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The Tuesday Count: Four measures added in one state alone

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March 6, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

Consistency is reigning supreme on the Tuesday Count. For the fourth consecutive week, not only has the total of certified ballot measures grown, but it has grown by multiple measures, leaving the count at 72.

South Dakota voters will have a full plate on their ballots come November 6. Recently, the state legislature sent four legislatively-referred constitutional amendments to the ballot during session, adding to the two that were already up for a public vote.

The four measures that were added to the ballot include one that would modernize language dealing with corporations, a proposal to strike from the state constitution a travel reimbursement provision for state lawmakers, a measure to make clear in the state constitution that the state budget must be balanced, and a question on whether or not to change how much money is taken from the state’s cement-plant trust fund each year.

The four freshly-certified measures etched onto the fall ballot join Referred Law 14 and Initiated Measure 15 on the ballot.

The six measures on the South Dakota 2012 ballot hit the exact average of measures found on the statewide ballot since 2000. The year with the most measures on the ballot in that state was in 2008, when 15 measures were decided by registered voters. Only three were approved.

Elsewhere, in California, the highly-scrutinized issue of the death penalty is boiling over. Supporters of the initiative effort to end the death penalty handed over signatures to the California Secretary of State for verification.

Over 800,000 signatures were submitted on March 1 to qualify the measure for the state's November 2012 ballot. 504,760 valid signatures are required for qualification purposes. As of today, March 6, signatures have not yet been verified for the ballot.

Check this article for any updates on the verification process.

California has 714 people on death row. Seven of them have exhausted all appeals and are therefore eligible for execution, although legal challenges to California's lethal injection procedure must be resolved before any of them can be executed. The last execution in California took place in 2006.

Initiative news in the west is not just limited to California, as two Nevada anti-abortion petitions have been approved for circulation following a long legal duel.

The two measures, one filed by Personhood Nevada and the other by ProLife Nevada, chalked up a win recently when opponents of the proposals decided to cease legal challenges to language and descriptions of the petitions. Previously, both initiatives were struck by District Judge James Wilson Jr. in two separate lawsuits for each measure. Both lawsuits challenged that the language of the proposals were vague and misleading. After rewriting the language, supporters then gained permission to circulate petitions.

Initiative organizers have until June 19 to gather more than 72,000 signatures to qualify the proposed constitutional amendments for the November ballot.

The developments in Nevada join a growing "personhood" movement across the country as 11 states have seen versions of the proposal for 2012. Three have already faced, or are facing, court battles.

Included is the most recently proposed measure, this time out of Oklahoma, which has seen proposals from both the legislature and via citizen initiative, organized by Personhood Oklahoma.

Proposals with recent activity

Quick hits

  • North Dakota University threatened with new wave of NCAA sanctions: According to a letter from Bernard Franklin, an NCAA executive vice president, the school must forfeit any post-season games if it does not "take measures to minimize or eliminate the presence of the imagery or nickname brought to an NCAA championship venue." Some, such as Brian Faison, the university's athletic director, think that this new threat will help to convince supporters of the "Fighting Souix" nickname that they are facing a real threat.[2]


SPOTLIGHT:Oregon hosts small local election next week
On March 13 Oregon residents will go to the polls to decide on a few local issues. Only four counties decided to have local measures on this special election date for a total of 11 measures up for a vote.

Of those measures, eight seek to amend city charters, two call for annexation approval and one deals with local drinking water. The city of Philomath is asking residents if they want to allow the city to resume adding fluoride to the local water supply. The city had been adding fluoride to the water supply since the 1980s, however, concerns have been raised and now the city is seeking voter approval to continue. Those in favor of fluoride note that it helps children's teeth, those opposed say there are more dangers to the addition. Another notable measure is in Estacada, where two competing urban renewal proposals are up for a vote. Residents had petitioned for a change in urban renewal to be put to a vote, but the city countered their proposition with one that would instead place urban renewal proposals in line with the state.

Today, March 6, Ohioans in 76 counties in the state will vote on local measures in addition to the presidential primary and elections for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, State Senate and State House. Issues vary from school proposals to alcohol and city taxes.

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Missouri fiscal impact ruling: Last Thursday, Missouri Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the state's fiscal review process for ballot measures violates the Missouri Constitution. In Missouri, the state auditor is responsible for drafting a statement of each proposed measure's impact on state finances. However, the state constitution requires that:

  • "No duty shall be imposed on [the state auditor] by law which is not related to the supervising and auditing of the receipt and expenditure of public funds."

Since evaluating proposed measures concerns potential impacts, Beetem ruled that the task falls outside the auditor's supervisory role. In addition, he ordered the statement to be removed from the ballot title in question.

Since the official ballot title must be included on statewide petitions, the legality of petitions with the offending statement is now in question. Some worry that the ruling could force the Secretary of State to exclude numerous signatures already collected for several statewide ballot measures. State Auditor Tom Schweich plans to appeal the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court. A similar ruling in 1996 found that the Joint Committee on Legislative Research could not evaluate proposed initiatives.[4][5]

  • The relevant state statute can be found here.
  • The relevant constitutional provision can be found here.
A new update was released on February 29, 2012. Click here for this and other Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard