The Tuesday Count: Certification found in Michigan and Montana moves to pass record number of referrals
Edited by Eric Veram
We discovered one new certification since last week, this time in Michigan. Colorado and Ohio remain the focus of most 2013 ballot news, but that doesn't mean interesting things aren't happening elsewhere! In addition to statewide news, be sure to keep reading for details on several local elections happening today!
The certification in Michigan is a legislatively-referred state statute sponsored by Representative Judson Gilbert and passed by the legislature as Public Act 408. Interestingly, the measure is set to appear on the ballot in the statewide primary election taking place on August 5, 2014.
If voters approve the referral, it would dedicate a portion of use tax revenue to benefit metropolitan areas throughout the state. This would take effect on January 1, 2015.
The measure's full text can be found here.
We previously mentioned several initiatives recently filed in Colorado that dealt with funding for the state's public schools. It turns out that those initiative are not only competing with Senate Bill 213 in their goals, but may also be competing it with it on this year's ballot in November.
The bill, being sponsored by Senator Mike Johnston (D), is actually a legislative referral and therefore requires voter approval before going into effect. The proposal is a statute and therefore requires only a simple majority in the legislature to achieve ballot access. The bill is currently under consideration by the house; it was passed by the senate on April 2, 2013.
The measure is sponsored primarily by Democrats and would provide a massive overhaul to the state's system of funding public education. Though the proposal could amount to an increase of $1 billion annually in state taxes, supporters argue it is necessary because K-12 education received nearly $2.5 billion in cuts.
Opponents, however, claim that funding is not the problem with the state's public education system. Assistant Senate Minority Leader Mark Scheffel (R) said, "We need a student centered system that emphasizes improving student outcomes and instilling teacher accountability instead of perpetuating the present system that merely asks for more money without solving the problem."
Another interesting development for 2013 is the increasing support being shown for the Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, a constitutional amendment that would overturn a ban on same-sex marriage in the state. Notably, that original ban was approved by Ohio voters in 2004 by a significant margin.
Supporters of same-sex marriage were first granted permission to circulate petitions last year but fell short of the necessary signatures required to place the issue on the 2012 ballot. They have since, however, stepped up their efforts. This is partly due to Senator Rob Portman's (R-OH) announcement of his support for same-sex marriage and a new poll showing that Ohioans may now actually vote to approve the practice they banned nine years ago.
The poll was conducted by the Columbus Dispatch from March 5 through 10 and shows a large swing in public opinion of same-sex marriage. The study reports that 54% of those polled are in favor of repealing the ban, 40% are opposed, and 5% remain undecided.
Supporters of the repeal have said that they are confidant they can gather enough signatures to secure ballot placement this year but have not yet decided whether or not they should wait until 2014 in order to gather funds for the campaign.
According to reports from the Montana State Legislature, voters in that state could see another lengthy ballot in 2014.
The state's legislative bill tracker indicates that six bills made the April 5 transmittal deadline for legislative referrals. All six bills are backed by Republicans who currently control both the house and senate in the Montana legislature. Because simple majority is all that is required to send statutes on to the ballot, all six of these bills are expected to pass, thereby circumventing Governor Steve Bullock's (D) veto pen.
The topics of these bills ranges greatly, from establishing a top two primary system in certain elections, to exempting religious communications from campaign finance reports.
Despite the fact that they are in the majority in the state legislature, Democrats in the senate attempted to block several of the bills with a parliamentary tactic that allows a minority body to call on a missing member before any further business can continue. Senator Shannon Augare (D-Browning) left the capitol on Friday to allow for the procedure, known as a "call of the senate," to take place. Republicans were able to bypass the block, however, due to a rule which allows for a vote to be taken before recognizing the motion to call the senate.
|States:||California, Nevada, Tennessee, and Wyoming|
The bills so fought over in the senate were both related to the election process. Senate Bill 405 ends same-day voter registration on election day, and Senate Bill 408 creates the top-two party system.
Voters could see an exceptionally long ballot in 2014 because these six bills do not include any possible initiatives or constitutional amendments passed by the legislature.
An opinion issued by the Nevada secretary of state's office reveals that the Margins Tax Initiative slated for the 2014 ballot will not be met with a competing measure from the state legislature. In short, the opinion confirms the Nevada State Education Association's argument that since the legislature did not explicitly vote to reject their measure, they have forfeited their option to propose a competing one.
