Author

Jackie Mitchell

Jackie Mitchell is a state ballot measures staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jackie.mitchell@ballotpedia.org

Campaign finance updates published for Colorado 2019 ballot propositions

Colorado voters will decide Proposition CC and Proposition DD in two weeks on November 5, 2019.
 
Colorado Proposition CC would allow the state to retain revenue it is currently required to refund under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) to provide funding for transportation and education.
 
Two committees are registered to support Proposition CC: the Great Education Colorado Issue Committee and Coloradans for Prosperity. The support committees reported a combined $3.99 million in contributions and $2.35 million in expenditures. The largest donor to the support campaign was Daniel Ritchie, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Denver, who contributed $750,000.
 
Three committees are registered to oppose Proposition CC: Citizens Against CC, No on CC, and Americans for Prosperity Colorado Issue Committee. The opposition committees reported a combined $1.42 million in contributions and $1.26 million in expenditures. The largest donor to the opposition campaign was Americans for Prosperity, which contributed $1.22 million in in-kind contributions.
 
Also on the ballot is Proposition DD, which would authorize sports betting in Colorado, authorize the legislature to levy a tax of 10% on those conducting sports betting operations, and allocate revenue to fund state water projects.
 
One committee is registered to support Proposition DD: Yes on Proposition DD. The support campaign reported $1.76 million in contributions and $1.06 million in expenditures. The largest donor to the campaign was FanDuel, a sports betting company, which provided $750,000.
 
One committee is registered to oppose Proposition DD: Coloradans for Climate Justice. The committee had not yet reported campaign finance activity.
 
The reports covered through all contributions and expenditures through October 9, 2019, and major contributions through October 17, 2019. The deadline for the next scheduled reports is October 28, 2019. In addition to regularly scheduled reports, campaigns must also report major contributions ($1,000 or more) within 24 hours after receipt.
 
Both of the propositions were referred to the ballot by the state legislature. In 2018, the legislature referred six measures to the ballot in the form of constitutional amendments. Campaigns supporting those measures raised funds ranging from under $5,000 to over $5.8 million in the case of Amendments Y and Z designed to create independent redistricting commissions.
 


Looking ahead to Florida’s 2020 ballot questions: what is on the ballot and what could be on the ballot?

One measure is currently certified to appear on the Florida 2020 ballot. Proponents of six measures have collected enough signatures (76,632) to trigger ballot language reviews. Proponents of the $15 Minimum Wage Initiative are about 5,000 signatures away from the 766,200 total required signatures, but also need to meet the state’s distribution requirement.
 
On Sept. 19, the Florida Division of Elections reported that the Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative had qualified for the November 2020 ballot. The measure is sponsored by Florida Citizen Voters and has the support of the national Citizen Voters Inc. Florida Citizen Voters submitted 927,662 valid signatures. To qualify the measure for the ballot, 766,200 valid signatures were required. The measure was originally Initiative #18-14 and will appear on the ballot as Amendment 1.
 
This measure would amend the Florida Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States are qualified electors in Florida.
 
Proponents of six citizen initiatives in Florida have submitted enough valid signatures to trigger a ballot language review by the state supreme court. Sponsors must submit 76,632 valid signatures (10% of the number of signatures required statewide coming from at least seven of Florida’s congressional districts) to trigger a ballot language review by the state supreme court concerning whether or not the measure complies with the single-subject rule and whether or not the ballot title and summary are appropriate.
 
Proponents must submit a total of 766,200 valid signatures to qualify initiatives for the 2020 ballot. Signatures must be verified by February 1, 2020. Since state law gives the secretary of state 30 days to verify signatures, petitioners need to submit signatures on or before January 1, 2020, to guarantee that an initiative qualifies for the ballot in 2020.
 
Florida also has a signature distribution requirement, which requires that signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election be collected from at least half (14) of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Petitioners are allowed to circulate an initiative for an indefinite period of time, but signatures are valid for a two-year period of time; therefore, proponents must collect all of their signatures for verification within a two-year period.
 
The list below shows which initiatives have enough signatures to trigger a ballot language review and how many signatures are currently valid statewide:
 
 
An additional 11 measures have been filed in 2018 and 2019 targeting the 2020 ballot in Florida, but proponents have not yet submitted enough valid signatures to trigger the supreme court ballot language review. Initiative #19-11, sponsored by Make It Legal Florida, was the most recent filed initiative and would legalize recreational marijuana. It was approved for signature gathering on September 9, 2019, and had 466 signatures unofficially reported as valid by the secretary of state as of October 11, 2019.
 
A total of 91 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Florida between 1996 and 2018, with an average of between seven and eight measures appearing on the ballot during each even-numbered year. Between 1996 and 2018, 75.82% (69 of 91) of statewide measures were approved by voters and 24.18% (22 of 91) were defeated. In Florida, a 60% supermajority vote is required for the approval of a constitutional amendment.


Voters in Memphis approve sales tax for public safety officer benefits

Voters in Memphis, Tennessee, voted to approve an initiative that increased the city’s sales tax by an additional 0.5% (from 2.25% to 2.75%) in order to fund health benefits and pensions to the levels provided in 2014 and 2016, respectively, for fire and police public safety officers. The measure also earmarked additional revenue generated by the increase for roads and pre-kindergarten education. Unofficial election night results showed voters approving the measure 52.5% to 47.5%, with 100% of precincts reporting.
 
In Tennessee, local option sales taxes apply only to the first $1,600 of a single purchase. The 0.5% additional tax rate proposed by this referendum would, therefore, result in a maximum of an $8 increase in sales tax on the purchase of a single item. If the measure is approved, the city council will have to give final approval of the tax increase for the 2020 city budget. Before this election, the city’s sales tax rate was last increased in 1984 from 1.5% to 2.25%.
 
The Memphis Police Association and the Memphis Fire Fighters Association, the sponsors of the initiative, estimated the tax increase would provide $52 million in revenue annually. The groups estimated that $34 million of that would be required to bring health benefits and pensions to the level designated by the petition. In 2019, half of the revenue from the city’s 2.25% sales tax went into the general fund and amounted to about $113 million.
 
This measure was put on the ballot through a successful initiative petition campaign sponsored by the Memphis Police Association and the Memphis Fire Fighters Association, which submitted about 140,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot in January. A total of 38,450 valid signatures were required to put the measure on the ballot.
 


Citizen voting initiative certified to appear on Florida’s 2020 ballot

On Sept. 19, the Florida Division of Elections reported that the Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative had qualified for the November 2020 ballot. The measure is sponsored by Florida Citizen Voters and has the support of the national Citizen Voters Inc. Florida Citizen Voters submitted 927,662 valid signatures. To qualify the measure for the ballot, 766,200 valid signatures were required. The measure was originally Initiative #18-14 and will appear on the ballot as Amendment 1.
 
This measure would amend the Florida Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States are qualified electors in Florida.
 
Currently, the state constitution reads: “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.”
 
Under the amendment, that constitutional provision would read: “Only a citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.”
 
According to the most recent campaign finance reports available, Florida Citizen Voters reported $2.45 million in cash contributions and $5.84 million in in-kind contributions, all from Citizen Voters, Inc. Between January and July 2019, Florida Citizen Voters reported cash and in-kind expenditures paid to the petition gathering company Let the Voters Decide totaling $7.86 million.
 
A similar amendment is certified to appear on the ballot in Alabama in 2020. Similar initiatives targeting the 2020 ballot were also filed in Colorado and Maine.
 
Voters in North Dakota approved the same proposal, Measure 2, in 2018. The measure amended the North Dakota Constitution to state that “only a citizen” rather than “every citizen” of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections. Measure 2 was approved by a vote of 66% to 34%.
 
Citizenship is a requirement for voting in most elections in the U.S. Voters in San Francisco approved a measure, Proposition N, in 2016 which allowed non-citizens to register to vote in school board elections. New York City allowed non-citizens to vote in local school board elections from 1968 to 2003 until the city abolished elected school boards. As of 2019, 11 cities in Maryland, including Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, and Takoma Park allowed non-citizens to vote. Chicago has allowed non-citizens to vote and serve on its school councils since 1989.
 
All state constitutions mention United States citizenship when discussing the qualifications of an elector. Twenty-one (21) states use the specific phrase “Every citizen of the United States…” when discussing who is a qualified elector. An additional 16 states use the word “every” but structure the sentence differently. Six states use the word “all” or “any” when discussing citizenship and suffrage. Six other states have some other way of phrasing the sentence. As of June 2019, North Dakota was the only state to use the phrase “Only a citizen of the United States…” after having changed it from “every” via a constitutional amendment in 2018.
 
