide ballot, the proposal requires approval on a two-thirds vote by both the State House and State Senate. A list of the proposed measures can be viewed here.
Oklahoma's legislative session doesn't end until late May. In the last week, State Senator Rob Johnson and State Representative Leslie Osborn introduced a measure to ban affirmative action programs in the state. According to reports, the measure would prohibit special treatment based on race or sex in public employment, education or contracts. In Arizona, voters cast their ballots on a similar measure - Arizona Civil Rights Amendment, Proposition 107 (2010). The measure was approved by 59.5%.
- Colorado Revenue System Amendment (2011) - the proposed initiated constitutional amendment would alter the state's revenue system in order to support a "modern economy," according to supporters.
- Florida Property Tax Amendment (2012) - the proposed amendment would prohibit increases in the assessed value of homestead property if the fair market value of the property decreases; reduces the limitation on annual assessment increases to non-homestead property; and provides an additional homestead exemption.
- Pennsylvania General Assembly Amendment (2012) - the proposed measure would reduce the size of the General Assembly.
- Utah Attorney General by Appointment Question (2012) - the measure would allow the Governor of Utah to appoint the Utah Attorney General. Under current law, the state attorney general is chosen by the voters.
SPOTLIGHT:Seattle officials debate tunnel referendum
Supporters of a Viaduct Tunnel Replacement Question in Seattle, Washington have collected sufficient valid signatures to qualify for the local ballot but now remain pending a court ruling. Brought to court by the City Attorney, the city argues that the tunnel is not subject to a referendum. Specifically, the city argues that the tunnel is an administrative issue. The proposed referendum is supported by a group called Protect Seattle Now. According to the group, the tunnel would likely to lead to a local tax increase and is not environmentally friendly.
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