Edited by Brittany Clingen
During the regular session of the 83rd Texas legislature, lawmakers passed nine joint resolutions for the general election ballot on November 5, 2013. Each measure will appear on the ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.
14 measures for 2013
One measure, the Texas Rainy Day Fund Amendment, has been making headlines in the state due to the partisan nature of the potential amendment. If approved by voters, this measure would engender the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas, which would aid in the financing of key water infrastructure projects. Per a separate appropriations bill, the approximately $2 billion utilized to finance the new funds would be drawn from Texas' Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) - better known as the Rainy Day Fund.
Supporters of implementing the amendment, who have already begun mobilizing an aggressive campaign, assert that the creation of the fund is necessary if Texas is to avoid aggravated water shortages in the future. Sen. Wendy Davis (D-10) said, "I think voters in Texas understand the challenges that we face with our water needs here. I definitely will speak in my district about it and certainly encourage the consideration of its passage in my district."
However, those opposed to passing the amendment - largely conservative groups - say they are concerned about Texas' fiscal stability if $2 billion is withdrawn from the Rainy Day Fund, which has historically been set aside to maintain the state's positive credit rating during cash flow-negative years and respond to emergencies, such as natural disasters. Another opponent, Director of the Center for Fiscal Policy, Talmadge Heflin, said, "The structure in which the Legislature is proposing to fund these water projects is cause for concern. To get around the state’s spending cap, lawmakers are constitutionally dedicating the ESF monies to avoid a politically toxic vote. This is not the ideal way to run government.”
Other issues that will be decided by Texas voters in November include taxes; health care; state and local government budgets, spending and finance; administration of government; county and municipal governance; housing; and state judiciary. For a full list of Texas 2013 ballot measures, see here.
Though the Maryland general assembly passed several controversial laws during its most recent session, none of the campaigns hoping to challenge them were successful in gathering enough signatures to land veto referendums on the ballot in November 2014. After the general assembly approved bills repealing the death penalty and enacting stringent gun control practices, grassroots referendum campaigns sprang up in an attempt to reverse these laws.
Given the divisive nature of the laws and the fact that three veto referendums were successfully placed - though they were subsequently defeated - on the November 2012 ballot, it came as a surprise to some that those supporting the 2013 referendums were unable to collect the 18,579 signatures required by the May 31st deadline. Others, however, were less shocked by the lack of referendums. American University Professor of Political Science, David Lublin, said, "I think the level of organization has not been what it was. Gathering signatures is more difficult than people realize."
Another referendum failed to make the 2014 ballot in Wyoming. Supporters of the Wyoming Education Department Director Referendum were only able to collect 21,991 of the 37,606 signatures required to send the issue to the ballot. The referendum would have asked voters whether or not to repeal a law passed earlier in the year that removes practically all responsibilities from the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- ↑ Legislative Reference Library of Texas, "What's Next? Post-Regular Session FAQs," retrieved June 4, 2013
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The New York Times, "Perry Changes Tack on Rainy Day Fund," January 29, 2013
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Star-Telegram, "Opposition forming to massive Texas water plan," June 3, 2013
- ↑ Texas Public Policy Foundation, "Press: TPPF statement on SJR 1," May 22, 2013
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 The Examiner, "No voter appetite for Maryland referenda this year," June 2, 2013
- ↑ NECN.com, "Md. death penalty supporters aim to reverse repeal," May 3, 2013
- ↑ Ballot-Access.org, "Wyoming Referendum, Sponsored by Constitution Party, Lacks Enough Signatures to Qualify," May 31, 2013