Edited by Al Ortiz
In the last installation of the Tuesday Count for 2011, it is only fitting to present a microcosm of what is expected from 2012 in ballot measure news. This week, there was a re-certification, a lawsuit ruling, and the start of a petition circulation drive. In addition, there was even a signature submission announcement for a proposed 2012 ballot measure.
Beginning with this week's re-certification in Florida, Amendment 7 was placed back on the 2012 ballot after a revision of the measure's ballot language. Previously, a lawsuit to strike the measure from the ballot was heard on October 27, which argued that the measure's title and ballot summary were misleading. The Florida Education Association, who filed the legal challenge, described the proposed measure as an "underhanded attempt to legalize state tuition vouchers for private schools, including church-affiliated schools."
The proposed amendment would prevent individuals from being barred from participating in public programs if they choose to use public funds at a religious provider. Essentially, the measure moves to repeal the state's ban of public dollars for religious funding, also known as the "Blaine Amendment."
On December 14 Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled that the legislatively-proposed measure would no longer appear on the 2012 ballot. However, a new state law which was not overturned by the lawsuit, allowed the Florida Attorney General to re-write the proposal. Read more about the lawsuit here.
On December 20, Attorney General Pam Bondi re-wrote the wording of the ballot measure, placing the proposal back on the ballot. Read the revised text here and on this article's lawsuit section.
A lawsuit ruling Nevada could affect the issue of abortion on the ballot in the state. District Judge James Wilson granted an injunction on December 21 that prevents Personhood Nevada from circulating the proposed "personhood" initiative petition for signatures to place it on the 2014 ballot.
The measure would recognize the personhood of the unborn from the earliest stages of life. The proposed constitutional amendment is supported by Personhood Nevada and is part of a nationwide effort to place the measures on statewide ballots.
According to Wilson, the measure's wording was vague. Wilson stated in his ruling: "[The language] is not capable of being rehabilitated through rewriting."
As one "personhood" effort fades in Nevada, another gains steam in Colorado. On December 21, the Colorado Title Review Board approved the language of the proposed 2012 ballot measure, in a unanimous 3 to 0 vote. This allowed the supporters of the measure to proceed with signature collection to place the measure on the ballot. With the unanimous vote, the board also rejected a challenge that was brought up by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
The language for the proposal reads: “In order to affirm basic human dignity, be it resolved that the right to life in this constitution applies equally to all innocent persons.”
The amendment defines the word “person” in the state constitution as “every human being regardless of the method of creation” and “human being” as “a member of the species homo sapiens at any stage of development.”
Meanwhile, an initiative in Washington is miles ahead of other initiatives across the country. According to the Washington Secretary of State's office, supporters of a marijuana legalization initiative said they plan to submit petitions on December 29 at 10 a.m. Alison Holcomb, the initiative's campaign director, reports that an estimated 340,000 signatures have been collected as of December 20 and expects more by December 29. The group only needs 241,153 valid signatures.
The proposed measure would legalize the production, possession, delivery and distribution of marijuana. The initiative would regulate the sale of small amounts of marijuana to people 21 and older.
Since the measure is an Initiative to the Legislature, if signatures are deemed valid, it is sent to the state legislature. The legislature must then has three options on what to do with the proposal. Read about those options here.