The Daily Brew: 2019 ahead of 2017’s pace for statewide ballot measures

Today’s Brew highlights new ballot initiatives approved to go before voters in 2019 and 2020 + today’s Ballotpedia Insights webinar  
The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, June 20, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 36 statewide ballot measures have been certified for 2020
  2. Ballotpedia Insights webinar takes place today
  3. Kentucky Supreme Court invalidates 2018 Marsy’s Law amendment

36 statewide ballot measures have been certified for 2020

From May 16 to June 14, states certified 22 statewide ballot measures. Twelve—eight in Texas and four in Louisiana—will appear before voters in 2019. Ten will be decided in 2020.

The number of 2019 statewide ballot measures is 21 and the number of 2020 measures is 36.

By the second Tuesday in June two years ago, 16 measures had been certified for the 2017 ballot. Ultimately, 27 statewide measures were decided by voters in 2017. This was the fewest number of statewide ballot measures since 1947. At the same point, 27 measures had been certified for the 2018 ballot.

Here are highlights of ballot measure activity in the past month:

  • The Texas Legislature referred eight constitutional amendments to the November 2019 ballot, bringing the total number of 2019 amendments to 10. One amendment, which would ban income taxes in the state, passed the legislature by one of the narrowest margins of the past 25 years.

  • The Louisiana Legislature referred four constitutional amendments to the October 2019 ballot and one—an abortion-related amendment—to the November 2020 ballot.

  • Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, and Nevada legislators referred constitutional amendments to the 2020 ballot.

  • The legislatures of Arizona, Florida, and Maine passed initiative process restrictions. Measures were signed into law in Arizona and Florida and await the governor’s signature in Maine. These restrictions include circulator registration or affidavit requirements and/or pay-per-signature bans.

Learn more about stories like this by signing up for our State Ballot Measure Monthlynewsletter.

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Ballotpedia Insights

Ballotpedia Insights webinar takes place today

The next edition of our Ballotpedia Insights series will take place today at 1 pm ET. We’ll discuss the changing worldwide political environment and what instigated these shifts. Sarah Rosier, our Director of Outreach, will be hosting Dr. Stevan Hobfoll, the author of Tribalism: The Evolutionary Origins of Fear Politics.

April’s Ballotpedia Insights session, featuring political consultants Jeff Roe and Jeff Hewitt, discussed political campaigning and the challenges faced by modern candidates. February’s edition was with Edgar Bachrach and Austin Berg, authors of The New Chicago Way: Lessons from Other Big Cities, examining how the governance of Chicago compares with other large cities. You can watch a video of both of those, as well as other recent webinars, by going to our Ballotpedia Events page.

Dr. Hobfoll is a psychologist and the Chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. His latest book is intended to explore the tribalist roots of our increasingly polarized and uncompromising political landscape.

I’m looking forward to this discussion and I hope you’ll be there, too.

Click here to register

Kentucky Supreme Court invalidates 2018 Marsy’s Law amendment

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled last week that the description presented to voters for the state’s 2018 Marsy’s Law initiative violated the state constitution. As a result, the measure—which was approved by 63% of voters—can not be added to the Kentucky Constitution.

Marsy’s Law describes a set of constitutional protections for crime victims that have been approved by voters in 12 states. In Montana, where voters approved Marsy’s Law in 2016, a court struck down the constitutional amendment as violating the state’s separate-vote requirement for initiated amendments.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. wrote in the court’s unanimous opinion, “Section 256 of the Kentucky Constitution requires the General Assembly to submit the full text of a proposed constitutional amendment to the electorate for a vote.” The full text of Marsy’s Law was 555 words long—517 words longer than the description that state legislators wrote that appeared on the ballot.

The ruling affirms a lower court’s ruling from October 2018, which prohibited the state from certifying the election results for the measure. The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (KACFL) filed the original lawsuit to invalidate the Marsy’s Law initiative in August 2018.

Marsy’s Law for Kentucky, a group that registered as a political issues committee to support Marsy’s Law, said in a statement about the ruling, “We look forward to working with the General Assembly again to put Marsy’s Law back on the ballot for Kentucky voters in 2020 in a form that will pass legal muster as defined by the court.” Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R), chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said that he would like the legislature to present the amendment to voters again in 2020.

Henry Nicholas, whose sister Marsy was murdered in 1983, successfully advocated for the first Marsy’s Law initiative in California in 2008. These provisions have since been approved by voters in 11 other states, with six of those—Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, and Oklahoma—occurring in 2018. Nicholas provided over $5 million to support the campaign in Kentucky.

As I discussed last month, a Marsy’s Law initiative will be decided by Wisconsin voters in 2020. The Pennsylvania Legislature approved a Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment yesterday that will be on the ballot in 2019.