The Tuesday Count: petition signatures submitted and lawsuits filed
By Bailey Ludlam
The Tuesday Count has stabilized but that doesn't mean ballot measure activity has come to a halt. Petitions continue to be circulated and legislators continue to file proposals.
In North Dakota this week, initiative supporters filed an estimated 27,800 petition signatures days before the March 29 deadline. The petitions were submitted following Secretary of State Al Jaeger's announcement that the new signature threshold applied to currently pending initiatives. The proposed Property Tax Amendment calls for eliminating property taxes throughout the state, starting in 2012. Jaeger has until April 29 to verify and validate the signatures.
Another petition signature deadline is coming to an end in North Dakota; a proposed Abortion Procedure Ban Initiative. The petition is valid until April 22, 2011. The proposed initiative would ban the use of instruments that would decapitate or crush the skull of a fetus.
Just as proposals mount, so do the lawsuits. In the last week, an estimated three lawsuits have been filed against proposals for the 2012 ballot.
In Missouri, officers of the St. Louis Police Officers' Association filed a lawsuit in Cole County against a Missouri Municipal Police Amendment. The citizen initiative would require that all municipal police forces or departments be controlled by the local governing body. The suit argues that the summary is unfair and misleading. The cost summary, prepared by Auditor Thomas Schweich, they argue is based "solely" on information provided by Mayor Francis Slay, a proponent of the proposed changes. The filed lawsuit adds that the fiscal statement doesn't include expenses like increased legal fees.
A recent legislative action is causing an uproar in the state of Utah. On March 10, 2011, the Governor of Utah gave the final approval on Senate Bill 165. The legislation bans collecting petition signatures online, instead mandating that signatures be obtained directly from registered voters. A proposed referendum is already being discussed for the 2012 statewide ballot.
Late last week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed a lawsuit on behalf of two referendum petition circulators. The lawsuit says that the e-signatures ban contradicts a 2010 Utah Supreme Court ruling that allowed a candidate for governor to use online signatures to obtain ballot access. The lawsuit was filed against Lieutenant Governor of Utah Greg Bell. It was filed in Utah Supreme Court, where it will challenge the constitutionality of the ban passed by the Utah Legislature, the ban that is subject of the referendum.
- New Jersey "Millionaire Tax" Amendment (2011) - the proposed legislative referral would change the personal income tax rate on taxable income over $1 million. The rate would be increased from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent.
- Arizona Government Actions in English Amendment (2012) - The measure would ensure that official government actions be conducted in English. It was proposed during 2011 state legislative session. The official title of the measure in legislative session is SCR 1035.
- Arizona Initiative Tax Approval Amendment (2012) - would mandate that any citizen initiative dealing with tax issues be approved by 60% of voters, rather than a simple majority. The tax issues that would be required to be approved by a supermajority, if proposed by citizen initiative, includes: an increase of an existing tax, the proposal for a new tax, and the reduction of existing tax. The formal title of the measure in 2011 legislative session is SCR 1032.
- Florida Supreme Court Amendment (2012) - would abolish the current Florida Supreme Court and create a Supreme Court of Civil Appeals and Supreme Court of Criminal Appeals. Each of the new supreme courts would have five appointed justices. A slew of judicial reform measures are currently pending in the Florida State Legislature, some of which include amendments to judicial qualifications and appointee confirmations. See the list of pending measures here.
SPOTLIGHT: Local elections are back!
Following a short lull in local elections, they are back in at least five states. If you live in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Missouri or Wisconsin be prepared to head to the ballot on Tuesday, April 5. Wisconsin leads the pack with an estimated 36 counties with ballot questions, primarily revolving around bond and revenue issues. A total of 6 advisory questions are scheduled to appear in Dane, Jefferson, Monroe, Sheboygan and Waupaca counties. Illinois and Missouri come in 2nd and 3rd with elections in 34 and 29 counties, respectively.
| 2011 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2011 Scorecard|