 
Map key:
Purple: “Only a citizen of the United States…”
Dark green: “Every citizen of the United States…”
Light green: Uses the term “every”
Dark blue: Uses the terms “any” or “all”
Grey: Unique language concerning citizenship and suffrage


Utah legislature makes changes to state medical marijuana law

Utah Proposition 2, approved by voters in November 2018, was altered by the legislature in December 2018 with House Bill 3001. Among other alterations, HB 3001 removed Proposition 2’s provision allowing patients to grow their own marijuana, provided for a state-run medical marijuana dispensary system, and made changes to the list of qualifying conditions. Utah is one of 11 states that have no restrictions on legislative alterations, which means the legislature can amend or repeal initiated state statutes with a simple majority vote at any time.
 
Utah Governor Gary Herbert called for a special session to start on Sept. 16 to, among other things, amend the state’s medical marijuana law.
 
Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) said, “My administration is dedicated to ensuring that quality, medical-grade cannabis products are accessible to patients by March of 2020. Removing the requirement for a state central fill pharmacy will provide efficient and timely distribution of this substance for those who need it.”  
 
The removal of the provisions for the state-run medical marijuana dispensary comes after Davis County and Salt Lake County attorneys in July advised their health departments against dispensing medical marijuana, stating that county health department workers could be prosecuted for marijuana distribution. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said,  “the federal Controlled Substances Act is directly in conflict with what the state statute [under HB 3001] requires health departments to do. There is no exemption in federal law for being basically a marijuana distributor — a dealer — for a county. There is no exception.”
 
On September 16, during the special session, the Utah legislature passed Senate Bill 1002 unanimously, except for two senators and nine representatives who were absent or not voting. SB 1002 made amendments to the state’s medical marijuana law. Highlighted changes made by the bill include the following:
  • Repealed provisions providing for a state-run medical marijuana dispensary;
  • Provided for awarding licenses to operate 14 private dispensaries, allowed the state Department of Health to issue additional licenses “based on market necessity”;
  • Authorizes the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to license research universities to conduct research on medical marijuana;
  • Provided for electronic medical marijuana cards;
  • Provided that a court could not consider the use of medical marijuana differently than the legal use of any prescribed medication that is a controlled substance (rather than the original bill’s provision that marijuana use be treated like the legal use of a prescription opiate or opioid).
 
From 2010 through 2018, 97 initiated state statutes and two initiated ordinances in D.C. were approved by voters. Of these 99 total initiatives from 2010 through 2018, 28 were repealed or amended as of April 2019. The states with the most total cases of legislative alterations of initiatives approved since 2010 were Maine—with four initiatives altered out of eight approved—and Colorado and Oregon—each with three initiatives altered out of five approved. Among initiatives approved from 2010 through 2018, marijuana was the topic that drew the most legislative alterations, with eight initiatives. The rate of legislative alteration was 13 percentage points higher for initiatives approved in 2016 and 2018 than initiatives approved from 2010 through 2015.
 
Additional reading:


Potential 2020 Florida initiatives: which have made progress?

Proponents of seven citizen initiatives in Florida have submitted enough valid signatures to trigger a ballot language review by the state supreme court. Sponsors must submit 76,632 valid signatures (10% of the number of signatures required statewide coming from at least seven of Florida’s congressional districts) to trigger a ballot language review by the state supreme court concerning whether or not the measure complies with the single-subject rule and whether or not the ballot title and summary are appropriate.
 
Proponents must submit a total of 766,200 valid signatures to qualify initiatives for the 2020 ballot. Signatures must be verified by February 1, 2020. Since state law gives the secretary of state 30 days to verify signatures, petitioners need to submit signatures on or before January 1, 2020, to guarantee that an initiative qualifies for the ballot in 2020.
 
Florida also has a signature distribution requirement, which requires that signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election be collected from at least half (14) of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Petitions are allowed to circulate an initiative for an indefinite period of time, but signatures are valid for a two-year period of time; therefore, proponents must collect all of their signatures for verification within a two-year period.
 
One measure, Initiative #18-14 (designed to specify that only U.S. citizens can vote in federal, state, local, or school elections), has more than the required number of total statewide valid signatures but has not yet officially met the distribution requirement in each district and county. Proponents of the measure reported submitting more than 1.5 million signatures in July.
 
The list below shows which initiatives have enough signatures to trigger a ballot language review and how many signatures are currently valid statewide:
 
 
An additional 11 measures have been filed in 2018 and 2019 targeting the 2020 ballot in Florida, but proponents have not yet submitted enough valid signatures to trigger the supreme court ballot language review. Initiative #19-11, sponsored by Make It Legal Florida, was the most recent filed initiative and would legalize recreational marijuana. It was approved for signature gathering on September 9, 2019.
 
A total of 91 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Florida between 1996 and 2018, with an average of between seven and eight measures appearing on the ballot during each even-numbered year. Between 1996 and 2018, 75.82% (69 of 91) of statewide measures were approved by voters and 24.18% (22 of 91) were defeated.


Signatures submitted for Mississippi medical marijuana amendment targeting 2020 ballot

Mississippians for Compassionate Care, proponents of an initiative to legalize medical marijuana, reported submitting more than 214,000 signatures as of September 5, 2019; 105,686 of which have already been certified by county clerks. Once the clerks have certified the signatures, proponents must file the entire petition with the secretary of state for signature verification. 86,185 valid signatures are required to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. Moreover, signatures must be from voters distributed across the state’s congressional districts. If enough signatures are found valid, the initiative goes to the state legislature, which cannot prevent the measure from going onto the ballot but can put an alternative measure on the ballot along with the initiative.
 
The measure was filed by Ashley Durval, the mother of Harper Grace Durval. In 2014, the Mississippi Legislature passed Harper Grace’s Law, which removed marijuana extract oil (CBD oil) from Mississippi’s list of controlled substances and allowed its prescription for medicinal applications. Harper Grace Durval has Davet Syndrome, a type of epilepsy that causes seizures.
 
This measure would provide for a medical marijuana program in Mississippi under the direction of the Mississippi Department of Health. Individuals with a debilitating medical condition could seek a certification from a Mississippi-licensed physician to obtain medical marijuana.
 
The measure specifies that no qualified patient could possess more than 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at one time and that no more than 2.5 ounces could be provided to a patient in a 14-day period. The weight limit would not include ingredients combined with medical marijuana to prepare edible products, topical products, ointments, oils, tinctures, or other products. Under the measure, no medical marijuana treatment center could be located within 500 feet of a school, church, or child-care establishment.
 
The measure defines debilitating medical condition as “cancer, epilepsy or other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cachexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, chronic or debilitating pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, agitation of dementias, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, pain refractory to appropriate opioid management, spinal cord disease or severe injury, intractable nausea, severe muscle spasticity, or another medical condition of the same kind or class to those herein enumerated and for which a physician believes the benefits of using medical marijuana would reasonably outweigh potential health risks.”
 
The last time Mississippi voters had a statewide measure on the ballot was in 2015, when they defeated both a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment and its alternative put on the ballot by the legislature.


Campaign finance reports published for Colorado Proposition CC

Colorado Proposition CC on the 2019 ballot would allow the state to retain excess revenue it is currently required to refund under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) to provide funding for transportation and education.
 
One committee is registered to support Proposition CC: the Great Education Colorado Issue Committee. The support campaign has reported $51,040 in contributions and $12,773 in expenditures so far. Daniel Ritchie, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Denver, contributed $50,000 to the support campaign.
 
Two committees are registered to oppose Proposition CC. Americans for Prosperity Colorado Issue Committee has reported $293,854.71 in in-kind contributions, all of which came from Americans for Prosperity. Citizens Against CC had not yet reported campaign finance activity.
 
The reports covered through August 28, 2019. The deadline for the next scheduled reports is September 16, 2019.
 
Also on the 2019 ballot in Colorado is Proposition DD, which would authorize sports betting in Colorado and authorize the legislature to levy a tax of 10% on those conducting sports betting operations. Ballotpedia did not identify any committees registered to support Proposition DD.
 
One committee is registered to oppose Proposition DD: Coloradans for Climate Justice. The committee had not reported any campaign finance activity.
 
Both propositions were referred to the ballot by the state legislature. In 2018, the legislature referred six measures to the ballot in the form of constitutional amendments. Campaigns supporting those measures raised funds ranging from under $5,000 to over $5.8 million in the case of Amendments Y and Z designed to create independent redistricting commissions.
 
Additional reading:


10th Circuit Court of Appeals rules Colorado signature distribution requirements constitutional

Colorado voters approved Amendment 71 (sometimes referred to as the Raise the Bar initiative) in 2016. Amendment 71 required initiative petitioners to spread out signature gathering efforts across all of the state’s 35 senate districts, making it more difficult to collect enough signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment for the ballot.
 
Amendment 71 also enacted a 55% supermajority requirement for any constitutional amendment other than those designed to only delete language.
 
ColoradoCareYes and the Coalition for Colorado Universal Health Care, proponents of the defeated Amendment 69 of 2016, filed litigation against Amendment 71 in U.S. District Court on April 24, 2017. Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R) was named as the defendant.
 
Plaintiffs argued that the distribution requirement provisions of Amendment 71 violate the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit stated, “Voters in one district can thwart the will of a far greater number of voters in another, and prevent a popular initiative that might win majority support in the general election from appearing on the ballot.” Specifically, plaintiffs argued that Amendment 71 gives greater weight to rural voters than urban voters and therefore violates the one-person-one-vote principle.
 
On March 27, 2018, a federal judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs and overturned the provisions of Amendment 71 that established a distribution requirement for initiated constitutional amendment petitions. That ruling was appealed, and the distribution requirement was left in effect for the 2018 election cycle.
 
On August 20, 2019, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to reverse the U.S. District Court’s ruling, leaving the distribution requirement in place. The majority wrote that “[n]o equal protection problem exists if votes are cast in state legislative districts that were drawn based on Census population data.” The majority based its decision on U.S. Supreme Court Case Evenwel v. Abbot in which justices ruled unanimously that a state or local government could draw legislative districts based on population.


Proponents of Arkansas optometry referendum petition supreme court to count signatures and certify measure for the 2020 ballot

Safe Surgery Arkansas, sponsors of the Arkansas Practice of Optometry Referendum, reported submitting more than 84,000 signatures by the July 23 deadline to qualify a veto referendum on House Bill 1251 for a statewide vote in 2020. A total of 53,491 signatures need to be valid to qualify the measure for the ballot.
 
Safe Surgery Arkansas is sponsoring the veto referendum petition seeking to block optometrists from performing certain surgical procedures including the following:
  • injections, excluding intravenous or intraocular injections;
  • incision and curettage of a chalazion;
  • removal and biopsy of skin lesions with low risk of malignancy, excluding lesions involving the lid margin or nasal to the puncta;
  • laser capsulotomy; and
  • laser trabeculoplasty.
 
The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office said proponents submitted 23,953 valid signatures and, therefore, failed to qualify for the ballot. Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston (R) declined to count 61,065 signatures submitted by proponents, saying they were not collected in compliance with Act 376 (House Bill 346) of 2019. Act 376 changed the laws governing the initiative process in Arkansas. Act 376 contained an emergency clause that applied the new laws to petitions that were already being circulated.
 
Among other things, Act 376 required sponsors to submit a signed, sworn statement to the secretary of state saying that the petitioner had not been found guilty of a felony or crime of fraud, forgery, identity theft, or election law violation. Before the adoption of Act 376, that statement needed to be submitted by paid canvassers to the initiative sponsor rather than the secretary of state. The secretary of state said proponents did not properly submit the required paperwork before collecting the signatures in question.
 
Proponents are challenging the legality of the emergency clause and are asking the supreme court to order that the 61,065 signatures be counted and order the Secretary of State to certify the petition to the ballot.
 
Since the first in 1934, 10 veto referendum measures have appeared on the ballot in Arkansas. The most recent referendum was on the ballot in 2004. In all but one case, the referendum efforts resulted in the targeted law being repealed or overturned.
 
Nationwide since the first in 1906, 521 veto referendums appeared on the ballot in 23 states. Voters repealed 340 (65.3 percent) of the targeted laws. Voters upheld 181 (34.7 percent) of the targeted laws. The states with the most veto referendums were North Dakota (75), Oregon (68), and California (48). The states that allowed for veto referendums but had the least number of them were Wyoming (1), Nevada (2), and New Mexico (3).


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