Difference between revisions of "The Ballotpedia News Update"

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Revision as of 17:35, 30 April 2014

Ballotpedia News



News headlines

News about: elections, politicians and candidates at all levels of government: elections, congress, state executive officials, state legislatures, recall elections, ballot measures and school boards. You can find a full list of projects here.

[edit]


Municipal Elections: 2014 Year in Review

By Ballotpedia's Municipal Government team

In 2014, 43 of the country's 100 largest cities held elections. One city held an election only for mayor, 20 held elections only for city council and the other 22 held elections for both positions. In total, 799 candidates ran for election across the 43 cities, with 131 mayoral candidates and 668 candidates for city council.


State Legislative Tracker: Legislative reform proposals in Oklahoma

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at a proposed legislative reform in Oklahoma.


Signatures submitted to put California’s plastic bag ban before voters

By Ryan Byrne

California
California is set to become the first state in the nation to ban plastic single-use carryout bags, with stage one of the ban commencing in July 2015. The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), an industry group representing plastic bag manufacturers, has a different plan, which might put the historic ban on hold. APBA quickly organized a veto referendum campaign in an attempt to get a Plastic Bag Ban Referendum placed on the November 8, 2016, ballot. APBA and allies had 90 days to collect 504,760 valid signatures.[1] On December 29, 2014, the final day of the referendum petition drive, opponents of the bag ban submitted over 800,000 unverified signatures, or 300,000 more than were required.[2]

The plastic bag ban was heralded by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) as "a step in the right direction," and Sen. Alex Padilla (D-20) said the "new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year."[3] SB 270, the legislation banning single-use plastic bags, would allow stores to provide such bags for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and perishable items. Under SB 270, $2 million would be appropriated to state plastic bag manufacturers for the purpose of helping them retain jobs and transition to making thicker, multi-use, recycled plastic bags. Also, consumers using a payment card or voucher issued by the California Special Supplemental Food Program, a public assistance program, would not be charged for non-plastic bags, for which other consumers would pay 10¢.[4]

Lee Califf, Executive Director of APBA, deemed the 10¢ charge for reusable bags as "a back room deal between the grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism."[5] His group's campaign is in full-swing, with the APBA's ballot measure campaign committee raising $3,813,668 from nine sources, all of which are plastics producers, in the past 90 days.[6] Although APBA has raised almost $4 million in contributions and turned in over 800,000 signatures, the veto referendum hasn't been certified for the ballot yet, and an investigation might stand in the group's way.

Supporters of the plastic bag ban filed a complaint with the California Secretary of State's office in mid-December, contending that referendum proponents were misleading citizens in attempts to get them to sign their petitions. Examples of alleged misleading included telling citizens that signing a petition would support the ban or even create a nationwide ban, while the petition would actually give voters the opportunity to overturn the law. About 50 people have come forward claiming they were misled by signature collectors.[7]

If the veto referendum campaign fails to get SB 270 placed on the ballot, it will go into effect for big businesses in 2015 and for small businesses in 2016. If the referendum is certified for the ballot, the ban will be put on hold until voters get a chance to decide on the issue on the 2016 general election ballot.


Pension Hotspots: 2014 Year in Review

By Josh Altic

The Pension Hotspots Report is a monthly publication about local pensions and pension reform efforts.

Ten pension-related measures were proposed for 2014 elections. Five of these were approved and two were defeated. Court decisions removed the initiatives in Pacific Grove, California, and Ventura County, California, from the ballot. A measure in San Jose seeking to alter previously approved reform was also ultimately not put on the ballot.

This edition of the report serves as a year-end review and summary of all 2014 pension related measures covered by Ballotpedia.


First state initiative of 2015 certified in Mississippi

By Ryan Byrne

Mississippi
Critical of the Mississippi government's failure to fund public primary education at a level required by the state's education spending formula, a coalition formed to sponsor an initiative requiring the state to fund "an adequate and efficient system of free public schools."[8] Better Schools, Better Jobs, the coalition sponsoring Initiative 42, collected about 200,000 signatures, although the Mississippi Secretary of State only declared 116,570 valid on December 19.[9][10] Nonetheless, supporters needed no more than 107,216 valid signatures, a number they exceeded by 9,354. Initiative 42 was the first, and the last, citizen-referred measure to make the 2015 ballot in Mississippi. The deadline for initiative campaigns to submit signatures was October 8, 2014. Initiative 42 was also the first statewide initiative certified for a 2015 ballot in the whole country.

Although the Mississippi Legislature passed the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) in 1997, a statute-based formula for funding public education, the state has fallen short of the formula by about $1.53 billion over the past seven years. The demands of the MAEP formula have only been met twice, and both in election years.[11][12] Initiative 42 would engrain "an adequate and efficient system of free public schools" into the state's constitution, which the MAEP legislation did not do. Also, the initiative explicitly empowers the Mississippi Chancery Courts to enforce the amendment's mandate.[8]

Opponents in the legislature, arguing the amendment would wrongly transfer spending powers from the legislature to judges, might propose an alternative, competing measure to Initiative 42. According to House Education Committee Chairman John Moore (R-60), 2015 may be the first year legislators utilize this power. Patsy Brumfield, spokesperson for Better Schools, Better Jobs, replied to the idea, saying initiative proponents "are laser focused" on preventing a competing legislative referral.[13]


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