By Josh Altic
This edition of the Ballot Law Update features a year-end summary of legislation proposed in 2014 concerning laws governing the powers of initiative, referendum and recall. Of the 113 bills Ballotpedia tracked, 13 were approved in 5 states, while three were carried over to next year, and 97 were defeated. Some bills were introduced to establish or strengthen the powers of initiative, referendum and recall, while many others sought to restrict, direct, limit or decrease direct democracy.
This report also highlights some 2014 lawsuits that could have an impact on ballot law and lists all court cases filed against 2014 statewide ballot measures and select local measures.
Ballot measure legislation breaking news
Edited by Ryan Byrne
Voters in Chicago, Illinois, are not just voting for mayoral and city council candidates today, but on three citywide advisory referendums and a few ward-specific questions. While one of the non-binding questions focuses on campaign finance reform in Chicago, a binding initiative on the same topic was recently confirmed as having more than enough signatures to make the ballot in Maine.
Maine "Clean Elections" initiative one step closer to the ballot:
Following a successful petition drive, the Maine "Clean Elections" Initiative, an indirect initiated state statute, now goes to the Maine Legislature. About 80,000 valid signatures were collected, reported Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D), roughly 18,900 more than the 61,123 required signatures. Legislators will now have the opportunity to adopt the initiative into law and avoid an election on the issue, to pass an alternative measure to compete with the initiative, or to do nothing. The latter option would see the initiative placed on the ballot alone in the election on November 3, 2015.
The initiative is sponsored by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, a group contending that the Maine Clean Elections Act needs to be strengthened. The original Maine Clean Elections Act came into law via a 1996 initiative. The new proposed ballot measure would allow candidates to qualify for supplemental funds, close corporate tax loopholes to fund the program, require disclaimers in political advertising, require disclosures regarding gubernatorial inaugurations and transitions, and raise fines and penalties of violations. Supporters believe the initiative would engender a fairer playing field for candidates who can't, or refuse to, seek large private contributions and decrease the influence of moneyed interests in elections.
No other initiatives submitted signatures to appear on the 2015 ballot in Maine. While proponents of the Ranked Choice Voting Initiative had enough unverified signatures, the sponsoring committee decided to aim for the 2016 ballot instead.