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

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October 24, 2012

Edited by Al Ortiz

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

Southwest Region, UNITED STATES: The nation is one more week closer to the big day of November 6, 2012, when the general election will take place. Until that time winds down to the big day, every piece of information and every detail will count for voters to inform themselves before going to the polls.

In order for voters to get informed about statewide issues, found at the very bottom of their ballots, Ballotpedia continues this year's regional ballot measure breakdown series, highlighting the southwest region of the country.

Originally started in 2010, when 188 measures graced statewide ballots in 38 states, the breakdown series reviews ballot measures by region. This year, there are 186 ballot measures on the ballot in 38 states, with 176 of those measures set to be decided on November 6 in 37 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.

The states that Ballotpedia has included in the Southwest region are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

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

Last week's Regional Breakdown: Northwest ballot measures
Next week's Regional Breakdown - South Central ballot measures: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma

Overview

BallotpediaSouthwest.png
State Number of measures in 2008 Number of measures in 2010 Number of measures in 2012
Arizona 8 11 9
California 21 14 11
Colorado 14 9 3
Hawaii 2 2 2
Nevada 4 4 1
New Mexico 9 9 8
Utah 5 4 2
Totals: 63 53 36

Arizona

Arizona voters are no strangers to controversy when it comes to ballot measures on the statewide ballot. In 2010, residents decided to approve Proposition 100, which temporarily raised the state sales tax. The highly scrutinized measure is set to expire soon, but not unless voters approve this year's Proposition 204, which would renew the 2010 voter-approved one-cent sales tax to provide funding for education for students in the state who meet certain requirements, scholarships for college students and reinvestment in vocational education and new jobs, according to reports.

Another highly debated measure set to be placed before voters is Proposition 121, which would implement a top-two style open primary system. In a top-two open primary, candidates for a government position run on the same primary ballot regardless of party affiliation. All registered voters are then able to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. The two candidates with the most votes are then placed on the November general election ballot, regardless of party affiliation.

Proposition 120 is quickly gathering both supporters and opponents in the state, as the measure tackles the issue of state resources, and exactly who they belong to. The measure would declare state sovereignty over the state's natural resources based on the argument of "equal footing." Natural resources would include land, air, water, minerals and wildlife. According to reports, this would also include the Grand Canyon.

In all, Arizonians have nine statewide ballot measures to get informed about this fall.

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

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
Arizona
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 54%

Ballot measure notes:Pencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
Arizona
  • Proposition 114 - Prohibit crime victims from being subject to a claim for damages for causing harm to a person if that person is killed or injured when engaging in, or fleeing after, a felony crime.
  • Proposition 115 - Would increase the terms of judges from six to eight years and the retirement age from 70 to 75, among other multiple provisions.
  • Proposition 116 - Would give businesses in the state a break on property taxes on newly acquired business equipment.
  • Proposition 117 - Would limit the annual growth in the limited property value of locally assessed properties.
  • Proposition 118 - Would mandate that the annual distribution from the Permanent Fund be 2.5 percent of the average monthly market values of the fund for the immediately preceding five calendar years.
  • Proposition 119 - Authorizes the Arizona Legislature to enact a process to exchange trust land if the exchange is related to protecting military installations and managing lands.
  • Proposition 120 - Would declare state sovereignty over the state's natural resources based on the argument of "equal footing."
  • Proposition 121 - Would implement a top-two style open primary system.
  • Proposition 204 - Would renew a 2010 voter-approved one-cent sales tax to provide funding for education for students in the state who meet certain requirements.

What people are saying

Approveda Supporter of Arizona Proposition 121 Paul Johnson, former Mayor of Phoenix:

The greatest incentive politicians have is to be elected. Too many politicians seeking to win their partisan primary simply do so by demonizing the other party. But under Prop. 121, politicians would have to face all voters. This creates an incentive to reach out to all voters, and work together regardless of party once they are elected[1]

Defeatedd Opponent of Arizona Proposition 121 Robert Robb, Arizona Republic columnist:

...the two-top primary will probably prove another disappointing attempt to change election outcomes by changing the rules. There's really no substitute for better candidates running better campaigns.[1]

California

The Golden State is a whopper of a ballot measure state, year in and year out, as each ballot measure election contains a plethora of statewide issues for residents to chime in on. This year, California voters have decided on two ballot measures on the primary election ballot. Coming up in November, though, voters get to decide on 11 more propositions.

Although many are being talked about on the golden coast, three triplet tax measures are stealing the silver screen of California politics. The three tax measures are Proposition 30, Proposition 38, and Proposition 39.

Proposition 30 was introduced and circulated by California Governor Jerry Brown, who proposes to raise California’s sales tax to 7.5% from 7.25%, a 3.45% percentage increase over current law. Proposition 38, brought into the spotlight by Molly Munger, would increase the state income tax rates for most Californians which would end after 12 years, unless voters reauthorize it. Proposition 39, primarily backed by Thomas Steyer, would require out-of-state businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California.

However, taxes isn't the only issue stirring up a whirlwind of debate in the state, as the state death penalty and genetically engineer food are also topics that can be found on the November 6 general election ballot. More controversial topics on the California ballot can be found here.

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

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
California
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 52%

Ballot measure notes:Pencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
California
  • Proposition 30 - Raises California’s sales tax to 7.5% from 7.25%, a 3.45% percentage increase over current law.
  • Proposition 31 - Establishes a two-year state budget cycle.
  • Proposition 32 - Bans both corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates, among other provisions.
  • Proposition 33 - Allows insurers to offer discounts to new customers who can prove they were continuously covered by any licensed auto insurance company over the previous five years.
  • Proposition 34 - Repeals the death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
  • Proposition 35 - Increases prison terms for human traffickers, among other provisions.
  • Proposition 36 - Revises the three strikes law to impose life sentence only when the new felony conviction is "serious or violent."
  • Proposition 37 - Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
  • Proposition 38 - Increases state income tax rates for most Californians.
  • Proposition 39 - Requires out-of-state businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California.
  • Proposition 40 - An attempt to use California's veto referendum process to nullify the California State Senate redistricting plan approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

What people are saying

Approveda Arguments in favor of Proposition 30 in the California Voter Guide:

The greatest incentive politicians have is to be elected. Too many politicians seeking to win their partisan primary simply do so by demonizing the other party. But under Prop. 121, politicians would have to face all voters. This creates an incentive to reach out to all voters, and work together regardless of party once they are elected[1]

Defeatedd Arguments in opposition of Proposition 30 in the California Voter Guide:

The Governor, politicians and special interests behind Proposition 30 threaten voters. They say 'vote for our massive tax increase or we'll take it out on schools,' but at the same time, they refuse to reform the education or pension systems to save money.[1]

Colorado

Colorado voters will decide an important ballot measure this year; Amendment 64, on the November 6, 2012 ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment, which would legalize recreational marijuana in the state. The measure will ask whether or not to legalize the use and possession of, at most, an ounce of marijuana for residents who are 21 and older. President Barack Obama's and Republican candidate Mitt Romney's stance regarding marijuana legalization, regulation and taxation like alcohol is expected to influence the young voter population in Colorado, according to reports.

In 2006, 59% of Colorado voters rejected Amendment 44, which would have legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for those 21 or over. Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado under the terms of a bill signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter, but some marijuana activists say that the time is right to expand the legality of marijuana to cover recreational use also. Opponents of the measure state that an expansion of marijuana legalization could lead to legal and government problems.

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

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
Colorado
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 37%

Ballot measure notes:Pencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • Amendment 64 - Would legalize the use and possession of, at most, an ounce of marijuana for residents who are 21 and older.
  • Amendment 65 - Urges the state to support tweaks in state policy on limiting corporate contributions and expenditures in state and national elections.
  • Amendment S - Would change aspects to the state personnel hiring system.

What people are saying

Approveda Amendment 64 supporter Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado:

I think people in this state have come to understand that marijuana is not the dangerous substance that law enforcement and the federal government have made it out to be.[1]

Defeatedd Amendment 64 opponent Amie Baca-Oehlert, vice president of the Colorado Education Association:

"Drugs and kids don't mix. As an educator and as a parent, I am not comfortable supporting something that I know is harmful to children," Baca-Oehlert said. "Marijuana has impacts, negative impacts, on attention span, brain development, all of these things that impact learning.[1]

Nevada

There is only one ballot measure on the Nevada ballot this year, with Question 1 asking voters whether or not to provide that the Nevada Legislature may convene a special legislative session upon a petition signed by two-thirds of the Legislators of each chamber, on "extraordinary occasions."[1]

Special sessions would be limited to 20 calendar days under the measure, unless that session is called to expel a legislator or impeach or remove the Nevada Governor. The impeachment provision would also include other constitutional officers and judicial officers. Another way those sessions could be extended is if a supermajority of 66% of members in both chambers approve of doing so.

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

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
Nevada
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 42%

Ballot measure notes:Pencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
Flag of Nevada.png
  • Question 1 - Would provide that the Nevada Legislature may convene a special legislative session upon a petition signed by two-thirds of the Legislators of each chamber, on "extraordinary occasions."

What people are saying

Approveda Question 1 supporter State Assemblyman James Ohrenschall on the state's deteriorating economy in 2008 and the inability to call for a session:

As it was, we had to wait until we came back into regular session in 2009.[1]

Defeatedd Question 1 opponent State Assemblyman Pat Hickey:

[The measure] becomes an excuse to do something we do not do in regular session...In effect, it would substitute for the fact that we have biennial sessions and not yearly ones.[1]

New Mexico

Eight statewide ballot questions have been certified for the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of New Mexico, with three being bond issues and five being legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

In all, the bond issues voters will decide on total out to $224,165,000 in authorized bonds. Each bond would be used for senior citizen facility improvements, public library resource acquisitions and certain higher education improvements.

