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The Tuesday Count: Alaska oil tax referendum garners 20,000 more signatures than required

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July 16, 2013

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Edited by Brittany Clingen

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20 measures for 2013

Signatures (News)
Firearms (Quick Hits)
Unions (Ballot law)

Alaska Oil Tax Cuts Veto Referendum (2014)
Supporters of Alaska's "Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway" effort celebrated a significant milestone in the life of their proposed ballot measure on Saturday. The group, which is attempting to place a referendum on Gov. Sean Parnell's (R) oil and gas production tax breaks on the November 2014 ballot, turned in an estimated 51,000 signatures by the July 13 deadline, vastly more than the 30,169 required.[1]

After gaining approval from both the House and the Senate, Parnell's Senate Bill 21, which grants oil companies tax breaks for producing in Alaska, was signed into law on June 24, 2013. However, efforts to repeal the bill began several months before the governor's pen ever touched it, with a vociferous contingent of opponents claiming S.B. 21 is unconstitutional and not in the best interests of Alaskans.[2][3]

Under the current tax code, oil companies pay a base rate of 25 percent on the first $30 of net profits from a barrel of oil, plus a 0.4 percentage point increase in tax rate for each subsequent $1 in profit per barrel. Under S.B. 21, oil companies will pay a base rate of 35 percent, but the additional add-on tax matching the market price of oil will be removed. Given the new provisions detailed in S.B. 21, it is estimated that the tax on oil will be approximately 14 percent. Parnell says the tax break is necessary to entice large oil companies to invest in Alaska again after a period of steadily declining production. Alaska relies heavily on revenue from oil to balance its budget and fund critical services, including education and law enforcement. However, S.B. 21's opponents disagree and believe oil companies will do business in Alaska with or without the added incentive of a tax break.[2][4]

Since their measure is a veto referendum, those seeking to repeal S.B. 21 had only 90 days from the end of the legislative session on April 14 to collect the necessary signatures. According to campaign finance documents, supporters of the referendum have collected over $63,000, $44,000 of which poured in during the final few weeks of the signature-gathering process. There is no campaign contribution cap for ballot initiatives in Alaska.[1][5]

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2014 Count
Number: 36 measures
States: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Michigan, Montana Nevada, New York, Tennessee, and Wyoming

Now that the signatures have been submitted, the Division of Elections must count and verify the signatures by entering them into a database and comparing them to the information stored in the state's voter registration system.[1][2]

More information regarding this referendum and other potential measures on the Alaska 2014 ballot is available here.

Quick hits

New petition aimed at stopping wolf hunting approved in Michigan: On Friday, July 12, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved petitions on the referendum of Public Act 21 for circulation. The referendum seeks a public vote on the recently passed bill that allows the Natural Resources Commission to directly designate game species, the very same bill that essentially renders the initial Wolf Hunting Referendum pointless. Both ballot measures are sponsored by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, and both will have to pass in order to stop wolf hunting in Michigan. In order to qualify the referendum for the statewide ballot, supporters are required to collect 161,304 signatures and turn them in 90 days after the final adjournment of the legislature.[6]

Competing gun rights measures circulating in Washington: Following the changes made to the petition's wording on Friday by Judge Chris Wickham, of the Thurston County Superior Court, supporters of Initiative 594 quickly began gathering signatures in an effort to send the measure to the state legislature in 2014. The measure is an Initiative to the Legislature which seeks to require that background checks be run on every person purchasing a gun in the state of Washington, whether from a dealer or in a private sale. The measure does except family transfers and antique sales from being similarly regulated.[7]

Citizens approached by petition circulators talking about firearms should read carefully, however, as there is a competing measure also attempting to go before the legislature. That measure is Initiative 591, and it would make it unlawful for the government to confiscate guns without due process, or require background checks on firearm sales unless a corresponding national standard is required. The measure is sponsored by Protect Our Gun Rights.[8]

Both initiatives will require a minimum of 246,372 valid signatures by January 3, 2014, in order to be sent on to the legislature. If that happens, lawmakers can then choose to either adopt the measure as written, send it before voters in the fall or place both it and a competing law on the ballot.



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2013 elections
School bonds & taxes (Part 1 & Part 2)
County website evals.

Ballotpedia has released part one of its school bond and tax report, revealing a billion dollar increase in school bond money requested and approved:

In the first six months of 2013, there have already been 253 bond measures voted on in the 10 states covered by the school bond portion of Ballotpedia's latest school finance measures report. According to the 2012 half-year report, there were 258 measures, five more than in this year. However, the money requested this year surpasses 2012 figures by over $1 billion. This year in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin, $7,505,192,639 of school debt increases were requested compared to the first six months of last year, in which $6,275,330,000 was requested. Moreover, 71% of all debt requested was approved this year, amounting to almost $5.4 billion, while last year in the same time period only 66% of requested bond money was approved, totaling about $4.1 billion. Nearly $1.3 billion more was approved this year than last.

Of the states followed by Ballotpedia, Michigan had the most school bond issues voted on, with a total of 43 measures, 32 of which were approved; this yields an approval rating of 74%. Only Illinois had an approval rating below 50 percent. Overall approval of bonds for January-June 2013 was 72%. Of all the states included in the table, Texas had the most bond measures voted on in January-June 2013 with a total of 98 measures, 84 of those being approved by voters, yielding an approval rating of 87%.

Click here for the full report!

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Ballot Law Update

Missouri's initiative system receives overhaul: Earlier this month, Missouri governor Jay Nixon signed House Bill 117 into law. The bill, passed with bipartisan support, makes sweeping changes to the state's initiative system, especially in areas involving who may circulate petitions. More specifically, the new legislation requires circualtors to disclose whether or not they are paid, who is compensating them, swear that they have never been convicted of any offense involving forgery, and be at least eighteen years old. The bill further makes changes to the amount of time citizens have to challenge approved ballot titles, when initiatives may be filed and requires the secretary of state to post a summary of approved petitions online. Most of the law is set to take effect November 4, 2014. For the legislature's summary of the bill, please see here.[9]

California labor unions back bill curtailing paid petitioners: Assembly Bill 857 is scheduled for a committee hearing on August 12. If passed by the legislature, this bill would require that twenty percent of signatures gathered for an initiative would have to be collected by volunteer circulators, meaning petitioners not receiving compensation for the specific purpose of collecting signatures. The bill would also require paid petition firms to register with the California secretary of state and to use petitions of a different color than those being circulated by volunteers. Reports indicate that the bill is being heavily supported by labor unions operating within the state, including the California Labor Federation, the California Professional Firefighters and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. According to an editorial by the San Diego Union-Tribune, the bill includes loopholes that allow for petitions circulated by union employees to count towards the twenty percent requirement. The bill would also repeal the state’s residency requirement for petition circulators.[10][11]

A new update will be released at the end of the month. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2013 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2013 Scorecard