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The Tuesday Count: Marijuana a prevalent issue on state and local ballots

Edited by Brittany Clingen

4 certifications
125 measures for 2014



Certifications (News)
Hunting (Quick hits)
Marijuana (Spotlight)

Marijuana is once again shaping up to be a hot-button issue on ballots across the nation. While an initiative seeking to legalize recreational marijuana was just certified for a spot on the November ballot in Oregon, many Californians and Floridians will be weighing in on the issue of medical marijuana. Florida's Amendment 2 looks to be a shoe-in for November, with two recent polls showing 88 percent approval for the measure. In California, however, the issue will be featured on many local ballots, rather than in the statewide arena, making for more complex and possibly closer races. In fact, many cities, including Santa Ana and Costa Mesa, will likely see competing ballot measures seeking varying degrees of restriction on medical marijuana. Though marijuana is one of the more prevalent issues on 2014 ballots, voters will decide on a range of other contentious issues, including mandatory labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and hunting wolves in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Oregon
Michigan
California
Florida

McDonald confirmed to head VA

By Phil Heidenreich

Robert McDonald

Washington, D.C.: Robert McDonald, former President and CEO of Proctor & Gamble was confirmed as the head of the Veterans Affairs Department in President Obama's cabinet. McDonald was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate to succeed Eric Shinseki with a vote of 97-0.[1]

Shinseki resigned following the discovery of secret waiting lists in VA hospitals across the country, leading to long wait times for basic care. At times, the lists were so long that patients died waiting to be offered appointments with a doctor, a serious problem that McDonald will be faced with as he assumes the new role.[2]

Robert McDonald Confirmation vote, July 29, 2014
Party Votes for Approveda Votes against Defeatedd Total votes
Democratic Party Democrats 52 0 52
Republican Party Republicans 43 0 43
Independent Independents 2 0 2
Total Votes 97 0 97

State Legislative Tracker: Utah candidate facing charges

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes criminal charges filed against a Utah candidate and the impact on the upcoming elections.


FBI narrows probe in St. Joseph stipend scandal

The FBI launched its investigation into the St. Joseph School District in April when it was revealed at a school board meeting that Superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwonka used a $270,000 insurance rebate to give $5,000 stipends to 54 administrators without the knowledge or approval of the board. Soon after the stipends were handed out, Dr. Czerwonka was being called "The Candy Man" by many in the district. Revelation of The Candy Man stipends led to the discovery of many other unapproved pay boosts given to administrators, principals and some teachers.

Also in question are promotions and raises given to Czerwonka’s wife, the wife of Human Resources Director Doug Flowers and the son of former board president Dan Colgan.


Contentious GMO labeling measure the last initiative certified in Oregon

By Margaret Koenig

Oregon GMO Right to Know logo.PNG

Though Oregon's ballot initiatives may be few this November, there will be no shortage of discussion about them as an initiative requiring labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) fills the final slot on the November 4 ballot. The final potential initiative was certified on Wednesday by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, bringing the total number of ballot measures for Oregon's 2014 ballot to seven.[3] If approved, the measure would mandate the labeling of certain foodstuffs that were produced with or contain GMOs. Initiative efforts to require GMO labeling were attempted in at least two other states this year: Arizona and Colorado. The Arizona attempt did not make the ballot. The potential Colorado measure has until August 6 to submit signatures to make the ballot.

Oregonians for Food and Shelter logo.jpg

This year will not be the first time direct democracy has been used in the battle over GMO labeling. California and Washington initiatives on mandatory labeling were defeated in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Both measures saw opposition fundraising and spending vastly exceed that of supporters. This year's measure in Oregon can be expected to attract similarly high contribution levels and campaign spending, as Oregon GMO Right to Know has already raised nearly $1.3 million in support of the measure. No opponents have registered with the secretary of state, yet, though Oregonians for Food & Shelter has spoken out against the initiative.[3] Similarly, local ballot measures on GMOs have been a growing trend.

In total, Oregonians will have the opportunity to vote on two legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, three initiated state statutes, one initiated constitutional amendment and one veto referendum this November. GMOs will not be the only measure receiving extra attention this year, with other ballot measures including equal rights for women, four-year driver licenses without proof of legal residence and marijuana legalization. Despite there being fewer measures than the average 12 per year since 1996, voters face several hefty ballot issues.


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