CategoryBallot measures

Ballotpedia tracking 18 local police-related ballot measures in six states

As of August 21, Ballotpedia is tracking 18 local police-related ballot measures in 13 jurisdictions in six states. These local ballot measures were proposed in the wake of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

Seven of the 18 measures are on the ballot in California and four are on the ballot in Pennsylvania. The most common policy addressed by the ballot measures was police oversight boards and offices and the duties and powers of these boards and offices. Nine of the ballot measures addressed police oversight. Other topics include police and criminal justice funding, staffing levels, law enforcement training, and the public disclosure of police camera footage involving deaths and serious injuries.

The following is a list of local police-related measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020:
  1. Los Angeles County, California: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require that no less than 10% of the county’s General Fund be appropriated to youth, job, business, and housing programs and alternatives to incarceration.
  2. Oakland, California: The Oakland City Council referred to the ballot a charter amendment that would create an Office of the Inspector General to review the police commission’s policies, as well as change the powers, duties, and staffing of the commission and police review board.
  3. San Diego, California: The San Diego City Council referred a ballot measure to create a Commission on Police Practices, which would conduct investigations and subpoena witnesses and documents related to deaths resulting from police interactions and complaints made against police officers.
  4. San Francisco, California: Voters will decide two ballot measures related to policing. One would remove the minimum police staffing level required (1,971 full-time police officers) from the city’s charter. The other measure would create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General.
  5. San Jose, California: The San Jose City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize an independent police auditor to review reports and records related to officer-involved shootings and uses of force.
  6. Sonoma County, California: Voters will decide Measure P, which would make changes to the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach.
  7. DuPage County, Illinois: There are two non-binding advisory votes on the ballot. One advises the county on considering law enforcement and public safety as its top budgeting priority, and the other advises the county on funding and supporting law enforcement training methods that are designed to decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects.
  8. Akron, Ohio: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require police body and dashboard camera recordings that document police use of force resulting in a death or serious injury to be released to the public.
  9. Columbus, Ohio: The Columbus City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would create a Civilian Police Review Board to investigate alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during an investigations, and make recommendations to the Division of Police.
  10. Portland, Oregon: Voters will decide a ballot measure to establish a new police oversight board, give the board subpoena powers, and allow the board to impose disciplinary actions, including termination, on law enforcement professionals.
  11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Voters in Philadelphia will decide two police-related ballot measures and one other criminal justice proposal. One measure would add language to the city charter calling on the police department to “eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent.” The other police-related measure would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Another measure would create an Office of the Victim Advocate to act as an advocate for crime victims and co-victims.
  12. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize the Independent Citizen Police Review Board to audit the police bureau and require police officers to cooperate with the board’s investigations.
  13. King County, Washington: Two police-related measures will be on the ballot. One would make the county sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position. The second measure would give the county council the authority to define the sheriff’s duties.
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Missouri judge rewrites ballot title for Amendment 3 that would repeal 2018 redistricting amendment

On August 17, 2020, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia S. Joyce ruled against the ballot title drafted by the Missouri General Assembly for Amendment 3, the Redistricting Process and Criteria, Lobbying, and Campaign Finance Amendment. The lawsuit against the ballot title was filed by petition circulators for Clean Missouri, the campaign that sponsored Missouri Amendment 1 (2018). The lawsuit argued that the ballot title of Amendment 3 was misleading because it did not mention the elimination of the nonpartisan demographer, which was the office established by Amendment 1 to conduct legislative redistricting in the state. Missouri Amendment 1 (2018) was approved with 62% of the vote. Besides establishing the nonpartisan demographer, the amendment also prohibited the state legislature from passing laws allowing for unlimited campaign contributions to candidates for the state legislature and set campaign contribution limits for legislative candidates and candidate committees.

