The Tuesday Count: A west coast state shakes up certified measure total

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February 14, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

Inching up by both the number of ballot measures and states, the Tuesday Count changed this past week to 61 ballot questions in 25 states. Causing the shift in numbers was a newly-certified initiative in Washington, after the state legislature decided to pass it along to voters.

Initiative 502, supported by the group New Approach Washington, 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. According to reports, marijuana grow farms and food processors would be licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Additionally, the measure would make it illegal for a motorist to have more than 5 nanograms of THC (an active ingredient of marijuana) per milliliter of blood in their system.

On January 27 the Washington Secretary of State's office verified that supporters had collected sufficient signatures to qualify the measure for the statewide ballot. Since the measure is an Initiative to the Legislature, it was first sent to the Washington State Legislature for consideration.

The legislature took no action, leaving the measure to be sent directly to the statewide ballot for a vote on the November 6 general election ballot.

The measure is the second marijuana proposal to reach a statewide ballot for 2012, joining the Montana medical marijuana veto referendum. That referendum will place a legislative revision of an approved 2004 medical marijuana measure to a vote, instead of making it a law automatically.

In what could be an old fashioned Western-style showdown, multiple California tax proposals seem to be gearing up for a duel to the political death.

On December 5, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown submitted a letter requesting a ballot title for a tax increase initiative that would raise the state income tax levied on annual earnings over $250,000 for five years. In addition, the proposal would increase the state's sales and use tax by 1/2 cent for four years. The initiative would allocate 89% of these temporary tax revenues to K-12 schools, and 11% to community colleges.

Brown's ballot question has since been approved for circulation.

Now, there seems to be more tax measures that are brawling for a spot on the 2012 ballot. Others include a tax increase supported by Molly Munger, the increased income tax initiative for those earning over $1,000,000, a tax on oil initiative and an effort to collect more sales taxes from out-of-state businesses.

According to recent reports, Brown had hoped his initiative would be the only tax on the ballot this year. Among Brown's fears of multiple tax questions is the worry that so many proposals would result in tax increase supporters hurting each other at the polls.[1]

Featured campaign quotes:
Oklahoma SQ 762 - Support
Speaker of the State House Kris Steele
Letting the governor focus on parole recommendations for violent crimes is a critical component of Oklahoma’s recent progress to build a stronger, more effective criminal justice system.[2]

Oklahoma SQ 762 - Opposition
State Representative Jason Murphey
When you take the governor out of [the parole] process [for non-violent crimes] the people of Oklahoma have no one to hold accountable...[2]

The developments surrounding the North Dakota "Fighting Sioux" referendum are as active as ever. The referendum's sponsoring committee delivered 17,000 signatures on 604 petitions on the day of the deadline, February 7. If signatures are verified, the referendum will appear on the June 12 primary ballot.

The proposed measure would allow for the University of North Dakota to use the "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo by repealing Senate Bill 2370, a law that repealed an earlier mandate requiring the use of the nickname.

Initiative news in Wyoming is not as active, on the other hand, as no public referendums or initiatives were approved for public circulation, and as such, only legislative referrals can appear on the 2012 ballot. The petition drive deadline for Wyoming was on February 13.

While initiatives are circulating around the country, the state of Arizona is celebrating not only Valentine's Day, but also the 100th anniversary of the state constitution, and along with it, direct democracy. Read more about this significant day on Ballotpedia's news report dedicated to Arizona's century mark celebration, which also includes a question and answer section with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

Quick hits

  • Same-sex marriage signed into law in Washington; Referendum 73 filed hours later: On Monday, February 13, Governor Chris Gregoire signed legislation making it legal for same-sex couples to wed. The state also became the first to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. That same day, only hours after the singing, opponents of the law filed Referendum 73. If enough signatures are gathered, the recently-signed law would be prevented from going into effect until voters decide in the November elections.[3]
Proposals with recent activity
  • Conservative businessman pushes for higher gambling taxes in Nevada: A measure has been filed by Nevadans for a Fair 9 Percent Gambling Revenue Tax, a group backed by businessman Monte Miller, to raise gambling taxes on casinos that make more than $250,000 a month to 9 percent. Miller claims his motive for the push is fairness, saying, "Nevada's individuals and small businesses are overtaxed. By fairly taxing the billions of dollars that big casinos win from high-rolling gamblers, we can lower taxes and fees on individuals and small businesses who are struggling during these tough economic times."[5]


SPOTLIGHT:Latvians to decide on Russian as an official language

On February 18, citizens of Latvia will have a chance to decide if they want to make Russian the official language of the state.

The group Dzimtā valoda (Native Language) petitioned for the issue; they collected 187,378 valid signatures to place the issue before voters. The group comprises of ethnic Russians who stated that Russian should be an official language of the state since so many speak the language. Attempts to block the referendum by the Latvian national group failed, but the Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis noted his opposition to the referendum. Those opposed argue that having Russian as an official language in the country would be detrimental to Latvian nationalism and would not benefit the country in any way. Repeated calls to cancel the vote were heard, but the National Parliament did not see the benefit of cancelling the vote when it was legally put before voters.

Also, today Washington residents will vote on a fair amount of local issues. Most of the measures decided concern school property tax renewals and also bond proposals. Take a look at the list of measures, here.

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A Colorado marijuana initiative fell short of the required signature threshold by how many names?
Click here to find out!

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Decision in Lux v. Judd: On February 8, a judge for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Virginia's in-district residency requirement. Under existing law, candidate petition circulators must be eligible to vote for the office for which they are collecting signatures. This limits the pool of potential circulators to residents of each congressional or legislative district. The judge ruled that requirement restricted first amendment rights without being narrowly tailored to the state's interest in electoral integrity.[6]

Although Virginia does not permit voters to initiate statewide ballot measures, an earlier ruling in the case  has already had broader implications for ballot measure law. In addition to the 4th Circuit ruling, a bill to repeal the requirement (HB1133) is currently making its way through the General Assembly.[7]

  • The full ruling can be found here.
A new update will be released on February 29, 2012. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard