The Ballotpedia News Update, 2008 archive

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Colorado restaurant owners file lawsuit against Colorado minimum wage initiative from 2006

A group of restaurant owners from Pueblo, Gunnison, Yuma, Crested Butte, Salida, Sedalia and La Junta have filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Minimum Wage Amendment (2006), seeking to have it declared unconstitutional and nullified. The basis for their lawsuit is that the language of the amendment links minimum wage hikes in the state to "the Consumer Price Index used for Colorado." The lawsuit says there "is no CPI 'used for Colorado" but, rather, a CPI for regions, such as a 13-state Western area that includes Colorado, and an index for the Denver-Boulder-Greeley area.

Because of this, the lawsuit says there is "no data whatsoever relating to any rural areas of Colorado and no data from any of the areas in Colorado within which plaintiffs' businesses are situated." They also say, "the rate of inflation and cost-of-living is lower in the areas where plaintiffs do business than in the Denver-Boulder- Greeley metropolitan areas."[1]

Unions pull four initiatives off the Colorado ballot

Just hours before the October 2 deadline, union sponsors of four amendments (53, 55, 56 and 57) announced they had struck a deal with business interests, leading them to pull all four measures from the ballot. Because ballots are already being printed, the measures will appear on the ballot, but the withdrawal will result in no votes for those measures being counted.

53 would have made executive wrongdoing a crime, 55 would have required employers to show cause for firing an employee, 56 would have required many employers in the state to provide health insurance and 57 would have let workers sue their employers in workers-compensation cases.

The agreement was reached when the National Education Association agreed to add $2 million to a joint campaign coffer, along with money from Colorado unions and business interests, to work together to defeat Amendment 47 (Right to Work), Amendment 49 and Amendment 54.

Colorado business and unions back at the ballot bargaining table

Colorado union and business leaders are showing renewed interest in negotiating a deal to avoid the business-union clash at the ballot box.[2]

Colorado Concern, a new alliance, is a key player in the latest talks about the terms under which labor groups would pull their four measures if business leaders help them fight the Amendment 47 (the Colorado Right to Work Amendment) and two other measures they see as anti-union. Present at the negotiations for Colorado Concern were Walter Isenberg of Sage Hospitality Resources, Denver Performing Arts Center Chairman Dan Ritchie, and Oakwood Homes' Patrick Hamill.[2]

Talks broke off without a deal on Sept. 16, 2008, at the governor's mansion. But they are expected to resume later in the week.[2]

Chamber President Joe Blake attended the two meetings this week and sits on the Colorado Concern board. But he said the Chamber will not spend any of its own resources to fight the three measures opposed by organized labor.[2]

In an address Sept. 17, 2008, at the chamber's annual membership lunch, Blake steered clear of talk about a compromise, instead calling on the audience to defeat the four proposals sought by unions. Blake later expressed pessimism that a compromise could be reached that would lead to the withdrawal of the measures.[2]

A source from Colorado Concern said Sept. 24, 2008, that they had pledges of $2 million from business interests toward the $6 million the union leaders say is necessary to convince them to withdraw the four anti-business ballot measures. That money would be used in the campaign to defeat Amendment 47 and two other measures the unions see as anti-union.[3] [4]

Denver Metro Chamber President Joe Blake is asking companies that contributed to the chamber's issue committee, which was formed to oppose the labor-backed measures, not Amendment 47, to shift their money to fight the pro-business measures.[3] For background on the negotiations, see Union-business political balancing act.

Ohio: Casino amendment is on ballot

The Ohio Casino Amendment has qualified for Ohio's November ballot. 402,275 signatures were required and 480,003 were found to be valid. It is one of six gaming ballot measures that will appear on the November ballot around the country.

Last-minute lawsuit threatens Arkansas lottery amendment

Arkansas Family Council filed a petition with the Arkansas Supreme Court on Sept. 19, 2008, arguing that the State Lottery Amendment's title and name should be found to be "inaccurate, incomplete and misleading" because they don't define lotteries and don't warn voters of potential consequences of authorizing a state-run lottery.[5]

"The popular name and ballot title of the proposed amendment do not adequately inform the voters of the effect of the amendment regarding casino gaming," according to the complaint.[5]

Bud Jackson, a spokesman for Halter's lottery campaign, said "This is yet the latest example that the Family Council, a special interest organization, will do anything to impose its will upon the entire state of Arkansas and do anything to prevent Arkansans from having the right to vote on this themselves."[5]

Ohio: Payday loan referendum short on sigs in first go-round

Ohio's Payday Loan Referendum is coming up short in the state's signature count on the first go-round, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Overall, about 50% of the 422,000 signatures submitted are valid. In one county, the validity rate is 38%. Ohio's petition laws have a nearly unique feature that allows petition proponents a second signature collection period if they come up short the first time. The 2nd window of opportunity, however, is a short ten days. ...more

Nevada: Prop 13 off the ballot again, but final appeal goes to state Supreme Court

Washoe District Judge Charles McGee ruled Sept. 9, 2008, that there were "exponentially more petitions containing serious deficiencies in the affidavits than are necessary to defeat the initiative," throwing the Nevada Proposition 13 off the ballot again, just weeks after the measure had been given new life.

Proponents quickly filed an appeal with the Supreme Court and asked for an emergency stay pending outcome of the appeal. Still, the Secretary of State's office told county election officials to remove the plan from their November ballots now that McGee has ruled against it.

The state Supreme Court said Sept. 11, 2008, that it may reject a move to keep the measure alive unless proponents can produce a written copy of a lower court's verbal ruling against the plan. Justices said the proponents have until 5 pm on Sept. 15, 2008, to produce the written version of the ruling from the bench by Senior District Judge Charles McGee issued Sept. 9, 2008. Without the written order, the court said, "this court appears to lack jurisdiction to consider this appeal... Only a written order or judgment has any effect." Proponents filed copies of the lower court order with the state Supreme Court by the Sept. 15th deadline. The attorney for proponents has asked for an emergency stay pending outcome of the appeal. Mercury News Nevada Appeal, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Press-Enterprise



Washington: Supremes give green light to I-1029

On September 5, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that Washington Initiative 1029 would stay on the state of Washington ballot this November. Its ballot position had been challenged in a ballot access lawsuit occasioned by the fact that the petition forms circulated by the initiative's sponsors said that the initiative was to the legislature rather than, as they intended, to the people. Supreme court okays initiative for ballot

Michigan: Andy Dillon recall certified for ballot

Terri Land, the Michigan Secretary of State, announced on Friday, September 5 that she has certified the Andy Dillon recall question for the November 4, 2008 ballot. Dillon is the Democratic Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives. Dillon's name will also appear on the ballot as a candidate. He could be recalled and re-elected simultaneously. If that happens, he will be out of office until inaugurated in January 2009. Supporters of the Dillon recall collected signatures to put the recall question on the August 5 ballot. That effort was hindered by a petition circulation law that a federal judge determined to be unconstitutional in late August, 2008.

Nevada: Supreme Court says "no" to three on appeal

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled on September 4, 2008 in a unanimous opinion that the Taxpayer Protection Act, the Education Enhancement Act and the Funding Priorities Act will not be on the Nevada ballot in November. This high court decision upholds a lower court decision, which was challenged by initiative supporters. The three initiatives, reportedly, were bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson of the Sands Resort. One initiative, Proposition 13, has qualified for the ballot, but is also contending with a post-certification signature challenge. The PISTOL Initiative is on the ballot because it qualified and was voted on, in the first of two mandatory go-rounds, in 2006.

Ohio sick leave plan will be dropped from ballot

Ohioans for Healthy Families is asking Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to pull the Ohio Healthy Families Act from the November 4 ballot in Ohio. The Ohio-based coalition that had supported the initiative is stepping aside for a federal government sick-leave mandate.[6]

Florida: State Supreme Court removes three ballot measures

On Wednesday, September 3, the Florida Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling struck three measures from the November 4, 2008 ballot. The proposed amendments the court took off the ballot had been proposed by the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. They were Amendments 5, 7 and 9. Two of the propositions were designed to help Florida's school voucher program withstand legal challenges.[7]

North Dakota: Tobacco initiative certified

On Tuesday, September 2, the North Dakota Secretary of State certified the Tobacoo Use Prevention and Control Program Petition for the November 4, 2008 ballot in North Dakota. The petition is the second initiative to be certified in North Dakota for the fall ballot. The first was the Tax Cut Initiative. Petition checkers have until Tuesday, September 9 to certify the last remaining initiative in the state, the Workforce Safety and Insurance Agency initiative. Earlier, the Captive Hunting Petition was found to have insufficient signatures.

Ohio: Payday Referendum files signatures

On Sunday, August 31, proponents of the Ohio Payday Loan Referendum submitted 422,000 petition signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State in the hopes of qualifying their veto referendum for the November ballot. If they succeed, the measure will be the only statewide referendum on the ballot in the country. About 241,000 signatures are required for success. With the filing of these signatures, there are no more signatures being collected to qualify measures for the fall ballot, although some groups are out collecting signatures for the 2010 ballot already.Payday lenders turn in signatures for Ohio ballot measure

Arizona Civil Rights Initiative throws in the towel

Proponents of the Arizona Civil Right Initiative filed a lawsuit Aug. 27, 2008, in Maricopa County Superior Court, asking that the initiative be put back on the ballot. Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer disqualified the measure from the ballot Aug. 21, 2008, due to failure to submit sufficient valid signatures. Brewer invalidated nearly 140,000 signatures of those submitted.[8] [9]

Backers of the initiative said election officials in Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, and Yavapai counties incorrectly ruled numerous valid voter signatures to be invalid.[10]


Arkansas: Voters will decide whether unmarried couples can adopt

Election officials in Arkansas have determined that the Arkansas Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban, Proposed Initiative 1 (2008) has succeeded in collecting enough signatures for the fall ballot. Arkansas has a multi-state signature process, which allowed supporters of the initiative to collect an addition 31,000 signatures after their first turn-in in July was deemed to be about 4,000 short of the 62,000 signature requirement.[11]


Reform Michigan Government Now proposal won't go to voters

A three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled unanimous Aug. 20, 2008, that the Michigan Legislative and Judicial Restructuring Initiative was an illegal attempt to enact a general revision of the state constitution, something that can only be done by calling a constitutional convention. The panel called the number and scope of the proposed changes "overarching" and unprecedented.[12] [13]

The court ordered a state elections panel scheduled to meet Aug. 21st to deny certification for the petition. Reform Michigan Government Now spokeswoman Dianne Byrum called the appeal's court decision a "travesty of justice."[12]

RMGN asked the state Supreme Court on Aug. 22, 2008, to hold an emergency hearing on the proposal to allow county elections officials time to put the measure on their ballots.[14]

The group's challenge argues that seven of the Appeals Court judges should be disqualified from the case because they could lose their judgeships if the measure passes in November.[14]


Nevada Prop 13 measure survives challenge, makes ballot

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller rejected a challenge Aug. 15, 2008, to Nevada's Prop 13 initiative from the Nevada State Education Association, certifying the measure for the November ballot in Nevada. The NSEA filed the challenge to the petitions Aug. 8th, holding up certification even though election officials in all 17 counties reported on Aug. 11, 2008, that the petition had 64,116 valid signatures. Read more...


Lawsuits filed against Schools First/Gambling initiative

A Cape Girardeau businessman and a Jackson County lawmaker filed a lawsuit Aug. 14, 2008, to keep the Missouri Schools First Initiative off the November ballot. A second lawsuit against the measure that would cap the number of casinos in Missouri, was filed on behalf of two St. Louis-area residents and is backed by Casino Watch, a group that has consistently opposed the expansion of gambling in Missouri.[15]

An attorney for the Yes for Schools First Coalition said he believes Proposition A will survive any legal challenge and appear on the fall ballot.[15]


Campaign workers indicted for forging signatures

Two campaign workers for Illinois State Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) were indicted Aug. 13, 2008, on forgery and perjury charges for allegedly placing phony signatures on the senator's nominating petitions for his current re-election campaign. The petitions allegedly included names of deceased voters.[16]

State's Attorney Michael Waller, a Republican, requested the appointment of a special state prosecutor to handle the case to avoid the appearance of bias against Democratic campaign workers. Link is chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party and is being challenged for his Senate seat in the November general election by Republican businessman Keith Gray.[16]


North Dakota: Captive Hunting petition fails

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger has announced that the Captive Hunting Petition, one of four citizen initiatives that submitted signatures for the November ballot, has fallen short. In North Dakota, a page showing the sponsoring committee’s names must be attached to or part of the petition. On seven petition sheets including 164 signatures, that wasn't the case. Captive hunting ban fails to get on ballot

Arizona: Another shocker

Supporters of nine initiatives filed signatures in Arizona by the July 3 deadline. Earlier on Monday, August 11, Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer issued a statement officially disqualifying Proposition 203 on the grounds of insufficient signatures. Supporters of the TIME initiative are said to have a $1,000,000 warchest for the campaign. Late last week, Brewer similarly disqualified Proposition 101. Four of the nine initiatives have been certified, while three more wait with increasingly white knuckles. TIME initiative does not make ballot

Two more measures file petitions in Ohio

Two Ohio initiative campaigns filed signatures by the Aug. 6th deadline. Both measures, the Ohio Healthy Families Act and the Ohio Casino Act, filed nearly twice the required number of signatures to earn a spot on Ohio's November ballot.

North Dakota: 2 + 2 = 4

In the only state whose Secretary of State keeps the office open until midnight on filing day, supporters of one initiative, to make it a crime to shoot wild animals in captivity, took advantage of the later hours to file 12,964 signatures. 12,844 are needed, and fans of citizen initiatives everywhere are keeping their fingers crossed. Supporters of the Restructure the WSI Agency Initiative are breathing a sigh of relief having filed 15,554 signatures mid-day on Tuesday. These two initiatives join the Income Tax Cut Initiative and the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program Initiative as contenders for the North Dakota ballot.

Missouri: Casinos and home health care workers

The Missouri Secretary of State announced on August 5 that only two ballot initiatives of five that submitted signatures in early May had qualified for the Missouri ballot. The measures that qualified are the Home Health Care Initiative and the casino-funded effort to repeal the state's stop loss limits. These certifications bring to forty the number of initiatives that have been certified across the country thus far....More

Colorado: November ballot may have near-record number of initiatives

Six Colorado initiative campaigns submitted petitions on deadline-day Aug. 4, 2008, setting up possibly the most ballot measures on the November ballot since 1912, the first year Colorado gave voters the chance to vote on such measures. Eight measures, included four submitted by the state legislature, have already been certified for the ballot. Eleven others await certification by the Secretary of State, following the validation process. See Colorado 2008 ballot measures for more details.

Arizona: Three initiatives in signature trouble?

The Arizona Republic is reporting that three of the eight ballot initatives that filed in early July may be in signature trouble, with a higher-than-normal invalidity rate of 35%. 25% invalidity rates are the historical norm in Arizona. The initiatives in trouble are Protect Our Homes, Prop 103 and 203, the TIME initiative. Prop 200, the payday loan act, is the only one of the nine so far to receive the prized certification letter. Backers face trouble

North Dakota income tax cut initiative files

The North Dakota Income Tax Cut has filed 15,667 signatures to qualify for the November ballot. If it qualifies, it will join the Massachusetts Income Tax Repeal as one of two 2008 ballot initiatives focused on income tax cuts.

