The Tuesday Count: Ballot certifications for 2013 and beyond
Edited by Brittany Clingen
This week, there are five new certifications to report: two for 2013, two for 2014 and one for 2016. In Colorado, the legislature approved HB 1318. As a result of this bill's passage, two legislatively-referred state statutes will appear on the ballot in the general election on November 5, 2013. One, the Colorado Marijuana Excise Tax, would implement a 15% excise tax on all marijuana sales within the state, if voters choose to approve the measure in November. The revenue from this excise tax would be put toward school construction projects. The other, the Colorado Marijuana Sales Tax, if approved, would enact a 10% sales tax on marijuana. This would be in addition to the existing 2.9% state sales tax and any additional local taxes. The revenue from the sales tax would be used to oversee and regulate the retail marijuana business in the state.
The legislature in Missouri has passed HJR 11, and, as a result, voters will decide whether or not the Missouri Right-to-Farm Amendment, which would explicitly detail the rights of farmers and ranchers to partake in their livelihoods and provide food for others, should be included in the state constitution. This legislatively-referred constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot in the general election on November 4, 2014. The Missouri Cattlemen's Association and other agricultural groups have expressed support for the amendment. However, Sen. Rob Schaaf has expressed concerns over the public's safety if the amendment is adopted, saying that this could lead to a situation in which it is more difficult for state regulators to control super-food poisoning bugs created as a result of feeding antibiotics to livestock.
Another 2014 certification has been confirmed in Arizona. The legislature approved SCR1016, thereby landing a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the ballot for the general election on November 4, 2014. If passed by voters, this amendment would create a direct mechanism by which the use of state personnel and financial resources are guaranteed to be employed only for purposes that are congruent with the Constitution. This state sovereignty measure comes on the heels of a defeated amendment that would have granted sovereignty over Arizona's natural resources based on "equal footing." This measure was rejected by 67.7% of the voters.
Finally, Minnesota is the first state to certify a ballot measure for the general election on November 8, 2016. The Minnesota Legislative Pay Council Amendment will give voters the opportunity to decide whether or not members of the state legislature should have their pay determined by an outside board. If this measure is approved, a special council will be created and tasked specifically with determining the pay of lawmakers. The council would determine new salary rates every two years. Presently, Minnesota legislators haven't received a raise since 1999.
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In Michigan, the group, No Taxes for Abortion Insurance, is mobilizing to begin collecting signatures for an initiated state statute, the Michigan Ban on Insurance Coverage of Abortion, that will seek to ban Michigan health insurance plans from covering discretionary abortions. If this initiative is approved by voters, those desiring insurance coverage for such procedures would be required to purchase a separate, supplemental plan. Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation last year, explaining that he is open to limitations on abortions covered by state-provided health insurance but is opposed to requiring optional abortion policy provisions in private insurance plans. If the measure survives the initiative process, it will be featured on the ballot for the general election on November 4, 2014.
|States:||Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Missouri Montana Nevada, Tennessee, and Wyoming|
Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the summary of a proposed initiated constitutional amendment and confirmed that the sponsoring group, the Ohio Rights Group, has collected the required 1,000 valid signatures to move forward in their effort to put the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment before voters in 2014. If the measure is eventually passed, it would institute a commission to regulate the use of medical marijuana and allow Ohio residents to grow marijuana for industrial purposes, such as creating paper or clothing. The group must now collect a total of 385,247 in order to qualify for the ballot.
Supporters of grocery store wine sales in Oklahoma relaunch initiative efforts: After delays from legal challenges ended an attempt to place the Oklahoma Wine Purchase Amendment on the 2012 ballot, supporters have announced that they are revitalizing their efforts. Oklahomans for Modern Laws has announced that they plan on resubmitting their proposal this summer with their goal being the 2014 general election ballot. The measure would allow grocery stores to begin selling wine, however, not every county would qualify. Specifically, the amendment would allow counties with a population of 50,000 or more to vote on whether to approve wine sales in retail outlets of at least 25,000 square feet. Last year the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected legal protests brought against the measure, but the decision came too late for petition circulation to begin.
New initiative could submit California doctors to random drug tests: Bob Pack, a former executive at AOL and NetZero, has filed an initiative that would require doctors to be subjected to random drug and alcohol testing. Pack announced the so-called "Pee in the Cup" with a poll citation showing 85 percent of California voters in support of the tests for doctors. According to reports, the initiative might also seek to lift the cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. The measure will require 504,760 signatures to get a place on the 2014 ballot.
Pacific Grove City council members use a 2008 legal theory to sidestep sending controversial pension reform initiative before voters
Wednesday's city council meeting was the second time the Pacific Grove council members avoided a decision on a controversial pension reform initiative, keeping it from going on the ballot before voters.
This initiative, known as the "initiative to void ordinance 02-18 which illegally enacted a 3% at 50 pension benefit increase to public safety employees", seeks to overturn a 2002 decision to increase public safety employee pensions. When the initiative was first presented to the council for adoption or inclusion on a public ballot on May 1, the council unanimously voted to postpone a decision and commission a report on the initiative. On Wednesday of last week, that report, which concluded that the measure was likely to be illegal, was presented to the council. The city council members voted 6-0, with one absentee, to seek judicial relief under the theory of Widders v. Furchtenicht (2008) 167 in order to receive a court ruling on the legality of the initiated measure.
The thwarted supporters of this measure argue that the increase in pensions that happened over a decade ago was done illegally and in the midst of withheld information and understated fiscal effects. Daniel Davis, an initiative backer, said that the 2002 pension increase decision was "an issue of government corruption" and "that we just can't let it go." Other supporters focus on the future and argue that escalating costs under the state Public Employees Retirement System are pushing Pacific Grove towards financial disaster.
But, as courts have repeatedly ruled that existing pension plans are "vested rights" and cannot be reduced, city officials wanted to avoid expensive litigation resulting in the measure being overturned in court despite possible public approval, as happened in the case of Measure R, a 2010 Pacific Grove pension reform ballot measure. Councilman Ken Cuneo said that the council members need to know whether the ballot measure "is going to be a turkey or if it will fly."
Meanwhile, today's local elections in California, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona and Wisconsin feature nearly $400 million in requested bond money and measures concerning marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, as well as many more important local issues.
- For links to all local ballot measure elections covered by Ballotpedia in 2013 visit this page.
Ballot Law Update
More laws aimed at the initiative process gain momentum in Arizona: On Wednesday, May 15, a Senate panel voted to approve Senate Bill 1493, a piece of legislation aimed at clamping down on regulation governing initiative petitions. According to reports, the bill would require that petition sheets be organized by county of residence of signers, by the circulator on that signature sheet, and by the name of the person who notarized each. It would also reverse a court ruling that allowed for petitions to be certified as valid if they were in "substantial compliance" with the law. SB 1493 requires that election officials void any and all petitions not deemed to be in "strict compliance" with the law.
Initiative creating alternate route to primary ballots announced in Utah: The group Count My Vote Utah has announced plans to discuss a possible initiative campaign that would revamp the state's process for deciding who gets to be a candidate in the primary elections. Currently candidates can only get on the primary ballot if their party certifies them at the party's convention. This limits the names submitted by whatever rules the party might have. Count My Vote's proposal would offer candidates an alternative route to the ballot by allowing them access if they collect the signatures of at least two percent of a registered party's members in their jurisdiction. Supporters have until April 15, 2014, to collect the just over 101,000 signatures needed to place the initiative before voters.
| 2013 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2013 Scorecard|
- Ballotpedia's Tuesday Count for 2013
- 2013 ballot measures, 2014 & 2016
- Local ballot measure elections in 2013
- Potential 2013 ballot measures & 2014
- TheDenverChannel.com, "Colorado Lawmakers approve House Bill 1318's 25 percent marijuana tax," May 8, 2013
- MyNWMO.com, "Lawmakers send 'right-to-farm' measure to 2014 ballot," May 15, 2013
- Drovers CattleNetwork, "Right to farm clears hurdle, ready for November ballot," May 14, 2013
- Tenth Amendment Center, "Arizona Voters Get Opportunity To Consider State Sovereignty Amendment In November 2014," May 15, 2013
- KJZZ.org, "Arizona voters to decide state sovereignty measure in 2014," May 14, 2013
- ctpost.com, "Measure on Minn. lawmaker pay now on 2016 ballot," May 20, 2013
- LivingstonDaily.com, "Michigan proposal bans insurance coverage of abortion," May 17, 2013
- newsnet5.com, "Ohio Attorney General certifies medical marijuana petition to get issue on ballot," May 17, 2013]
- Associated Press, "Oklahoma grocery store wine proposal being renewed," May 19, 2013
- Associated Press, "Proposed Ballot Measure Could Subject Doctors To Random Drug, Alcohol Testing," May 20, 2013
- Pacific Grove wants report on controversial public pension ballot measure
- Pension Measure Wave Crests, Court Slog Remains
- City of Pacific Grove May 15 meeting agenda report
- Capital Media Services, "Arizona lawmakers propose more requirements to put referendums on ballots," May 15, 2013
- UtahPolicy.com, "Petition Drive for Alternative Ballot Route May Get Underway this Week," May 21, 2014