The Tuesday Count: April pushes out three more measures in its last days
By Johanna Herman, Bailey Ludlam, Tyler Millhouse, Al Ortiz
As the 2011 ballot measure count continues to get left behind with no measures certified recently, 2012 keeps putting its foot to the peddle. Three proposals in three states were certified this past week, piling on more to the count with a total of 24 ballot measures in 12 states.
Montana is the new state on board, as a parental notification measure was sent to the ballot. This particular abortion issue relates to parental rights in the act of a minor's abortion. If approved by voters, parents would be notified before a procedure would take place. A similar measure was found on the August 24, 2010 primary election ballot in the state of Alaska, where it was approved.
Also landing a place in a statewide election was an initiated constitutional amendment in North Dakota for the June 2, 2012 ballot. Certified as Measure 2, the question asks voters to eliminate property taxes throughout the state and replace local governments' property tax income with state tax revenue.
Rounding out the trifecta of new certifieds is the Oklahoma affirmative action ban proposal, which would ban affirmative action programs in the state, and would prohibit special treatment based on race or sex in public employment, education or contracts.
In other news, one measure trying to obtain ballot access in 2012 is the North Dakota Religious Freedom Amendment, which filed approximately 30,000 signatures with the North Dakota Secretary of State in mid-April. The Secretary of State's office has until May 25, 2011 to verify the signatures. At least 26,904 are needed to gain ballot access. According to the proposed initiative, a person's right to act or refuse due to a religious belief may not be burdened by the government unless the government proves it has a "compelling interest" in regulating behavior.
- Florida Federal Constitutional Convention Question (2012) - would call for a federal constitutional convention to put a balanced budget amendment in the United States Constitution. The measure resembles a 2010 ballot advisory question known as the Federal Budget Advisory Question. The measure was approved by voters but according to reports, 2012's proposal more closely resembles similar proposals in other states.
- Minnesota Sales Tax Increase Repeal (2012) - proposes repealing the 2008 Minnesota Sales Tax Increase. The measure is being promoted by Minnesota Voters Alliance in conjunction with the North Star Tea Party Patriots and the Northern Liberty Alliance. It has not yet been proposed by a state legislator.
- Missouri Term Limits Amendment (2012) - would increase term limits from 8 years to 16 years total in any one house of the General Assembly. The Senate passed the measure following a 29-4 vote on April 28, 2011. The measure is now pending in the House. In order to qualify for the ballot, the measure required approval by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Missouri General Assembly.
SPOTLIGHT: May 3 elections in California, Michigan and Ohio
May 3 marks another local election held in the states of California, Michigan and Ohio. Seven counties in California will have issues on their ballots, a total of fourteen measures, all but one are in regards to school parcel taxes. Michigan has thirty-nine counties with issues on the ballot, a majority of those are school bonds or taxes. Nearly all of Ohio's counties have issues on the May ballot, sixty-seven counties in total with many of those as well being about school issues.
In Michigan, significant measures include the Rapid transit levy replacement which seeks to replace the current transit levy with one at a higher rate in order to add bus routes and expand service within the transit area. Proponents see less dependence of cars as a benefit though opponents note that increasing taxes is not good at this time. The Flint city police and jail measures seek to increase city tax rates in order to further pay for jail operational costs and police protection services. Some school issues of interest are the West Ottawa school bond measure which seeks to add a performing arts center to the high school as well as make general facility upgrades. The Port Huron school bond measure which would go towards upgrading facility safety and technology.
In Ohio, some schools are attempting again to get approval of bonds or levies which were previously defeated by residents, such as the Warren school bond measure, the Tri-Rivers school levy measure and the Riverdale school income tax measure. Though residents note that asking for issues to be approved multiple times leaves one to wonder if the system really works for the benefit of residents. The sale of alcohol, aggregating electricity rates and county levy renewals are also on various ballots throughout the counties.
BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Court decisions concerning I&R: On April 1, 2011, a state court in Las Vegas, Nevada ruled that the City Council of Boulder City was wrong to sue the sponsors of two local initiatives. The initiatives, both passed by voters, imposed term-limits on members of city appointed boards and required the city to get voter approval before borrowing more than $1 million. The city council argued that the initiatives were invalid because they considered topics which are not subject to initiative. However, the court determined that the city was wrong to sue proponents of the measures since they could have sued to overturn the initiatives without targeting the proponents. The city was ordered to pay the defendants' legal fees, but the judge stayed the ruling in order to allow time for an appeal.
Recently approved legislation: Arizona House Bill 2304 was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 29. The law alters the state's requirements for petition circulators, eases third-party primary access, and clarifies laws regarding wearing political apparel at polling places. With respect to initiatives, the law repeals the state's unconstitutional circulator residency requirement. However, it replaces this requirement with a requirement that out-of-state circulators register with the state.
Oklahoma sent a measure to the 2012 ballot on April 27, 2011 that would ban affirmative action in the state. What other state had a similar measure on the 2010 general election ballot? Click here to test your ballot knowledge!
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- ↑ Ballot Access News, "Nevada Court Says Boulder City Council Should Not Have Sued Proponents of Initiatives; Tells City to Pay Attorneys’ Fees," April 1, 2011
- ↑ Nevada News & Views, "Judge Declares Boulder City Crossed the Line," Accessed May 5, 2011
- ↑ Ballot Access News, "Arizona Bill, Improving Ballot Access and Making Other Changes, Passes House Judiciary Committee," February 10, 2011