Ballot Law Update: 2012 Year in Review

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December 26, 2012

Ballot law
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State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
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By Eric Veram

In 2012, 68 laws were proposed in 21 states affecting the initiative and referendum process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. For comparison, a total of 254 law were proposed in 41 states during 2011.[1]

Due to the fact that most state legislative sessions end in early 2012, there is not nearly as much time for significant legislative events to take place as there is earlier in the election cycle. This explains why only about one-fourth of the number of I & R related legislation observed in 2011 was proposed in 2012. Of the 68 bills proposed only 10 were approved, with most of the rest either being defeated or dying in committee as sessions ended. Notably, however, 8 bills before the New Jersey legislature are being carried over to 2013.

The Ballot Law Update is released on the last Wednesday of each month. The first update for 2013 will be released on January 30, 2013. Stay tuned to the Tuesday Count for weekly ballot law news.

Recent changes

Changes to Michigan's recall process approved: On Friday, December 14, 2012, the Republican controlled Michigan legislature approved changes to state laws making it more difficult to recall lawmakers, the governor, and local officials. On major change is that the time to collect recall signatures is shortened from 90 days to 60 days. Another is that officials subject to a recall election would have opponents run against them, rather than a simple 'yes' or 'no' vote. Democrats in the legislature have criticized the move saying that it is in response to public protests following the signing of "right-to-work" legislation in the state.[2]

Ballot Law Update: 2012 Year in Review

Major legal decisions in 2012

Major legal changes in 2012

See also: All approved and defeated bills in 2012

New laws

  • Michigan House Bill 6060: Tightens the requirements for initating recalls of elected officials and overall making it more difficult to bring a recall election.
  • South Dakota House Bill 1186 (2012): Prohibits registered sex offenders from circulating petitions in any place frequented by the public or door to door on private property.
  • California AB 1499: Alters the appearance of ballot items so that all proposed constitutional amendments and bond measures, whether proposed by the legislative referrals or by citizen initiatives, would now appear near the top of statewide ballots.[13] The bill was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on June 27, 2012 and a lawsuit against it was filed shortly after.[14] The bill is similar to SB 1039

See also