Author

Jackie Mitchell

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

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).


16 initiatives filed in Massachusetts targeting 2020 and 2022 ballots

Sixteen initiatives targeting the 2020 and 2022 ballot were filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office by the August 7, 2019, deadline. Thirteen of the 16 measures are statutory and may appear on the 2020 ballot. Three of the measures would amend the state constitution, and the soonest they could appear on the ballot is 2022.
 
The process:
 
After an application is submitted, the attorney general must review the proposal to ensure that it complies with the state’s subject restrictions. If it complies, proponents then submit the petition to the secretary of the commonwealth, and he or she drafts a summary of the proposed law to be included on the official petition form. This summary must be approved by the attorney general. The attorney general’s office is set to announce certification decisions on September 4, 2019.
 
The requirements to get an initiated state statute certified for the 2020 ballot:
  • Signatures required (first round): 80,239 signatures
  • Signatures required (second round): 13,374 signatures
  • Deadline (first round): The deadline to submit the first round of signatures to the secretary of state is December 4, 2019. Signatures need to be submitted to local registrars by November 20, 2019.
  • Deadline (second round): The deadline to submit the second round of signatures is July 1, 2020.
If enough signatures are submitted in the first round, the legislature must act on a successful petition by the first Wednesday of May. The measure only goes on the ballot if the legislature does not pass it and if the second round of signatures is successfully collected.
 
The requirements to get an initiated constitutional amendment certified for the 2022 ballot:
  • Valid signatures required: 80,239 valid signatures
  • Deadline (2019 petitions): The deadline to submit signatures for consideration by the legislature in 2020 and 2021 sessions is December 4, 2019.
  • Deadline (2020 petitions): The deadline to submit signatures for consideration by the legislature in 2021 and 2022 sessions is December 2, 2020.
If enough signatures are submitted by the deadline, the initiative goes to the legislature, where it must garner the approval of 25 percent of all lawmakers, with senators and representatives voting jointly, in two successive sessions. If this requirement is met, the initiative goes on the ballot at the next general election. Because of this unique requirement, the earliest an initiated constitutional amendment can reach the ballot is two years following signature submission. And, depending on the year, it can be three years after signature submission before voters decide on the measure.
 
Filed petitions:
 
2020 statutes:
  • #19-02 would implement storage requirements for firearms.
  • #19-04 and 19-05 would ban the use of electric shocks to punish or change behavior in disabled individuals, specifically at Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts.
  • #19-06, named the “Right to Repair” initiative by proponents, concerns access to mechanical data in a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics or telematics system.
  • #19-08 enacts limits on campaign contributions from non-residents and out-of-state PACs.
  • #19-09 determines whale-safe status and bans certain fishing equipment.
  • #19-10 enacts a ranked-choice voting system in Massachusetts.
  • #19-11 changes the formula for Medicaid ratemaking for nursing homes.
  • #19-12 enacts a top-two primary system for elections in Massachusetts.
  • #19-13 establishes the Reducing Risks of Technology Commission.
  • #19-14 allows food stores to sell beer and wine.
  • #19-15 allows law enforcement officers to detain a person and transfer custody of the person to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under certain circumstances.
  • #19-16 prohibits public employees from accruing more than 1,000 hours of unused sick leave
 
2022 constitutional amendments:
  • #19-01 amends the constitution to say “Nothing in this constitution requires the public funding of abortion.”
  • #19-03 restores the right to vote to incarcerated individuals convicted of a felony.
  • #19-07 excludes corporations from the definition of people and allows the Massachusetts General Court to regulate and set limits on political contributions and expenditures.
 
In the ten-year period from 1998 to 2018, 32 citizen initiatives appeared on the statewide ballot in Massachusetts, of which 15 were approved and 17 were defeated. Between 1998 and 2018, an average of three measures appeared on the ballot in Massachusetts during even-numbered election years.
 


Washington voters to decide on state affirmative action policy in November through a veto referendum petition

Washington voters will decide in November whether or not to allow affirmative action to be used when considering a person for public education or public employment opportunities. The petition effort for Referendum Measure 88 (R-88) targeted Initiative 1000 (I-1000). After I-1000 qualified for the ballot through a successful initiative petition drive, the measure was approved by the legislature on April 28, 2019, thereby precluding an election. The R-88 petition requires that I-1000, instead, must be placed on the 2019 ballot in Washington for a statewide vote of the people.
 
R-88 was certified for the ballot on August 7, 2019. In a random sample check of 6,399 signatures, the secretary of state’s office found that 5,528 were valid, projecting a signature validity rate of 86.4%. This means that of 213,268 signatures submitted by proponents, 184,239 were deemed valid through the random sample verification. To qualify for the ballot, 129,811 valid signatures were required.
 
Initiative 1000 was designed to allow affirmative action without the use of quotas by the state of Washington. This means that characteristics such as race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status could be used as factors when considering a person for public education or public employment opportunities. I-1000 would ban preferential treatment, meaning those characteristics could not be the sole or deciding factor when considering a person for education or employment opportunities. Initiative 200 (I-200), approved by voters in 1998, banned discrimination and preferential treatment by the state. I-200 was sponsored by Washington initiative activist Tim Eyman. Eyman said, “Voters have accepted the principle that the government should treat everyone equally, without different rules for different races.”
 
I-1000 was sponsored by the One WA Equality Campaign and was supported by Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) and the NAACP. Regarding I-1000, Inslee said, “We know systemic inequities remain that cause communities of color, veterans, people with disabilities and women to face persistent barriers to work and education opportunities. I-1000 is a well-considered approach to updating our state’s policies and ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion in government contracts, employment and schools. This policy will help provide the pathways to opportunity that all our communities deserve. It embraces the parts of the 20-year-old I-200 initiative that work well while recognizing what we can do better to address the challenges facing businesses, workers and students today.”
 
As an Initiative to the Legislature—the name of indirect initiatives in Washington—the state legislature could either approve I-1000 or send it to the voters once it had qualified through a sufficient signature petition. The state legislature approved I-1000 on April 28, 2019, largely along party lines with all votes in favor coming from Democratic legislators. In the House, one Democrat, Brian Blake of District 19b, joined all House Republicans in voting no. Two Senate Democrats, Mark Mullet of District 5 and Tim Sheldon of District 35, joined the 20 Senate Republicans in voting no. Senator Guy Palumbo (D-1) was excused from voting.
 
Let People Vote led the R-88 petition drive and is leading the campaign for a vote against I-1000 at the November election. Let People Vote argued, “I-1000 can be summed up in one sentence: It would abolish the standard of equality for all, regardless of races, sex, color, age, ethnicity, or national origin, as required by Washington Civil Rights Act, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races. Initiative 1000 seeks to repeal Washington Civil Rights Act (I-200) and was enacted by the Legislature on the last day of the session in order to deny a public vote on the matter. Voter[s] approved I-200 by more than 58% of votes in 1998. Why shouldn’t voters be allowed to decide whether to change it?”
 
Of the 38 Initiatives to the Legislature (ITLs) that have been certified and presented to the legislature, five were approved by legislators instead of being sent to the ballot. Veto referendum efforts were subsequently filed against two of the ITLs and succeeded in overturning them.
 
Since the first in 1914, Washington voters have decided 37 statewide veto referendum measures at the ballot. The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in Washington in 2012. In 81% of cases (30 of 37), the veto referendum resulted in the targeted bill being repealed. Conversely, 19% (seven of 37) of veto referendum measures resulted in the targeted law being upheld. In Washington, successful veto referendum petitions suspend the targeted law until the veto referendum is placed on the ballot and voted on in an election.
 
Nation-wide 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 on the ballot 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).
 


Voters in Seattle and King County, Washington, approved property tax measures

A parks and recreation property tax measure was on the ballot for voters in King County, Washington, and a library property tax measure was on the ballot for voters in Seattle. The measures were approved by 67% and 73% of voters, respectively, according to the unofficial election night report. After the election night report, 40% of ballots were left to be counted.
 
Proposition 1 in Seattle authorized the city to levy for seven years a property tax of $0.122 per $1,000 in assessed property value with annual increases of up to 1% to fund library operations, materials, and maintenance and capital improvements. City staff estimated that Proposition 1 would generate $213.3 million over seven years or $30.47 million per year. Yes Seattle Libraries led the campaign in support of Proposition 1. The measure’s property tax rate represents about $83 on the property tax bill for a house assessed at $681,000, which is the median assessed property value in Seattle in 2019. A library property tax approved by Seattle voters in 2012 was set to expire in 2019.
 
Proposition 1 in King County authorized the county to levy for six years a property tax of $0.1832 per $1,000 in assessed property value to replace an expiring tax. The proposition included annual increases and dedicated revenue to parks, recreation, open space, public pools, zoo operations, and aquarium capital improvements. Yes on KC Prop 1 led the campaign in support of Proposition 1. The measure’s property tax rate represents about $90 per year on the property tax bill for a house assessed at $492,000, which is the median assessed property value in unincorporated King County in 2019.


