The Tuesday Count: A rush of developments occur in 2011's last breaths
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.
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.
|Proposals with recent activity|
- A taxing question emerges: A measure has been introduced in Idaho that could allow voters to decide whether or not cut the sales tax in the state from 6 to 5 percent.
- Immigration debate migrates west: An effort to repeal the "Dream Act" has begun in California. The act, also known as AB 131, gives illegal immigrants access to state financial aid at public universities and community colleges. Signatures needed to place the repeal on the 2012 ballot must be collected by the first week of January.
- Signature gathering on ice? Not quite. But supporters of a North Dakota University nickname measure announced that they plan to seek a court order to force Ralph Engelstad Arena to allow the circulation of initiative petitions at hockey games. The proposed state constitutional amendent would allow for the University of North Dakota to use the "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo. Another proposal, a referendum, calls for repealing a 2011 state law - SB 2370. To read about that measure, click here.
SPOTLIGHT:Springfield illegal immigrant measure raises questions
Local municipalities continue to put issues onto their 2012 ballots. In Springfield, Missouri, a measure to curb illegal immigrants from being hired has raised some issues with local groups. The measure will appear on the February 7, 2012 ballot and seeks to make businesses use the E-Verify system to ensure that potential workers are in the country legally. Already the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the NAACP have noted their opposition to this measure. The Chamber notes that there does not seem to be an illegal immigrant problem in the city so the purpose of the measure is unclear, and also, that if it were to be approved it could add stress to small businesses who would need to hire additional workers to validate potential workers' statuses. The NAACP stated that there could be potential racial profiling if the measure were to be enacted as well as additional costs for the city to force businesses to follow this. The Ozarks Minutemen, the group which petitioned for the measure to be on the ballot, noted that the measure was not about race but to curb illegal workers from being hired in the city.
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BALLOT LAW UPDATE
California Prop. 13 lawsuit: California Proposition 13 (1978) amended the state constitution to, among other things, require a 2/3 vote of the Legislature in order to increase revenues via a change in state taxes. This requirement has shaped California politics ever since, attracting both high praise and sharp criticism. Now, over 30 years after taking effect, a lawsuit challenging the lawsuit has been filed, arguing that the measure constitutes a revision to the state constitution rather than an amendment. The former only requires approval by a majority of voters, while the latter must first be referred to voters by a 2/3 vote of both legislative chambers. In Livermore v. Waite, the California Supreme Court defined a constitutional revision as a "change in the basic plan of California government."
Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!
- The Palm Beach Post,"Fla. judge knocks religious funding question off ballot; attorney general could put it back on," December 14, 2011
- News-Press, "Bondi rewrites Amendment 7 summary", December 20, 2011
- PR Web, "Colorado Board Sides with Personhood Proponents, Approves Proposed Amendment Language", December 22, 2011
- Los Angeles Times, "California Dream Act's opponents gather signatures", December 18, 2011
- LA Times, "Newton: Could Prop. 13 fall?," December 26, 2011