The Tuesday Count: Wyoming could see its first veto referendum in 18 years

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March 5, 2013

Edited by Eric Veram

Tuesday Count Lineup:

0 certifications
1 measure for 2013

Topics featured in this report

"Hill bill"(News)
Marijuana(2014 watch)
Signature requirements(Ballot law)

What to watch for:

Local ballot measure elections in California!

There have been no new certifications since we last reported, however, a legislative referral for the 2014 ballot in South Dakota may see approval today! See the Ballot Law Update for details.

The big news this week is the filing of a veto referendum in Wyoming.

The subject of the referendum is Senate File 104, also known as the "Hill bill," and was signed by Governor Matt Mead on January 29, 2013.

The bill created an education department director and transferred many of the state superintendent of public instruction's duties to the new position. Many voters are upset because the primary difference between the two position is that the superintendent is an elected office while the new education department director is not.

Cindy Hill is the current superintendent and filed a lawsuit challenging the law the day it was signed, however, she is not responsible for the initiated veto effort. That claim goes to the Wyoming Constitution Party, and according to the group's chairperson, Jennifer Young, the effort has bipartisan support.

According to Young, the effort is not about Hill directly but rather legislation in violation of the state constitution. In a statement made to the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, she said, "People are incensed at the violation of the Wyoming Constitution. People all over the state are incensed at the power grab and the complete disregard for the will of the people."

Wyoming is widely recognized as having a steep road to the ballot for citizen initiatives. This veto effort will require 37,605 signatures by May 28, 2013. If the referendum successfully makes it to the ballot in 2014, it will be the first in the state since 1996.[1]

In Ohio, same-sex marriage supporters say they are positive they will have gathered the required 385,245 signatures by the July 3, 2013, deadline to place the Ohio Same-Sex Marriage Amendment on this fall's ballot.

However, just because they have the names for this year doesn't mean they will file them. The measure's sponsor, FreedomOhio, says that their decision of whether to file for the 2013 general election or the one in 2014 will depend on a number of factors.

According to Ian James, the group's co-founder, the decision rests on summer polling data and available resources. He does, whoever, believe that attitudes in the state have shifted since a ban on the practice was passed in 2004. In statements made to media outlets, James pointed to President Barack Obama endorsement of same-sex marriage and the Democratic party adding its nationwide adoption to its convention platform.

James also believes that the measure's clause maintaining the right of religious institutions to not recognize or perform same-sex marriages is important to garnering public support.[2]

2014 watch

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Marijuana turned out to be an incredibly popular ballot topic in 2012 and shows no sign of slowing down in the near future.

Florida has seen both renewed efforts on the part of medical marijuana supporters to place an amendment on the 2014 ballot and action from the legislature to legalize it even sooner.

The amendment is known as the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative and was first approved by the Florida Secretary of State in 2009. So far, the amendment has not yet gathered the signatures necessary, 683,149, to be exact, for ballot placement.

If the amendment does reach the ballot, it will require a 60% majority approval to pass. A recent study conducted by the People United for Medical Marijuana suggests that seventy percent of Florida's voters approve of the amendment.

Alternatively, a bill filed by Senator Jeff Clemens could get the job done sooner. Sen. Clemens's bill, SB 1250, or the "Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act," would authorize a qualifying patient to possess and use medical cannabis the paraphernalia required. The bill would also require that medical marijuana be obtained only from a licensed dispensary or a medical marijuana farm.[3]

If passed, the law would take effect July 1, 2013.


2014 Count
Number: Four measures
States: California and Tennessee

Maine is also seeing increased legislative action regarding the drug, in a proposed legislative referral that would legalize its casual use. According to reports, Representative Diane Russell-Natera introduced an "Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana."

Medical marijuana is already legal in the state, but Rep. Russell-Natera's bill would go further by allowing for the possession of up to two and half ounces of cannabis and the cultivation of up to six plants. In a statement made to BangorDailyNews.com, Rep. Russell-Natera said, "We have retail establishments that grow and supply [medical] marijuana to responsible consumers. We have proven here in Maine that this can be done for medicinal purposes and it’s now time to institute that same strict regulatory infrastructure for responsible adult recreational consumers."[4]

If the measure passes the legislature, voters in Maine would see it on the November 2014 statewide ballot.


Quick hits

  • Georgia Senate votes today on a fireworks legalization amendment: If both the Georgia Senate and House pass the proposed amendment with a 2/3 majority, it will be presented to the voters for the final decision. This measure would amend the Georgia Constitution to make the sale of fireworks legal throughout the state. If it is approved, the tax revenue from fireworks sales is estimated to be anywhere from $2.5 million to $10 million per year and would go to trauma care and firefighter services. “We lose millions of dollars of revenue because people go out of state to buy fireworks,” Jeff Mullis sponsored the amendment and, concerning fireworks, he said, “They’re dangerous, but so is walking across the street. Let’s regulate it and make it as safe as possible.”[6]


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Spotlight

It is Election Day in California: California voters are deciding on Mayoral races, school board races and local ballot measures in today's election.

Most of the races are taking place in Los Angeles County, where six cities, including the City of Los Angeles, are choosing Mayors. Elections for three seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board are also taking place today. Races for positions in districts 2, 4 and 6 will be decided. In addition, there are 15 local measures on the ballots across the state, 12 of which are in Los Angeles County.

Notably, a Burbank Unified School District measure is requesting the voters to authorize the district to borrow $110 million to make improvements and upgrades to school facilities and equipment. This measure requires 55% voter approval for it to pass.

There is a lot of controversy over a Redondo Beach rezoning measure that would seek to force AES to shut down a power plant located on waterfront property. Supporters of the measure argue that "this is our only chance to rid our waterfront of a power plant. Times have changed since the first plant was built in Redondo Beach. This site is now tightly surrounded by dense residential development, senior housing, hotels, restaurants, offices and a harbor. This is no place for a new power plant."[7] While those who oppose the measure argue that rezoning privately owned land without consulting the owner is unjust, that Measure A will be ineffective in removing the power plant and that the possible harmful effects of recreational use to the economy and environment are unknown.[8] Harry Munns, a columnist for the website "Building the Best Redondo Beach," opposes the initiative, writing that the measure is " short-sighted, ill-conceived and potentially dangerous."[9]

Follow Ballotpedia's March 5, 2013 California Election page to see the election results for these races.

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


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Ballot Law Update

Initiatives in Arizona could see larger hurdles in the near future: Last week, the Arizona legislature began deliberation on constitutional amendments that would make it much more difficult to place citizen initiatives on the state ballot. One of the proposed measures would require petitioners to gather names from at least five different counties, and at least twenty-five percent of those names would need to come from outside Maricopa and Pima counties. The other amendment under consideration would bump up the deadline for turning in signed petitions from July to May on election years. Both changes will require approval from voters in 2014 before going into effect.[10]

South Dakota House considers supermajority requirement for tax related ballot measures: The South Dakota House of Representatives is currently deciding whether or not to pass the Two-Thirds Majority for Tax Increases Amendment on to voters. A supermajority in the legislature is already required for the approval of new taxes, tax increases, and tax extensions, but the current proposal would extend that requirement to citizen initiatives. A final decision from the house on the amendment is expected very soon, possibly as early as this afternoon. The measure is sponsored by Senator Corey Brown.[11]


A new update will be released at the end of this month. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2013 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2013 Scorecard

References