Signatures submitted for veto referendum to keep Colorado from joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC)

Veto referendum sponsors Coloradans Vote reported submitting over 227,000 signatures to the secretary of state on the August 1 deadline. To qualify the measure for the 2020 ballot, 124,632 signatures must be verified as valid.
 
The referendum petition effort seeks to put Senate Bill 42 (SB 42) to a statewide vote of the people in the hopes that voters will reject the bill. SB 42 would add Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), awarding all of Colorado’s nine electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.
 
A yes vote on the referendum would be a vote to approve Senate Bill 42, allowing Colorado to become a part of the NPVIC. A no vote on the referendum would be a vote to reject Senate Bill 42, stopping Colorado from becoming a part of the NPVIC.
 
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an interstate compact to award member states’ presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote. The NPVIC would go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral college votes adopt the legislation. As of August 1, 2019, 15 states and Washington, D.C., (representing a total of 196 electoral votes) had joined the NPVIC.
 
Most states use a winner-take-all system for awarding electoral votes—a candidate who receives 51 percent of the popular vote in a state would receive 100 percent of that state’s electoral votes. In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election with 304 electoral votes compared to Hillary Clinton’s 227 electoral votes. Clinton won the national popular vote with 65.84 million votes compared to Trump’s 62.98 million votes. The 2016 election was not the only instance in which the winner of the electoral college did not receive the most popular votes; it happened in five of the 58 presidential elections in U.S. history.
 
State Sen. Mike Foote (D-17) and Reps. Emily Sirota (D-9) and Jennifer Arndt (D-53) sponsored SB 42 in the Colorado State Legislature. SB 42 passed the Senate on January 29, 2019, in a vote of 19 to 16. On February 21, 2019, the House approved the bill in a vote of 34 to 29. Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) signed the bill into law on March 15, 2019.
 
Coloradans Vote is leading the campaign in support of a no vote. Coloradans Vote sponsored the referendum petition and hopes voters will reject Senate Bill 42. The group argued that “demanding Colorado’s electors cast their votes this way is theft of our votes for president and gives them to more populated areas like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. [The current Electoral College system] ensures that the minority always has a voice by allowing smaller, less populated states to have a more proportionate voice in electing our president.”
 
Colorado National Popular Vote (Colorado NPV) is advocating for a yes vote on the referendum. The campaign supports Colorado being a part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and hopes voters will approve Senate Bill 42. In a statement to Ballotpedia, Co-Chair of Colorado NPV Sylvia Bernstein said, “The Electoral College system has resulted in 5 out of 45 American presidents not winning the popular vote. This does not fairly reflect the will of the voters and is harmful to a modern democracy … We believe every vote by every American for the President should count equally, no matter where you live.”
 
In addition to Colorado, three other states joined the NPVIC in 2019: Delaware, New Mexico, and Oregon. The first state to join was Maryland in 2007. Colorado is a Democratic trifecta. Thirteen of the 15 states to join the NPVIC and Washington, D.C., were controlled by Democratic trifectas at the time. Two were controlled by divided governments.
 
The most recent veto referendum on the ballot in Colorado appeared on the ballot in 1932. From 1912 to 1932, 13 veto referendums were on the ballot. Of the 13 referendum efforts, 10 were successful in overturning the targeted legislation. The targeted legislation was upheld by voters on three occasions.
 
Nation-wide 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 on the ballot 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).
 
Additional reading:
 


Signatures submitted for Referendum Measure 88 in WA, would force a statewide vote on legislature-approved affirmative action initiative

Proponents of Washington Referendum Measure 88 (R-88) targeting the 2019 ballot reported submitting 215,655 to the Secretary of State on July 27, 2019. To qualify, 129,811 valid signatures are required.
 
Referendum Measure 88 would require Initiative 1000 (I-1000), which was approved by the legislature on April 28, 2019, to instead be placed on the 2019 ballot in Washington for a statewide vote of the people for their approval or rejection.
 
Initiative 1000 was designed to allow affirmative action without the use of quotas in the state of Washington. This means that characteristics such as race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status could be used as factors when considering a person for education or employment opportunities. I-1000 would ban preferential treatment, meaning those characteristics could not be the sole or deciding factor when considering a person for education or employment opportunities. Initiative 200 (I-200), approved by voters in 1998, banned discrimination and preferential treatment. I-200 was sponsored by Washington initiative activist Tim Eyman. Eyman has said “Voters have accepted the principle that the government should treat everyone equally, without different rules for different races.”
 