Three measures deal with the Public Regulation Commission. One of those measures, Amendment 2, would raise the qualifications required to be public regulation commissioner. Reports stated that supporters were unsatisfied with the qualifications required to become a commissioner.

Those measures were placed on the ballot due to two former PRC commissioners – Carol Sloan and Jerome Block Jr. – pleading guilty to felony charges or being convicted of such charges during the past three years. However, opponents say that those felony charges had nothing to do with commissioner qualifications.[2]

The following are quick facts about New Mexico state ballot measure information:

New Mexico
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 81%

Ballot measure notes:Pencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
Flag of New Mexico.png
  • Bond Question A - Would authorize bonds to make capital expenditures for certain senior citizen facility improvements. The bonds would not exceed $10,335,000.
  • Bond Question B - Would authorize bonds to make capital expenditures for public library resource acquisitions. The bonds would not exceed $9,830,000.
  • Bond Question C - Would authorize bonds to make capital expenditures for certain higher education improvements. The bonds would not exceed $120,000,000.
  • Amendment 1 - Would add two members to the Judicial Standards Commission by changing the New Mexico Constitution to mandate this
  • Amendment 2 - Would raise the qualifications required to be public regulation commissioner.
  • Amendment 3 - Would remove the job of chartering corporations from the Public Regulations Commission to the New Mexico Secretary of State.
  • Amendment 4 - Would remove insurance division from the Public Regulations Commission, and make it an independent entity.
  • Amendment 5 - Would make the office of state public defender separate from the state governmen

What people are saying

Approveda An argument found in the League of Women Voters of Lost Alamos Voter Guide for Amendment 2:

The New Mexico PRC has a broader jurisdiction than any other regulatory agency in the country and makes decisions that impact the daily lives of all of New Mexico’s citizens, ranging from setting utility rates to regulating motor carrier safety and prices. Increasing the qualifications for commissioners would help make sure that they have a basic understanding of the complex industries they regulate[1]

Defeatedd An argument found in the League of Women Voters of Lost Alamos Voter Guide against Amendment 2:

Depending on what qualifications are enacted into law, some citizens may not be qualified to run for the office of PRC commissioner, even though they would be qualified to run for other elected positions in state and local government.[1]

Hawaii

Hawaii

This year voters in Hawaii will see two constitutional amendment questions on their ballot. Though both are relatively low key on the national stage, they at least could carry important ramifications for the citizens of Hawaii.

Beginning first with HB 2594, also known as the Dam and Reservoir Owners Assistance Amendment, voters will decide if the state should add dam and reservoir owners to the list of persons, organizations, and projects that can receive proceeds from the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds. These bonds are ways in which the state can become involved with and assist privately-owned enterprises.

Currently, most dams and reservoirs are run by private companies that have a legal obligation to maintain them. The issuance of these bonds would allow the state to repair dams when their operator companies fail to do so. Some impetus for the amendment may come from an incident in 2006 in which a breach in the privately-run Ka Loko Dam resulted in the deaths of eight people. In following civil suits, it came to light that the dam's owner failed to respond to requests by the state to inspect the dam. The debate over the measure revolves around government responsibility and general safety vs. private owner responsibility due to the fact that taxpayers would be footing the bill if any such bonds were issued.

The other question on the ballot, SB 650, or the Appointment of Retired Judges Amendment, asks voters if they should allow for the state to appoint retired judges to temporarily preside over courts of the same level they previously sat at. The amendment does not change the mandatory retirement age of judges, which is 70, but rather deepens the pool from which temporary replacement judges can be selected. If any such judges are appointed, they will only be allowed to serve for a maximum of three months.

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

  • Initiative and referendum state: No
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 84%

Ballot measure notesPencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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What people are saying

No campaign quotes found in state reports.

Utah

Utah

Two measures have found their way onto the ballot for November 6, both of them aiming to amend the Utah Constitution.

Constitutional Amendment A would require that a portion of the revenue from all of the state's severance taxes be deposited into the permanent state trust fund beginning July 1, 2016.

Constitutional Amendment B would exempt military personnel from paying state property taxes. In addition, the exemption would apply to any service member who has been called for active duty in the military.

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

  • Initiative and referendum state: Yes
  • Ballot measure approval rating since 2000: 88%

Ballot measure notesPencil.png

The ballot lineup

November 6, 2012 ballot measures
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  • Amendment A - Would require that a portion of the revenue from all of the state's severance taxes be deposited into the permanent state trust fund beginning July 1, 2016.
  • Amendment B - Would exempt military personnel from paying state property taxes.

What people are saying

No campaign quotes found in state reports.

See also

Ballotpedia News

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  2. ABQ Journal, "N.M. Voters Face Five Proposals," October 24, 2012