The Tuesday Count: 2011 and 2012 counts quiet down, approved 2010 measures stir up noise

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August 30, 2011

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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

Ballot measure certifications slowed down to a halt in this week's Tuesday Count. The 2011 ballot measure total is standing solidly at 31 ballot measures in 8 states, while 2012's count also stayed quiet, for now, with 57 measures in 22 statewide ballots.

While things may appear at a standstill on the surface, developments are still churning across the country, with even two 2010 ballot measures causing a debacle in Florida.

For 2011, the November 8 ballot stayed the course this week in Ohio. A state deadline to remove the Senate Bill 5 veto referendum from the ballot passed on August 29, leaving both sides of the collective bargaining law to battle it out in a political duel in the coming months.[1]

The referendum, to appear as Issue 2 in the statewide general election, targets Senate Bill 5, legislation that limits collective bargaining for public employees in the state. Most notably, SB 5 prevents unions from charging "fair share" dues to employees who opt out.

As for 2012 news in the state, a proposed veto referendum was cleared for circulation by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, after he stated that the measure had collected the initial 1,000 required for the measure to move forward. The citizen-initiated referendum would overturn an elections law that was passed by the Ohio Legislature. The law, House Bill 194, would move future primary election dates from March to May.

Additionally, HB 194 would shorten the period of mail-in absentee voting from 35 days before the election to 21. The number of days residents can vote early would be limited to 14 days before the election. Currently, the number of days residents can vote early is also 35.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is part of the group that is spearheading the initiative effort. That group is called Fair Elections Ohio.

In other news, past 2010 measures in Florida have been garnering attention for the effect they could have on state legislative redistricting.

The Florida redistricting process remains ongoing but two constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2010 may tweak that process and impact Republicans in the coastal communities.

Last year's Amendment 5 called for amending the current practice of drawing legislative district boundaries in such ways that they establish "fairness," are "as equal in population as feasible" and use "city, county and geographical boundaries." Likewise Amendment 6 amended the practice for congressional districts.

If the amendments succeed in limiting gerrymandering in Florida, many Democrats believe the change would weaken the state's entrenched GOP majority. Republicans argue that their success is based on ideology not partisan districts.[2]

The impact of the amendments on Republicans could be sharply felt in the state's coastal communities. Several of these districts stretch along the coast, uniting coastal communities but dividing counties and municipalities. Since the amendments require that county and city lines are respected where possible, these districts may have to be re-drawn. However, local Republicans argue that these communities share common interests, interests that should be respected in redistricting.

Staying in the Sunshine State, Senator Joe Negron has filed a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment for the 2012 ballot that would make the state education commissioner an elected position. Currently, the commissioner is an appointed position, chosen by the State Board of Education.[3]

Section 1 of Article XI, Florida Constitution says that the Florida State Legislature can put a proposed amendment on the ballot if 60% or more of the legislators in each chamber agree to do so in a joint resolution.

Proposals with recent activity


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SPOTLIGHT:Kansas City residents challenge weapons plant construction with petition
In Kansas City, a proposed weapons plant was met with resistance by some residents who started a petition drive to stop the nuclear weapons plant from being built. The new proposed facility would build non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons but the petition seeks to instead make the plant a green manufacturing facility. The group successfully gathered the needed 4,300 signatures to get the issue onto the ballot, but the city council declined to place it on the November ballot. The resolution which the council passed states that the measure is unconstitutional because it interfered with the national government's ability to supply defense for the country and it also conflicts with federal legislation which controls the development of nuclear weapons.[4] In response, the group who had collected the signatures filed a court petition to get the measure on the ballot.[5] The Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Edith Messina decided then to push back the hearing on the measure, noting that the deadline to place the measure on the ballot is September 27. She stated that a decision would be made by mid September so either group could appeal if they wanted. Construction on the plant has already begun.[6]


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What are the topics of the two legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on the 2011 Washington ballot?
Click to find out!
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BALLOT LAW UPDATE

Note: As legislative sessions wind to a close, the Ballot Law Update will switch to a monthly format. Starting in September, new updates will come out on the last Wednesday of each month. Recent news will still appear each week in the Tuesday Count. Here's a preview of tomorrow's Ballot Law Update...

(Update) Washington state traffic cam initiatives: After a significant legal victory this month, proponents of traffic camera bans are ramping up efforts across Washington state. Currently, bans will be on the local ballots in Longview, Bellingham, and Monroe. Signatures are being collected for measures in Redmond and Wenatchee. All of the petitions, except Redmond's, have resulted in contentious legal battles. In total, 26 cities around the state have installed traffic cameras.

Central to the legal debate is whether local ballot measures have the authority to break contracts with camera operators. American Traffic Solutions, one such operator, has been heavily involved in attempts to block such measures. However on August 17, 2011, Judge Ira Uhrig of the Whatcom County Superior Court ruled that ATS did not have standing to challenge the Bellingham traffic measure. In addition, the judge ordered ATS to pay the proponents' legal fees and fined ATS $10,000 for filing a "strategic lawsuit against public participation" or SLAPP. SLAPP litigation is prohibited under Washington law since it attempts to hamper the exercise of civil rights through the cost of frivolous legal action.

Proponents of the several measures have launched a campaign, BanCams.com, to support the measures.[7][8]

Click here to view previous Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard

References