The Tuesday Count: states solidify ballots, while others face legal challenges

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August 16, 2011

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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

Although summer is winding down, developments in the ballot measure world continue to stay white hot. Ballotpedia's 2011 ballot measure count had a minor update with the addition of a June legislative referral in the state of Louisiana. The count now stands at an even 30 ballot measures.

Elsewhere, South Dakota continues to stay in the forefront of ballot initiative news with both failed and newly introduced proposals. But that's not all. Lawsuits also continue to flood court rooms across the nation.

Unlike the 2011 count, the 2012 certified ballot measure count stood pat this week at 57.

Louisiana ballot measures will take center stage in the October 22, 2011 statewide ballot with a total of five ballot questions, after the retroactive addition of the Patient's Compensation Fund Amendment. The measure authorizes the state legislature to establish a private custodial fund for the use and protection of medical malpractice claimants. Certified for the ballot in June, it will appear as Amendment 3, as the ballot order of the statewide questions has been solidified.

South Dakota continues to make noise, with the certification of a referendum regarding tax revenues for grants for the 2012 ballot. Last year's 2010 ballot also contained a veto referendum, as voters upheld a legislatively-referred smoking ban extension.

Two other veto referendums that were circulating at the same time, according to the South Dakota Secretary of State's website, failed to make the ballot.

However, all is not over in the state, two more initiatives were filed this week. One proposed initiative would change the process of determining the state's electors for the Electoral College, while the other would implement a one-percent sales tax increase that would begin in 2013.

Ballot measure lawsuits have been dominating headlines recently, particularly in Ohio, Maryland and Mississippi.

In Ohio, a challenge to remove the Ohio health care amendment from the ballot was struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court. With the go-ahead given to the measure by the state high court, the measure's place on the ballot seems secure.

Opponents of the Maryland "Dream Act" referendum are challenging petitions in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. According to reports, the lawsuit argues that more than half of the collected petition signatures were collected illegally. The lawsuit was filed on August 1, 2011 by Casa de Maryland and other opponents.

Proposals with recent activity

Finally, down in Mississippi, A three-judge panel with the Mississippi Supreme Court will review the lower court ruling regarding the eminent domain measure slated for the 2011 general election ballot, as justices agreed to expedite an appeal.

The state high court will review a previous ruling by Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd stated the initiative did not conflict with the Mississippi Constitution's Bill of Rights, as challenged in the lawsuit. The court has not yet scheduled oral arguments for the case.

In other news, Washington ballot measures have been gaining plenty of attention recently. Read more about the State of Washington Office of Financial Management's (OFM) fiscal predictions regarding the three initiatives on the ballot this year.


SPOTLIGHT:Local elections today in Washington
Today, August 16 marks the last day for voters to turn in their ballots for this primary election. This election was the first in Washington to be entirely done via mail in ballots only. Pierce County had been the last of the counties to initiate mail in ballots in the state. No state races are being decided, just local issues across the state.[1]

The most significant local issue would be the Seattle tunnel question which is being voted on in King County. Though only one part of the proposed tunnel ordinance is being voted on, many still see the question as a referendum on the tunnel itself and if residents want this project to move forward. Threats from both sides have been heard throughout the campaign, notable those in favor of the tunnel commenting that the vote will not stop the tunnel because the state has already given the go ahead. Opponents of the tunnel though have been trying to find a better solution for replacing the viaduct.

There will be a total of 66 measures voted on in various areas, notably there will be only three issues on the ballot that asks residents about school levies. The rest of the measures deal with a variety of issues, district, city and county taxes, charter amendments and changing the elected form of government.

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How many initiatives for the 2012 ballot were filed by August 3 in Massachusetts?
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Senate Bill 448 Update: On Monday, lawmakers in the California State Assembly passed Senate Bill 448. The bill would create a badge requirements for initiative petition circulators. Known as "scarlet letter laws" to opponents, such requirements mandate that paid petition circulators wear badges identifying themselves as paid workers. Prior to final passage, the Assembly amended the bill, removing a clause that also required the badges to indicate whether or not the circulator is registered to vote. The amendment also removed the requirement that volunteer circulators wear identifying badges.
The Assembly approved the amended version 50-27. The bill now moves to the California State Senate for concurrence. Last week Governor Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a ban on paying petitioners by the signature. It remains to be seen whether Brown will veto SB 448 as well.[2]

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See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard