The Tuesday Count: Deadlines pass with no signature filings in WA & OH

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July 9, 2013

Edited by Brittany Clingen

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20 measures for 2013

Washington 2013 ballot measures
Last week, two petition signature deadlines came and went - one in Ohio, the other in Washington - with no signatures submitted in either state. There is no limit on how long petitions may be circulated in Ohio. Therefore, supporters of citizen-initiated amendments being circulated for the 2013 ballot can continue collecting signatures in an effort to put the measures before voters in 2014.[1]

However, this is not the case in Washington, meaning that all 85 initiatives filed with the Secretary of State are dead in the water.[2]This is surprising, given that Washington ballots have not been void of Initiatives to the People since 1989. In 2012, a total of 79 initiatives to the people were filed with the Secretary of State, though only two were ultimately certified for the ballot. A wide variety of topics were addressed across the 85 potential 2013 measures, including education, government fraud, the death penalty and taxpayer protection. All of the initiatives needed at least 246,372 valid signatures to appear on the ballot.[1][2][3]

Washington ballots won't be completely barren, as two measures, both Initiatives to the Legislature, are set to be decided by voters in November 2013. One, Initiative 517, would implement penalties for intimidating, harassing, interfering with or retaliating against petition drive efforts for a ballot initiative. The other, Initiative 522, would require GMO labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material that is modified in a specific manner.[4][5]

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2014 Count
Number: 36 measures
States: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Michigan, Montana Nevada, New York, Tennessee, and Wyoming

Wolves have been the topic of much discussion - and legislation - in Michigan this year. The group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a group supported by the Humane Society of the United States, successfully placed a referendum on Public Act 520, a law that permits the state to establish wolf hunting seasons, on the on the November 2014 ballot. However, Sen. Tom Casperson (R-38) sponsored Senate Bill 0288 - which became Public Act 21 of 2013 when it was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder (R) - that granted the Natural Resources Commission authority to declare a new game species, thereby rendering the initiative impotent. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected has responded by proposing yet another referendum for the November 2014 ballot, this one seeking to repeal Public Act 21 of 2013.[6]

Supporters of the initial measure were frustrated by the actions taken in the legislature, fueling their resolve to fight back. Jill Fritz of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected said, "We just want Michigan voters to be able to have a say in protecting wildlife, and that was taken away from them. They're going to go out there, collect signatures, and get their voice back." On the opposite side of this tug-of-war over wolves are hunters, farmers and homeowners in Michigan's upper peninsula who say the animals are overpopulated and causing problems for farmers and pet owners.[6]

Supporters of the latest referendum must again gather at least 161,304 valid signatures. They previously gathered over 250,000 to put the initial referendum before voters.[6]

Quick hits

Florida amendment defining marriage receives first signature: The newly filed Florida Same-Sex Marriage Amendment received its first signature from an unlikely source. Former Miami Heat player Tim Hardaway used to be staunchly opposed to the idea of marriage for same-sex couples, even going so far as to describe himself as homophobic in a 2007 interview. However, after a conversation with homosexual friends and relatives, Hardaway changed his position, and on Wednesday, July 3, 2013, became the first name atop a petition seeking to define marriage as "a union of two persons." The petition is for an initiated constitutional amendment that would essentially overturn the voter-approved Amendment 2 of 2008. In addition to allowing for same-sex couples to wed, the measure specifies that religious organizations would not be required by law to officiate any marriages. In order to qualify for the 2014 ballot, supporters are required to collect a minimum of 683,149 valid signatures by the petition drive deadline on February 1, 2014.[7]

Petition drive begins for Colorado Funding for Public Schools Initiative: According to reports, Colorado Commits to Kids has decided on ballot language and has begun the process of gathering signatures to place the measure on this year's ballot in November. The measure asks voters to approve a personal income tax hike for the purposes of funding the recent education reforms found in Senate Bill 213. In fact, Senate Bill 213 will not go into effect at all unless the ballot measure is approved by voters. The effort is being largely funded by the Colorado Education Association, the state's largest teachers union. In a statement regarding the union's support, a spokesperson for Colorado Commits to Kids said, "Our view is that educators understand as well as anybody the challenges posed by more than [one] billion dollars in cuts to education in the past few years and we're happy to have their support." Supporters must obtain at least 86,105 valid signatures by August 5, 2013, in order to place the measure on the ballot.[8]

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Spotlight

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For more images of the proposed LENS project click here.