I-1000 was sponsored by the One WA Equality Campaign and was supported by Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) and the NAACP. Regarding I-1000, Inslee said, “We know systemic inequities remain that cause communities of color, veterans, people with disabilities and women to face persistent barriers to work and education opportunities. I-1000 is a well-considered approach to updating our state’s policies and ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion in government contracts, employment and schools. This policy will help provide the pathways to opportunity that all our communities deserve. It embraces the parts of the 20-year-old I-200 initiative that work well while recognizing what we can do better to address the challenges facing businesses, workers and students today.”
 
As an Initiative to the Legislature—the name of indirect initiatives in Washington—the state legislature could either approve I-1000 or send it to the voters. The state legislature approved I-1000 on April 28, 2019, largely along party lines with all votes in favor coming from Democratic legislators. In the House, one Democrat, Brian Blake of District 19b, joined all House Republicans in voting no. Two Senate Democrats, Mark Mullet of District 5 and Tim Sheldon of District 35, joined the 20 Senate Republicans in voting no. Senator Guy Palumbo (D-1) was excused from voting.
 
Let People Vote is leading the campaign in support of R-88. Let People Vote argued, “I-1000 can be summed up in one sentence: It would abolish the standard of equality for all, regardless of races, sex, color, age, ethnicity, or national origin, as required by Washington Civil Rights Act, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races. Initiative 1000 seeks to repeal Washington Civil Rights Act (I-200) and was enacted by the Legislature on the last day of the session in order to deny a public vote on the matter. Voter approved I-200 by more than 58% of votes in 1998. Why shouldn’t voters be allowed to decide whether to change it?”
 
Of the 38 Initiatives to the Legislature (ITLs) that have been certified and presented to the legislature, five were approved by legislators. Referendum efforts were subsequently filed against two of the ITLs and succeeded in overturning them.
 
Since the first in 1914, Washington voters have decided 37 statewide veto referendum measures at the ballot. The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in Washington in 2012. In 81% of cases (30 of 37), the veto referendum resulted in the targeted bill being repealed. Conversely, 19% (seven of 37) of veto referendum measures resulted in the targeted law being upheld. In Washington, successful veto referendum petitions suspend the targeted law until the veto referendum is placed on the ballot and voted on in an election.
 
Nation-wide 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 on the ballot 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).
 


Signatures submitted for Arkansas optometry referendum

Petitioners for 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. The requirement is based on 6% of votes cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election. Sponsors of the referendum petition effort hope voters will overturn HB 1251 and are advocating for a no vote on the referendum.
 
HB 1251 amended the definition of “practice of optometry” in state law to allow optometrists to perform 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.
 
Safe Surgery Arkansas is sponsoring the veto referendum petition seeking to overturn HB 1251. The group argues that the bill “jeopardizes patient safety and lowers the quality of surgical eye care in the state of Arkansas. This new law would allow optometrists— who are not medical doctors or trained surgeons— to perform delicate surgery on the eye and surrounding tissues using scalpels, lasers, and needles. HB 1251 removes … critical patient safeguard[s] by granting optometrists broad surgical privileges to operate on the eyes while bypassing these critical training requirements.”
 
Arkansans for Healthy Eyes is leading the campaign in opposition to the veto referendum effort and in support of HB 1251. The group is advocating for a yes vote on the referendum. Arkansas for Healthy Eyes argued that the bill “gives Arkansas patients better access to quality care by allowing optometrists to perform more of the procedures we are absolutely qualified to safely perform… For some patients, especially in rural parts of the state, being able to receive enhanced care from their optometrist, instead of having to go through the wait, travel, and added cost of a specialist visit, may mean the difference between getting a needed procedure, or going without.”
 
HB 1251 was approved in the House on March 6, 2019, in a vote of 70-19. Among Democratic representatives, eight voted against, 13 voted in favor, and three were absent or did not vote. Among Republican representatives, 11 voted against, 57 voted in favor, eight were absent or did not vote for or against the bill. The bill was approved in the Senate on March 20, 2019, in a vote of 25-8. Among Democratic senators, three voted against, five voted in favor, and one was absent or did not vote. Among Republican Senators, five voted against, 20 voted in favor, and one was absent or did not vote.
 
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).


Signature deadlines nearing for 2019 Colorado initiatives

Signature deadlines for pending ballot measures in Colorado:
  • 2020 veto referendum petitions: 124,632 valid signatures due by August 1, 2019
  • 2019 ballot initiative petitions: 124,632 valid signatures due by August 5, 2019
The number of required signatures increased 26.54% for Colorado ballot measures following the 2018 elections due to higher voter turnout. Initiative signature requirements in Colorado are calculated by taking 5 percent of the number of total votes cast for the office of Colorado Secretary of State. Citizen initiative signature requirements increased in 13 states based on 2018 elections. In these 13 states, the signature requirement increases ranged from 3.2 percent in Maine to 70.3 percent in California, where the signature requirements are higher than they’ve ever been in the state’s 106 years of direct democracy.
 
For 2019 ballot initiatives, proponents must submit signatures by August 5, 2019. Just one measure was approved for signature gathering to qualify for the 2019 ballot in Colorado: Initiative #22, the Colorado Oil and Gas Severance Taxes Initiative. This initiative was designed to change the tax structure for oil and gas severance taxes. Proposed changes include eliminating a tax credit given to oil and gas producers for property taxes paid. Though the initiative was approved for signature gathering on March 5, 2019, it is unclear if the petition is being actively circulated.
 
Signatures for veto referendum petitions targeting the 2020 ballot are due on August 1, 2019. Two veto referendum petitions were filed with the Secretary of State: the Early Childhood Development Districts Referendum (targeting House Bill 1052) and the National Popular Vote Referendum (targeting Senate Bill 42). Sponsors of the referendum efforts seek to put bills passed by the legislature in the 2019 session to a statewide vote of the people in the hopes that voters will overturn the bills.
 
The Early Childhood Development Districts referendum concerns House Bill 1052. HB 1052 was designed to create special districts to provide early childhood development services for children from birth through 8 years of age. Under the bill, early childhood development services include early care and educational, health, mental health, and developmental services.
 
The National Popular Vote referendum concerns Senate Bill 42. SB 42 was signed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) on March 15, 2019. SB 42 would award all of Colorado’s nine electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. SB 42 joined Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The National Popular Vote (NPV) refers to the concept of allocating a state’s presidential electors to the candidate who wins the national popular vote regardless of the state results in a presidential election. As of July 2019, 15 states (and Washington, D.C.) representing 196 electoral college votes adopted legislation to be a part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact cannot take effect until enough states have joined that the system would possess the required 270 of 538 electoral votes to elect a president.
 
The most recent veto referendum on the ballot in Colorado appeared on the ballot in 1932. From 1912 to 1932, 13 veto referendums were on the ballot. Of the 13 referendum efforts, 10 were successful in overturning the targeted legislation. The targeted legislation was upheld on three occasions.
 


Oregon voters will decide on increasing the cigarette tax and creating an e-cigarette tax to fund healthcare-related programs in 2020

House Bill 2270 would do the following if approved by voters in 2020:
  • Increase cigarette tax from $1.33 per pack to $3.33 per pack;
  • Impose a tax on inhalant delivery systems (such as e-cigarettes) at a rate of 65% of the wholesale price; and
  • Increase the cap on cigar taxes from 50 cents to $1.00.
 
Taxes from this bill would apply beginning on January 1, 2021. Under the bill, revenue would be dedicated to the Oregon Health Authority for medical and healthcare-related programs such as the state’s Medical Assistance Program, mental health programs, and other programs concerning tobacco and nicotine health issues.
 
Voters in Montana decided a similar measure, I-185, in 2018; defeating it by a vote of 53% to 47%.
 
As of 2019, Washington, D.C. had the highest cigarette tax rate of $4.50 per pack and Missouri levied the lowest state-imposed cigarette tax of $0.17 per pack. Eighteen states, including Oregon, levied a tax rate ranging from $1.00 to $1.98 per pack.
 
E-cigarette (vapor) taxes are levied by state or local governments and vary by method. Some authorities tax a percentage of the wholesale price, while others tax per unit or milliliter of e-liquid. Eighteen states have enacted a tax on vapor products. Washington, D.C., has the highest vapor tax at 96% of the wholesale price. Oregon has not enacted a tax on e-cigarettes or vapor products.
 
The measure was introduced at the request of Kate Brown (D). On June 20, 2019, the state House voted 39 to 21 to pass HB 2270. The measure passed largely along party lines with most Democrats voting in favor and most Republicans voting in opposition. Democratic representative Bradley Witt voted against the bill, and two Republican representatives (Cheri Helt and Greg Smith) voted in favor of the bill. On June 30, 2019, the Senate passed the bill along party lines in a vote of 18-8 with four Republican senators absent or excused. State statutes referred to voters by the legislature are not subject to the governor’s veto and do not require the governor’s signature.
 
Also on Oregon’s 2020 ballot is a constitutional amendment that would allow the state and local governments to enact limits on campaign contributions and expenditures.


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