Ballotpedia's 2012 Regional Ballot Measure Breakdown Series: Midwest region

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October 31, 2012

Edited by Al Ortiz and Eric Veram

Editor's note:This is the fourth in a seven part series. The Regional Breakdown series will be published every Wednesday and Friday leading up to the November 6 general election.

Midwest region, UNITED STATES:

Originally started in 2010, when 184 measures graced statewide ballots in 38 states, the breakdown series reviews ballot measures by region. This year, there are 188 ballot measures on the ballot in 38 states, with 176 of those measures set to be decided on November 6 in 38 states.

Ballotpedia divided the nation up into six regions in 2012: Northwest, Southwest, South Central, Midwest, Northeast and Southeast. In each report you will find what measures are on your state's ballot, and what proposed amendments or statutes your surrounding area will vote on, which may or may not have an impact on future ballots in your state or area.

Below is a breakdown of how many statewide measures are on the ballot in the South Central and how that compares to 2008 and 2010, followed by summaries of each state.

Last Regional Breakdown: South Central region
Next Regional Breakdown - Southeast region


State Number of measures in 2008 Number of measures in 2010 Number of measures in 2012
Illinois 1 1 1
Michigan 2 2 6
Minnesota 1 0 2
North Dakota 5 2 9
Totals: 9 5 18



Though voters in Illinois may see a number of local measures on their ballot this year, there is only one citizens statewide will weigh in on. That measure is the Illinois Public Pension Amendment.

This measure was passed to voters by the legislature on May 3, 2012, as House Joint Resolution 49. If passed, the measure would require a three-fifths approval by the General Assembly, city councils, and school districts that wish to increase the pension benefits of their employees. Supporters claim that requiring a three-fifths approval for pension changes will help in curbing future unfunded benefits increases. Opponents argue that the measure is part of a nationwide trend of attacking public employees and say it will make it more difficult for both the employees and the government to bargain when negotiating contracts.

The following are quick facts about Illinois state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 50%

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  • Illinois has only seen two statewide questions on the ballot since 2000.
  • Not a single initiated measure has reached the ballot since 1980.

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • HJRCA 49 - Requires a three-fifths vote from any governing body to change pension benefits for their public employees.

What people are saying

Approveda Argument in support of the measure from the official "Explanation of the Proposed Amendment":

Currently, the public retirement system is not financially stable and is significantly underfunded. A higher vote requirement to enact pension benefit increases will help to maintain fiscal responsibility and make it more difficult to further burden the public retirement system.[1]

Defeatedd Argument in opposition to the measure from the official "Explanation of the Proposed Amendment":

The proposed amendment creates new definitions for the terms "benefit increase," "emolument increase," and "beneficial determination," which are not defined in other statutes or in existing case law. These definitions could generate litigation, resulting in additional costs. There may also be disagreement amongst the governing body on whether a bill, resolution or other action constitutes a "benefit increase," "emolument increase," or "beneficial determination.[1]



Michigan voters will be asked to answer a total of six questions on the statewide ballot this year, all of which are citizen initiatives. The measures include one veto referendum, and five constitutional amendments with subjects ranging from labor issues to whether or not international bridge construction should have to be approved by voters.

The first question voters will see on the list is a referendum, called Proposal 1 on the ballot, asking for public approval of Public Act 4, the law which allows the governor to appoint emergency managers. The law was placed on the ballot by Stand Up for Democracy who call the law a power grab by state politicians. Many opponents see the act as going to far in giving emergency managers increased power and reduced accountability. Supporters of the law, which include Governor Rick Snyder see it as necessary to assist municipalities and school districts swamped with debt.

The second question, and possibly the most contentious of the six, is Proposal 2. If passed, this measure would add the right to collective bargaining for public and private sector employees to the state constitution. Supporters, which include a large number of labor organizations, argue that the measure is necessary to prevent any future "Right-to-Work" legislation from taking affect. Opponents fear that the measure could result in Michigan being less competitive than other states in attracting business due its strengthened labor organizations.

The following are quick facts about Michigan state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 66%

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  • Michigan has seen at least two statewide questions on the ballot every even year since 2000.
  • Michigan's ballot this year will contain more measures than any the state has seen since the start of the century.

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • Proposal 1 - Would expand powers for emergency managers (EMs) and ability of Governor to appoint EMs.
  • Proposal 2 - Would make collective bargaining a right for public and private workers.
  • Proposal 3 - Would mandate that 25% of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2025.
  • Proposal 4 - Would put give home health care providers limited collective bargaining rights.
  • Proposal 5 - Would require increase in state taxes to be approved by 2/3 majority in Legislature or statewide vote.
  • Proposal 6 - Would require voters to approve any new bridge or tunnel from the state to Canada.

What people are saying

Approveda Statement of support for Proposal 1 from Governor Rick Snyder:

Public Act 4 helps financially struggling cities and school districts to get back on track. If the emergency manager law were to go away, debt in those local units of government would continue to pile up, bills would go unpaid, paychecks may not be sent, lights could be turned off, police and fire protection might not be provided, and students would be at risk of not having a school to attend. Michigan needs this law because it helps those communities to efficiently and effectively overcome financial problems and avoid painful long-term solutions, and that is good for all Michiganders.[1]

Defeatedd Argument in opposition to Proposal 1 from the Michigan Forward website:

Public Act 4 of 2011, "The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act" has created elite bureaucrats with absolute power by expanding the role and power of Michigan’s emergency financial managers. This legislation supersedes the previous emergency financial manager policy and court decisions that provide accountability and support democracy. Many municipalities and school districts in Michigan’s urban areas are threatened by the extremes this policy takes in the sign of financial distress.[1]



Despite a large number of proposals from the Minnesota Legislature, only two actually made the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

Amendment 1 follows a nationwide trend of asking voters to place the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in the state constitution. Supports of the measure argue that the amendment is important to protect marriage form being defined by the courts due to possible lawsuits. The point to states like California and Iowa as examples of what they are trying to guard against. Opponents argue that the amendment seeks to deny equal rights to citizens seeking same-sex marriages. Some also oppose the measure on business grounds, saying that it could hurt their ability to attract and retain talented employees.

The other measure on the ballot is Amendment 2, the Voter-ID Amendment. If passed, the amendment would require that all voters in the state show valid photo identification before voting. The amendment would further provide photo identification to eligible voter who did know already posses it at the time of registration. Supporters say that the amendment will not only help protect against voter fraud, but also against the perception of voter fraud, which they say can result in significant damage to public trust. Opponents say the measure could negatively affect certain demographics', especially older citizens', ability to vote because they are less likely to have the required identification or understand the change int eh voting process.

The following are quick facts about Minnesota state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: No
  • Last ballot measure election: 2008
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 100%

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  • Minnesota has only seen two ballot measures since 2000, both were approved.
  • At least seventeen measures were proposed by the Minnesota legislature this year that did not make the ballot.

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • Amendment 1 - Would ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution.
  • Amendment 2 - Would require people to present photo identification to vote.

What people are saying

Approveda State Rep. Steve Drazkowski said the following in support of Amendment 1:

Without the marriage amendment in our constitution, activist judges can substitute their values for those of the people of Minnesota. In fact, a lawsuit to legalize same-sex marriage was heard recently in the Minnesota Court of Appeals. This is exactly what happened in Iowa, Massachusetts and California. Similarly, legislators can redefine marriage without the permission of the people, as several legislators have pledged to do...I strongly supported this legislation during the 2011 session, and when it comes time to cast your ballot a year from now, I’m hopeful you will do the same.[1]

Defeatedd Governor Mark Dayton issued the following statement in opposition to Amendment 1:

I'm here to support those Minnesotans and Americans who want the same rights, freedoms, opportunity, respect, dignity and legal protections and legal opportunities as every other one of their fellow citizens... which is the founding principle of this country![1]

North Dakota

Five questions will appear on the North Dakota ballot this November, with a total of four devoted to either the treatment of animals or the administration of government. The other measure, Measure 4, would enact a statewide smoking ban in all indoor workplaces.

Measure 1 is one of the most interesting measures to appear on a ballot this year. This measure, if passed, would eliminate the state's ability to levy what is known as a poll tax. Currently the state constitution allows the legislature to levy and collect "an annual poll tax of not more than one dollar and fifty cents on every male inhabitant of this state over twenty-one and under fifty years of age, except paupers, idiots, insane persons and Indians not taxed." Though this article has never been invoked by the state was placed in the constitution while it was being drafted during the same era as Southern states were implementing the poll tax to suppress the African-American vote. The measure garnered unanimous approval from the state legislature in being passed to the ballot.

The following are quick facts about North Dakota state ballot measure information:

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 64%

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  • Two citizen initiatives were denied access to the state's ballot this year after thousands of signatures were found to have been fraudulent.
  • North Dakota voters have decided on ballot measures every even year since 2000.

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • Measure 1 - Would revoke the authority for the poll tax and remove the offensive language.
  • Measure 2 - Would require the governor and other executive officials to take an oath of office.
  • Measure 3 - Would block any law which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers.
  • Measure 4 - Would ban smoking in all indoor workplaces.
  • Measure 5 - Would make it a felony to maliciously harm a cat, dog, or horse, with exemptions for people with occupations involving animals.

See also

Ballotpedia News


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.