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The Tuesday Count: hundreds of initiatives filed for 2012

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September 6, 2011

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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

Four months remain until 2012 but already state officials and citizens are preparing their paperwork and campaign efforts. One petition drive deadline has already lapsed for the even election year in the state of Nevada.

Four deadlines in the states of Massachusetts, Montana and South Dakota remain pending for this year. The next deadline rolls in September 30 in Montana for two proposed veto referendums.

Like most even election years, 2012 is proving to be another busy year. As of September 1 an estimated 273 citizen initiatives have been filed with secretaries of state in 19 states. Compared to the previous even election year, 2010 kicked off with 424 initiatives and concluded with more than 600.

On the West Coast, California ranks as one of the top five states with the most initiatives filed. The proposed "Amazon Sales Tax" Veto Referendum continues to make headlines with an estimated $5.25 million contributed to the campaign by retailing giant Amazon.com. However, recent reports indicate that referendum efforts may come to an end. Amazon has reportedly offered to open new distribution centers in California if Gov. Jerry Brown agrees to delay the sales tax for two years. On September 2, the governor indicated he was unlikely to accept the offer.[1]

The "Amazon Sales Tax Referendum" is only one of several proposed referendums in California. At least six veto referendums have been filed for the 2012 ballot in the state; two of which relate to redistricting. On August 30, the Attorney General reported that a referendum was filed to overturn the Congressional map approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. The measure was filed by Julie Vandermost and Charles Bell. Earlier in August, the Republican Party announced their support for a veto referendum to overturn the Senate map.

Proposals whether by legislators or citizens vary greatly for 2012. Already more than 20 different topics are scheduled to appear on the statewide ballot next year.

In Florida, the "Sunshine State," offshore drilling debates have resurfaced. Originally proposed in 2010, the measure is making a comeback in hopes of qualifying for 2012. The proposal would ask voters in the state whether they should allow offshore drilling off the Florida coast. If sent to the ballot, and enacted by voters, it would make Florida a drill-free state.

Already in Florida, seven measures are expected to appear on the November 2012 ballot. Topics addressed by the certified questions include judicial reform, taxes, state budgets, health care, abortion, and religion.

But before we can close the book on 2011, state officials continue to solidify ballot summaries, fiscal notes and last but not least, the order for this year's odd-year ballot questions. Last week, Maine's secretary of state finalized the order for the northeastern state. Question 1 asks voters to amend laws governing the deadline for approval of a second racino in the state and allow another tribal racino in Washington County. Question 2, also related to gambling, asks if a slot machine facility should be allowed in the state.


Proposals with recent activity


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SPOTLIGHT:School budgets, bonds and tax increases flood local Wisconsin School elections

Today in Wisconsin, the Adams-Friendship School District held an election to answer three proposed measures.[2]

The first measure seeks to issue a bond in the amount of $2.1 million in order to make repairs to school buildings in the district. School officials noted that there would not be an increase to taxes for this bond as repayments would be deferred until 2017 when a previous bond which paid for a new high school would be paid off. Also, they argue that maintaining school buildings is important to the overall standards of the schools.

The second measure seeks to allow for an increase in the school budget in order to demolish the old Adams Grade School Building. The building is not in use as a school facility and other options to use it for alternative means did not work out. The school district, however, sees more potential for the land for future use, as a green space or a park, once the building is demolished.

The third measure seeks to increase current property taxes by $175,000 per year for a period of five years in order to purchase new buses for the school district. School officials noted the need for this increase as the budget had been cut previously and there is a need for new buses in order to maintain a proper fleet for the district.

Stay tuned for results here!


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Two states only allow for veto referendums by citizens and not any other type of initiative. Maryland is one. Which one is the other?
Click to find out!
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BALLOT LAW UPDATE

Nebraska lawsuit rulings: Last week, the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska overturned the state's residency requirement. These cases, Citizens in Charge v. Gale and Bernbeck v. Gale, constitute a major victory for advocates of the initiative process. Besides overturning Nebraska's residency requirement, these cases promise to further weaken a 2001 ruling, Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Jaeger, which upheld bans on out-of-state circulators.[3]

In Bernbeck v. Gale, the court also struck down the state's requirement that local petition sponsor reside in the affected municipality. However, the cases also contained setbacks for initiative advocates. Notably, the court upheld the state's "scarlet letter law" and pay-per-signature ban. Given that both parties won and lost on particular issues, an appeal by one or both sides is expected.[4]

Click here for the latest Ballot Law Update report!

See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard

References