Contrary to legal advice received from the Legislative Counsel Bureau claiming that the legislature implicitly rejected the measure by not taking a vote, Deputy Secretary for Elections Scott Gilles wrote that taking no action on the proposal was inconsistent with the language of the state constitution.
- The Florida water and land conservation amendment takes one big step closer to earning a place on the ballot: This amendment seeks to dedicate 33% of revenue from the excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. Manley Fuller, the president of Florida Wildlife Federation, said that this measure would provide the "necessary funding for us to exercise proper stewardship of our resources across the state." Last Thursday the supporters of this measure turned in over 100,000 signatures, which is more than enough to qualify for review by the Supreme Court. This important step in the petition process requires ten percent of the 683,149 required signatures and puts the measure before the Supreme Court to verify that it is about one subject and that the language is clear and concise. The campaign manager for this petition, Pegeen Hanrahan, said that there are 3,600 people helping to gather signatures for this amendment. If the measure survives the scrutiny of the court review, these supporters will be clear to gather the remaining signatures required by the first of February.
- The Republican Party in Wyoming took a stand, giving public support of the referendum to repeal the newly created position of Education Department Director: Senate File 104, commonly called the "Hill Bill" after Cindy Hill, the current State Superintendent, established the appointed position of Education Department Director and transferred some of the duties of the elected State Superintendent to this appointed position. The Constitution Party started this referendum to overturn the "Hill Bill" and return the duties in question back to the State Superintendent. Recently, in a 40-32 vote, the central committee of the Republican party decided to endorse the referendum. This support for repealing the bill came as a surprise to some as the Republican controlled senate originally passed File 104 by a 2/3rds super-majority. Currently the "Hill Bill" is set to go before the Supreme Court. If it survives the court decision, the Constitution Party and others in favor of repeal will try to gather 37,606 by May 28 to get this issue before voters on the ballot.
Local voters are deciding everything from pension reform to school bonds in today's elections.
Most of today's local ballot measures are being decided in Illinois, where there are over a hundred propositions waiting for the voters' decision in towns, cities, counties and school districts across the state.
Addison Township in Illinois is requesting that voters authorize switching the responsibility for the pension costs of the local school district from the state of Illinois to the property taxpayers of the district. Also waiting the decision of the voters is over $112 million in requested school bond money and many school tax measures. Four video gambling measures and one measure prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages will also be found on the ballots.
In California, there are only seven measures, three of which are recall elections for the Coastside Fire Protection District in San Mateo County. The remaining four measures deal with parcel taxes, business taxes and utility taxes in different cities of Los Angeles county.
Florida's election features six ballot measures across three counties. Four measures are city charter amendments dealing with term limits and city governance. One measure seeks to authorize an electric franchise and the remaining measure asks Defuniak Springs voters if they want to abolish the right of the Mayor to decide tie votes in city council meetings.
- Click here to find links to full coverage of local ballot measure elections in all three states and continue to follow this page throughout the year to see Ballotpedia's local ballot measure coverage.
Ballot Law Update
- Student IDs will not be recognized as valid voter ID in Tennessee elections: On Thursday, April 4, the Tennessee State Senate voted 23-7 in support of a new voter ID bill that excludes student IDs and library cards from being counted as valid photo ID at the polls. The bill comes as a case remains pending before the Tennessee Supreme Court over whether or not library cards can be used as voter ID. That case involves a lawsuit brought by two residents and the city of Memphis against the state when election officials refused to accept a city-issued library card with a photo as voter ID. The bill now goes before the governor for final approval before becoming law.
- Arkansas outlaws contributions from public servants to ballot measure campaigns: On March 11 the Arkansas General Assembly passed HB 1187, now enrolled as Act 312. The bill declares that it is unlawful for a public servant or a governmental body to expend or permit the expenditure of public funds to support or oppose a ballot measure. The bill was sponsored by Representative Nate Bell (R).
| 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
- The Spot (blog), "Colorado Senate debates Mike Johnston’s bill to overhaul school finance," April 1, 2013
- Columbus Dispatch, "Poll: Ohio marriage views shift," March 24, 2013
- Billings Gazette, "Most referendum measures find approval," April 4, 2013
- Great Falls Tribune, "Chaos erupts in Montana Legislature as Senate Democrats try to stall referendums," April 5, 2013
- Conservation amendment gains signatures for ballot review (timed out)
- "Hill Bill" repeal backed
- Associated Press, "Bill won't allow student IDs for casting ballots in Tennessee," April 5, 2013 (dead link)