In Joyce’s ruling, she said, “While [Amendment 3] proposes several other changes to Article Ill of the Constitution, all of them pale in comparison to the scope and magnitude of undoing a recent voter mandate to change Missouri’s legislative redistricting rules. The ‘central purpose’ or ‘primary objective’ of [Amendment 3] is to effectively repeal Amendment 1. Accordingly, the summary statement must alert voters to that change in some fashion. Instead, the General Assembly’s statement does not mention the change at all. It is insufficient, unfair, and must be rewritten.” State officials requested an appeal in the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The original ballot title read:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
• Ban all lobbyist gifts to legislators and their employees;
• Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits; and

• Create citizen-led independent bipartisan commissions to draw state legislative districts based on one person, one vote, minority voter protection, compactness, competitiveness, fairness and other criteria?”

The new title drafted by Judge Joyce reads:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
• Repeal rules for drawing state legislative districts approved by voters in November 2018 and replace them with rules proposed by the legislature;
• Lower the campaign contribution limit for senate candidates by $100; and

• Lower legislative gift limits from $5 to $0, with exemptions for some lobbyists?”

Missouri Amendment 3 was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 38 (SJR 38) on January 8, 2020. On February 10, the state Senate passed SJR 38 in a vote of 22-9. Of the 23 Republicans in the Senate, 22 voted in favor of SJR 38, one voted against it. All eight Democrats voted against it. On May 13, the state House passed SJR 38 in a vote of 98-56 with eight absent. House Republicans voted 97-16 for SJR 38, and House Democrats voted 1-40.

Fair Missouri is leading the campaign in support of Amendment 3. According to the last campaign finance reports submitted on June 30, the campaign had raised over $246,000. Clean Missouri is registered in opposition to the amendment and has raised $1.3 million. In 2018, Clean Missouri and an allied committee raised $5.63 million.

Missouri Senator Dan Hegeman (R), the sponsor of the amendment in the legislature, said, “This would give the voters another opportunity to weigh in on this monumental change that could have ramifications for years, if not generations.”

In November, Missouri voters will also be deciding Amendment 1, the State Executive Term Limits Amendment, which would limit the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general, along with the governor and state treasurer, to two terms of office.

Between 1996 and 2018, an average of seven measures appeared on the ballot in Missouri during even-numbered election years. A total of 82 measures appeared on statewide ballots during that period with 63% approved.

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Initiative to decrease state income tax becomes 8th measure on Colorado ballot

Initiative #306 was certified for the ballot on August 17, 2020. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office found that, of the 198,538 signatures that were submitted, 140,058 were projected to be valid. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures were required.

The initiative would decrease the state income tax rate for individuals, estates, and trusts from 4.63% of federal taxable income to 4.55% for tax years commencing on and after January 1, 2020. The tax rate would also reduce the tax rate for domestic and foreign C corporations operating in Colorado from 4.63% of Colorado net income to 4.55%.

President of the Independence Institute Jon Caldara and Colorado State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R) sponsored the initiative. Sonnenberg said, “Small business owners all over Colorado are feeling the pain of these shutdowns, and their incomes have suffered as a result. In many rural communities, there are no big-box stores, just small businesses. An across the board income tax rate reduction will allow these business owners and their employees to keep and spend more of their own money. State government doesn’t need to increase its already bloated budget.” Caldara said, “Coronavirus has crippled our state. Colorado needs to get moving again. Desperately. We must energize our economy. And in order to do that people need to be able to use more of their own money. It’s time to lower taxes. The state legislature could do it. But they won’t. So, we will do it for them.”

Ballotpedia identified two committees registered to support the initiative: Energize our Economy (306 Real Fair Tax) and Americans for Prosperity Colorado Issue Committee. Together, the committees reported $664,945 in in-kind contributions and $1,548 in cash contributions. The top three donors were Unite for Colorado, Independence Institute, and Madsen and Associates. Unite for Colorado contributed $625,000 as an in-kind contribution for signature gathering, resulting in a cost-per required signature of $5.01.

Prior to 1987, the individual income tax rates in Colorado were graduated, meaning those with higher incomes paid higher taxes, and those with lower incomes paid less in taxes. The Colorado individual income tax rate has been a flat tax rate since 1987. The flat tax was 5% from 1987 to 1998. It was lowered to 4.75% in 1999. The rate has been 4.63% since 2000. According to the Colorado Legislative Council Staff, the rates were lowered to “reduce the TABOR surplus.”