St. Petersburg voters will decide whether to continue with controversial design of new $50 million pier:

The citizens of St. Petersburg, Florida have questioned the city council's decision to approve a pier costing $50 million designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture, which is a Los Angeles-based firm "committed to the creation of progressive, transformative experiences that chart new trajectories for architecture, urbanism, and the public realm."[9] The group Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg worked to gather 20,000 signatures in a petition to put a stop to the pier design. Faced with this abundantly successful petition, the city council determined on June 13 to put the design decision on the August 27 election ballot in a referendum question asking voters if they approve or reject, "An ordinance terminating the Michael Maltzan new pier design agreement based on the LENS concept."[10][11]

Those in favor of the referendum believe that the LENS project must be stopped because it was hastily conceived and would burden the waterfront and the city's finances for decades while providing a structure that is inconsistent and incompatible with the city of St. Petersburg. The groups that gathered signatures for the petition that brought about the referendum are confident that voters will cancel the contract and vote against the LENS project. Fred Whaley, a leader of the Concerned Citizens group, said, "The thing we early on found out is that 70 percent of people agree with us that the LENS does not have the character, size and function for a pier for St. Petersburg."[12]

The polling done so far in the city indicates a large majority of voters are not pleased with the LENS plan and will likely approve the referendum to cancel the contract. A poll of 300 probable voters done in May by McLaughlin and Associates concluded that 62 percent of respondents viewed the pier plan as a "$50 million sidewalk," while a poll conducted on June 17 contacted 1,524 registered voters, 63 percent of whom supported canceling the LENS project. According to StPetePolls, the organizer of the June poll, the margin of error for this study was 2.5%.[13]

Although many previous supporters of the LENS project have thrown in the towel, including the support group Wow Our Waterfront, which disbanded earlier this month, some have remained loyal to the Michael Maltzan Architecture plan and have formed a new group in opposition to the referendum called Build The LENS. This group plans to campaign against the referendum up until the election on August 27. Those who remain adamant in opposing the referendum and supporting the pier project argue that the city should not be without a pier any longer. They also argue that since the LENS plans have already cost taxpayers about $3 million, the work on this pier plan should continue. Despite polling that suggests wide opposition to the LENS project, Build the LENS activists and other in favor of the Michael Maltzan design believe voters may change their position by the time they vote in August when they realize that they will be left without a pier if they approve the referendum.[13][11]


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Ballot Law Update

Oregon judge affirms pay-per-signature penalty: On Friday, July 5, administrative law judge Alison Greene Webster affirmed a $65,000 fine against Robert Wolfe for paying petition circulators for the number of signatures they gathered. This practice has been outlawed since 2002, when voters approved Measure 26. The fine was issued by the secretary of state's office last year. The allegations against Wolfe were made by two of his employees during a marijuana legalization effort that failed to make the ballot. Wolfe's attorney says that the employees are lying and has vowed to appeal the ruling.[14]

Lawsuit filed in Arkansas against 2004 ballot measure banning same-sex marriage: In addition to a recently filed ballot measure aimed at repealing it, Amendment 83 has also become the subject of a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Cheryl Maples in response to the Supreme Court's recent decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Maples said, "Because our constitutions – both federal and state – provide for due process of law and equal protection, we're asking that those be set aside because they are flagrantly violating a fundamental right these people have." In addition to contesting the constitutional amendment, the lawsuit also asks the court to overturn legislation making same-sex marriage illegal.[15]


A new update will be released at the end of the month. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2013 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2013 Scorecard

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Washington Secretary of State, "General Information: No initiative to the people will be on ballot this fall," accessed on July 9, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 Washington Secretary of State, "Elections & Voting: Proposed Initiatives to the People - 2013," accessed on July 9, 2013
  3. Washington Secretary of State, "Elections & Voting: Initiatives to the People - Yearly Summary of Initiatives to the People," accessed on July 9, 2013
  4. Washington Secretary of State, "2013 initiatives to Legislature launched this week," January 2, 2013
  5. Yes on 522, "Read I-522," accessed on July 9, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 MLive.com, "Keep Michigan Wolves Protected launching second petition drive after new law blocked original effort," July 2, 2013
  7. NBCMiami.com, "Tim Hardaway 1st To Sign Petition To Put Equal Marriage Amendment on Florida Ballot," July 4, 2013
  8. Colorado Spring Gazette, "Colorado tax hike measures petition drive begins," July 8, 2013
  9. The New Architizer website, Michael Maltzan Architecture profile
  10. August 27, 2013 election St. Petersburg sample ballot
  11. 11.0 11.1 Tampa Bay Times, "St. Petersburg council leaves Lens decision to voters," June 20, 2013
  12. Vote Yes to Stop the Lens Website of the Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg Group
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Tampa Tribune, "New group forms to support St. Pete's Lens project," July 5, 2013
  14. Associated Press, "Pot petitioner to contest pay-per-signature fine," July 5, 2013
  15. UALRPublicRadio.org, "Lawsuit Filed Challenging Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in Arkansas," July 4, 2013