The Ballotpedia News Update, 2009 archive

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Ballotpedia's 2009 news stories

Ballotpedia News

Tax cut amendment in Colorado

Former lobbyist Freda Poundstone has introduced a tax-limiting amendment as a possible initiative for the 2010 Colorado ballot, eliciting a strong reaction from some.

Poundstone's proposals would drastically cut taxes and fees paid on car registrations, telephone bills and more. State Senator Chris Romer said, "This would destroy government as we know it." Sen. Romer is a Democrat.[1],[2]

Smarter Growth okay for 2010 in Florida

A 4-3 majority of the Florida Supreme Court ruled on December 18 that an initiated constitutional amendment proposed for the 2010 ballot in Florida may include two competing citizen initiatives on growth management. The court said the proposed "Smarter Growth" amendment is "not materially misleading."[3],[4]

Casino amendment in Texas?

Casino companies are lobbying the Texas State Legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would allow a dozen resort-style casinos to be built, and also allow slot machines at race tracks and the three recognized Native American tribes in Texas. Competing bills are expected as the Texas legislature convenes, looking for ways to make up the state's growing budget gap.[5]

Oregon initiative change proposed

Citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives that gain enough signatures to qualify for the ballot would first be sent on a detour through the Oregon Legislature under a proposal being floated in the 2009 session. Supporters say the change, if enacted, would lead to a more deliberative process. Opponents says it would curb the state's tradition of direct democracy.[6]

New York gov supports fewer signatures for local measures

Governor David Paterson's state budget for 2090-2010 includes a section that would reduce signature requirements for initiating a referendum for municipal consolidation or dissolution. Under current law, a permissive referendum for voting on consolidation or dissolution of a village, special district, or town is triggered if 60 percent of the registered voters sign a petition to that effect. Under the proposed legislation, 25 percent of the registered voters could trigger a requirement for a permissive referendum.[7]

Nashville rejects "English Only"

Nashville residents rejected the English First and "Hear The People" charter amendments on Thursday, January 22.

Tenth Circuit invalidates Oklahoma residency requirement

The Tenth Circuit announced on January 21 that it is rejecting a request by Drew Edmondson that it re-consider its December 18 ruling in the case of Yes on Term Limits v. Savage. Oklahoma had asked for an en banc rehearing, but no judge wanted to rehear the case.[8] At issue is a federal lawsuit filed by Yes on Term Limits challenging Oklahoma's residency requirements for petition circulators.[9],[10]

Farmers, Humane Society seek Ohio agreement

Representatives of the Ohio Pork Producers Council and other Ohio farmers met in February 2009 with representatives of the Humane Society of the United States to see if legislation about the elimination of gestation stalls for sows, veal crates and cages for layers could be agreed on between the two parties, short of HSUS putting a ballot initiative on the Ohio ballot, as it recently did in California with California Proposition 2 (2008).[11]

Duelling ballot title lawsuits in Missouri

Supporters and opponents of the Missouri No Public Funds for Stem Cell Research Initiative (2010) have filed lawsuits against the Missouri Secretary of State's office. Each side believes the ballot title as written mis-states what the measure does.[12]

Oklahoma legislator proposes union limitation

Sally Kern, a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, has proposed legislation that would prevent teacher's unions from "distributing materials at professional meetings for the purpose of influencing the results of an election for state or local office or a ballot measure, or for the purpose of soliciting funds for or against a candidate for state or local office or a ballot measure." Jill Dudley, president of the Moore Association of Classroom Teachers, said, Kern comes "out against us anytime we seem to do anything." Kern says she wants to protect Oklahoma teachers from listening to political advocacy at official school activities.[13]

California election set for May 19

In order to free up $5.8 billion to help close the state's $42 billion budget gap, a special election will take place on May 19 where voters statewide will vote on a package of constitutional amendments.[14]

Budget deal in California may add more propositions

Interview with Maldonado

State senator Abel Maldonado wants three new constitutional amendments in exchange for his vote on a budget package that includes $14.3 billion in tax increases.

The three propositions Maldonado wants are:

Arkansas casino amendment rejected fourth time

On February 13, 2009, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the fourth revised version of a proposed constitutional amendment intended as a ballot initiative because the wording is, in his view, too ambiguous.

Businessman Michael J. Wasserman wants to get a ballot initiative passed that will enable his company, Wasserman's Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, to operate casinos in Boone, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski and Sebastian counties.[16]

California may amend previous propositions

The California state budget problems in 2009 have led to the possibility that Proposition 98 from 1998, Proposition 10 from 1998 and Proposition 63 from 2004 will go back before the voters on a special 2009 ballot so that dedicated funds approved by the voters when these propositions were passed can be used for the state's general fund.[17]

South Dakota legislature wants reform

Members of the South Dakota State Legislature want to change laws governing the initiative process in South Dakota to require additional donor disclosure. One new law, SB180, would apply that when organizations give more than $10,000 to a ballot measure committee, someone from the organization would have to file a signed statement with election officials swearing that the money wasn't raised for the purpose of influencing the ballot question, or file a full report as a ballot committee. A second bill defines "treasury funds" as "funds of an organization that were not raised or collected from any other source for the purpose of influencing a ballot question."[18]

Initiative reform proposed in Arizona

The Arizona Reform the Initiative Process Amendment (2010) has been proposed as a reform of Arizona's laws. Its provisions if enacted would:

  • Ban signature-gatherers from getting paid by signature or page.
  • Require gatherers to register with the Secretary of State's Office.
  • Fine those who fail to register.
  • Reduce the number of total signatures that need to be gathered for an initiative to reach the ballot. (See Arizona signature requirements.)
  • Move up the petition filing deadline by about two months.
  • Require people or groups organizing a citizens initiative to submit a copy of the proposed text to the Legislature as well as to the secretary of state.
  • Say the Legislature will hold a public hearing on the proposal and hear testimony, but for informational purposes only.
  • Allow legislative staffers to propose text or draft suggestions to "improve" a proposal. The organizers have the right to reject the suggestions.
  • Give the legislative staff the authority to establish the official name of a ballot measure in an effort to avoid misleading ballot titles.
  • Allow about an extra month for challenges to be made against the initiative filing before it qualifies for the ballot.
  • Increase the number of signatures that the secretary of state must randomly verify from 5 percent to 10 percent of the total submitted.
  • Move up the date to file arguments for or against an initiative or referendum.

Gay marriage amendment in Colorado

Stu Allen, of Lakewood, Colorado, has started the steps of shepherding a Colorado Gay Marriage Amendment (2010) through the process of qualifying for the 2010 ballot in Colorado.

Special election in California

A special statewide election is very likely to take place in California on either April 7, April 14, April 21, May 19 or June 2 to vote on at least four proposed constitutional amendments. The ballot will include:

The ballot may also include:

Initiative for North Carolina?

HB 47, to authorize use of ballot initiatives in North Carolina, was introduced on February 4, 2009 in the North Carolina House of Representatives by Blust, Blackwood, Current, Moore and Starnes.[20]

Politicians want to change Oregon's I&R laws

Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is asking the state legislature to adopt a proposal that would:

  • Require signature gatherers to register and take a training course earlier than they are required to so under the state's current laws.
  • Allow the government to invalidate any signatures collected by a petition circulator who has been convicted of fraud, forgery or identity theft.[21]

Politicians want to change Colorado I&R laws

Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado

Politicians Terrance Carroll, Brandon Shaffer, Josh Penry, Mike May, and Lois Court are co-sponsoring legislation introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives on March 24 that would:

Michigan Senate approves property tax amendment

On March 18, 2009, the Michigan State Senate by a vote of 29-8 approved legislation that would put a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot for Michigan voters that would, if enacted, prevent property taxes from going up when home values decline. The bill now goes to the Michigan House of Representatives, where 74 of the 110 members of the state house will have to vote in favor for it to go on the November 2010 ballot in Michigan.[23]

Secret ballot amendment proposed in Florida

On March 11, 2009, a committee of the Florida House of Representatives approved a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that would guarantee workers in Florida the secret ballot. Four Democrats on the committee voted against the measure, which is sponsored by House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. R-Delray Beach. The proposed amendment is the Florida Secret Ballot Amendment (2010).[24]

New $8 billion budget gap in California

Although six of the seven statewide ballot propositions on the May 19 ballot in California (1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E and 1F) are intended to close an approximately $42 billion budget gap, the California Legislative Analyst's Office, an agency of the state government, said in early March that tax revenues flowing into the state treasury are "well below" the projections it used earlier in the year, and that California's government now faces an additional $8 billion gap in addition to the earlier $42 billion gap.[25]

Split California in 2?

In the aftermath of California Proposition 2 (2008), a movement to split California into two states has arisen. Bill Maze, the president and founder of "Citizens for Saving California Farming Industries", says, "We have to ask ourselves, 'Is there a better way to govern this state?'" The group believes that the state's inland counties are very politically and culturally different from the more coastal counties, and they don't want to be governed by the prevailing dominant policies that spring from those more populous counties. They've established a website called "Downsize California".[26],[27]

Ballot titles in California

Roger Niello, a Republican in the California State Assembly, has introduced California Assembly Bill 319. AB 319 proposes to transfer responsibility for writing the ballot titles of statewide California propositions from the California Attorney General's office to the office of the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). AB 319 would also have the LAO come up with the fiscal estimates for statewide ballot propositions, rather than the current system under which the fiscal estimate is compiled jointly by the Department of Finance and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee along with an estimate by the LAO.[28]

Electronic bingo in Alabama

Marcel Black of the Alabama House of Representatives has proposed an Alabama Electronic Bingo Amendment (2010) for the June 2010 ballot in Alabama. To make that ballot, 63 of the state's 104 members of Alabama House of Representatives and 21 of the 32 senators in the Alabama State Senate will have to vote to put it on the ballot. The measure would authorize fourteen gambling centers to operate electronic bingo in nine counties. The proposed amendment to the Alabama Constitution would also create a State Gaming Commission and impose a state tax on electronic bingo.[29]

Casino for Vikings Stadium in Minnesota?

A Minnesota Casino Revenues for Vikings Stadium Amendment (2010) may appear on the 2010 ballot in Minnesota. The measure has been proposed by Tom Hackbarth, a Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. His idea is to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, which would allow a casino in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The tax revenues generated through that casino would then go to pay for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.[30]

$265.8 million bond measure possible in Maine

Gov. John Baldacci is asking the Maine State Legislature to put on a $265.8 million bond package, the Maine Transportation and Energy Bonds (2009), on the Maine 2009 ballot.[31]

The bond package under consideration includes bonds for:

  • Collaboration between Southern Maine Community College and the University of Maine to be developed at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.
  • Renovations at Maine's university campuses, which would include a $5.4 million project at the University of Southern Maine's Bailey Hall in Gorham and a $1.4 million project at the UMaine School of Law in Portland.
  • A technology proving center for off-shore and near-shore wind power.
  • $128 million in funding for transportation projects, including upgrades to the International Marine Terminal in Portland.

March 3 vote on Measure B, Nguyen recall

On March 3, Los Angelenos voted down the hotly-contested Solar B by a very narrow margin, while over in San Jose, Madison Nguyen retained her seat in a recall. Across seven counties, voters had mixed opinions on phone tax, sales tax and parcel tax measures.

Four initiatives qualify for Maine ballot

Three ballot initiatives and one veto referendum have obtained enough signatures to qualify for the 2009 ballot in Maine.[32]

Texas casinos?

Democratic state senator Rodney Ellis is leading an effort in the Texas State Legislature to get a 2/3rds vote in the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives to put a constitutional amendment before the state's voters on the Texas 2009 ballot to create up to 13 urban Vegas-style casinos in Texas.[33]

Wisconsin voters mixed on school measures

On April 7, Wisconsin voters split on 44 local school measures, defeating 22 and approving 22. Voters in other Wisconsin school districts have school choices to make on April 21, 28 and May 19.

Archives of The Ballot Initiative Gazette


  1. Rocky Mountain News, "State tax cut plan hailed, assailed", January 27, 2009
  2. Rocky Mountain News, "Poundstone takes aim at taxes, government", January 27, 2009
  3. Two growth measures may make 2010 ballot, January 15, 2009
  4. Court clears way for growth amendment
  5. Star-Telegram, "Casino interests gear up for a Texas push", January 27, 2009
  6. News-Review, "Ore. initiatives might go first to lawmakers", January 28, 2009
  7. Great Neck Record, "Feb. 5 Meeting for Public on Local Government", January 30, 2009
  8. Ballot Access News, "10th Circuit Refuses to Rehear Case on Out-of-State Circulators", January 21, 2009
  9. Text of the 10th Circuit's decision in "Yes on Term Limits v. Savage"
  10. Edmond Sun, "Court reverses initiative petition ruling, December 18, 2008
  11. Pork Magazine, "HSUS Extends Efforts to Ohio, Illinois", February 20, 2009
  12. KOMU-TV, "Ballot Battle", February 12, 2009
  13. Norman Transcript, "Teacher's union reps upset with proposal", February 17, 2009
  14. Los Angeles Times, "With budget stalemate over, next move is up to California voters", February 20, 2009
  15. Sacramento Bee, "Maldonado's price for budget vote: 3 constitutional amendments", February 19, 2009
  16. The Morning News, "Attorney General Rejects Casino Amendment", February 13, 2009
  17. Inside Bay Area, "Editorial: Budget deal a step forward, but voters must pass five ballot measures", February 15, 2009
  18. Aberdeen News, "Campaign spending laws need fixing", February 11, 2009
  19. Los Angeles Times, "The Next Special Election: April? May? June?", February 9, 2009
  20. Ballot Access News, "Bill to Establish Initiative in North Carolina", February 9, 2009
  21. The Oregonian, "Brown wants to further regulate Ore. initiatives", March 23, 2009
  22. Speaker Carroll aims to end ballot fraud, March 24, 2009
  23. Associated Press, "Michigan Senate OKs property tax change for ballot; measure heads to House", March 18, 2009
  24. Florida Times-Union, "Hill blasts secret ballot measure", March 12, 2009
  25. San Diego Union-Tribune, "State budget springs a leak", March 14, 2009
  26. Website of "Downsize California"
  27. New York Times, "Farmers Lead a Bid to Create 2 Californias", March 13, 2009
  28. Rocklin Today, "AB 319 will reduce misleading information for ballot initiatives", February 26, 2009
  29. Birmingham News, "Alabama representative proposes 14 gambling centers throughout state", March 6, 2009
  30. Morris Sun Tribune, "Too bad but we all might have to get used to these words: L.A. Vikings and Go Packers", March 6, 2009
  31. Maine Morning Sentinel, "Baldacci unveils $306M bond proposal", March 8, 2009
  32. WMTV, "Maine Citizen Initiatives Certified; Will Go To Legislature", February 24, 2009
  33. Fort Worth Star Telegram, "Tarrant’s top elected leaders cool to casino legislation", March 1, 2009