As of 2018, 32 states had graduated income tax rates, nine states had a flat tax rate, two states (Tennessee and New Hampshire) only taxed income from dividends and rent, and seven states did not have an income tax. As of 2018, flat tax rates ranged from 3.07% in Pennsylvania to 5.25% in North Carolina.

The initiative is the 8th measure to be certified for the ballot in Colorado. Four other citizen initiatives are on the ballot, including a veto referendum. Also on the ballot are two constitutional amendments and one state law referred by the legislature.

Three additional initiatives have submitted signatures and are awaiting certification. The measures concern higher maximum bet limits at Colorado’s casinos, paid family and medical leave, and voter approval of government enterprises.

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Maine Supreme Court: Ballot measure violates boundaries of legislative power

On August 13, 2020, the Maine Supreme Court ruled in Avangrid Networks, Inc. v. Secretary of State that a ballot referendum scheduled to appear on the November 2020 ballot was an unconstitutional violation of state separation of powers principles. The judges held that the referendum did not meet the requirements of the state constitution for inclusion on the ballot because, in their words, “it exceeds the scope of the people’s legislative powers” under the Maine Constitution.

The referendum aimed to overturn a decision by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to give a company permission to build a high-voltage power line to deliver electricity from Canada. The Maine Supreme Court argued that it had the power to review the constitutionality of the referendum before the November election to determine whether it would be a proper exercise of the people’s legislative authority.

The court ruled that the referendum was not within the legislative power of the people of Maine because it would be an exercise of executive or judicial power instead of legislative. The court wrote that the referendum’s “purpose and effect is to dictate the Commission’s exercise of its quasi-judicial executive-agency function in a particular proceeding.” The court added that the referendum “would interfere with and vitiate the Commission’s fact-finding and adjudicatory function—an executive power conferred on the Commission by the Legislature.”

While the legislature has the power to limit the legislative functions and authority of the PUC, the court ruled that it does not have the power to require the PUC to overturn and reverse a particular administrative decision that it had made. Since the ballot referendum process is an exercise of legislative power, the court held that the same limitation applies. Under the separation of powers provision contained in the Maine Constitution, no one in a particular branch of government may exercise the powers that belong to the other branches of government.

The court ruled that since the referendum did not propose legislation it should not appear on the November 2020 election ballot.

To learn more about the referendum and separation of powers, see here:
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Link to the Maine Supreme Court decision:

Maine Supreme Judicial Court rules that ballot initiative to reverse certification for transnational transmission line project is unconstitutional

On August 13, the Maine Supreme Court blocked from the ballot a citizen initiative designed to reverse a certificate required for a transnational transmission line project. The court ruled that the measure violated the “procedural prerequisites for a direct initiative” found in the Maine Constitution. According to the Supreme Judicial Court, the Maine Constitution “requires that a citizens’ initiative constitute legislative action,” and the ballot initiative “exceeds the scope of the people’s legislative powers…”

The ballot initiative would have required the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reverse an order made on May 3, 2019, that provided the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project with one of the certificates needed before construction could begin. The NECEC transmission project was designed to cross about 145 miles in Maine, from the state’s border with Quebec to Lewiston, and transmit around 1,200 megawatts from Hydro-Québec’s hydroelectric plants in Quebec to electric utilities in Massachusetts and Maine.

Avangrid Network, Inc., the parent firm of Central Maine Power, sued Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D) on May 12, 2020. Avangrid argued the ballot initiative was not legislative in nature and instead was designed to exercise executive and judicial power. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with Avangrid, stating that the ballot initiative would interfere with PUC’s executive power to make a decision—something that legislation, including citizen-initiated legislation, cannot do according to the ruling. According to the Supreme Judicial Court, the ballot initiative was “executive in nature, not legislative,” because legislation can define an agency’s functions and authority but cannot “vacate and reverse a particular administrative decision.”

Avangrid and Central Maine Power provided $10.60 million to the campaign against the ballot initiative. H.Q. Energy Services (U.S.) Inc., a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, provided an additional $6.33 million. On July 29, 2020, 25 current and former state legislators sent a letter to Quebec Premier François Legault and Hydro-Québec CEO Sophie Brochu regarding “Hydro-Quebec’s political campaign aimed at influencing the outcome of a citizen-initiated ballot measure this November.” Hydro-Québec is a corporation owned by the government of Quebec, which, according to the legislators, gave the Quebec government and residents a “financial interest in the outcome of a Maine election.” Serge Abergel, the director of external relations for Hydro-Québec, responded that Hydro-Québec should be allowed to provide information to voters after spending years to obtain permits.

The No CMP Corridor PAC, which was leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative, had the support of Mainers for Local Power. Mainers for Local Power received $688,665 from Calpine Corp., which owned a natural gas-fired plant in Westbrook, Maine, and $750,756 from Vistra Energy Corp., which owned a natural gas-fired plant in Veazie, Maine.

Proponents of the ballot initiative collected 75,253 signatures for the ballot initiative between October 2019 and February 2020. On March 4, 2020, Dunlap announced that 69,714 of the submitted signatures were valid, surpassing the required minimum of 63,067.

The ballot initiative was one of two potential November 2020 citizen-initiated measures in Maine. The other citizen-initiated measure is a veto referendum to repeal ranked-choice voting for presidential elections. Secretary of State Dunlap announced that not enough signatures were valid for the veto referendum to appear on the ballot. Proponents of the veto referendum, however, are challenging Dunlap’s decision in Superior Court.

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Montana voters to decide a pair of ballot initiatives that would legalize marijuana in November

Montana voters will decide an initiated constitutional amendment, CI-118, and an initiated state statute, I-190, that, together, would legalize marijuana in the state. CI-118 would amend the state constitution to allow for the legislature or a citizen initiative to establish minimum legal ages for the possession, use, and purchase of marijuana. I-190 would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, impose a 20% tax on marijuana sales, require the Department of Revenue to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses, and allow for the resentencing or expungement of marijuana-related crimes. CI-118 must be approved in order for I-190 to be fully enacted. The initiatives are sponsored by New Approach Montana.

On July 17, New Approach Montana reported that county clerks had accepted 52,315 signatures from the 80,000 raw signatures submitted for CI-118 and 35,458 signatures from the 52,000 signatures submitted for I-190. July 17 was the deadline for county clerks to submit the verified petitions to the secretary of state for final verification. On August 13, the secretary of state announced that the petitions contained a sufficient number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. As a constitutional amendment, CI-118 required 50,936 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. I-190 required 25,468 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

This will be the first time Montanans will vote on recreational marijuana. In 2004, Montana voters approved I-148, a medical marijuana initiative, with 61.81% of the vote. In 2011, the state legislature voted to enact regulations limiting the number of patients a provider could service. The law was repealed in 2016 with the approval of I-182.

Pepper Petersen, a spokesperson for New Approach Montana, said, “Our research has always shown that a majority of Montanans support legalization, and now voters will have the opportunity to enact that policy, which will create jobs and generate new revenue for our state. It also means that law enforcement will stop wasting time and resources arresting adults for personal marijuana possession, and instead focus on real crime.”

As of July 2020, New Approach Montana had raised $2.3 million in cash and in-kind contributions in support of both initiatives. The next campaign finance deadline is August 30, 2020. The North Fund was the largest contributor with $1.2 million in contributions. New Approach PAC contributed over $940,000.

Eleven states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana. Nine states legalized marijuana through the ballot initiative process. Vermont and Illinois legalized marijuana through the legislative process.

Recreational marijuana measures are also certified for November 2020 ballots in Arizona, New Jersey, and South Dakota. South Dakota and Mississippi voters will also decide medical marijuana measures. Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws submitted signatures for a 2020 medical marijuana initiative.

