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Jackie Mitchell

Jackie Mitchell is a state ballot measures staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Five constitutional amendments certified to appear on 2022 ballot in Alabama so far

As of May 4, 2021, the Alabama State Legislature has referred five statewide ballot measures to the 2022 ballot. One measure will be on the May 24 ballot. Four measures will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. The legislature unanimously approved four of the amendments. The other amendment, which would ban election and voting changes for six months before a general election, was passed largely along party lines with most Republicans in favor and most Democrats opposed.

In Alabama, both chambers of the legislature must approve proposed constitutional amendments by a 60% vote in one session to refer them to the voters.

May 24, 2022:

  1. House Bill 565 would amend the state constitution to authorize $85 million in bonds for improvement, renovation, acquisition, construction, and maintenance of state parks managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and historical sites managed by the Alabama Historical Commission, excluding the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury. The measure was passed by a vote of 29-0 in the Senate and 98-0 in the House.

November 8, 2022:

  1. House Bill 388 would require that any legislation changing the conduct of a general election must be implemented at least six months before the next affected general election. It was passed in the House by a vote of 75-24 and in the Senate by a vote of 25-4. In the House 74 Republicans and one Democrat were in favor of the amendment, and 24 Democrats were opposed. In the Senate, 24 Republicans and one Democrata were in favor, and two Republicans and two Democrats were opposed.
  2. Senate Bill 68 would remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts. County probate courts would continue to be responsible for adoptions, guardianships, and granting letters of testamentary. It was passed in the Senate by a vote of 28-0 and in the House by a vote of 90-0.
  3. House Bill 131 would amend the Alabama Constitution to provide that the legislature may enumerate offenses for which bail may be denied. The measure is referred to as Aniah’s Law. The legislature also passed House Bill 130, which would take effect if the amendment is approved. House Bill 130 enumerates offenses for which bail may be denied by a court, including murder, kidnapping, rape, assault, and more. For individuals charged with listed offenses under the bill, bail could be denied “if the prosecuting attorney proves by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably ensure the defendant’s appearance in court or protect the safety of the community or any person, may deny a defendant’s bail.” It was passed by a vote of 30-0 in the Senate and 92-0 in the House.
  4. House Bill 178 would allow certain cities that were previously authorized to pass a special property tax to pay for bonds or other forms of debt to fund capital improvements to instead use the tax revenue to pay for capital improvements directly. It would also validate any past use of such property tax revenue directly for capital improvements. It was passed by a vote of 98-0 in the House and 29-0 in the Senate.

A total of 88 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama from 2000 to 2020. Sixty-nine were approved (78.41%), and 22 were defeated (21.59%). All but three measures were on even-year ballots. From 2000 to 2020, the number of measures on statewide ballots during even-numbered years ranged from four to 15.



Florida to vote in 2022 on abolishing the Florida Constitution Revision Commission

The Florida State Legislature gave final approval to SJR 204 on April 27, 2021. The measure, which will appear on the November 2022 ballot in Florida, would abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission if approved by 60% of voters.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a 37-member commission provided for in the state constitution that convenes every 20 years to review and propose changes to the Florida Constitution. The CRC refers constitutional amendments directly to the ballot for a public vote. Florida is the only state with a commission that can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot. The CRC convenes every 20 years on the following schedule: 1977, 1997, 2017, 2037, 2057, and so on. Beyond what is required in Section 2 of Article XI of the Florida Constitution, the CRC sets its own rules and procedures.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) of 2017-2018 proposed changes to the state constitution for voters to approve or reject in the November 2018 general election. The CRC received 2,013 proposals from the public and 103 from the commission’s members. The CRC referred eight measures to the 2018 ballot. All of the amendments were approved except for Amendment 8, which was blocked from appearing on the ballot by a court ruling.

Plaintiffs argued that the measure combined three separate and unrelated measures and that the ballot language was misleading. The court ruled that the measure’s ballot language was misleading and the measure was kept off the ballot. Seven of the eight CRC referrals had been targeted in lawsuits with plaintiffs alleging that the amendments combined multiple subjects and/or had misleading or unclear ballot language.

The amendment to abolish the CRC was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 204 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) on December 7, 2020. On March 25, 2021, the state Senate passed the measure in a vote of 27-12. All 24 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the measure. Of the 16 Senate Democrats, 12 voted against, three voted in favor, and one did not vote but voted against the measure after the official vote was tallied. The measure was passed in the House on April 27, 2021, by a vote of 86-11 with six members not voting. Of House Republicans, 75 voted in favor, none voted against, and three did not vote. Of House Democrats, 11 voted in favor, 28 voted against, and 11 did not vote.

In 1980, the legislature referred to the ballot a constitutional amendment to abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. Voters rejected the amendment by a vote of 56.5% to 43.5%.

In 1988, the legislature referred a constitutional amendment to create a Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC), which voters approved. Like the Constitution Revision Commission, the TBRC meets every 20 years and has the power to refer constitutional amendments to voters. However, the TBRC only addresses issues related to taxation and the budgetary process.

The legislature also referred a constitutional amendment to the ballot that would authorize the state legislature to pass laws prohibiting flood resistance improvements to a home from being taken into consideration when determining a property’s assessed value for property tax purposes.

A total of 78 measures appeared on the Florida ballot between 2000 and 2020, including six measures that appeared on the statewide ballot in odd-numbered years. From 2000 to 2020, an average of about seven measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Florida. Between 2000 and 2020, 71.79% (65 of 78) of statewide measures were approved by voters, and 28.21% (22 of 56) were defeated.

Additional Reading:



Arkansas Legislature sends third and final constitutional amendment concerning religious freedom to November 2022 ballot

On April 27, the Arkansas State Legislature passed a third constitutional amendment titled the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment,” which will appear on the state’s November 2022 ballot.

The measure would amend the state constitution to provide that “government shall not burden a person’s freedom of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The amendment would provide an exception to this requirement if the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a simple majority vote is required in both the Arkansas State Senate and the Arkansas House of Representatives. The Arkansas Legislature is able to refer up to three constitutional amendments to the ballot for each general election.

The amendment was passed in the Senate on April 22, 2021, by a vote of 27-4 with four members absent or not voting. The House passed the amendment on April 27, 2021, by a vote of 75-19 with six members absent or not voting. The measure was passed along party lines with most Republicans in favor and Democrats against it. Republican Representative Josh Miller was the only Republican legislator to vote against the amendment. Larry Teague was the only Democratic legislator to vote in favor of the amendment.

One of the other referred amendments would require 60% supermajority voter approval to ratify constitutional amendments (legislatively referred and citizen-initiated) and citizen-initiated state statutes. The other amendment would allow the state legislature to call itself into special sessions. Arkansas is one of 14 states where only the governor can call a special session.

A total of 44 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in even-numbered years between 2000 and 2020. During even-numbered years between 2000 and 2020, 73% (32 of 44) of statewide ballot measures in Arkansas were approved by voters, and 27% (12 of 44) were defeated.

The amendments to prohibit government burdens on religious freedom and to allow the state legislature to call itself into special session were proposed at least partially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions and government responses. Ballotpedia has tracked at least seven statewide measures put on the ballot in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related regulations. Ballotpedia is also tracking seven potential statewide measures proposed in response to COVID-19.

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Florida State Legislature sends constitutional amendment to 2022 ballot concerning flood resistance improvements and property taxes

On April 26, 2021, the Florida State Legislature gave final approval to House Joint Resolution 1377. Voters will decide the constitutional amendment in November 2022.

The measure would authorize the state legislature to pass laws prohibiting flood resistance improvements to a home from being taken into consideration when determining a property’s assessed value for property tax purposes.

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a 60% supermajority vote is required in both the Florida State Senate and the Florida House of Representatives.

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Linda Chaney (R) on February 26, 2021. The amendment was passed by the House on April 21, 2021, by a vote of 118-0 with two Republican representatives absent or not voting and in the Senate by a vote of 40-0 on April 26, 2021.

In November 2022, 60% supermajority voter approval is required for the amendment to be added to the state constitution.

A total of 78 measures appeared on the Florida ballot between 2000 and 2020, including six measures that appeared on the statewide ballot in odd-numbered years. From 2000 to 2020, an average of about seven measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Florida. Between 2000 and 2020, 71.79% (65 of 78) of statewide measures were approved by voters, and 28.21% (22 of 56) were defeated.



Arkansas State Legislature refers two constitutional amendments to 2022 ballot

The Arkansas State Legislature gave final approval to two constitutional amendments on April 22, 2021, sending them to the November 2022 ballot.

One of the amendments would require 60% supermajority voter approval to ratify constitutional amendments (legislatively referred and citizen-initiated) and citizen-initiated state statutes.

Constitutional amendments require approval by voters in a statewide election to become a part of the state’s constitution except in Delaware. As of 2021, 38 states required a simple majority vote (50%+1) for a proposed constitutional amendment to be adopted. In 11 states, voters must approve a proposed constitutional amendment by more than a simple majority or by some rule that combines different criteria. Two other states— Florida and Illinois— require a three-fifths (60%) vote of approval for constitutional amendments.

Currently, none of the 26 states with a process for citizen-initiated ballot measures require a supermajority vote of approval to adopt them. However, three states (Florida, Utah, and Washington) have a supermajority requirement for certain initiatives dealing with specified topics.

As of April 17, 2021, Ballotpedia had tracked 124 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall in 34 states in 2021 legislative sessions. At least 14 had been approved. Legislation to enact or increase supermajority requirements for ballot measures was introduced in 2021 sessions in at least seven states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah legislators have passed restrictions on ballot measure processes in 2021.

The South Dakota State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the state’s 2022 ballot that would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote for the approval of ballot measures that would increase taxes or fees or that would require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.

The other amendment the Arkansas Legislature referred to the ballot would allow the state legislature to call itself into special sessions upon (a) a joint proclamation from the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore or (b) upon a proclamation signed by two-thirds of the members in each chamber. Arkansas is one of 14 states where only the governor can call a special session.

The Arkansas Legislature is able to refer up to three constitutional amendments to the ballot for each general election. As of April 24, 2021, one other constitutional amendment (SJR 14) has passed one chamber. It would prohibit government from burdening the freedom of religion except under certain circumstances. Upon passage by the House, it would be referred to the 2022 ballot.

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Alabama State Legislature refers third 2022 constitutional amendment to prevent voting policy changes six months before general elections

The Alabama State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would require that any legislation changing the conduct of a general election must be implemented at least six months before the next affected general election.

The amendment was introduced as House Bill 388 by State Representative Jim Carns (R). On April 6, 2021, the House approved it in a vote of 75 to 24, with four not voting. The Senate passed the amendment on April 22, 2021, in a vote of 25-4 with five members absent or not voting. In the House, 74 Republicans and one Democrat voted in favor of the amendment, and 24 Democrats voted against it. In the Senate, 24 Republicans and one Democrat voted in favor of the amendment, and two Democrats and two Republicans voted against it.

Carns said, “This would keep the supermajority from passing a law that would benefit the supermajority within six months of an election.”

State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D) said, “I don’t see the need for this bill. You all are going to have a supermajority for a while. I continue to say that we are one second away from Jim Crow.”

Republicans have held a majority in each legislative chamber since 2010.

The Alabama State Legislature has so far referred two other constitutional amendments to the 2022 ballot. One measure would amend the Alabama Constitution to allow the legislature to enumerate offenses for which bail may be denied. The measure is referred to as Aniah’s Law. The other measure would remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts. County probate courts would continue to be responsible for adoptions, guardianships, and granting letters of testamentary.



The Florida Supreme Court blocks marijuana legalization initiative from 2022 ballot

On April 22, 2021, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that a marijuana legalization initiative backed by Make It Legal Florida could not appear on the 2022 ballot. The court wrote, “A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law. And a ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.” Justices Jorge Labarga and Alan Lawson dissented. Lawson said, “Because the ballot summary in this case complies with the constitutional and statutory requirements by which we are to judge ballot summaries, I would apply our precedent and approve this measure for placement on the ballot.”

The measure would have added a section to the Florida Constitution that legalized the personal possession, use, and purchase of 2.5 ounces of marijuana and allowed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to sell marijuana for personal use to adults 21 years or older.

Make It Legal Florida filed the initiative in September 2019 targeting the 2020 ballot. Proponents submitted 76,632 valid signatures on November 19, 2019, thereby qualifying for a ballot language review by the Florida Supreme Court. On January 13, 2020, Make it Legal Florida announced that it would attempt to qualify the measure for the 2022 ballot rather than the 2020 ballot.

To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, proponents must collect signatures equal to 8% of the total number of votes cast in the last presidential election. In 2020, this number was 766,200, with 76,632 required for a ballot language review. Based on the 2020 elections, the requirements increased to 891,589, with 89,159 required for a ballot language review. Signatures must be verified by February 1, 2022, to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.

Make it Legal Florida had submitted 556,049 valid signatures according to the Division Elections Website as of April 22, 2021.

Fourteen initiative campaigns are actively circulating targeting the 2022 ballot according to the Division of Elections website as of April 22, 2021. No campaigns besides the marijuana legalization initiative had yet collected enough signatures to qualify for a ballot language review.

On April 8, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed Senate Bill 1794, which, among other things, required the Florida Supreme Court to review whether a proposed amendment is “facially invalid under the United States Constitution” in addition to existing requirements for reviewing the ballot title and reviewing the initiative for compliance with the state’s single-subject rule. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R), the Florida House and Senate, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce filed briefs with the state supreme court arguing that the marijuana legalization measure is invalid because it violates federal law. The Florida Supreme Court, however, declined to rule on the issue of whether the measure is valid under the US Constitution under SB 1794 because it blocked the measure based on the ballot summary.

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Alabama legislature sends two constitutional amendments to 2022 ballot

On April 15, 2021, the Alabama State Legislature gave final approval to two constitutional amendments that will appear on the 2022 ballot.

One measure would amend the Alabama Constitution to provide that the legislature may enumerate offenses for which bail may be denied. The measure is referred to as Aniah’s Law. The legislature also passed House Bill 130 which would take effect if the amendment is approved. House Bill 130 sets the specific offenses for which bail may be denied by a court, including murder, kidnapping, rape, assault, and more. For individuals charged with listed offenses under the bill, bail could be denied “if the prosecuting attorney proves by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably ensure the defendant’s appearance in court or protect the safety of the community or any person.”

The bill is named after Aniah Blanchard who was murdered in 2019 in Alabama after the suspect was released on bond after being charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, and robbery. Amendment sponsor Chip Brown said “too many of those who are accused of violent crimes are bonding out of jail and committing even more serious offenses, and it is time for law-abiding Alabamians to start fighting back. Denying bail to those accused of violent offenses is a commonsense answer to a dangerous societal problem.” The measure was passed by a vote of 30-0 in the Senate with four members not voting and 92-0 in the House with 11 members not voting.

The other measure would remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts. County probate courts would continue to be responsible for adoptions, guardianships, and granting letters of testamentary. The measure was passed by the Senate in a vote of 28-0 with seven members not voting and by the House in a vote of 90-0 with 13 members not voting.

Three other constitutional amendments have passed one chamber of the Alabama state legislature and will appear on the November 2022 ballot if they pass in the second chamber. The amendments would

  1. require changes to laws governing the conduct of a general election to be implemented at least six months from the general election;
  2. authorize $85 million in bonds for state parks improvement; and
  3. create the Alabama Education Lottery, authorize sports betting, and authorize casino-style games in certain facilities in specific counties.

A total of 102 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama from 1998 to 2020, of which 80 were approved and 22 were defeated. Between 1998 and 2020, an average of eight measures appeared on the ballot in Alabama during even-numbered election years.



Wyoming to vote in 2022 to allow local governments to invest in stocks and equities

On April 1, the Wyoming State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would allow the legislature to provide by law for local governments (county, city, township, town, school district, or other political subdivision) to invest funds in stocks and equities. Legislation establishing or increasing the percentage of funds a local government could invest would require a two-thirds supermajority vote of the state legislature. Currently, the state constitution allows the state legislature to authorize certain state funds to be invested in stocks.

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is required in both the Wyoming State Senate and the Wyoming House of Representatives.

The measure was introduced as House Joint Resolution 9 on March 4, 2021. It was approved in the House on March 23, 2021, by a vote of 43-16. The Senate approved an amended version of the measure on April 1, 2021, in a vote of 25-5, which was sent to the House for concurrence. The House concurred with the Senate’s amendments on April 1, 2021, in a vote of 46-13.

Between 2000 and 2020, the Wyoming State Legislature referred 20 constitutional amendments to the ballot, of which, 12 were approved (60%) and eight (40%) were defeated.

The legislature was set to adjourn the 2021 legislative session on April 7, 2021. The legislature can also refer measures to the 2022 ballot during the 2022 legislative session.

As of April 2, 2021, 15 statewide ballot measures had been certified for the 2022 ballot in 10 states.

Additional Reading:



Georgia legislature sends two measures to the 2022 ballot during its 2021 session

The Georgia State Legislature adjourned its 2021 legislative session on April 1, 2021. The legislature passed two measures requiring voter approval at the general election in 2022:

  1. a constitutional amendment to suspend compensation for certain public officials while they are suspended from office due to a felony indictment and
  2. a measure to expand a property tax exemption to include merged family farms and dairy products and eggs.

A constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting was passed by the Senate but was not passed in the House before the 2021 legislative session adjourned. The amendment could be reconsidered during the 2022 legislative session.

Suspend Compensation for Assembly Members and Public Officials Indicted for a Felony Amendment:

This measure would amend the state constitution to provide for the suspension of compensation for the following public officials while the individual is suspended from office for being indicted for a felony:

  • Governor,
  • Lieutenant Governor,
  • Secretary of State,
  • Attorney General,
  • State School Superintendent,
  • Commissioner of Insurance,
  • Commissioner of Agriculture,
  • Commissioner of Labor, or
  • any member of the General Assembly.

Currently, under the state’s constitution, assembly members and public officials who are suspended from office due to the indictment for a felony still receive compensation until they are convicted. Officials that are reinstated to their position would receive pay that was withheld under the amendment.

The measure was passed in the Senate on March 8 by a vote of 51-1 with four excused or not voting. It was passed in the House on March 23 by a vote of 169-0 with 11 excused or not voting. The single no vote on the measure came from Republican Senator Bill Cowsert.

Merged Family-Owned Farms and Dairy and Eggs Tax Exemption Measure:

The Georgia Constitution requires voter approval of legislation to enact any property tax exemption, which must be passed in the legislature by a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote in each chamber.

This measure would expand certain property tax exemptions provided for agricultural equipment and certain farm products. The measure would allow any entity that is a merger of two or more family-owned farms to qualify. It would also extend the exemption to include dairy products and eggs.

The Senate approved the bill on March 31 by a vote of 48-0 with eight members excused or not voting. The House approved the bill on March 31 by a vote of 163-1 with 16 members excused or not voting. The single no vote in the legislature came from Democratic Representative Mesha Mainor.

A total of 84 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Georgia from 1996 to 2020, of which 84.5% (71 of 84) were approved, and 15.5% (13 of 84) were defeated.