Arkansas Adoption Ban proceeds

Although often overlooked in this year's Marriage and family on the ballot, the Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban still has 30 days from July 23 to qualify for the ballot, and its supporters are intent on succeeding.

Colorado media analyzes initiative ads

With a week left to go, enough ballot initiatives are still circulating in Colorado to make the state likely to qualify for the distinction of Most Initiatives in 2008. TV spots (and lawsuits) attacking initiatives such as Prop 59 and Amendment 47 are already on the air, and so are analyses of the accuracy of those ads. Verdict: Misleading

Union measure's petition error: minor or fatal?

The Community Care Coalition of Washington has challenged the validity of petition signatures filed for the union-backed Washington Initiative 1029, based on a mistake on the petitions, which wrongly stated that the measure is an "Initiative to the Legislature" rather than an "Initiative to the People." While officials in Secretary of State Sam Reed's office say they consider the error minor and that they'll accept the petitions, attorneys Kathleen Benedict and Narda Pierce for Community Care Coalition of Washington are demanding that the petitions be rejected.[17]

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which had endorsed Initiative 1029, published an editorial July 17, 2008, calling Secretary of State Reed's decision to accept the petitions a "political misjudgment."[18]

We can only imagine how many people—us, perhaps most of all—would be howling if initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman had done something so slipshod. Instead, there is a lot of pretending that this was a minor mistake involving fine print, a technicality or some verbiage that's only marginally relevant. The mistake is right on the signature page of the petitions, something voters would be most likely to read before signing. Anyone attempting to exercise care about providing his or her signature should be able to trust that the language of what he signed meant what it said and that the measure would first go to the Legislature with an option for lawmakers to enact it or propose an alternative.[18]

The editorial goes on to agree with Eyman's suggested solution: that the petitions be accepted for the measure—but only as an Initiative to the Legislature, just what the signers signed for. Initiatives to the Legislature are first submitted to the state legislature for consideration. If legislators pass it, it becomes law. If they do not pass it, it is put to a vote of the people on the next general election ballot.[18]


Massachusetts initiatives get their official numbers

William Galvin, the Massachusetts Secretary of State has given the three Massachusetts initiatives that'll be on the November 4, 2008 ballot their official numbers. The Income Tax Repeal is Question 1, the Sensible Marijuana Policy initiative is Question 2 and the Greyhound Protection Act is Question 3. Galvin, who has unilateral discretion to choose the ballot ordering, told a reporter his decision was ""based on the perceived relative importance of the proposed laws."[19]


Lawsuit to strike dog-racing ban from ballot fails

A lawsuit by dog racetrack owners to strike the Massachusetts Greyhound Protection Act from the November ballot on the grounds that the fate of two local racetracks should not be determined by a statewide initiative failed when the state's highest court decreed that the subject of the initiative is a matter of statewide concern.[20]


Lawsuit to strike marriage amendment from California ballot fails

The California Supreme Court has declined to consider a petition requesting that California Proposition 8 be struck from the November ballot.[21]


Nevada Supreme Court gives Prop 13 more time, agrees to hear appeal on 3 other measures kept off ballot

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled on July 16, 2008, in favor of supporters of the Nevada Proposition 13 Initiative, agreeing that the state legislature in 2007 moved back the deadline for submitting signatures to a date earlier than the Nevada Constitution allows.[22] [23]

The court ordered that signatures on the initiative petition submitted through June 17 should be accepted as valid, because a constitutional amendment setting the deadline at June 17 supersedes a law that established a May 20 deadline.[22] Supporters of the initiative had submitted signatures in Clark County 20 minutes late for the May 20 deadline.

Matt Griffin, deputy secretary of state in charge of elections, said he will order counties to start counting and verifying the signatures to see if petition backers have the 58,628 needed for the measure to appear on the November ballot.[22]

The Nevada Supreme Court also agreed July 17, 2008, to hold an Aug. 20, 2008, hearing on the appeal of the lower court ruling that blocked three measures backed by Las Vegas Sands Corp. owner Sheldon Adelson from the November ballot.[24]

At issue was a 2007 law requiring circulators to sign statements that they personally circulated the petitions, counted the signatures, and observed the signing of the petitions, and that each signer had a chance to read the full text of the petition. But the initiative sponsors relied on outdated requirements for circulators found on the Secretary of State's web site.[24]


Arkansas lottery opponents question use of Lt. Gov.'s office

Jerry Cox of the Arkansas Family Council, criticized Lt. Gov. Bill Halter July 15, 2008, for using his office—and thus tax money—to promote the Arkansas State Lottery Initiative, admitting that it is legal for Halter to use his office to promote the measure, but questioning the ethics of it.[25]

"Bottom line, I think it's legal but it doesn't pass the smell test," Cox said. "I think the state of Arkansas has indirectly subsidized this lottery effort."[25]


References

  1. Rocky Mountain News, "Wanted: A healthy dose of skepticism", October 4, 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Rocky Mountain News: "Talks to resume to avert labor ballot battle," Sept. 18, 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 Denver Post: "Money tight as business pursues labor ballot deal," Sept. 25, 2008
  4. Rocky Mountain News: Opinion: "FOX: Labor-issues impasse at the precipice," Sept. 26, 2008
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Forbes: "Lawsuit filed to pull lottery off Arkansas ballot," Sept. 19, 2008
  6. Dayton Business Journal, "Sick leave plan being dropped", September 4, 2008
  7. New York Times, "Court blocks Florida ballot measures intended to help school vouchers", September 3, 2008
  8. Arizona Republic: "Affirmative-Action initiative fails to make ballot", Aug. 21, 2008
  9. U.S. News and World Report: "Arizona Affirmative-Action Ban Off Ballot," Aug. 22, 2208
  10. KPHO-TV: "Backers Of Ariz. Initiative Fight For Ballot Spot," Aug. 27, 2008
  11. Morning News: "Supporters Submit 31,000 More Signatures For Adoption Ban Measure," Aug. 21, 2008
  12. 12.0 12.1 Detroit Free Press: "State Court of Appeals: Proposal to reorganize government won’t see November ballot," Aug. 20, 2008
  13. Detroit News: "Reform ballot proposal rejected," Aug. 21, 2008
  14. 14.0 14.1 LegalNewsline.com: "Group asks Mich. government overhaul proposal be allowed on ballot," Aug. 22, 2008
  15. 15.0 15.1 Southeast Missourian: "Two lawsuits challenging casino ballot measure", Aug. 15, 2008
  16. 16.0 16.1 Chicago Tribune: "Campaign workers for state Sen. Terry Link indicted," Aug, 13, 2008
  17. Eye on Olympia: "SEIU's Initiative 1029: Uh-oh...," July 3, 2008
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Editorial: "Initiative process: Reason to rethink," July 17, 2008
  19. Income tax repeal gets first ballot slot
  20. Associated Press, "Court rejects challenge to dog-racing initiative", July 15, 2008
  21. Oroville Mercury-Register, "California high court denies marriage ban challenge", July 16, 2008
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Las Vegas Sun: "Property tax restraint appears headed for election ballot," July 16, 2008
  23. San Jose Mercury News: "Petition rejection challenged," May 23, 2008
  24. 24.0 24.1 San Jose Mercury: "Court to hear petition appeals," July 17, 2008
  25. 25.0 25.1 Associated Press: "Lt. Governor Halter defends office campaigning for Arkansas lottery," July 16, 2008