The Tuesday Count: petition signatures submitted, lawsuits filed

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June 7, 2011

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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

Following a very busy of month, June kicks off the Tuesday Count with even more action. The Tuesday Count for 2011 remains rock solid at 16 certified measures following a boost of 10 measures from the state of Texas last week. The count for 2012 also reports no activity; standing at 39 certified measures. However, those counts may be changing very soon.

In the last week, petition signatures in both Idaho and Maryland were submitted to the secretaries of state. In Idaho, petition signatures were submitted regarding three education reform referendum efforts. According to the Secretary of State's office a total of 210,000 verified signatures were submitted. Each referendum needed a minimum of 47,432 valid signatures. Therefore, each measure currently stands well above the requirement.

Specifically, the measures target three state laws. Senate Bill 1184 deals with technology and online learning; Senate Bill 1110 relates to teacher merit-pay bonuses; and Senate Bill 1108 governs collective bargaining rights dealing with teachers in the state.

In Maryland, supporters of an in-state tuition referendum filed their first batch of signatures. In order to qualify a veto referendum on the statewide ballot, a minimum of 55,736 valid petition signatures must be submitted by June 30. The law in question - SB 167- was signed by the governor on May 10. The law would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state or in-county tuition at Maryland colleges.

Earlier this week, on June 6 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state of California could continue granting reduced, in-state tuition to illegal immigrant college students. However, according to reports, it is not currently clear how that ruling may affect laws, amendments or challenges in other states (including Maryland).

College tuition isn't the only topic being challenged. In Mississippi, lawsuits continue to develop. A third lawsuit in the state was filed this week against a measure scheduled to appear on the 2011 ballot. The lawsuit was filed in Hinds County Circuit Court on June 5 by Leland Speed, a Mississippi businessman who is the leader of the Mississippi Development Authority. Speed is challenging the proposed citizen-initiated eminent domain amendment.

The measure proposes prohibiting state and local government from taking private property by eminent domain and then conveying it to other persons/businesses for a period of 10 years. The lawsuit challenges that the measure is unconstitutional, as Speed argues that it attempts to amend the state's Bill of Rights, which he says cannot be changed by initiative. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 25, 2011.[1]

At least 10 lawsuits have been filed this year against both state and local measures. States with lawsuits include: California, Mississippi, Nebraska and Washington. In 2010, at least 60 lawsuits were filed; 16 were filed following certification for the ballot.


RECENT PROPOSALS:


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SPOTLIGHT: There will be local elections held in California and Missouri today. California has twelve counties that have issues on their ballots, no statewide issues got approval in time to appear on this election date. In total, 16 measures will be voted on and 1 measure in San Fransisco is likely not on the ballot. Two school issues will be decided, a bond measure in San Bruno Park and a parcel tax issue in the Hollister School District. In Menifee a question about allowing a Walmart Supercenter to be built will be decided, brought to the ballot by Walmart officials. There will also be a recall election against Donald Kuehne and Joanne Ward in the city of Hercules.

In Missouri, five counties will have issues on the ballots with a total of eight questions being decided. Two of those measures deal with proposed annexation of land in Valley Park City, the other six deal with taxing issues. The city of Elsberry wants to add one cent per gallon to the local gas tax and the city of St. Joseph seeks to increase the hotel tax for tourists in the city. Fire districts in Central Crossing and West Overland seek to add to their current levy amounts so as to further pay for their operational costs. Cole County is looking to renew their sales tax so as to keep paying for road and bridge repair and maintenance costs and the City of Troy seeks to implement a sales tax at a rate of .5 percent in order to fund a city pool.


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BALLOT LAW UPDATE

Court actions concerning I&R: Chula Vista Citizens for Jobs and Fair Competition has filed a motion in a federal court, seeking to have two state I&R regulations overturned as unconstitutional. The first, a natural person requirement, prohibits organizations from acting as initiative proponents. The second requires that individual proponents be identified on the petition forms. The group was forced to comply with these regulations when it promoted a measure allowing the city to contract with non-union construction firms. James Bopp, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, argues that these laws run contrary to Supreme Court decisions supporting corporate and anonymous speech.[2] Details and court documents for Chula Vista Citizens, et al. v. Norris, et al. can be found here.

Bills to watch: South Carolina Senate Joint Resolution 67 would create a process for initiated constitutional amendments in South Carolina. The legislation would require the signatures of 10% of the qualified electors in the prior general election. The measure also institutes a distribution requirement requiring 2% of these signatures to come from each of 2/3 of the state's counties.[3] House Joint Resolution 3008 has also proposed a process for initiated amendments, but also adds a process for initiated statutes.[4] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Protects/expands initiative rights.

Click here for the complete Ballot Law Update report!
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Ohio's Senate Bill 5 is currently the subject of a circulating veto referendum. Which side is the group Building A Better Ohio on, support or opposition to the referendum? Click here to test your ballot knowledge!




See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard

References

  1. Clarion Ledger, "Suit filed to save eminent domain," June 4, 2011
  2. Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom, "California Group Asks Court to Declare California Ballot Initiative Laws Unconstitutional," Press Release, June 3, 2011
  3. South Carolina Senate Joint Resolution 67, bill text
  4. South Carolina House Joint Resolution 3008, bill text