CI-118 and I-190 will be the only initiatives on the Montana ballot. Three other legislatively referred ballot measures will also appear on the ballot. Montana LR-130 would remove local governments’ power to regulate the carrying of permitted concealed weapons. It would continue to allow local governments to regulate unpermitted concealed weapons and unconcealed weapons in public occupied buildings. Montana C-46 and C-47 would amend constitutional language regarding initiative signature distribution requirements to match current practices.

From 1996 through 2018, an average of between four and five measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Montana, 62% of which were approved.

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North Dakota to vote in November on top-four open primaries, ranked-choice voting, state legislative redistricting, and other election changes

North Dakota voters will decide on three constitutional amendments in November. The third measure, a citizen initiative, was certified for the ballot on Tuesday, August 11.

The initiative would amend the state constitution to make multiple changes to the election and redistricting procedures in North Dakota.

The measure would establish top-four open primaries for all statewide, legislative, and congressional races. Candidates would all appear on the same ballot with the option of listing political affiliation. Anyone could vote in the primaries regardless of their political affiliation or lack of political affiliation. The top-four candidates would proceed to the general election ballot. Voters could rank up to four candidates on the general election ballot. If a candidate receives a majority of votes, he or she would be elected. If not, the candidate with the least votes would be eliminated and votes redistributed according to voters’ next choices. This would occur in rounds until one candidate has a majority of votes.

As of 2020, in North Dakota, parties’ primary elections were open to all voters regardless of their partisan affiliation. As of 2020, in North Dakota, the winner of a party’s primary election is the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes (plurality), even if he or she does not win a majority of votes cast. The winners of each party’s primaries advance to the general election.

The measure would also make the state’s ethics commission, which was created by voters through a 2018 citizen initiative, responsible for state legislative redistricting. The initiative would require a unanimous vote by the ethics commission to set state senate districts, which would then be divided equally by population to create state house districts. It would also require public hearings on the redistricting plan, set criteria for district maps, and set other requirements and processes.

Another provision of the initiative would require a paper record for all ballots and audits of each election within 120 days by the secretary of state. And the measure would require ballots to be sent to military and overseas voters by 61 days before an election.

North Dakota Voters First reported submitting over 36,000 signatures for the initiative to the Secretary of State’s office on July 6, 2020. Secretary of State Al Jaeger (I) said that around 4,300 of the signatures submitted were rejected, meaning around 32,000 signatures were accepted. To qualify for the ballot, 26,904 valid signatures were required.

North Dakota Voters First said, “Without competition, lawmakers secure reelection even if they don’t have the best ideas or vision for their constituents. Measure 3 gives voters more than one choice in elections and incentivizes legislators to more closely listen to their constituents. […] This amendment would ensure voters are picking their politicians — not the other way around — by preventing politicians from drawing their own political boundaries. Measure 3 would establish a nonpartisan redistricting process that is transparent and fair.”

According to campaign finance reports that covered information through July 6, the campaign had raised $922,720 and had spent $676,912. The top four donors— Action Now Initiative, Campaign Legal Center, Represent.Us, and Unite America—donated 99.99% of the contributions.

The measure is opposed by Brighter Future Alliance, which said, “Until we defeat these groups at the polls, they will keep coming with measures to further upend our political institutions and undermine our state’s economy and our North Dakota way of life.”

The group filed a lawsuit in the state supreme court on August 12, 2020, seeking to block the measure from the ballot by ordering Secretary Al Jaeger to declare all signatures for the measure invalid. Brighter Future Alliance argued that the measure’s sponsors failed to meet requirements of the constitution and state law because the petitions did not include the full text of the measure and the ballot title does not accurately describe the measure. Under Section 2 of Article III of the state constitution, petitions that are being circulated must include the full text of the proposed measure. Under state law, the petition title must be a “short and concise statement that fairly represents the measure.” In North Dakota, the petition titles are drafted by the secretary of state and approved by the attorney general.

Maine is the only state with ranked-choice voting for federal and statewide primary elections and general elections for U.S. Congress.

As of 2020, no states utilized a top-four primary for state or federal elections. Top-two primaries are used in California, Nebraska, and Washington. A similar initiative to create a top-four primary and ranked-choice general system is on the 2020 ballot in Alaska. A top-four ranked-choice voting initiative may also appear on the ballot in Arkansas.

A measure to create top-two open primaries will appear on the 2020 ballot in Florida, and Massachusetts voters will decide a ranked-choice voting initiative.

In 36 of the 50 states, state legislatures are primarily responsible for state legislative redistricting. Independent commissions draw state legislative district lines in 10 states. In four states, politician commissions are responsible for state legislative redistricting.

The North Dakota state legislature referred two constitutional amendments to the 2020 ballot in North Dakota. One measure would change the structure of the State Board of Higher Education, and the other measure would require initiated constitutional amendments passed by voters to be submitted to the legislature and passed a second time by voters if not approved by the legislature.

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Signatures filed for California ballot initiative to reduce and tax single-use plastic packaging

On August 11, 2020, signatures were filed for a ballot initiative designed to reduce the use of single-use plastic packaging and foodware in California. Proponents reported filing more than 870,000 signatures. At least 623,212 signatures (around 71.64%) need to be valid for the ballot initiative to appear on the ballot on November 8, 2022.

The ballot initiative would require the California Department of Resources, Recycling, and Recovery (CalRecycle), in consultation with other agencies, to adopt regulations that require producers to:
  1. make their single-use plastic packaging and foodware recyclable, reusable, refillable, or compostable;
  2. reduce or eliminate certain single-use plastic packaging or foodware; and
  3. use recycled content and renewable materials in the production of single-use plastic packaging and foodware.

The ballot initiative would also enact a fee, called the California Plastic Pollution Reduction Fee, on single-use plastic packaging and foodware. CalRecycle would determine the fee amount with a maximum amount of 1 cent per item of packaging or foodware. Beginning in 2030, the fee would be adjusted based on changes in the California Consumer Price Index. Revenue from the tax would be distributed to CalRecycle, the California Natural Resources Agency, and local governments.

Clean Coasts, Clean Water, Clean Streets, also known as Plastics Free California, is leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. Through June 30, 2020, the campaign received $4.06 million. Recology, Inc. was the largest contributor, providing $3.70 million. Recology, Inc. is a business that provides commercial and residential waste, recycling, and composting services.

The campaign filed the ballot initiative in November 2019 and originally intended to place the proposal on the 2020 ballot. Eric Potashner, vice president of Recology, said the campaign had collected more than 800,000 signatures for the ballot initiative before the suggested deadline of April 21, 2020, but wanted to collect between 900,000 to 950,000. Citing the coronavirus pandemic, Potashner said, “Even if I had a million signatures, I don’t know if we’d be submitting this thing till after June anyway. I don’t know if this is the right climate for this measure right now.” Potashner also noted that the ballot initiative’s provisions would not take effect until 2030, “so pushing this issue…to 2022 doesn’t have any practical implications in what we’re trying to do.”

On June 23, 2020, the campaign sued the state to extend the deadline to file signatures beyond July 6. The lawsuit asked the court to extend the deadline until all California counties moved into the third reopening stage following the coronavirus stay-at-home order or by at least 90 days. On July 2, Judge James P. Arguelles ordered that the deadline be extended to September 28, 2020, to account for the shelter-in-place order and coronavirus-related government restrictions.

The ballot initiative is the second to file signatures for the 2022 California ballot. An initiative to increase California’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits filed signatures in May 2020 and was certified for the 2022 ballot on July 21. Signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize sports betting are due October 12, 2020.

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Arizonans to decide ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana in November

On November 3, Arizonans will decide a ballot initiative, titled Proposition 207, to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for persons who are at least 21 years old, enact a tax on marijuana sales, and require the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses.

Proposition 207 is the first statewide initiative to be certified for the ballot in Arizona in 2020; three additional ballot initiatives are undergoing signature checks as of August 11.

On August 10, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced that 255,080 signatures were projected to be valid—17,435 more than the minimum requirement of 237,645. On July 1, 2020, the campaign behind Proposition 207, Smart and Safe Arizona, filed 428,481 signatures.

