The Tuesday Count: disagreement on display with swarm of veto referendum proposals

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August 9, 2011

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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

Certifications are rolling in and this week is no exception for both the 2011 and 2012 Tuesday Counts. There's no question about it, both years will include legislative referrals and citizen initiatives. Specifically, proposals for veto referendums have increased in the last couple of weeks.

For this years ballot, the Washington Secretary of State cleared the last pending initiative early last week bumping the Tuesday Count to a total of 29 certified measures in 7 different states. Similarly the 2012 count increased by one following the verification of signatures for a South Dakota veto referendum. The count stands at 57 certified measures.

Washington Long-Term Care, Initiative 1163 marked the last pending initiative for the 2011 State of Washington ballot. The initiative was certified by Secretary of State Sam Reed on August 2, following verification of submitted signatures. A total of five measures are scheduled to appear on the ballot this November. Two were referred by the Washington State Legislature, while three were proposed by citizens. The measures cover a wide array of topics, including: alcohol, health care, transportation, taxes, state budgets and elections and campaigns.

In South Dakota, a veto referendum on tax revenues is officially cleared for the 2012 ballot. The veto referendum tackles HB 1230, which would dedicate part of tax revenues for grants to some business projects in the state. Specifically, if the law is not repealed, starting on January 1, 2013, a 22 percent portion of contractor-excise tax revenues would allocated to a "large project fund". The state Board of Economic Development would then decide which specific projects would be qualified to receive grants from that large fund. Reports say that the law requires the projects to be at least $5 million in size. Submitted signatures were verified on July 18, 2011. However, the measure was not officially certified for the ballot at that time.

The approved referendum joins four referendums scheduled to appear on the 2012 ballot. However, that may not be the last. In the last week two referendums have recently been proposed in California and Ohio. Those two initiatives join an estimated 13 currently pending veto referendum proposals for the 2012 ballot.

In the last decade, 2000 and 2008 tied as the years with the most number of referendums to appear on ballots. A total of six appeared in both years. Voters have cast their ballots on a total of 31 referendums in the last decade.

In California, Republicans announced recently that they may challenge the new legislative district maps. The maps have not yet been ratified. It is expected that the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will do so on August 15. If it is ratified, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said they may file a referendum on August 16 for the 2012 statewide ballot.[1]

Proposals with recent activity

On the other side of the country, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is leading a group called Fair Elections Ohio to challenge House Bill 194, the new election-reform law scheduled to take effect on September 30. Supporters have until September 29 to collect a minimum of 231,147 petition signatures in order to qualify the referendum for the 2012 ballot. Current election law allows for voting to begin 35 days prior to an election. House Bill 194 on the other hand would reduce that time period to 21 days prior to an election.[2]

The 2011 ballot, on the other hand, currently has only one certified veto referendum in the state of Ohio - Ohio Senate Bill 5 Veto Referendum, Issue 2 - and one pending in Maine.

Early this week, the petition drive deadline for the Maine same-day registration veto referendum arrived on August 8. The measure would overturn a same-day election registration repeal signed by the governor on June 21, 2011. The veto effort is being led by Engage Maine, which is directed by Ben Dudley, executive director. The law that the referendum is seeking to overturn is LD 1376.

The 2011 election may be just a few months away but at least one initiative remains pending signature verification in the state of Colorado. Additionally, a total of 31 citizen proposals were filed in the state of Massachusetts for the 2012 ballot. Some measures were filed more than once.


SPOTLIGHT:Cincinnati Streetcar opponents continue to try to get measure onto ballot
Foes of streetcars in the Cincinnati area have been fighting a long term battle to prohibit the city from building without voter consent. As far back as 2009 where streetcar opponents tried to pass a ballot measure which would make it so that any attempt by the city to implement paid passenger rail service would have to go to a city wide vote first. This measure though failed with 56% of voters against it.

Opponents are now making a new attempt to stop streetcars, since the beginning of 2011 when they began their efforts to restrict the city from attempting to implement a street car system, spend money on designs or engineering costs until December 2020.[3] Opponents then started to collect signatures for another ballot measure to be placed on the November 2011 ballot. The first round of signatures for the measure were submitted to the county on April 28.[4] 2,000 initial signatures were submitted, leading to the group needing a total of 10,000 signatures for putting it on the ballot. Opponents note that with continued decreases in state funding, city spending on this street car system would be a waste of money for taxpayers. Though the Mayor commented that they are still looking for options regardless of the petition drive.[5]

The last amount of signatures are due to be turned in by August 10, though petitioners had been slacking in their signature gathering, petitioners noted that they have rallied and will have the needed signatures by the date. The group noted that they have 5,961 signatures with 7,468 valid ones needed by the due date. Those collecting signatures are also collecting signatures for three other measures, though they noted that the streetcar measure was the most important one of the four.[6]

Stay tuned for updates later this week!
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On February 8, 2011, the Tuesday Count stood at what number with the addition of the Maine slot machine question?
Click to find out!
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Park petitioning ruling: The Michigan ACLU has prevailed in a case challenging a local policy which restricted petitioning in a public park. The rule required a permit to petition in the Linden County Park and limited the areas in which signatures could be gathered. On July 22, four days after the suit was filed, the county parks department relented and reversed the policy.[7] The ACLU complaint in Miller v McMillan can be found here.

USPS case, briefs filed: Currently, US Postal Service regulations prohibit signature gathering on interior sidewalks (sidewalks leading from the main sidewalk to the doors). The case, Initiative & Referendum Institute v. United States Postal Service, is now more than a decade old. After a long delay on the initial ruling (in favor of the USPS), the case has been appealed to a US Court of Appeals. As of July 19, all briefs in that appeal have now been filed.[8] See Ballotpedia's article on the case's history here.

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See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard