Author

Josh Altic

Josh Altic is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

78% fewer local ballot measures on Nov. 2 ballots in California than average since 2009

On Nov. 2, voters in 15 different cities, school districts, and special districts in 10 different California counties will decide 16 local ballot measures.

The average number of local California ballot measures on the November ballot in odd-numbered years since 2009 was 74. In 2019, there were 45, and in 2017 there were 62.

One measure concerns election dates for a school district in Los Angeles County. One measure in Woodside is a citizen initiative related to parking and gathering places in residentially zoned areas. One measure in Santa Cruz would allocate 20% of revenue generated by a marijuana business tax approved by voters in 2014 to youth and early childhood development programs and services. The remaining 13 measures would approve tax increases or renewals.

  • Eight of the November measures are parcel taxes, which are a type of property tax unique to California that is based on units of property or property characteristics rather than assessed value.
  • Two are utility tax measures.
  • One is a sales tax measure.
  • One is a hotel tax measure.
  • One is a real estate transfer tax measure.

None of the measures are bond issues. California law requires voter approval of certain local taxes and bonds.

Nov. 2 is the seventh local ballot measure election date in California so far in 2021. Including the 16 measures on the ballot in November, Ballotpedia has covered 43 local ballot measures in California in 2021. In 2019, there were 78. In 2017, there were 135. The average number of local measures during even-numbered years was 759 over the last three cycles.

In 2021, 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.

Additional reading:



Cincinnati city council fixes error that would have made Issue 3 increase city council salaries instead of decrease them

On Sept. 30, the Cincinnati City Council passed an emergency ordinance to fix an error in the legal text of Issue 3 on the Nov. 2 ballot. The error would have made Issue 3 increase city council pay instead of decreasing it.

Issue 3, a citizen initiative, was designed to decrease city council pay to the median household income ($46,260 in 2021), among six other changes to provisions governing the city council and mayor. As of the beginning of 2021, the salary of a city council member was $60,000. After proponents submitted enough valid signatures for the initiative, the city council approved an ordinance on Sept. 1 officially putting Issue 3 on the ballot that said median family income ($62,941 in 2021) instead of median household income.

The city council’s Sept. 30 emergency ordinance states that the language in the initiative petition text (household) controls and will set the effective salary level if Issue 3 is approved.

According to the City Solicitor Andrew Garth, the error came about when a draft of the initiative text was sent to the city solicitor that had the word family instead of household. City staff drafted the initial ordinance based on that draft of the initiative text. However, initiative proponents had edited the petition text to change that one word before collecting signatures for the initiative. Initiative sponsors, city staff, and the board of elections did not notice the one-word difference until after the language was approved for the ballot on Sept. 16.

State Representative and city council candidate Tom Brinkman sponsored the initiative. In addition to the change to city council pay, the measure would

  • require the city council to approve any lawsuits filed on behalf of the city;
  • establish a one-year residence requirement for mayoral and city council candidates;
  • make it so the unelected candidate with the most votes at the last election fills city council vacancies instead of city council members designating a successor;
  • require the mayor to assign legislative proposals to the relevant committees within 30 days and to put proposals on the city council agenda within 30 days of them being reported out of committee;
  • make the mayor and city council members liable for purposeful or reckless violations of state open meeting laws; and
  • provide for a process for the removal of the mayor as set out in state law.

Local Ohio voters in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Hamilton County, and Lucas County will decide nine local ballot measures on Nov. 2.

In 2021, 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.



Voters in Juneau, Alaska, decide Tuesday whether to renew a 3% sales tax

Photo of the city of Juneau, Alaska

On Oct. 5, voters in Juneau, Alaska, will decide a ballot measure—Proposition 1—to renew the city’s 3% temporary sales tax for five years. If voters don’t approve Proposition 1 the tax would expire on July 1, 2022. If voters approve Proposition 1, the city’s total sales tax rate would remain at 5%: this 3% temporary tax, a 1% temporary tax, and a 1% permanent sales tax. If voters reject Proposition 1, the total sales tax rate in the city would drop to 2%.

The Juneau Assembly’s intended use of the revenue from the tax would continue as follows:

  1. 1% police, fire, street maintenance, snow removal, EMT/ambulance service, parks and recreation, libraries, and other general purposes;
  2. 1% roads, drainage, retaining walls, sidewalks, stairs, and other capital improvements; and
  3. 1% allocated annually by the assembly among capital improvements, an emergency budget reserve, and other general public services.

Voters last renewed the 3% temporary tax in Oct. 2016. Juneau Budget Analyst Adrien Speegle estimated the tax generates $30 million per year.



Austin police staffing minimum and training requirements initiative qualifies for the ballot

On Tuesday, the Austin city clerk announced that the group Save Austin Now submitted enough valid signatures to qualify its initiative for the ballot.

The initiative would:

  • establish a minimum police department staffing requirement based on the population of the city, which would require the city to hire additional police officers;
  • state that the police chief should seek demographic representation in hiring police officers;
  • add additional required training time for police officers; and
  • add new requirements for serving on the city’s Public Safety Commission.

In Austin, initiative petitioners must gather 20,000 signatures to qualify an initiative for the ballot. The requirement is based on 5% of the qualified voters in the city but is capped at 20,000. If petitioners collect enough signatures, their initiative is sent to the city council, which must either approve the initiative or put it on the ballot for the next allowable election date.

On July 19, Save Austin Now submitted 27,778 signatures for the initiative. On Aug. 3, the clerk’s office announced that a sampling of a quarter of the submitted signatures projected 25,786 valid signatures, 5,786 more than the minimum requirement. The city council has ten days to approve the ordinance itself or to put the initiative on the ballot. The deadline for the city council to put the initiative on the Nov. 2, 2021, ballot is Aug. 16.

Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party and co-founder of Save Austin Now, said, “Steve Adler, Greg Casar, Equity PAC and associated extreme groups will attempt to smear this effort for the next three months. They do not care about public safety and want to watch Austin burn. We will not let them. We will educate citizens about how our police budget was defunded, how police staffing has become a crisis, and about how a violent crime wave has resulted. We can fix this mess created by a unanimous vote of the City Council in August 2020. Austin must rise up and demand a safe city for every neighborhood.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, “Directing the City Council to hire additional police officers at this time could result in layoffs in other departments. We also need more public health professionals, firefighters, park rangers, and EMS to keep our community safe.”

Austin City Council Member Greg Casar said, “George Floyd was killed one year ago, and instead of working on police reform, this group is fear-mongering and trying to avoid police accountability. Their petition drive is about writing a blank check of taxpayer funds to their own department, while cutting off funds for all our other public employees and critical public safety needs. This petition goes directly against what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about.”

Save Austin Now also sponsored Proposition B (May 2021), which made it a criminal offense for anyone to sit, lie down, or camp in public areas and prohibited solicitation of money or other things of value at specific hours and locations. Austin voters approved Proposition B 57.7% to 42.3% at the election on May 1.

Austin, Texas, Police Policy Initiative: Staffing Levels, Training, and Hiring Practices (November 2021)

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering a selection of local police-related measures concerning police oversight, the powers and structure of oversight commissions, police practices, law enforcement department structure and administration, law enforcement budgets, law enforcement training requirements, law enforcement staffing requirements, and body and dashboard camera footage. Ballotpedia has tracked eight other measures related to police policies that were on the ballot earlier in 2021 or are on the Nov. 2 ballot.



Minneapolis City Council votes to certify Nov. 2 ballot language for initiative to replace police department

On July 23, the Minneapolis City Council voted to approve a ballot question and explanatory note for a citizen initiative that would replace the police department with a department of public safety. The measure will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The initiative would remove language on the city’s police department from the city charter, including provisions requiring minimum funding for the department and giving the mayor control over the police department. It would also create a department of public safety. The measure would allow the new department to include “licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.” Under the initiative, the mayor would nominate and the city council would appoint the commissioner of the public safety department.

Yes 4 Minneapolis submitted more than the required 11,906 valid signatures for the initiative on April 30. The city clerk certified the petition on May 14.

The city council’s vote was to (a) set the ballot language for the measure and (b) accept a city attorney report stating the measure concerned a proper subject matter for the city charter and is constitutional. The resolution now goes to the mayor’s desk; he has five days to sign or veto it. Mayor Jacob Frey opposes the initiative, but the resolution before him does not affect whether the measure will go on the ballot.

Frey’s office stated, “Mayor Frey maintains that giving the Minneapolis City Council control over public safety work would mark a major setback for accountability and good governance. The mayor will not be signing the measure, but appreciates the careful work and thorough analysis done by City staff to prepare fair and accurate language for voters to consider this fall.”

Yes 4 Minneapolis stated, “It all started in Minneapolis. Following the murder of George Floyd last summer, we witnessed a community movement against state-sanctioned violence — a movement to better protect Black lives. […] Our movement demands our city leaders move away from violent policing to create a department that addresses community safety holistically and with a public health approach. Our movement believes that the community should decide what safety looks like. To do so, we must amend the city charter that was written in 1961 and forces us to build on a broken system. We are proud to bring this issue to voters this November.”

The city council considered putting its own charter amendment to replace the police department on the Nov. 2 ballot. But sponsors withdrew the measure when Yes 4 Minneapolis’ initiative qualified for the ballot citing concerns over confusing voters. The city council passed a similar charter amendment in 2020, but the city’s charter commission effectively blocked the measure from the November 2020 ballot by taking the full time allotted to it for review.

Additional reading:



California superior court judge tentatively overturns Los Angeles County measure on law enforcement budget restrictions

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel announced a tentative decision on June 17 to overturn last year’s Measure J. Strobel said that Measure J unconstitutionally limits how the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can decide revenue allocations. Strobel gave 15 days for both plaintiffs and defendants to submit more evidence. She said she expected to issue a final ruling within the following weeks. 

The Coalition of County Unions, which includes the Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, filed the lawsuit against the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

Measure J, among other provisions, was designed to require that no less than 10% of the county’s general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration, such as health services and pre-trial non-custody services, and prohibit those funds from being allocated to law enforcement. It was approved last year by Los Angeles County voters, 57% to 43%.

Click here to read more about Los Angeles County Measure J.



California Public Employment Relations Board overturns parts of Sonoma County’s 2020 oversight measure

The California Public Employment Relations Board overturned portions of Measure P, a police oversight-related measure that Sonoma County voters approved last year, on June 23. The board ruled that certain provisions of Measure P violated the collective bargaining rights of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. The ruling overturned provisions allowing the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO) to:

  • conduct its own investigations of deputies, 
  • publish camera footage, 
  • subpoena records, 
  • provide disciplinary recommendations, and 
  • observe interviews during investigations by internal affairs.

The California Public Employment Relations Board is a commission of four appointees that rule on government labor issues. The board said that the unions representing county sheriffs should have had the opportunity to negotiate these provisions before they were enacted. 

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors can appeal the decision to the California First District Court of Appeal.

Here is a sampling of reactions to the California Public Employment Relations Board’s ruling:

  • Karlene Navarro, the director of the law enforcement oversight office, said that the ruling “appears to essentially delete IOLERO’s independent investigatory power in its entirety and voids IOLERO’s subpoena power.”
  • “Who is in charge of law enforcement oversight?” Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Lynda Hopkins said. “Is it the more than 166,000 people in Sonoma County who voted yes on Measure P or is it the four members of the [labor board]?”
  • Mike Vail, president of the county sheriff deputy union, said that the union should have been invited to negotiate before the measure was put on the ballot. Vail said, “The Board of Supervisors rejected the appropriate legal process and squandered an opportunity to accomplish a mutually agreeable set of reforms.”

Click here to read more about Sonoma County Measure P.

Note: An earlier edition of this article contained a typo that misquoted Karlene Navarro. This has been corrected. We apologize for this error and any confusion it caused.



Michigan Supreme Court to hear arguments on Detroit charter proposal, which includes police policy changes

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments on July 7 over Detroit’s Proposal P that is scheduled to go before voters on Aug. 3. Proposal P would replace Detroit’s charter with a new charter. Among many topics addressed by the charter revision, Proposal P contains several provisions related to police policy in the city, including

  • qualifications and disqualifications for the board of police commissioners;
  • the selection process for the chief of police;
  • training requirements on use of nonlethal and lethal force, racial bias and cultural sensitivities, de-escalation, and interactions with those affected by police brutality;
  • prohibitions on certain practices in response to protests, such as rubber bullets, paintballs, and tear gas;
  • a ban on no-knock warrants;
  • limitations on certain surveillance technology; and
  • civilian rights to record interactions with police officers, to know the reason for a police stop or detention, to know the name or badge number of any officer, and to request the presence of a supervising officer during a stop or detention

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether Proposal P requires Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) approval to appear on the ballot. The charter commission that drafted the proposal submitted it to Gov. Whitmer, but she declined to approve it. On June 1, the state supreme court suspended previous circuit and appeals court rulings that blocked the measure from the ballot. 

Click here to read more about Detroit Proposal P.



Cleveland Community Police Commission and police oversight initiative faces signature deadline next week

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections announced on June 25 that proponents of an initiative to rewrite Cleveland’s charter on police oversight and discipline authority fell several hundred signatures short of the required number. Citizens for a Safer Cleveland has 15 additional days to collect enough valid signatures to make up the difference and qualify the measure for this year’s ballot. 

Citizens for a Safer Cleveland submitted about 13,000 signatures to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on June 16. The campaign needed 6,270 valid signatures to qualify its measure for the ballot. The board determined that 5,886 of the submitted signatures were valid.

The initiative would give certain duties and authority over police oversight, investigations, and discipline to a Civilian Police Review Board and a Community Police Commission.

Click here to read more about this initiative in Cleveland.



Reviewing news about police-related local ballot measures

So far this year, Ballotpedia has tracked six certified local ballot measures concerning police oversight, the powers and structure of oversight commissions, police practices, law enforcement department structure and administration, reductions in or restrictions on law enforcement budgets, law enforcement training requirements, and body and dashboard camera footage. We’re also tracking potential measures later this year in Minneapolis and Cleveland.

Of the six measures already certified, voters approved three and defeated two in elections this spring. One measure is certified for the August 3 ballot in Detroit pending a state supreme court ruling.

Last year, we identified 20 notable police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties that qualified for the ballot after the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Voters approved all 20 measures.

Here’s a summary of recent developments related to those measures:

Cleveland Community Police Commission and police oversight initiative faces signature deadline next week

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections announced on June 25 that proponents of an initiative to rewrite Cleveland’s charter on police oversight and discipline authority fell several hundred signatures short of the required number. Citizens for a Safer Cleveland has 15 additional days to collect enough valid signatures to make up the difference and qualify the measure for this year’s ballot. 

Citizens for a Safer Cleveland submitted about 13,000 signatures to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on June 16. The campaign needed 6,270 valid signatures to qualify its measure for the ballot. The board determined that 5,886 of the submitted signatures were valid.

The initiative would give certain duties and authority over police oversight, investigations, and discipline to a Civilian Police Review Board and a Community Police Commission.

Click here to read more about this initiative in Cleveland.

Michigan Supreme Court to hear arguments on Detroit charter proposal, which includes police policy changes

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments on July 7 over Detroit’s Proposal P that is scheduled to go before voters on Aug. 3. Proposal P would replace Detroit’s charter with a new charter. Among many topics addressed by the charter revision, Proposal P contains several provisions related to police policy in the city, including

  • qualifications and disqualifications for the board of police commissioners;
  • the selection process for the chief of police;
  • training requirements on use of nonlethal and lethal force, racial bias and cultural sensitivities, de-escalation, and interactions with those affected by police brutality;
  • prohibitions on certain practices in response to protests, such as rubber bullets, paintballs, and tear gas;
  • a ban on no-knock warrants;
  • limitations on certain surveillance technology; and
  • civilian rights to record interactions with police officers, to know the reason for a police stop or detention, to know the name or badge number of any officer, and to request the presence of a supervising officer during a stop or detention

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether Proposal P requires Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) approval to appear on the ballot. The charter commission that drafted the proposal submitted it to Gov. Whitmer, but she declined to approve it. On June 1, the state supreme court suspended previous circuit and appeals court rulings that blocked the measure from the ballot. 

Click here to read more about Detroit Proposal P.

California Public Employment Relations Board overturns parts of Sonoma County’s 2020 oversight measure 

On June 23, the California Public Employment Relations Board overturned portions of Measure P, a police oversight-related measure that Sonoma County voters approved last year. The board ruled that certain provisions of Measure P violated the collective bargaining rights of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. The ruling overturned provisions allowing the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO) to:

  • conduct its own investigations of deputies, 
  • publish camera footage, 
  • subpoena records, 
  • provide disciplinary recommendations, and 
  • observe interviews during investigations by internal affairs.

The California Public Employment Relations Board is a commission of four appointees that rule on government labor issues. The board said that the unions representing county sheriffs should have had the opportunity to negotiate these provisions before they were enacted. 

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors can appeal the decision to the California First District Court of Appeal.

Here is a sampling of reactions to the California Public Employment Relations Board’s ruling:

  • Karlene Navarro, the director of the law enforcement oversight office, said that the ruling “appears to essentially delete IOLERO’s independent investigatory power in its entirety and voids IOLERO’s subpoena power.”“Who is in charge of law enforcement oversight?” 
  • Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Lynda Hopkins said. “Is it the more than 166,000 people in Sonoma County who voted yes on Measure P or is it the four members of the [labor board]?”
  • Mike Vail, president of the county sheriff deputy union, said that the union should have been invited to negotiate before the measure was put on the ballot. Vail said, “The Board of Supervisors rejected the appropriate legal process and squandered an opportunity to accomplish a mutually agreeable set of reforms.”

Click here to read more about Sonoma County Measure P.

California superior court judge tentatively overturns Los Angeles County measure on law enforcement budget restrictions

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel announced a tentative decision on June 17 to overturn last year’s Measure J. Strobel said that Measure J unconstitutionally limits how the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can decide revenue allocations. Strobel gave 15 days for both plaintiffs and defendants to submit more evidence. She said she expected to issue a final ruling within the following weeks. 

The Coalition of County Unions, which includes the Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, filed the lawsuit against the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

Measure J, among other provisions, was designed to require that no less than 10% of the county’s general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration, such as health services and pre-trial non-custody services, and prohibit those funds from being allocated to law enforcement. It was approved last year by Los Angeles County voters, 57% to 43%.

Click here to read more about Los Angeles County Measure J.