ballot measure

When Alaskans vote next Tuesday, they’ll decide not just on a governor and a senator, but also on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use, hike the state’s minimum wage, and require the Legislature to approve any future large-scale mining in one the world’s most productive salmon fisheries.

“These are not just side dishes. They are a big part of Tuesday’s ballot,” said Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Mike Wenstrup on Monday. Not only do they represent major policy decisions, he said, but Democrats who might otherwise skip the election may turn out on these issues. And with the both the governor and Senate races so tight, “every little bit helps,” he said.

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California’s prisons, which were then at nearly two-hundred-per-cent capacity, were so overcrowded that detaining anyone in them was a form of cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of constitutional rights. The state legislature passed a law, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, requiring that sentences for certain low-level felonies be served in county jails rather than state prisons; today, the prisons house about a hundred and seventeen thousand inmates, down twenty per cent from this time four years ago.

The California Supreme Court on Monday halted state action on a non-binding ballot measure seeking voter opinion about a landmark U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance decision known as Citizens United, a move supporters and opponents agree will remove the measure from the November ballot.

The court ordered Secretary of State Debra Bowen to hold off placing the measure on the ballot pending court review. The measure, which asks Californians if Congress should overturn the landmark U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance decision, would have no binding legal effect, even if approved by the voters.

Read more: here

Here a ballot initiative, there a ballot initiative, everywhere in California a ballot initiative.

How did we get here? About a hundred years ago the processes of direct democracy spread across the country. States gave their citizens the ability to directly enact laws (via the ballot initiative), to directly repeal laws (via the referendum), and to oust elected officials (via the recall). The purpose of direct democracy is to empower average citizens and decrease the power than moneyed interests may have over elected officials. Sounds quaint, doesn’t it?

The Legislature might be flatlining and cobwebs are gathering around the White Sepulcher’s Corinthian columns, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole lotta politickin’ going on in the Golden State.

A largely under-the-radar industry is shifting into second and third gear in anticipation of 2014, even-numbered election year that it is. This motley band is the ballot measuremongers who profit off pimping and pillorying initiatives they help put before voters.

They are pollsters, strategists, ad buyers, signature gatherers, lawyers, videographers, direct mailers, fundraisers, mouthpieces and coalition builders—a phalanx of folk who critics claim feast off the host body of the vox populi. If that’s true, it’s quite the sumptuous spread.

Much to our disappointment, and that of the 381,688 Evergreen State citizens who voted for it, Initiative 517 was defeated in yesterday’s election. Unofficial returns show 40 percent in favor of the measure and 60 percent opposed.

Filed by Tim Eyman after the state supreme court ruled that cities using red light cameras were not subject to voter initiatives to block their use, I-517 would have guaranteed a vote on all qualified initiatives, provided protection from harassment and intimidation to petition signers and circulators, and given petition drives more time.

This year’s election doesn’t have a ton of high profile races, but those on the ballot in Washington state and some cities could have a big impact, both locally and nationally.

I-522 would require the labeling of certain foods and seeds containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Opponents have broken the record for the most money raised by an initiative campaign. “No on 522” raised over $21 million to defeat the measure, much of that coming from food companies like Coca-Cola, General Mills and Nestle USA, as well as biochemical companies like Monsanto.


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The Weld County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to place a statehood initiative on the November ballot, joining three other counties interested in seceding from Colorado.

This makes Weld the fourth Colorado county, behind Sedgwick, Cheyenne and Yuma to send the idea of a statehood split to the voters. Five more counties, Kit Karson, Lincoln, Logan, Phillips and Washington, also are considering the ballot language and should be voting soon.

Read More: here

On June 28, the Lucy Burns Institute released a summary of news related to the Initiative and Referendum process. Several court cases, news stories and bills to watch are profiled.

Read more: here.

Opponents of a measure to repeal the death penalty in Maryland said Friday they fell short of their goal to collect enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot in the 2014 election.

Del. Neil C. Parrott, one of the leaders of the effort, said about 15,000 signatures were collected since the beginning of May. That number fell short of the nearly 18,600 certified signatures required by the Friday deadline.

Friday’s deadline was the initial hurdle. A total of about 55,750 certified signatures were needed by the end of June for the issue to go to a voter referendum.

“We did not have enough (signatures) for the first turn-in,” said Parrott, R-Washington. “The groundswell that we needed … wasn’t there.”

A new citizen group in Yakima is hoping to make it harder for city council members to raise taxes.

They’re called the Citizens for Two-Thirds. The organization started gathering signatures this week to get a new measure on November’s ballot.

They want to change Yakima’s city charter and require a two-thirds majority vote of the city council anytime they want to impose new taxes.

Right now, a simple majority vote would pass a new tax. But, under the two-thirds rule, a super majority would be required. That takes it from four council members agreeing, to five out of seven.

Read More: here.

A Montgomery County woman says she is planning a petition effort to get Maryland’s gun control bill put to a popular vote.

Sue Payne tells WBAL-AM ( ) that she hopes to have a website up so voters can download and sign petitions to get the bill on next year’s ballot.

Payne decided to act after opponents of the bill decided on a court challenge rather than a referendum petition.

Read More: Here

The Pacific Grove City Council wants an independent analysis of a proposed ballot measure that supporters say will solve a crime committed 11 years ago.

The council voted 7-0 late Wednesday to get a third-party professional’s report on the citizens initiative that would reverse the city’s 2002 decision to give public safety employees a richer pension package known as “3 percent at 50.”

Proponents contend escalating costs under the state Public Employees Retirement System are threatening Pacific Grove with financial disaster. Their proposed ballot measure says it would void a decision taken illegally on the pension plan because citizens and council members were kept in the dark about future costs.

The office of Attorney General Kamala Harris granted the San Jose police union’s request for a judicial review of Measure B, the controversial pension reform ballot measure voters passed last year. In an opinion published Monday, Harris and her deputy attorney general, Marc Nolan, wrote that a review is needed to determine if the city of San Jose “fulfilled its statutory collective bargaining obligations before placing an initiative measure on the June 2012 ballot.”

The six most notable, surprising and downright bizarre statewide ballot measures addressing environmental issues
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