The Tuesday Count: Three ballot additions and several petition drive deadlines anchor busy week

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July 3, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

Three states chipped in one ballot measure each this week, as the Tuesday Count seems to be slowing down for the time-being.

However, that may change with the flurry of petition drive deadlines that will continue to arrive as the first week of July progresses.

Sifting through the complex ballot measure developments that occurred recently, the ballot measure total slowly grew by three to give a sum of 137 ballot measures in 34 states. California, New Hampshire and South Dakota were the culprits who added measures to the ballot, with two of those states placing measures on the ballot via the initiative process.

After three citizen initiatives were reported to be placed on the California ballot in the last Tuesday Count, state election officials still had work to do regarding a "government accountability" act. Signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot were submitted to county election officials around the state on May 7, and the those signatures were verified by the California Secretary of State on June 26.

The measure would establish a two-year state budget cycle and prohibit the California State Legislature from "creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified." Read more provisions of the measure here.

This brings California's ballot measure total to 14. The large proposition total on the ballot comes as no surprise, given the state's recent ballot measure history.

Since 2008, all but one year's ballot had measures for voters to decide on. That year was in 2011. However, in the four other years, the average ballot measure total in the Golden State came out to a little under 14 proposals.

On the other hand, very little ballot measure activity has happened in New Hampshire in recent years. The last time voters in the state had measures on the ballot was in 2006, when two measures were approved by those who cast ballots.

This year, two more measures will be decided on during the November election. The most recently-added measure was ballot-certified by the New Hampshire Legislature before session ended on July 1. The measure would ban new taxes on personal income.

Currently the state of New Hampshire charges the following personal income taxes: the gambling winnings tax that assesses a 10 percent levy on winnings of $600 or more and a 5 percent tax on dividends and interest.

In South Dakota, supporters of a veto referendum regarding a teachers' tenure bill achieved ballot access when signatures were verified by the South Dakota Secretary of State.

The measure would block a bill that was signed into law and supported by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard that would give bonuses to high performing teachers, ban tenure and recruit potential candidates for teaching jobs that are deemed important and critical. The veto referendum effort against the bill was organized by the South Dakota Education Association.

South Dakota's ballot measure total for the November 6, 2012 ballot is seven.

Petition drive deadlines

The Fourth of July holiday is quickly approaching, so it seems fitting for direct democracy to take over the country. Supporters of statewide ballot initiatives in seven states this week face deadlines on different days.

Starting on July 3 and ending on July 6, there will be petition drive deadlines in Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon and Washington. The required amount of valid signatures must be turned in by supporters to the appropriate election officials on those days in order for initiatives to be placed on the ballot.

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.[1]

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...[1]

Five out of those seven states had initiatives on the ballot during the last ballot measure election in 2010. However, a different year could mean different results.

Below are signature requirements and deadlines for each state:

  • Massachusetts: Supporters of Massachusetts proposals must gather signatures from about 1/2 of 1% of voters who voted in the last governor election. This amounts to about 11,000 signatures. Signatures must be submitted to the Massachusetts Secretary of State by today, July 3.
  • Nebraska: For initiatives filed as state statutes in the state of Nebraska, supporters are required to collect valid signatures from a minimum of seven percent of registered voters. The number is ten percent of registered voters for initiated constitutional amendments. July 6 is the deadline for those signatures to be submitted.
  • Oregon: In order to place a measure on the general election ballot in Oregon, supporters must gather valid signatures equaling 8% of the votes cast for the office of governor in the state's most recent gubernatorial election for constitutional amendments, 6% for state statutes, and 4% for veto referendums. This translates into 116,283, 87,213, and 58,142 signatures, respectively. Signatures must be turned in by July 6.
  • Washington: In Washington, initiatives hoping to be granted ballot access, a minimum of 241,153 valid petition signatures are required to qualify an Initiative to the People for the 2012 statewide ballot.
Read more about circulating initiatives in these states here

Quick hits

Minnesota Secretary of State submits new ballot title: Although Governor Mark Dayton's veto of the Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment was not enough to keep the question from the ballot it did succeed in invalidating the title chosen by the legislature. As a result Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie was allowed to write a new title for the amendment. The title chosen to appear on the ballot by Secretary Ritchie, which was submitted on June 28, is "Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples." According to reports, republican supporters of the amendment in the legislature do not approve of the new title and are debating whether or not to file a lawsuit.[2]

Initiative on banning gillnetting in Oregon submits signatures: On Monday, July 2, supporters of Initiative 21 reportedly submitted 45,000 names to the Oregon Secretary of State, bringing the total submitted so far to 134,000. This total is well over the 87,213 signatures required, meaning the measure has a high chance of making the ballot this November. According to supporters, the measure would ban the practice of catching fish by the gills and smothering them, a method they argue is outdated.[3]

Wording of Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative approved by state supreme court: On July 2 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy released his decision approving new ballot language for a proposed amendment legalizing medical marijuana. The new language rewords the "Yes" statement on the ballot to, "A yes vote would enact the proposed law eliminating state criminal and civil penalties related to the medical use of marijuana, allowing patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers, or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use."[4]

Proposals with recent activity


Residents in Phoenix to decide on pensions next year

Changes to public pension funds and services has been a increasingly hot topic issue, with two measures in San Jose and San Diego California both approved by residents during their local June 5 election. In Phoenix, residents will decide on March 12, 2013 whether or not they want changes made to the city pension system. The city council voted unanimously to place this issue on the March ballot, though exactly what will be changed has not been decided. Proposed changes include changing retirement eligibility as well as setting the normal retirement age at 63 with early retirement allowed at 55 if 10 years of service have already been given. A consulting team has been hired by the city to conduct a study into the pension system and formulate proposed changes which will then be presented to the council in the fall. If the proposed changes are approved by voters in March, the changes would go into effect July 2013.

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.

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California has one of the biggest ballot measure totals this year. How many measures are certified? Click here to find out!
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Initiative allowing wine to be sold at grocery stores approved by Oklahoma Supreme Court: In a narrow 5-4 ruling delivered on Thursday, June 28, by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, arguments that the Oklahoma Wine Purchase Amendment violates the state and U.S. constitutions were rejected. The initiative is known as Initiative Petition No. 396 and would allow grocery stores across the state to sell wine.[5]

Amendment reordering California ballot measures signed into law: On June 27 Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1499 into law. The bill, similar in effect to SB 1039, would alter the appearance of ballot items so that all proposed constitutional amendments and bond measures, whether proposed by legislative referrals or by citizen initiatives, would appear near the top of statewide ballots. However, a lawsuit challenging the fairness of the bill has been filed and Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley has ordered the California Secretary of State to refrain from numbering items on the ballot until the lawsuit is resolved.[6][7]

A new update will be released in late July. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard