The Tuesday Count: Two state measures emerge from the ballot shadows

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October 23, 2012

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By Al Ortiz and Eric Veram

Just when the Tuesday Count was nearing its end in terms of solidified numbers, two more measures were spotted on a statewide ballot out in the western part of the country. With the state of Utah adding 2 more measures to the count, the ballot measure total reaches its final count of 188 ballot measures in 39 states, with 176 on the November 6, 2012 ballot in 38 states.

Utah residents will have their chance to cast their votes for two legislatively-referred constitutional amendments in two weeks. The first measure, Constitutional Amendment A, would require that a portion of the revenue from all of the state's severance taxes be deposited into the permanent state trust fund beginning July 1, 2016. The measure was placed on the ballot during the 2012 state legislative session.

The second measure is Constitutional Amendment B. Also a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, the measure would exempt military personnel from paying state property taxes. In addition, the exemption would apply to any service member who has been called for active duty in the military. The measure's formal title in 2012 state legislative session was Senate Bill 116. The sponsor of the measure is State Sen. Luz Robles.

Both constitutional amendments required a two-thirds vote in the Utah Legislature in order to qualify for the 2012 ballot.

With the addition of these two measures, statistics for this year's ballot measures changed slightly, particularly with legislative referrals.

With legislative referrals, there was still a decrease in 2012, with 119 on the ballot, not including advisory questions and automatic ballot referrals. In 2010, there were 134 legislative referrals that were sent to the ballot, leaving this year with 15 less referrals. However, in the last presidential election in 2008, there were only 100 legislative referrals on the ballot, 19 less than 2012.

Regional breakdown series

The clock is ticking down and time is dwindling until the big day arrives for voters all over the United States of America. With plenty of ballot items for voters to make their decision on, every piece of information and every detail counts for voters to inform themselves before going to the polls.

With that in mind, Ballotpedia began this year's regional ballot measure breakdown series. Originally started in 2010, when 184 measures graced statewide ballots in 38 states, the breakdown series reviews ballot measures on the ballot by region.

Ballotpedia divided the nation up into six regions in 2012: Northwest, Southwest, South Central, Midwest, Northeast and Southeast. In each report you will find what measures are on your state's ballot, and what proposed amendments or statutes your surrounding area will vote on, which may or may not have an impact on future ballots in your state or area.

Last week began with the Northwest part of the United States, where political issues are vast and include a wide range of topics. The states that Ballotpedia included in the Northwest region are: Alaska, Idhao, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

Here is the full article for the first part of the regional breakdown series.

The Regional Breakdown series is published every Wednesday and Friday.
Wednesday's article - Southwest ballot measures: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

Quick hits

New Jersey begins push for next year's ballot measures: On Monday, October 15, a New Jersey Senate panel passed a resolution beginning the process of adding a constitutional amendment regarding minimum wage to the 2013 ballot. Lawmakers pushing the proposal decided to place the issue on the ballot so as to escape Governor Chris Christie's veto pen. The amendment would raise the minimum wage in the state by $1, bringing it up to $8.25 per hour, and is being sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney.[1]

Poll shows voters in favor of the Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment: According to a KSTP/SurveyUSA poll, conducted October 12 through October 14, 53 percent of the people surveyed said they would vote for the amendment, 40 percent said they would not, and 7 percent remain undecided. The survey was conducted with a pool of 550 likely voters and has a margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent.[2]


Local and State government questions facing Cincinnati voters

Citizens of Cincinnati will be able to vote on whether or not to extend the current term length for city council members from two to four years.

Some council members stated that extending the terms to four years would allow members to focus on long term goals and not spend half their term campaigning. But others stated that extended the term limits leads to less accountability for the members. If approved, the new term limits would affect the current members and also would be fully implemented starting in 2013.

While this question affects the local level of how the city is run, voters will also decide on Issue 2, which would have an impact on how state legislative and congressional maps are made every ten years.

The measure would create a 12-person citizen commission to draw legislative and congressional district maps. According to supporters of the measure, the commission would create districts that would reflect the state's geographic, racial, ethnic and political diversity. The initiative would also bar lobbyists and elected officials from joining the commission.

Currently, the Ohio Legislature redraws district maps every ten years due to population shifts.

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.

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Idaho Secretary of State sues for donor information: On Monday, October 22, Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa filed a lawsuit against the group called Education Voters of Idaho. The group has donated large amounts of money to a campaign aimed at retaining the laws being subject to referendum this November. The group is fighting disclosing its donors, saying that they are protected by federal law and are being specifically targeted for harassment. Secretary Ysura countered that claim, stating that he has made similar donor information requests from the Idaho Education Association and National Education Association.[3]

Group raises late complaint over the Montana Medical Marijuana Veto Referendum's ballot language: The group called Safe Communities, Safe Kids announced a political practice complaint against Attorney General Steve Bullock over the referendum's ballot language. The group claims that the official language is misleading to voters. The complaint was made on Wednesday, October 17, despite the language having been approved during the summer and the legal ten day window for challenging ballot language being passed. Because of the proximity to election day, Bullock's assistants have labelled the complaint "a political stunt."[4]

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How many veto referendums are on the 2012 ballot in the country. Click here to find out!

A new update will be released this week. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!