CategoryBallot measures

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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Colorado voters to decide property tax exemption for surviving spouses of military and certain veterans in November

Colorado voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether to extend a primary residence property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of military personnel who died in the line of duty and the surviving spouses of certain veterans who died from a service-related injury or disease.

Currently, a primary residence property tax exemption of 50% of the first $200,000 of the actual home value exists for disabled veterans and certain seniors. This amendment would extend that exemption to the surviving spouses of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died in the line of duty and the spouses of veterans who died from a service-related injury or disease if the surviving spouse receives dependency indemnity compensation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67%) supermajority vote is required in both chambers of the legislature. This amendment was approved by a vote of 63-0 in the House on April 25 and by a vote of 32-0 in the Senate on May 6.

It was the second constitutional amendment the legislature has referred to the Nov. 8 ballot so far. The other would require the governor, by Nov. 30, 2024, to designate judges to serve in the newly created 23rd judicial district. Both constitutional amendments will require approval by 55% of voters.

One citizen-initiated measure has also qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot so far. It would decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%.

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

So far, 88 statewide ballot measures have been certified for the ballot in 32 states for elections in 2022.

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The campaign behind California dialysis initiative files signatures for a place on the November ballot

Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection filed 692,521 raw signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot. The measure would enact staffing requirements, reporting requirements, ownership disclosure, and closing requirements for chronic dialysis clinics. The ballot initiative would also prohibit clinics from refusing to care for a patient based on the patient’s form of payment, whether the patient is an individual payer, the patient’s health insurer, Medi-Cal, Medicaid, or Medicare.

The initiative was filed on Aug. 24, 2021, and was cleared for signature gathering on Oct. 29. The required number of signatures to place an initiated state statute on the ballot is 623,212, which is 5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Signatures are first filed with local election officials, who determine the total number of signatures submitted. If the total number is equal to at least 100% of the required signatures, then local election officials perform a random check of signatures submitted in their counties. If the random sample estimates that more than 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, the initiative is eligible for the ballot. If the random sample estimates that between 95 and 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, a full check of signatures is done.

According to the latest campaign finance filings, SEIU-UHW West, a labor union for healthcare workers in California, is the only donor to the initiative campaign with contributions totaling over $3.5 million. ​​On its website, Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection said, “Big dialysis corporations make billions of dollars annually. The average profit margin for DaVita and Fresenius clinics in the United States is 16% and 15.8% respectively — nearly six times as high as the average profit margin for US hospitals.”

Stop Yet Another Dangerous Dialysis Proposition is registered in opposition to the initiative. It has received endorsements from the American Academy of Nephrology PAs, California Chamber of Commerce, California Medical Association, California Taxpayer Protection Committee, and National Hispanic Medical Association. The campaign reported over $2.2 million in contributions, including $1.1 million from DaVita and $1.1 million from Fresenius Medical Care.

California voters rejected two other initiatives related to dialysis regulation in 2018 and 2020. In 2018, the campaign Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection supported Proposition 8 to require dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients or patients’ payers for revenue above 115% of the costs of direct patient care and healthcare improvements. Proposition 8 was rejected with 59.9% of the vote. In 2020, the SEIU-UHW West launched a new campaign for Proposition 23 to have a minimum of one licensed physician present at the clinic while patients are being treated; report data on dialysis-related infections to the state health department and National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN); and provide a written notice to the state health department and obtain consent from the state health department before closing a chronic dialysis clinic. Proposition 23 was rejected with 63.4% of the vote.

For the 2022 election cycle, 53 initiatives were filed in California, which is the second-lowest amount filed between 2014 and 2022 in the state. The highest number of initiatives filed occurred in 2016 with 135, and the lowest number of initiatives were filed for the 2020 ballot with 46.

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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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Texans approve property tax amendments; Austin voters decriminalize marijuana

Texans approved two statewide constitutional amendments reducing the property tax limit for school taxes on homesteads of the elderly and disabled and increasing the property tax exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 for all households.

According to unofficial results on election night, Proposition 1 was approved by a margin of 86.98% to 13.02%. Proposition 2 was approved by a margin of 85.11% to 14.89%.

The amendments were referred to the ballot during the second special legislative session in 2021 and were the first ballot measures to be featured on even-numbered year ballots since 2014.

Ballotpedia also covered local ballot measures for voters in Austin, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. In Austin, voters approved Proposition A by a margin of 85.37% to 14.63%. Proposition A added a new section to the city’s code to prohibit Austin police from issuing any citations or making any arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses and to prohibit the use of no-knock warrants.

San Antonio voters approved six bond measures totaling $1.2 billion. The revenue from the bonds would fund streets and sidewalk improvements, drainage and flood projects, parks and recreation, library and cultural facilities, public safety, and housing for households at certain income levels.

Voters in Fort Worth approved five bond issues totaling $560 million to fund roads and transportation projects, parks and recreation, library improvements, police and fire services, and open area improvements. Voters also decided on 13 charter amendments. According to unofficial election results, the amendment to increase the salaries of the mayor and city council was down by a margin of 47.45% to 52.55%. Three other amendments were too close to call, one was defeated, and eight were approved.

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Ballot initiative proponents turn in 1.5 million signatures for income tax to fund a new pandemic prevention institute in California

The proponents behind Californians Against Pandemics submitted 1.5 million signatures for a ballot initiative that would increase the income tax by 0.75% for individuals with income over $5 million for 10 years and dedicate 50% of funds to the California Institute for Pandemic Prevention, 25% to the Community Pandemic Response Fund, and 25% to the School Disease Spread Prevention Fund. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the state revenues from the tax would range from $500 million to $1.5 billion annually.

The initiative was filed on Sept. 26, 2021, and had a circulation deadline of May 23. The required number of valid signatures is 997,139, or 8% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election. The submitted signatures will be subject to a random check by county election officials. ​​If the random sample estimates that more than 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, the initiative is eligible for the ballot. If the random sample estimates that between 95% and 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, a full check of signatures is done to determine the total number of valid signatures.

The institute would be tasked with awarding grants related to the development of pathogen-agnostic disease detection. The institute would be governed by the Independent Scientific Governing Board created by the proposed law.

The initiative would also create the Community Pandemic Response Fund to appropriate funds to the California Department of Public Health for state- and local-level disease prevention programs. The other proposed fund, the School Disease Spread Prevention Fund, would appropriate funds to local education agencies and prioritize agencies that experience high community spread of pathogens or are in geographical regions most impacted by the coronavirus.

Californians Against Pandemics has reported $18.5 million in contributions with top donations from the organization Guarding Against Pandemics ($12 million) and Open Philanthropy Action Fund ($6.5 million).

Dr. Robert E. Wailes, president of the California Medical Association, said, “The California Medical Association is in strong support of the California Pandemic Early Detection and Prevention Initiative because everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life. This initiative will modernize local public health departments across our state and invest in science and technology to detect, prevent and defeat diseases before they can cause a deadly and devastating pandemic.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association opposes the initiative. Jon Coupal, president of the association, said, “Why are we even talking about raising taxes when we have a nearly $50 billion state budget surplus. This is exactly why we’re seeing significant flight out of California and why wealthier individuals like Elon Musk are leaving for states like Texas and Florida.”

Ballotpedia has tracked several initiatives and legislative referrals related to government responses to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2022, six ballot measures have qualified for the November ballot. In Alabama, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to require changes to laws governing the conduct of a general election to be implemented at least six months from the general election. In Arkansas, the state legislature referred two amendments that concern the state legislature’s authority to call itself into a special session and a constitutional prohibition against government burdening a person’s freedom of religion. Voters in Idaho and Kentucky will also decide on constitutional amendments related to the legislature’s power to call itself into a special session. Finally, in Utah, voters will decide on an amendment to authorize increases to the appropriation limit during emergencies.

For the 2022 election cycle, 53 initiatives were filed in California, which is the second-lowest amount filed between 2014 and 2022 in the state. The highest number of initiatives filed occurred in 2016 with 135, and the lowest number of initiatives were filed for the 2020 ballot with 46.

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Online sports betting initiative campaign in California submits 1.6 million signatures

On May 2, ​​Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support announced that proponents had submitted 1.6 million signatures to local election officials for verification to place an initiative that would legalize online sports betting in the state on the ballot. Sports betting in any form is currently illegal in California.

The initiative was filed on Aug. 31, 2021, and signatures were due on May 3, 2022. Since the measure is a combined initiated constitutional amendment and state statute, the required number of signatures is 997,139, or 8% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election. The deadline for signature verification is June 30.

The initiative would authorize a gaming tribe, an online sports betting platform with an operating agreement with a gaming tribe, or a qualified gaming company with a market access agreement with a gaming tribe to operate online sports betting for individuals 21 years of age or older in the state but outside of Indian lands. Qualified gaming companies would be required to be licensed to offer online sports betting in at least 10 states or territories or licensed to offer online sports betting in at least five states or territories and operate at least 12 casinos. After deducting regulatory costs, 85% of the revenue from licensing fees, renewals, and sports betting taxes would be allocated to the California Solutions to Homelessness to the Mental Health Support Account and 15% to the Tribal Economic Development Account. The amendment would take effect on January 1, 2023.

The initiative also states that it is not in conflict with an initiative, which would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks, that has already qualified for the November ballot. However, the initiative would be in conflict with the other potential online sports betting initiative sponsored by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. If both online sports betting initiatives qualify for the ballot, the initiative with the highest majority approval rate would take effect.

Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support reported over $100 million in contributions according to its latest campaign finance filings. The top donors to the committee included BetMGM LLC ($16.7 million), FanDuel Sportsbook ($16.7 million), and DraftKings ($16.7 million).

There are two PACs registered in opposition to the initiative—Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming and Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming. The committees reported a combined total of $65.6 million in contributions. The top donors included the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians ($25 million), the Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Rincon Reservation California ($10 million), and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ($7.1 million).

The initiative has received support from the mayors of Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland, and Sacramento. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (D) said, “I’m joining my fellow mayors in endorsing this important initiative because this is an all-hands on deck moment in our fight against homelessness. To solve California’s homelessness crisis over the long term, we need sustainable sources of funding to house those experiencing homelessness and provide them the medical and mental health services they need. That’s what this measure provides.”

Apart from opposition from the state’s Indian tribes, the initiative is opposed by smaller sports betting companies that do not meet the requirements to operate within the state under the proposed measure. Doug Terfher, vice president of marketing for MaximBet, said, “We want (California) to be as open and available to as many operators as possible with where we are in our growth journey.” 

Sports betting is legal and operational in 30 states and D.C. Since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. NCAA that overturned the federal ban on sports betting, five states have legalized sports betting through a ballot measure with an average approval rate of 58.99%.

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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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Signature deadline for Missouri ballot initiatives is May 8

The deadline to file signatures for citizen-initiated measures in Missouri is May 8 at 5 p.m. Campaigns could file signatures for at least two ballot initiatives – one to legalize marijuana and one to adopt top-four primaries and ranked-choice voting (RCV).

Both of the proposals are initiated constitutional amendments. The number of signatures required for initiated constitutional amendments is equal to 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. The smallest possible number of valid signatures required is 171,592; however, the actual requirement depends on which districts enough signatures were collected from.

The Better Elections PAC is leading the campaign behind the top-four RCV ballot initiative. The proposal would establish top-four open primaries for statewide offices, the Missouri General Assembly, and Congress. The top four vote recipients for each office would advance to the general election, where RCV would be used.

Better Elections received $4.30 million through March 31. Over 98% of the PAC’s funding came from Article IV, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Article IV is associated with John and Laura Arnold, whose organization Action Now Initiative contributed to RCV-related ballot initiatives in previous years. 

The campaign Legal Missouri is backing the marijuana legalization ballot measure. The ballot initiative would legalize the possession, consumption, and sale of marijuana for personal use. The ballot initiative would also enact a 6% tax on marijuana sales and allow individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses to petition for release from incarceration and/or have their records expunged. Legal Missouri received $2.56 million through March 31. The largest contributors were the New Approach Advocacy Fund ($300,000), BD Health Ventures LLC ($250,000), and Good Day Farm Missouri LLC ($250,000). 

Individuals filed 91 citizen-initiated ballot measure petitions for 2022. Since 2016, the average number of initiatives filed in Missouri per election cycle is 248, and the average number of certified ballot initiatives is four. Between 1985 and 2020, voters approved 24 (60%) initiatives and rejected 16 (40%).