The Tuesday Count: Arkansas 2014 ballot begins to take shape
Edited by Brittany ClingenArkansas will not get the opportunity to decide whether or not private insurance should be purchased for approximately 250,000 low-income state residents. A referendum on Arkansas' Healthcare Independence Act of 2013, also known as HB 1143, failed to garner enough signatures and therefore will not appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot. Former congressional candidate Glenn Gallas and his group, Arkansans Against Big Government, spearheaded the effort and began collecting signatures in June 2013. Supporters of the referendum were opposed to using Medicaid funds to subsidize private health insurance for low-income residents, the legislature's proposed alternative to expanding Medicaid. HB 1143 was passed by the Arakansas House and Senate in April 2013 on both sides of the political aislef. In order to put the referendum before voters, supporters needed to collect at least 46,880 valid signatures by August 15, 2013. The day before the deadline, Gallas announced that the group had just over 26,000 signatures. Since the measure was a veto referendum, the signature deadline fell exactly 90 days after the close of the legislative session. Gallas said that once the language for the measure was approved by the attorney general, the group had only 52 days to collect its signatures. However, Gallas has not surrendered quite yet, saying that his group will pressure lawmakers to defund the private option once the legislature reconvenes in February 2014.
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For the second time in as many years, Arkansans may get to vote on whether or not medicinal marijuana should be legalized, as two groups are currently attempting to land similar measures on a 2014 ballot. If one of the measures is approved by voters, medical marijuana will be legalized in the state, allowing patients with certain conditions to obtain the drug from nonprofit dispensaries. In November 2012, Issue 5, another medical marijuana measure, was defeated 51.44% to 48.56%. Due to the narrow margins, supporters decided to give it another go. Arkansans for Compassionate Care 2014 - a spinoff of the group that sponsored the 2012 measure - is attempting to put another medical marijuana measure before voters. However, unlike their 2012 proposal, no users will be allowed to grow their own cannabis. The group is currently revising its proposal after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected their initial filing due to "ambiguities." The second group, Arkansans for Responsible Medicine, is currently collecting signatures, as their proposal, which would not permit users to produce their own marijuana, was given the green light by McDaniel. For initiated state statutes to be sent to the ballot in Arkansas, supporters must collect signatures equal to at least 8% of the total number of votes cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election. For 2014, each initiative must collect at least 62,507 valid signatures in order to go before voters.
Local anti-fracking efforts in Colorado could lead to statewide campaign: There are five Colorado cities currently considering bans or moratoriums on the subsurface mining practice known as "fracking." Though citizens of those cities will get a chance to weigh in on such a ban when they vote this November, the entire state could see such a ballot question next fall. Protect Our Colorado, a statewide anti-fracking group, is one of the driving forces behind organizing local opposition to the practice and has expressed some interest in pursuing a statewide ban. According to Sam Schabacker, an organizer within the group, "all options are on the table" because Gov. John Hickenlooper has shown a willingness to sue municipalities that attempt to enact local bans. Not everyone is behind such a move however, Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt said, "Colorado has always been a strong local control state. I think the solution is to figure out where it is appropriate to drill."
Lafayette has a full ban on it's November ballot, Boulder, Fort Collins and Broomfield have five-year moratoriums on theirs, and Loveland voters will consider a two-year moratorium.
North Dakota sees restarting of last year's failed conservation ballot measure: Last year Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced that the Oil Taxes for Wildlife Projects Amendment would not be on the ballot due to the discovery that several signature gatherers committed petition fraud by falsifying signatures. Following that measure's failure before voters even got a chance to weigh in on it, North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks are attempting to reboot the effort in the form of the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment. However, it is not a strict do-over. Though the measure's language is still in the works, several key changes have already been announced by supporters. The most important change is that the new measure will set aside only five percent of the state’s oil extraction tax revenues; last year's attempt included five percent of the state's revenues from both the extraction tax and the oil production tax. According to supporters, this change will prevent competition for funding from taxes used to provide for local communities' infrastructure needs where oil is being harvested.
The amendment would then set aside the money it collects for a new outdoor heritage fund and create a committee to oversee it. Such a fund already exists, but supporters say it is underfunded and it's management is filled with mining and farming interests instead of conservationist and outdoors representatives. When supporters finalize the measure language and begin circulating petitions, they will be required to collect a minimum of 26,904 valid signatures and deliver them to the secretary of state's office 90 days before the election at which the measure is to appear on the ballot or one year from the date the petition is approved for circulation.
Will Northern Colorado become the 51st state?:
Weld County Commissioners voted on August 19 to put a referendum question on the November election asking voters if they would like the county to pursue efforts to make Northern Colorado an independent state. They approved the following ballot question language: "Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the 51ststate of the United States of America?"
The idea for a dividing up Colorado into two states was discussed by county commissioners from ten counties in the north and east of Colorado. The discussions were fueled by frustration at 2013 state legislative session's alleged disregard of the interests of rural Colorado, including such actions as the passage of firearm restrictions, oil and gas regulations and renewable energy mandates. The ten counties that participated in these discussions throughout June and July were Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld and Yuma. Sedgwick, Yuma and Cheyenne counties have decided to put the question of establishing a new state, Northern Colorado, on the ballot while the others are seriously discussing the issue.
Weld County Commissioner Chairman William Garcia said, “This item was initially brought to the Board by Weld County residents, and now Weld County residents will have the opportunity to vote on it this November." Garcia also stated, “The concerns of rural Coloradans have been ignored for years. The last session was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many people. They want change. They want to be heard. Policies being passed by the legislature in Denver are having negative impacts on the lives of rural Coloradans. This isn’t an ‘R’ versus ‘D’ issue; it’s much bigger than that.” County Commissioner Sean Conway made this comment about the idea of forming Norther Colorado: "I think the mere discussion of this has already had a positive impact in terms of the dialogue that I say has begun and continues to have. A win for us would be to continue this dialog."
In order to become a separate state, "North Colorado" would need to acquire the consent of the Colorado General Assembly and the U.S Congress. But the first step is for the counties in question to ask voters if they wish to proceed.
Ballot Law Update
Federal judge rules on Oklahoma's "Sharia law" ban: On August 15, 2013, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, issued a decision permanently enjoining the state from certifying the results of State Question 755. That ballot measure, passed by 70% of voters in 2010, required that courts rely on federal or state laws when issuing decisions and prohibited them from using international law or Sharia law when making rulings. Judge Miles-LaGrange originally issued a temporary injunction against the measure in November 2010, a decision that was appealed by the state on grounds that the district court abused its discretion. The Tenth Circuit then ruled that Judge Miles-LaGrange acted appropriately on January 10, 2012. Her ruling from last Thursday is merely an extension of the previous temporary injunction, into a permanent one. Judge Miles-LaGrange handed down the ruling saying, "Having carefully reviewed the parties’ submissions, and for the same reasons set forth by the Tenth Circuit, the Court finds that defendants have failed to assert a compelling state interest and have, therefore, failed to satisfy strict scrutiny."
The ruling can be found here.
Wealthy Missouri campaign contributor files lawsuit: Rex Sinquefield, a retired investment executive, and Travis Brown, a lobbyist for Sinquefield, have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jason Kander in an attempt to block the Missouri Campaign Contributions Cap Amendment form appearing on the November 2014 ballot. The measure was filed by anti-abortion group Missouri Roundtable for Life and would cap campaign contributions to those running for statewide office or a legislative seat at $2,600. There are currently no such campaign spending restrictions in Missuori. Brown and Sinquefiel assert that the measure would infringe on their right to free speech and would "inhibit effective advocacy by those who seek election."
You can read more on this story here.
| 2013 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2013 Scorecard|
- Ballotpedia's Tuesday Count for 2013
- 2013 ballot measures & 2014
- Local ballot measure elections in 2013
- Potential 2013 ballot measures & 2014
- ArkTimes.com, "Attorney General gives okay on "private option" referendum," June 11, 2013
- SWTimes.com, "Arkansas Legislature: House OKs Heath Care Expansion Bill," April 11, 2013
- OpenStates.org, "HB 1143: Arkansas House Bill - To Create The Healthcare Independence Act Of 2013; And To Declare An Emergency," accessed July 3, 2013
- NWAonline.com, "Arkansas group falls short in health law repeal effort," August 14, 2013
- SWTimes.com, "Referendum on Arkansas Private Option Short on Signature," August 14, 2013
- TheCabin.net, "Ark. voters could see multiple marijuana proposals," August 9, 2013
- Aspen Daily News, "Ballot measure on Colo. fracking ban in the works," August 17, 2013
- Associated Press,"ND marijuana, conservation initiatives rejected; NDSU footballers accused of petition fraud," September 4, 2012
- Forum News Service, "ND conservation advocates resurrect ballot measure designating oil money for conservation," August 12, 2013
- Jamestown Sun, "Outdoors initiative might fly," August 15, 2013
- Weld County press release
- TheDenverChannel.com, "Weld County commissioners approved ballot proposal wording for 51st state -- North Colorado," August 19, 2013
- Wall Street Journal, "Oklahoma Ban on Sharia Law Unconstitutional, US Judge Rules," August 16, 2013
- Associated Press, "Lawsuit challenges Mo. campaign limits measure," August 13, 2013