The Tuesday Count: in the home stretch - petition drives come to a close for 2011

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August 2, 2011

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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

The 2011 ballot measure count is beginning to snowball with a little over three months until the November 2011 elections. An initiative in Washington was added to the count this week, and if indications from various reports are correct, another certification could pop up soon in Colorado. For now, though, the measure count increases by one to 28 statewide questions in 7 states.

Initiative 1183 bumped the number of Washington certified measures from three to four. The initiative was certified by the Washington Secretary of State after enough signatures were deemed valid. The measure calls for closing state liquor stores and would allow state licensing of private parties. Privately owned stores would be required to have at least 10,000 square feet of retail space to sell and distribute liquor.

Although the proposed initiative is similar to a 2010 ballot measure effort - Initiative 1100, the 2011 proposal does include some differences. According to reports, the new initiative calls for a 17 percent fee from retailers on all liquor sales, as well as other fees from distributors.

The Colorado petition drive deadline of August 1 came and went, with only one initiative effort filing signatures. The initiative, a proposed tax increase measure introduced by a state lawmaker, was the only measure eligible for the 2011 ballot. When contacted on July 27, the Colorado Secretary of State's office stated that Senator Rollie Heath verbally committed to submitting signatures for the proposal by the August 1 deadline. Heath didn't disappoint.

On the day of the deadline, Heath and supporters submitted 142,160 signatures, more than the 86,105 valid signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot. The Secretary of State must now check signatures in order to deem the initiative qualified for ballot access. The measure would increase the state income and sales tax. Specifically, it would increase the income tax to 5 percent (currently 4.63 percent) and the sales tax to 3 percent (currently 2.9 percent). The measure is expected to make the ballot, according to reports.

The 2011 ballot measure count could have taken a hit this past week, due to an ongoing lawsuit in Mississippi. However, the eminent domain measure was cleared for a vote on July 29, 2011 when Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd ruled that the initiative could stay on the ballot.

Kidd ruled that the initiative did not conflict with the Mississippi Constitution's Bill of Rights. According to Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour, who is against eminent domain restrictions, the ruling could be appealed in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The lawsuit was filed on June 5, 2011 against the Mississippi Secretary of State's office by Leland Speed, a Mississippi businessman who is the leader of the Mississippi Development Authority. However, Speed stated that he filed the lawsuit as a private citizen.

Proposals with recent activity

According to Speed, “This initiative will hurt opportunities for thousands of Mississippians for better jobs and for better lives." Specifically, the lawsuit challenged that the measure was unconstitutional. Speed argued that it attempted to amend the state's Bill of Rights, which he said cannot be changed by initiative.

In 2012 news, the North Carolina Legislature is considering three proposed constitutional amendments for voters to decide on next year. The three amendments deal with the following: establishing term limits of legislators to two terms, eminent domain restrictions and reorganizing the State Board of Education. The legislature plans to meet in September 2011, where those amendments could be considered.[1]

Section 4 of Article XIII of the North Carolina Constitution says that a legislatively-referred amendments can go on the ballot if approved by a 60% vote of each house of the legislature.


SPOTLIGHT: Local elections being today in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio
Three states - Michigan, Missouri and Ohio - are conducting local elections today, August 2.

Michigan has listed a total of 15 counties that have provided online information on their local elections. All of the issues being voted on are tax or bond questions, 31 total measures are listed. Of those, 7 are school bond or tax issues and the other 24 are city or county levy and bond issues.

At least one notable issue will appear on the ballot in Michigan - Troy City Library Levy Increase measure. Both opposition and support have come out strong during the length of the ballot measure; significantly opposition stated that closing the library would mean that they would be able to burn the books.

Missouri posted less information on their website about today's local elections; only 7 counties have posted information. Six measures total will be voted on, 2 of those measures are school issues. The other measures include various tax issues and a sewer bond measure.

Ohio has a total 15 counties listed with online election information. Though fewer measures than Michigan, a total of 26 measures are listed on the ballots. Nineteen of them deal with school bond and tax issues. Many of the school measures are repeated tries by the different districts, hoping voters will change their minds and approve the different school projects. The remaining 7 measures deal with city and district property taxes and one rezoning question.

Results to these elections will be posted as soon as results are given by the counties!

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Of citizen initiatives, what are the two political topics that will be found on the 2011 ballot in the state of Ohio?
Click to find out!
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A new Ballot Law Update will be released tomorrow. Here's a preview...

Bill updates: On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown (D) vetoed the controversial SB 168. The bill was intended to curtail fraud by banning pay-per-signature. As evidence of the extent of initiative fraud, Secretary of State Debra Bowen testified that there were 33 convictions for petition fraud between 1994 and 2010. However, opponents of the bill have challenged these findings. The Citizens in Charge Foundation published a report which found that of the 19 records extant, five were not related to initiative petition fraud/forgery. In addition, CICF found that most of the convictions occurred in the 90s. Since 2001, there have only been 5 convictions for initiative petition fraud (not counting the 5 cases excluded by CICF).[2]

Regardless of the debate on the merits of the bill, Gov. Brown may have had more practical motives for his veto. Some have speculated that Brown will back an initiated measure to increase taxes, a measure that could have become more expensive under Senate Bill 168.[3]

Click here for the last Ballot Law Update report!

See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard