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Jackie Mitchell

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

Iowa State Legislature adjourns 2022 session; three constitutional amendments could appear on 2024 ballot

The Iowa State Legislature adjourned its 2022 legislative session at 12:16am on May 25, 2022.

During the 2021-2022 legislative session, the General Assembly passed three constitutional amendments, which may appear on the 2024 ballot if they are passed a second time by the General Assembly during its 2023-2024 legislative session.

One amendment would provide that if the governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office, the lieutenant governor would assume the office of governor for the remainder of the term, thereby creating a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor. Currently, in Iowa, if the governor leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes responsible for fulfilling the duties and assumes the powers of the governor, but does not have the authority to appoint a new lieutenant governor.

Another amendment would provide that only a citizen of the U.S., rather than every citizen of the U.S., can vote in Iowa. It would also provide that 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election may vote in primary elections. In 2018 and 2020, constitutional amendments to state that only a citizen (rather than every citizen) can vote were approved in four states: Florida, Alabama, Colorado, and North Dakota. Similar amendments were proposed for the 2022 ballot in Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The third amendment passed by the Legislature during the 2021-2022 legislative session would add a section to the state constitution that says, “To defend and protect unborn children, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot for voter ratification, a simple majority vote is required in both the Iowa State Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives in two successive legislative sessions with an election for state legislators in between. Every two years, half of the state senators and all of the members of the state House are up for election. Iowa has had a Republican trifecta since 2017, meaning the Republican Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the state legislature.

When a constitutional amendment has passed the General Assembly in the first session and thus been referred to the succeeding legislature, the General Assembly is required by Article X of the Iowa Constitution to publish the amendment in two newspapers in each of Iowa’s congressional districts and on the legislature’s website once per month for three months.

Once an amendment is on the ballot, it must be approved by a simple majority of voters in order to become part of the constitution.

A constitutional amendment to add a right to firearms in the constitution was certified for the 2022 ballot after the measure was passed by the legislature during the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 legislative sessions.

During the 20-year period from 2000 and 2020, five measures appeared on the ballot in Iowa. Of the five measures, two were approved and three were defeated. The measures appeared on the ballot in 2000 (one), 2008 (one), 2010 (two), and 2020 (one).

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Louisiana legislature refers two constitutional amendments to 2022 ballot concerning property taxes

On May 24, the Louisiana State Legislature referred two constitutional amendments to the Nov. 8 general election ballot, bringing the total number of measures currently certified for the ballot to seven.

One amendment would remove the requirement to annually re-certify income for homeowners that are permanently and totally disabled in order to keep their special assessment level for property taxes.

The Louisiana Constitution provides for a special assessment level that limits the total assessment of a property from increasing above the assessment level in the first year that a property owner receives the special assessment level. The special assessment level is available for property owners receiving a homestead exemption and who are:

  • 65 years old or older;
  • veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 50% or more;
  • members of the U.S. or Louisiana National Guard who were killed or missing in action or are a prisoner of war for 90 days or more; or
  • determined by a court or state or federal agency as being permanently and totally disabled.

A person receiving the special assessment level may not have an adjusted gross income over $100,000. The $100,000 income limit was set to be adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index beginning in 2026. For those who are married filing separately, the adjusted gross income is determined by both individuals’ incomes. Property owners receiving the special assessment level, except those who are 65 years old and older, must annually certify their income from the prior tax year with the parish assessor.

The other amendment would expand property tax exemptions for disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. In Louisiana, properties are assessed at 10% of fair market value. The homestead exemption in Louisiana exempts the first $7,500 of assessed value from property taxes. Disabled veterans with a 100% disability rating may receive an additional $7,500 exemption, meaning the first $15,000 of their property’s assessed value is exempt from property taxes.

Under the amendment, veterans with a service-related disability rating of 50% or more (but below 70%) would receive an additional property tax exemption of $2,500 of assessed value after the first $7,500 homestead property tax exemption, bringing their total exemption to $10,000. Veterans with a service-related disability rating of 70% or more (but below 100%) would receive an additional exemption of $4,500, bringing their total exemption to $12,000. The total assessed value of a property owned by a veteran that is totally disabled or that is rated as 100% unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would be exempt from property taxes.

The property tax exemptions would be extended to the surviving spouse of a deceased disabled veteran whether or not the exemption was claimed on the property prior to the veteran’s death.

The amendment would provide that tax revenue lost due to increased property tax exemptions would be absorbed by the local taxing authority and would not create any additional taxes for other taxpayers during any future reappraisals or millage adjustments.

The Louisiana State Legislature may refer additional constitutional amendments to the ballot during its 2022 legislative session, which is set to end on June 6. The Legislature referred five constitutional amendments to the ballot during its 2021 legislative session. The measures would do the following:

  • provide for the adjustment of ad valorem tax rates by a taxing authority up to the maximum rate approved by the constitution until the authorized rate expires;
  • allow local governments to waive water charges for customers if damages are not caused by the customer;
  • limit the increase in assessed value of residential property in Orleans Parish to 10% of the property’s assessed value from the prior year;
  • increase the maximum amount of certain state funds authorized to be invested in equities to 65%; and
  • allow classified service/civil service employees to publicly support the election campaigns of individuals in their immediate family when off duty.

During the 20-year period between 2000 and 2020, the statewide ballot in Louisiana featured 104 constitutional amendments. An average of 10 amendments appeared on the ballot, and the number of amendments on the ballot ranged from four to 21. Voters approved 71.15% (74 of 104) and rejected 28.85% percent (30 of 104) of the constitutional amendments.

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Alabama voters approve $85 million bond issue to fund public historical sites and state parks

Alabama voters approved Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment, on May 24. Amendment 1 authorized the state to issue up to $85 million in bonds for state parks. With 100% of precincts reporting, the vote was 77%-23%.

Amendment 1 authorized $80 million of the bond amount for state parks managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and $5 million for historical sites managed by the Alabama Historical Commission. Under Amendment 1, bond proceeds could not be used for improvement or maintenance of the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama. If bond proceeds exceeded $85 million for any reason, Amendment 1 requires them to be allocated to the Alabama Forestry Commission for capital improvements and maintenance of state forests.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-24) and Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-27) sponsored Amendment 1 in the Legislature as House Bill 565. The House voted 97-1 on April 13, 2021. The Senate voted 29-0 on an amended version on April 29. The House voted 98-0 on the final version. Rep. Ledbetter said, “Because interest rates are so low today, we’re able to use the same amount that we’re paying out now, redo new bonds and put $80 million into the existing parks, which is going to be a tremendous asset to our state and to our tourism and across our state.”

On Nov. 8, Alabama will decide nine other constitutional amendment, including a recompiled state constitution. The other amendments would:

  • authorize the Code Commissioner to incorporate constitutional amendments that are approved at the elections on May 24 and Nov. 8 into the Alabama Constitution of 2022 if voters approve the new constitution
  • allow local governments to award funding provided for broadband internet infrastructure to public or private entities;
  • remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts;
  • allow the legislature to provide for offenses for which bail may be denied;
  • require changes to laws governing the conduct of a general election to be implemented at least six months before the general election;
  • require the governor to provide notice to the attorney general and the victim’s family before granting a commutation or reprieve of a death sentence
  • specify that counties and municipalities have authority to finance economic and industrial development through the use of public funds, issuing bonds, and leasing property or lending bonds to a private entity; and
  • authorize specific cities to use a previously established property tax to directly fund capital improvements in addition to using the revenue to repay bonds and other debt.

Both houses of the Alabama State Legislature are required to pass a proposed constitutional amendment by a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote in order to refer it to the statewide ballot. If the amendment is approved by a simple majority of voters, it becomes part of the state constitution.

A total of 78 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama during even-numbered election years from 2000 to 2020, of which, 62 were approved (79.49%), and 16 were defeated (20.59%). From 2000 to 2020, the number of constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot during even-numbered years ranged from four to 15.

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Alabama bond question, Atlanta and Little Rock local measures on Tuesday ballot

On May 24, Alabama voters will decide Amendment 1. The measure would amend the state constitution to issue up to $85 million in bonds for improvement, renovation, acquisition, construction, and maintenance of state parks.

Of the bonds, $80 million would be used for state parks managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and $5 million would be used for historical sites managed by the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC). The ACDNR manages 21 state parks spanning a total of approximately 45,300 acres of land and water. The AHC owns and manages 15 historic sites in Alabama including forts, battlefields, and archaeological sites, historic houses, and museums. The commission’s mission statement is to “protect, preserve, and interpret Alabama’s historic places.”

Under the amendment, bond proceeds could not be used for improvement, acquisition, provision, construction, equipping, or maintenance of the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama. If bond proceeds exceed $85 million for any reason, additional proceeds would be allocated to the Alabama Forestry Commission for capital improvements and maintenance of state forests.

Under the amendment, no bond proceeds could be expended for maintenance or improvements to the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama. The home that exists at the park was constructed in 1902 as a care facility for Confederate veterans in Alabama. The last Confederate veteran living on the site died in 1934. The Alabama State Legislature created the Confederate Memorial Park in 1964 as “a shrine to the honor of Alabama’s citizens of the Confederacy.” The Confederate Memorial Park has been managed by the Alabama Historical Commission since 1971.

The amendment is supported by Governor Kay Ivey (R), who said, “It’s just real important that we all vote ‘Yes’ on that amendment on the ballot. We have so much natural beauty here, and it’s important that we offer our citizens and tourists the great opportunities to experience and enjoy them. With your support of the State Parks bond issue on May 24th, we will soon have ribbon-cuttings on several renovated campgrounds, cabins and improved day-use areas in our 21 State Parks.”

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Christopher Blankenship said, “As we’ve seen this past year with COVID, state parks and outdoor recreation have been extremely important to people for their physical and mental health. We saw great increases in usage at our parks, and also the federal wild properties in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.” Blankenship also said attendance to state parks was up by about 1.2 million visitors in 2020 and the amendment would bring the state parks “up to a standard that people have come to expect now and as the landscape is changing with motor homes and they’re becoming more advanced and require more from our campground.”

In Alabama, a constitutional amendment must be passed by a 60 percent vote in each house of the state legislature during one legislative session.

Amendment 1 was sponsored by Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R) and Rep. Wes Kitchens (R) as House Bill 565. On April 13, 2021, the House approved it in a vote of 97-1, with five absent or not voting. On April 29, the Senate passed an amended version of HB 565 in a vote of 29-0, with five absent or not voting. The House concurred with the amendments on the same day in a vote of 98-0, with five absent or not voting.

A total of 78 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot during even-numbered election years in Alabama from 2000 to 2020, of which, 62 were approved (79.49%), and 16 were defeated (20.51%). From 2000 to 2020, the number of measures on statewide ballots during even-numbered years ranged from four to 15.

Voters of Alabama cast ballots on five bond issues, totaling $535.2 million in value, since 1998. All were approved. The most recent bond issue decided by voters was on the ballot in 2000.

Also on May 24, voters in Little Rock Arkansas will decide a question reducing the existing capital-improvement millage from 1.8 to 1.3 mills, equal to $130 per $100,000 of assessed property value, and dedicating funds to a future issuance of bonds not to exceed $42 million for capital improvements to the Central Arkansas Library System.

Voters in Atlanta will decide two bond measures and a sales tax increase measure on May 24. The bond issues would authorize $213.01 million in general obligation bonds for constructing, improving, and repairing public safety facilities and parks and recreational facilities and $192.99 million in general obligation bonds for acquiring, planning, constructing, and maintaining roads, bicycle and transit lanes, sidewalks, pathways and trails, parks and playgrounds, and other related projects. The sales tax increase measure proposes to enact a sales tax of 0.4 percent for no more than five years to provide funding for transportation and congestion reduction projects.

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Alabama to decide $85 million bond issue to fund public historical sites and state parks on May 24

Alabama voters will vote on 10 constitutional amendments in 2022. One measure will be on the May 24 primary election ballot. The other nine amendments will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Voters will decide a constitutional amendment on May 24 that would amend the state constitution to issue up to $85 million in bonds for improvement, renovation, acquisition, construction, and maintenance of state parks. Of the bonds, $80 million would be used for state parks managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and $5 million would be used for historical sites managed by the Alabama Historical Commission. Under the amendment, bond proceeds could not be used for improvement, acquisition, provision, construction, equipping, or maintenance of the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama. If bond proceeds exceed $85 million for any reason, additional proceeds would be allocated to the Alabama Forestry Commission for capital improvements and maintenance of state forests.

The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-24) and Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-27) as House Bill 565. The House approved it in a vote of 97-1 on April 13, 2021, with five absent or not voting. The Senate passed an amended version of HB 565 in a vote of 29-0 on April 29, with five absent or not voting. The House concurred with the amendments on the same day in a vote of 98-0, with five absent or not voting.

Amendment sponsor Rep. Ledbetter said, “Because interest rates are so low today, we’re able to use the same amount that we’re paying out now, redo new bonds and put $80 million into the existing parks, which is going to be a tremendous asset to our state and to our tourism and across our state.”

Christopher Blankenship, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said, “As we’ve seen this past year with COVID, state parks and outdoor recreation have been extremely important to people for their physical and mental health. We saw great increases in usage at our parks, and also the federal wild properties in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.” Blankenship also said attendance to state parks was up by about 1.2 million visitors in 2020 and the amendment would bring the state parks “up to a standard that people have come to expect now and as the landscape is changing with motor homes and they’re becoming more advanced and require more from our campground.”

In November, Alabama voters will be asked to approve an updated and recompiled state constitution, titled the Alabama Constitution of 2022. Voters will also decide a ballot measure that would authorize the Code Commissioner to incorporate constitutional amendments that are approved at the elections on May 24 and Nov. 8 into the Alabama Constitution of 2022 if voters approve the new constitution. The other amendments would:

  • allow local governments to award funding provided for broadband internet infrastructure to public or private entities;
  • remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts;
  • allow the legislature to provide for offenses for which bail may be denied;
  • require changes to laws governing the conduct of a general election to be implemented at least six months before the general election;
  • require the governor to provide notice to the attorney general and the victim’s family before granting a commutation or reprieve of a death sentence
  • specify that counties and municipalities have authority to finance economic and industrial development through the use of public funds, issuing bonds, and leasing property or lending bonds to a private entity; and
  • authorize specific cities to use a previously established property tax to directly fund capital improvements in addition to using the revenue to repay bonds and other debt.

Both houses of the Alabama State Legislature are required to pass a proposed constitutional amendment by a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote in order to refer it to the statewide ballot. If the amendment is approved by a simple majority of voters, it becomes part of the state constitution.

A total of 78 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama during even-numbered election years from 2000 to 2020, of which, 62 were approved (79.49%), and 16 were defeated (20.59%). From 2000 to 2020, the number of constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot during even-numbered years ranged from 4 to 15.

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Oklahoma voters could decide in November on changing the state’s judge selection process

The Oklahoma State Legislature is considering a constitutional amendment for the Nov. 2022 ballot that would establish a new judicial selection process in Oklahoma that is more similar to the U.S. federal court system structure.

Judicial selection refers to the process used to select judges for courts. At the state level, methods of judicial selection vary. There are six primary types of judicial selection: partisan and nonpartisan elections, the Michigan method, assisted appointment, gubernatorial appointment, and legislative elections.

Under the proposed judicial selection process, the governor would appoint judges (including chief judges) to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and intermediate appellate courts, subject to confirmation from the Oklahoma State Senate. The judges would stand for retention elections every six years. Under the amendment, trial court judges would continue to be elected in the same manner as other county officers unless changed by state law.

Currently, the state uses an assisted appointment method in which judges are appointed by the governor from a list created by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission and chief judges are selected through a peer-vote. Judges of the Oklahoma District Courts are elected in nonpartisan elections every four years.

To put the proposed constitutional amendment on a general election ballot, a simple majority vote of all members in both the Senate and House of Representatives is required. This constitutional amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 43 on Feb. 7, 2022. The Senate passed the measure in a vote of 38-10 on March 22. All of the nine Democratic Senators voted against the measure. Of the 39 Republican Senators, 38 voted in favor and one voted against. On April 27, the House passed an amended version of the measure in a vote of 62-24. Of the 18 House Democrats, 14 voted against and 4 were excused from voting. Among the 82 House Republicans, 62 voted in favor, 10 voted against, and 10 were excused or did not vote. As the House amended the measure, a final vote is needed in the Senate.

A total of 71 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Oklahoma from 2000 to 2020, including five measures that appeared on the ballot during odd-numbered years. Of the measures, 74.65% (53 of 71) of the total number of measures that appeared on the statewide ballot were approved, and about 22.35% (18 of 71) were defeated. An average of between six and seven measures appeared on the ballot in Oklahoma during even-numbered election years. The number of measures on statewide ballots during even-numbered years ranged from three to 11.

Note: The original version of this article, published on April 29, said the constitutional amendment was certified for the ballot. Due to a change to the resolution, an additional vote is required before certification. The article was updated on May 5.



Colorado legislature refers amendment to ballot to designate judges to newly created 23rd judicial district court

The Colorado State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the November 2022 ballot to designate judges to serve in a new 23rd Judicial District when the new district takes effect in 2025.

In 2020, the Colorado State Legislature passed and Governor Jared Polis (D) signed House Bill 1026, which was designed to remove Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties from the 18th judicial district and create a new 23rd judicial district for those counties, effective Jan. 7, 2025. Under the bill, the 23rd district was set to include eight judges, while the 18th district was set to have seven judges removed, meaning the total number of district court judges in the state was set to increase by one.

Colorado has had 22 judicial districts since 1964. District courts in Colorado are trial courts of general jurisdiction that handle civil, criminal, and probate cases. The 18th Judicial District court was established in 1964 to serve Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Twenty days after the district was established, Elbert County was added to the district. In 1969, Lincoln County was added to the district. As of 2022, the 18th judicial district was comprised of 24 judges and one chief judge.

The constitutional amendment would require the governor, by November 30, 2024, to designate judges from the 18th judicial district to serve in the newly created 23rd judicial district. Judges would be required to establish residence in the 23rd district by Jan. 7, 2025.

To refer the constitutional amendment to the ballot in Colorado, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote was required in both chambers of the state legislature.

The amendment was introduced as House Concurrent Resolution 22-1005. It was approved in the House on April 18, 2022, by a vote of 60-2. The amendment was passed unanimously by the Senate on April 26, 2022.

In 2022, Colorado voters will also decide an initiative to reduce the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%.

A total of 105 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Colorado during even-numbered election years during the 20-year period between 2000 through 2020. Of the 105 measures, 48 were approved (45.71%) and 57 were defeated (54.29%). From 2000 through 2020, the number of measures on the even-year ballot ranged from 3 to 14.

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North Dakota group submits signatures for initiative to require a 60% vote requirement and single-subject rule for constitutional amendments

On April 22, the campaign Protect North Dakota’s Constitution reported submitting 33,624 signatures for a ballot initiative to the secretary of state’s office. At least 31,164 of the signatures need to be deemed valid for the initiative to appear on the ballot. The secretary of state has 30 days to issue its determination on whether or not enough valid signatures were submitted.

The initiative would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote to adopt a constitutional amendment. Under the initiative, constitutional amendments would be limited to a single subject. The initiative would apply to constitutional amendments that are placed on the ballot through citizen initiative petitions as well as those referred to the ballot by the state Legislature.

Constitutional amendments require approval by voters in a statewide election to become a part of the state’s constitution except in Delaware. Currently, 38 states require 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.

A single-subject rule is a state law that requires ballot initiatives to address a single subject, topic, or issue. There are 26 states that provide for at least one type of statewide citizen-initiated measure. Of those 26 states, 16 have single-subject rules.

There is a similar rule called a separate-vote requirement, which applies to initiated constitutional amendments in at least six states (Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota). The separate-vote requirement prohibits constitutional amendments from changing more than one article or section of the state constitution. Separate vote requirements can also apply to legislatively referred constitutional amendments.

The campaign stated, “The North Dakota Constitution has faced proposed changes in every election cycle over the past decade as a mere simple majority is all that is required to change the state constitution. … Changing our constitution is serious business with long lasting implications and should not be taken lightly. A 60% threshold will ensure only measures that are well conceived, effectively communicated and overwhelmingly supported by the people of North Dakota get added to our state’s constitution. … [And] focusing on a single issue will improve the transparency of the intent of the measure and help voters better understand the measure’s meaning and impact.”

ND Watchdog Network Director Dustin Gawrylow, a measure opponent, said, “It’s just another attempt to diminish the public’s ability to influence their own government. It’s asking the voters to give away the rights of themselves and future generations. It’s going to drastically increase the cost of doing [initiatives]. If they wanted to get rid of out of state money, this is not going to do it.”

Measures to increase the vote requirement for ballot measures are also on the November ballot in Arkansas and South Dakota.

The Arkansas measure would amend the state constitution to require a three-fifths 60% supermajority vote of approval from voters to adopt constitutional amendments (legislatively referred and citizen-initiated) and citizen-initiated state statutes.

The South Dakota measure would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote for the approval of ballot measures placed on the ballot through citizen initiative or referred to the ballot by the state legislature that increase taxes or fees or that would require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.

From 2000 to 2020, 35 constitutional amendments (both legislatively referred and citizen-initiated) were on the statewide ballot in North Dakota. Of the 35 amendments, 25 (71.43%) were approved and 10 (28.57%) were defeated. Of the 25 constitutional amendments that were approved, seven were citizen initiated amendments. All the citizen initiated amendments were approved by more than a 60% vote, except Measure 1 of 2018, which was designed to establish an ethics commission, ban foreign political contributions, and enact provisions related to lobbying and conflicts of interest. Measure 1 was approved by a vote of 53.63%. The other 18 approved constitutional amendments were placed on the ballot by the state legislature, of which, five were approved by less than a 60% vote.

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Guilford County voters in North Carolina to decide on sales tax increase and school bond measure on May 17

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is asking voters to approve a 0.25% local sales tax increase and a $1.7 billion school bond measure at the May 17 primary election.

One measure would authorize the county to issue $1.7 billion in bonds for constructing new schools, improving and expanding existing schools, and school equipment. The other measure asks voters to approve a 0.25% (one-quarter cent) sales tax increase to fund school construction and bond debt repayment. Sales and use taxes in Guilford County do not apply to gasoline or grocery items.

The Board of Commissioners also stated in the resolution that, should the quarter-cent tax increase be approved, the county would lower the county’s property tax rate to an amount equal to sales and use tax revenues (a minimum of 0.3 cents) when adopting the 2023 budget.

County Commissioners Chairman Melvin ‘Skip’ Alston said, “The proposed sales tax is expected to generate about $20 million in revenues annually. Although the recent revaluation raised property taxes for most property owners, this resolution would allow them to save money on their property tax bill if they support the one-quarter cent sales tax. Our goal is to soften the burden for the property owners. The one-quarter cent sales tax, which is paid by everyone regardless if they are renters or tourists, will help generate revenues to help to cover our $2 billion in school needs. This is one way the property owners can vote themselves a tax decrease …this school bond and quarter cent sales and use tax is about putting our children first, not just about buildings. The condition of our schools have a direct impact on our kids’ ability to learn.”

The Guilford County bond website stated, “A 2019 independent study funded jointly by the county’s board of commissioners and school board found that district schools were, in some cases, literally falling apart. The average GCS school was built more than a half-century ago and more than 50% of schools were rated as being in either poor or unsatisfactory condition. Guilford County Schools currently has more than $2 billion in facility needs, including more than $800 million in deferred maintenance. Across 12.5 million square feet of facilities – including 126 schools, 300 buildings, and nearly 3,000 acres of land – GCS historically has received less than $0.50 per square foot for maintenance and upkeep of those facilities each year from general operating funds.”

Bond proceeds were designed to fund:

  • over $363 million in critical safety and technology upgrades at all schools;
  • construction of three new schools;
  • rebuilding of 18 existing schools;
  • full renovation of 13 schools; and
  • repairs to schools with failing roofs, heat, air conditioning, and plumbing.

Voters in Guilford County approved a $300 million school bond measure in November 2020 by a vote of 69.74% in favor to 30.53% against. At the same election, voters rejected a quarter-cent sales and use tax increase by a vote of 33.07% in favor to 66.93% against.

In 2022, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local measures in California and all statewide ballot measures.



Alabama state legislature adjourns legislative session; 10 constitutional amendments to appear on 2022 statewide ballot

Alabama voters will vote on 10 constitutional amendments in 2022. One measure, which would authorize $85 million in bonds to be issued for public historical sites and state parks, will be on the May 24 primary election ballot. The other nine amendments will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

The legislature referred five of the amendments to the 2022 ballot during the 2021 legislative session, and another five constitutional amendments during the 2022 legislative session, which adjourned on April 8.

In November, Alabama voters will be asked to approve an updated and recompiled state constitution, titled the Alabama Constitution of 2022. Voters will also decide a ballot measure that would authorize the Code Commissioner to incorporate constitutional amendments that are approved at the elections on May 24 and Nov. 8 into the Alabama Constitution of 2022 if voters approve the new constitution. The other amendments would:

  • allow local governments to use funding provided for broadband internet infrastructure under the American Rescue Plan Act and award such funds to public or private entities;
  • remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts;
  • allow the state legislature to provide for offenses for which bail may be denied;
  • require changes to laws governing the conduct of a general election to be implemented at least six months from the general election;
  • require the Governor to provide notice to the Attorney General and the victim’s family before granting a commutation or reprieve of a death sentence
  • specify that counties and municipalities have authority under to provide for financing economic and industrial development through the use of public funds, issuing bonds, and leasing property or lending bonds to a private entity; and
  • authorize specific cities to use a previously established property tax to directly fund capital improvements in addition to using the revenue to repay bonds and other debt.

Both houses of the Alabama State Legislature are required to pass a proposed constitutional amendment by a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote in order to refer it to the statewide ballot. If the amendment is approved by a simple majority of voters, it becomes part of the state constitution.

A total of 78 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama during even-numbered election years from 2000 to 2020, of which, 62 were approved (79.49%), and 16 were defeated (20.59%). From 2000 to 2020, the number of constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot during even-numbered years ranged from 4 to 15.