The Tuesday Count: Alabama heaps on 10 more amendments
Edited by Bailey Ludlam
The summer season is here and while the temperatures start to warm up, so does ballot measure news - at least in two states. For 2011, once again, no changes were reported to the total count of certified ballot measures, but news out of Ohio signals that could change soon.
On June 17 supporters of the Senate Bill 5 veto referendum announced the collection of 714,137 signatures, well above the required 231,149 signatures needed to place it on the ballot. Although all signs are pointing towards ballot certification, those signatures must first be turned in by June 29 to the Ohio Secretary of State for verification. The secretary of state has until July 26 to verify submitted signatures. Additionally, those signatures must come from least half of the 88 counties in the state.
The referendum targets Senate Bill 5, the controversial bill signed into law that limits collective bargaining for public employees in the state.
Referendum organizers argue that the measure unfairly takes away public employees' right to bargain, which they say is something that has been rightfully earned over the years. Proponents of Senate Bill 5 argue that the bill is crucial in fixing the economic downturn the state is currently facing.
As for 2012, the steady increase in measures did not break stride. As the Alabama Legislature adjourned on June 9, lawmakers heaped on a healthy dose of ballot proposals for voters to decide on. Last week we reported 3 certifications. When contacted by Ballotpedia, Ed Packard, election official for the Secretary of State's office, stated that a total of 13 measures were certified, with two scheduled to appear on a special election ballot in 2011. That date has not yet been assigned.
Even though all are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, not all are considered statewide measures. Some questions will only appear in their respective counties for residents to vote on. The reason being is that in order to pass local county laws, an amendment to the state constitution is needed. Alabama mandates that county governments seek legislative approval or legislatively-referred constitutional amendment ballot measures for approval of laws. Ballotpedia does not count the local Alabama measures in the Tuesday Count.
In the nearby state of Missouri, on Friday, June 17, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed legislation - SB 3 - that proposed requiring voters to show photo identification in order to cast ballots. Additionally, the proposed bill would have allowed a no-excuse-needed period for Missouri voters to vote prior to Election day. The bill was passed by the Senate with a 25-9 vote. The House voted 99-52. Although the 2012 certified measure is similar in topic, the measure will remain on the 2012 ballot. In contrast to the vetoed legislation, the measure simply authorizes the enactment of such state laws but does not require that they be enacted. The vetoed legislation can be read here - SB 3.
Across the country, Arizona saw its second initiative filed for 2012. The proposed measure deals with the topic of solar energy. Keep up with petition drive deadlines for both 2011 initiatives and 2012 initiatives.
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SPOTLIGHT: Texas isn't the only state seeing red, Washington pursues local red light camera measures
Red Light Camera issues continue to be in the fore front of local news. A vote held in November 2010 in Houston, Texas to eliminate red light cameras in the city was deemed invalid by a judge on Friday, June 17. Voters had previously approved the measure.
Judge Lynn Hughes of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that although the measure was declared a charter amendment, in fact the issue actually sought to repeal a city ordinance. Once an ordinance is approved, residents have 30 days to file a petition to stop it. However, the judge noted that the statute of limitations on the ordinance had already expired and thus the measure did not qualify for the ballot. Supporters - Citizens Against Red Light Camera - said they plan to take the issue to a higher court.
After a series of lawsuits covered two weeks ago, Washington residents continue their struggle to place camera referendums on the ballot. Monroe residents submitted signatures for a measure on red light cameras in their city. The city council will decided on Tuesday, June 21 what action to take. They can either approve the measure for a future ballot (likely November 2011) or they can adopt the ordinance as a new law. Petition signatures have already been verified by the county auditor.
Similarly, in the City of Longview, petition signatures for red light cameras were submitted to the County elections office. However, nearly half of those gathered signatures were declared invalid. Supporters were given an additional 10 days to meet the 2,830 minimum signature requirement.
In Bellingham, petitioners submitted an estimated 7,000 signatures for a red light camera measure on June 20. A minimum of 3,880 valid signatures were required for approval. The county auditor's office noted that validation process will likely conclude at the end of June.
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