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Nicole Fisher

Nicole Fisher is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Amendment to remove register of probate office on New Hampshire ballot

Last week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted in agreement with the New Hampshire State Senate to approve a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the register of probate office. This measure will appear on the ballot in November for New Hampshire voters.

The ballot measure was introduced to the New Hampshire General Court in November of 2021. In March, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 294-43 to approve the amendment. In April 21, the Senate voted 21-3 on an amended resolution. On May 13, 2022, the House adopted the revised amendment by voice vote.

To get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in New Hampshire, it must receive 60% of the vote in one legislative session of the New Hampshire state legislature, which amounts to 201 votes in the House of Representatives. Because this measure met that requirement in the House of Representatives and was approved by a voice vote in the New Hampshire state senate, the measure will appear on the ballot. To be ratified, a two-thirds vote is needed at the election.

In the past, New Hampshire’s Register of Probate office handled issues such as simple wills. But in 2011, due to a reorganization of New Hampshire’s court system, most of the duties of this office were eliminated. Currently, the primary responsibility of the office is to the preservation of files that have the potential for historical significance.

This is the second ballot measure to appear on New Hampshire’s statewide ballot for the Nov. 8, 2022 general election. The other ballot measure asks voters on whether or not to hold a state constitutional convention, which appears on New Hampshire’s ballot automatically every 10 years.

In New Hampshire, 13 statewide ballot measures went to voters between 1996 and 2018. Five of these measures were approved, while 8 were defeated.

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Missouri Legislature passes constitutional amendment allowing increase in funding to Kansas City police

A constitutional amendment that would allow the state Legislature to increase the minimum required funding for Kansas City’s police department passed Missouri’s state Legislature on Friday. The measure passed in Missouri’s House of Representatives before they ended the legislative session, with 103 votes supporting the measure and 44 votes opposing the measure. 

Because the amendment was already passed in the Missouri State Senate in March, the measure will appear on the ballot before voters in November.

The measure, as written, would allow the Missouri General Assembly to increase minimum required funding for a police force established by a state board of police commissioners. Kansas City is the only city that does not have local jurisdiction over its department, and therefore the only city that this measure would currently impact. 

This amendment was passed along with another bill that would increase the minimum funding requirement for Kansas City’s police department. Currently, Missouri law mandates that Kansas City devote 20% of its general revenue to the police department. That bill would increase that funding to 25%. 

On KCUR, Celisa Calacal and Brian Ellison reported that some Democratic legislators argued that the bill was unconstitutional because it violates the Hancock Amendment of Missouri’s state constitution that prohibits unfunded state mandates on local actions. However, if voters approve of the constitutional amendment on the ballot this November, Missouri’s constitution will be amended to make an exception.

The support and opposition for the measure was mostly drawn between party lines. On Friday’s vote in Missouri’s House of Representatives, 100 Republicans supported the measure while 3 Democrats supported it. Forty-one Democrats opposed the measure while 3 Republicans opposed it. In the March Senate vote, 22 Republicans and 1 Democrat supported the measure, while 9 Democrats and 1 Republican opposed it.

This is the fourth ballot measure certified to appear on Missouri’s ballot this November. The other measures include:

  • A constitutional amendment that authorizes the state treasurer to invest in highly rated municipal securities.
  • A constitutional amendment that gives the Missouri National Guard its own department within the state government.
  • A constitutional convention question, which automatically appears on Missouri’s ballot every ten years, asking voters whether or not they agree with holding a constitutional convention.

A total of 85 measures have appeared on Missouri’s statewide ballots between 1996 and 2020. Out of those 85, 54 were approved by voters, while 31 were defeated.

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Marijuana legalization campaign submits signatures for Missouri ballot initiative

A marijuana legalization campaign submitted signatures for a Missouri ballot initiative on Sunday. Legal Missouri 2022, the PAC supporting the initiative, stated that it submitted more than 385,000 petition signatures. If enough signatures are verified, the initiative will appear on the ballot this November.

If implemented, the measure would legalize marijuana possession and use for anyone over 21 years of age. It would also legalize the purchase, delivery, manufacturing, and sale of marijuana and enact a 6% tax on marijauna sales. The proposal would allow those who have been convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes to petition for their release from prison or expungement of their records.

The measure received support from the ACLU of Missouri, NAACP St. Louis City, as well as MoCannTrade, an association of marijuana business owners. “Cannabis reform is about more than establishing a safe and legal market. It is about righting the many wrongs prohibition has caused to our communities, especially communities of color,” said Jamie Kacz, executive director of NORML KC.

Some marijuana legalization advocates have made arguments critical of the ballot measure, saying that the measure’s licensing provisions exclude entrepreneurs and favor existing businesses with medical licenses. “There is no reason why Missouri entrepreneurs, and particularly in minority communities, shouldn’t have full access to commercial licensing opportunities,” said Tim Gilio of the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement.

Representative Ron Hicks, a Republican, introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in Missouri, saying, “It’s coming. Whether we file legislation or not, it’s coming.” He argued that the legislature, not an initiated constitutional amendment, should legalize marijuana. “If it comes through the legislature, it can be fixed immediately. You don’t have to go gathering signatures or anything like that. I would like to see this as a law and not an initiative petition,” said Rep. Hicks.

If enough signatures are verified, it will make the ballot this November in Missouri. The minimum requirement of verified signatures needed to appear on the ballot in Missouri is calculated by 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the eight state congressional districts. The smallest possible requirement is 171,592. Often, campaigns collect beyond the signature requirement in case there are errors with some of the signatures submitted. Once these signatures are filed, they are sent to county election authorities to be verified.

In Missouri, 31 initiatives have appeared on the ballot from 1996 to 2020. Out of these 31 measures, 19 (59.4%) were approved and 13 (40.6%) were defeated.

Currently, there are three measures on the November 2022 ballot in Missouri, which are:

  • Amendment 1, which would authorize the state treasurer to invest in highly rated municipal securities
  • A Department of the National Guard Amendment, which would give the Missouri National Guard its own department
  • A constitutional convention question, which asks voters whether to hold a state constitutional convention.

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Signatures submitted for ranked-choice voting initiative in Missouri

The Better Elections campaign submitted petition signatures on May 8 for a top-four ranked-choice voting initiative in Missouri. The campaign stated that more than 300,000 signatures were submitted. If enough signatures are verified, the measure will appear on the ballot in November for Missouri voters.

If implemented, this measure would change the electoral system for electing state executive, state legislative, and congressional officials starting Aug. 1, 2024. It would change the current partisan primary process to an open top-four primary, which is an election where all primary candidates are on the same ballot. For the general election, these top-four candidates would all appear on the ballot together. Voters would rank the four candidates rather than select only one candidate in the voting booth.

The Better Elections PAC is leading the initiative, which is also supported by the organizations Article IV and RepresentUs. Scott Charton, a spokesperson for the Better Elections PAC, stated that this measure “actually encourages more people to get involved in politics because it’s not as controlled by special interests and politicians”, and that “we’re giving voters more choices and more options.”

The Missouri Republican State Committee passed a resolution to oppose the ballot initiative. “[T]he proposed constitutional amendment to establish a ranked choice voting scheme effectively eliminates the fair and honest voting method of one person – one vote,” read the resolution.

Alaska is currently the only state to use a top-four primary for both state and congressional elections. California and Washington use top-two primaries, where the top two candidates who have received the most votes appear on the ballot, regardless of party affiliation. Alaska and Maine have implemented ranked-choice voting for certain state and congressional elections.

More than 300,000 signatures were collected for the initiative, according to the Better Elections PAC. The minimum requirement of verified signatures needed to appear on the ballot in Missouri is calculated by 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the eight state congressional districts. The smallest possible requirement is 171,592 signatures. Campaigns often aim to collect beyond the signature requirement to account for issues with some of the signatures submitted. Once these signatures are filed, they are sent to county election authorities to be verified.

In Missouri, 31 initiatives have appeared on the ballot from 1996 to 2020. Out of these 31 measures, 19 (59.4%) were approved while 13 (40.6%) were defeated.

Currently, there are three measures on the November 2022 ballot in Missouri, which are:

  • Amendment 1, which would authorize the state treasurer to invest in highly rated municipal securities
  • A Department of the National Guard Amendment, which would give the Missouri National Guard its own department
  • A constitutional convention question, which asks voters whether to hold a state constitutional convention. 

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Missouri voters will decide on whether to give state National Guard its own department

An amendment to give the Missouri National Guard its own department will be on the ballot this November for Missouri voters.

On Thursday, the Missouri Senate gave final approval to the amendment, making it eligible to appear on the ballot. Earlier this year, on April 6, the Missouri House of Representatives voted 126-2 to approve the measure.

The amendment will give the Missouri National Guard its own department within Missouri’s state government. Currently, the Missouri National Guard is part of the Missouri Department of Public Safety. According to the Associated Press, supporters of this amendment say that giving the Missouri National Guard its own department will elevate its status and allow the leader to become a member of the governor’s cabinet.

This is the third ballot measure designated to appear on Missouri’s ballot in November this year.

To put an amendment on the ballot in Missouri, three different paths can be taken:

  • Members of the state Legislature can propose a constitutional amendment. If the majority of both chambers approve an amendment by a simple majority vote, the measure goes to voters.
  • Citizens can file an initiative to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The proponents of the amendment must gather a certain amount of signatures for the measure to be certified for the ballot.
  • Lastly, constitutional changes can be made at a constitutional convention. A question on whether to hold a constitutional convention appears to Missouri voters every 20 years. A constitutional convention question will appear on the ballot for Missouri voters this November.

In Missouri, a total of 85 measures have appeared on the statewide ballot for Missouri voters between 1996 to 2020. Fifty-four of these measures were approved by Missouri voters, while 31 were defeated.

In November, voters will decide at least three ballot measures in Missouri – this amendment regarding the Missouri National Guard; a constitutional amendment to allow the state treasurer to invest state funds in highly rated municipal securities; and a ballot question calling for a constitutional convention.

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Signatures for marijuana and Medicaid initiatives submitted in South Dakota

In South Dakota, two separate campaigns submitted their petition signatures on May 3 to get their initiatives on the ballot in November. The signatures were submitted to the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday afternoon.

One initiative, sponsored by the Dakotans for Health campaign, aims to expand Medicaid in South Dakota to adults between 18 and 65 years old with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level, which is currently about $18,000 for an individual or $37,000 for a family of four. This statutory initiative is in addition to a constitutional amendment that is already on the ballot—Constitutional Amendment D, which also expands Medicaid but amends the constitution. The co-founder of Dakotans for Health argued that voters may be more supportive of an initiated law rather than a constitutional amendment.

The other initiative aims to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older. This measure joins a group of potential marijuana ballot measures in 2022—one marijuana ballot measure is already certified in Maryland, while 18 total marijuana ballot measures have been proposed in other states in 2022.

Both campaigns have reported submitted over the threshold of signature requirements. Campaign director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, Matthew Schweich, stated that circulators collected 19,250 signatures. Meanwhile, 23,000 signatures were filed for the Medicaid expansion measure. 

Each campaign must have at least 16,961 verified signatures to qualify for the ballot. In South Dakota, this number is equal to 5% of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election.

In South Dakota, 47 initiatives appeared on the ballot between 1985 and 2020. Twenty (42.6%) of these initiatives were approved by voters, while 27 (57.5%) of them were defeated.

If both initiatives qualify for the ballot, they will join two other ballot measures already certified on the South Dakota ballot in November—Constitutional Amendment C, and Constitutional Amendment D. Constitutional Amendment C would require a three-fifths supermajority vote for initiatives that increase taxes or fees that require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.

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New Tennessee ballot measure to change constitutional language on clergy serving in the General Assembly

Tennessee’s 112th General Assembly adjourned and certified a new constitutional amendment to put onto the ballot on April 28. This amendment would remove a section of Tennessee’s Constitution that disqualifies religious ministers from being elected into the Tennessee General Assembly.

The newly certified amendment will join three others already certified to be on the ballot in Tennessee.

If voters approve it in November, the amendment would remove Section 1 of Article IX of Tennessee’s constitution, which bans ministers and priests from serving in the Tennessee General Assembly. The text of the amendment is written below:

Whereas ministers of the Gospel are by their profession, dedicated to God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their functions; therefore, no minister of the Gospel, or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either House of the Legislature.

During the 18th and 19th century, thirteen states, including Tennessee, had provisions in their constitution forbidding clergy from serving in the state legislature. Many of these bans were carried over from English law. Eleven states–Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia–have amended their constitutions and dropped these provisions during the late 1700’s and 1800’s. Maryland and Tennessee kept these provisions in their constitutions into the 20th century.

In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Tennessee law was unconstitutional in its McDaniel v. Paty ruling because it violated the first amendment. That same year, Maryland put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to remove the provision from their constitution, and voters approved to remove it. 

Tennessee is the only state left with this kind of provision left in their constitution.

To amend the constitution in Tennessee, state legislators must vote on a measure and approve it before putting it on the ballot. In Tennessee, this is done by both chambers of the General Assembly voting on the measure in two consecutive sessions with an election in between. For the first session, the measure must receive a simple majority vote of over 50%, and the second time around, the measure must receive a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

This constitutional amendment was introduced in February of 2019 as Senate Joint Resolution 178. Both chambers of Tennessee’s General Assembly then voted unanimously in favor of the amendment–the Senate voting in favor in 2019, and the House voting in favor in 2020. The amendment was then introduced to its second legislative session in 2021, where it was approved by both chambers. The Senate approved of the amendment on April 8, 2021, and on April 27, 2022, the House voted 89-1 to approve the amendment. The measure will now go to voters on election day in November.

This measure will join three other constitutional amendments already on the Tennessee ballot. All ballot measures are listed below:

  • A right-to-work amendment that mandates that no person can be required to pay dues to a labor union or join a labor union as a condition of employment.
  • An amendment to repeal language allowing slavery or indentured servitude as criminal punishments.
  • An amendment that provides a process and line of succession for the governor if they become disabled.
  • An amendment that removes the banning of clergy from serving in the General Assembly.

Voters approved each of the 11 constitutional amendments on the Tennessee ballot since 1995. Tennessee voters last decided on constitutional amendments in 2014.

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Arizona Supreme Court rules against veto referendum to challenge state income law

Voters in Arizona will not vote on a veto referendum to repeal a new income tax law this November.

Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled against a veto referendum that challenged two sections of an omnibus appropriations bill signed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in June 2021. The sections (13 and 15 of Senate Bill 1828) would reduce Arizona’s state income tax from four brackets to two brackets, and reduce the brackets to a flat rate of 2.50% when state revenue exceeds $12.976 billion.

In Arizona, income of $26,500 or less is taxed at 2.59%, while income of $159,001 or more is taxed at 4.50% (brackets for those paying jointly are double these dollar amounts). Sections 13 and 15 would change the four brackets to two brackets of 2.55% and 2.98%.

The citizens behind the campaign for the veto referendum, Invest In Arizona, sought to bring the issue to the ballot. The Arizona Education Association and Stand for Children both backed the campaign, expressing concerns with how a flat tax rate will impact funding for Arizona’s schools. Invest In Arizona filed the veto referendum in July of 2021, shortly after SB1828 was signed into law.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club challenged the veto referendum as unconstitutional, stating that the Arizona Constitution prohibited veto referendums against bills that provide for support and maintenance of state government. Lawyers for Invest in Arizona argued that the flat tax portion of SB1828 does not fall into that category because it would lead to less revenue for the state government.

Meanwhile, the Invest in Arizona PAC raised $5.29 million and filed more than 215,000 signatures. In November of 2021, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced that there were enough signatures collected for the measure to appear on the ballot in 2022.

The issue was brought to the Maricopa County Superior Court, and in December 2021, Judge Katherine Cooper ruled against the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, ruling that Arizona voters have the right to decide on the referendum. The judge stated that while there is no right to refer tax increases to the ballot, this referendum did not fall into category because, if successful, it would leave the state with more revenue.

This decision was appealed, and was brought to the Arizona Supreme Court. On April 21, 2022, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, ordering that the veto referendum be removed from the ballot. The court concurred that Section 13 and 15 of SB1828 do fall under the “support and maintenance” criteria of the Arizona Constitution, and that this measure cannot be brought before voters on the ballot.

Scot Mussi, the president of Arizona Free Enterprise Club, stated that the ruling was a “big win for taxpayers in our state”. David Lujan, executive director and CEO of the Arizona Children’s Action Alliance, argued that the flat tax would devastate Arizona’s future, and that it takes away voices of voters. Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court also struck down Proposition 208, a voter-approved measure that enacted a 3.50% income tax for income above $250,000 to fund K-12 schools.

Currently, there are four measures that are certified to be on the ballot in Arizona.

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