Proposition 207 will be the second time that Arizonans address a marijuana legalization proposal at the ballot box. In 2016, a citizen-initiated measure, titled Proposition 205, was defeated, with 51.3% voting “No.” Arizona was one of five states to vote on a citizen-initiated legalization measure in 2016. Voters in neighboring California and Nevada, along with Maine and Massachusetts, approved their respective ballot measures.

Stacy Pearson, a political consultant for Smart and Safe Arizona, said that Proposition 207 “incorporates lessons learned from the 2016 campaign, as well as from other states that have already legalized cannabis.” One of the differences between Proposition 205 and Proposition 207 is the proposed regulatory structure. Whereas Proposition 205 would have established a new government agency, the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, Proposition 207 would make the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services responsible for adopting rules to regulate marijuana. The excise tax on marijuana sales is also 1 percentage point higher—16%—under this year’s proposal.

Lisa James, chairperson of Arizonans for Health and Public Saftey, and six other individuals are seeking a court order to remove the initiative from the ballot. Plaintiffs argued that the ballot initiative is invalid because, according to the plaintiffs, “the measure’s 100-word summary is materially misleading and creates a substantial danger of fraud, confusion and unfairness.” On August 7, 2020, Superior Court Judge James Smith ruled in favor of the defendants, stating that the ballot language was sufficient. On August 11, James appealed the superior court’s ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Smart and Safe Arizona raised $3.48 million through the most recent campaign finance filings on July 18. The deadline for the next scheduled reports is October 15, 2020. Harvest Enterprises, which is a marijuana business based in Tempe, contributed $1.43 million to Smart and Safe Arizona.

Arizonans for Health and Public Safety, which opposes Proposition 207, raised $142,065. The Center for Arizona Policy provided $100,000 of the opposition campaign’s funds.

In 2016, opponents raised $6.37 million in their effort to defeat Proposition 205, while supporters raised $6.55 million.

Eleven states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Except in Illinois and Vermont, marijuana was legalized through the ballot initiative process.

In 2020, New Jersey and South Dakota voters will vote on ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana in November. Signatures have also been submitted for a legalization initiative in Montana.

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Nebraska Payday Lender Interest Rate Cap Initiative qualifies for the November ballot

On July 31, 2020, the Nebraska Secretary of State completed the signature verification process for the Payday Lender Interest Rate Cap and announced on August 5 that it had qualified for the ballot.

The initiative would limit the annual interest charged for delayed deposit services—also known as payday lending—to 36%. Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have also enacted a 36% rate cap for payday lending. Colorado was the most recent state to approve a 36% limit through a statewide ballot initiative, Proposition 111, in 2018.

Election officials verified 94,468 valid signatures for the Nebraska initiative, 110% of the number required. Nebraskans for Responsible Lending, the committee leading the campaign in support of the initiative, submitted over 120,000 signatures. The estimated signature validity rate for the petition was 78.7%.

Nebraskans for Responsible Lending reported receiving $1.76 million in cash and in-kind contributions. The Sixteen Thirty Fund has contributed the most to the campaign with contributions totaling over $840,000. The Sixteen Thirty Fund was also the largest contributor to the campaign that sponsored Colorado Proposition 111 with over $2 million in contributions. Nebraskans for Responsible Lending had also received contributions from the ACLU, The Fairness Project, Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public, and Fraser Stryker law firm.

In the campaign’s press release announcing the certification, Aubrey Mancuso, a spokesperson for Nebraskans for Responsible Lending, said, “The fact that signatures were verified in 46 counties speaks to broad support for this initiative. Predatory payday lenders have been charging excessive interest to Nebraskans who can least afford it for years, trapping them in long-term debt that is financially devastating. We found overwhelming support from Nebraskans when circulating this petition, and we are very pleased it’s official. We can now move forward with ending these unethical lending practices.”

There is no organized opposition to the initiative so far, but the ballot language of the initiative has been challenged in court. On July 27, 2020, Trina Thomas, the owner of Paycheck Advance, filed a lawsuit in Lancaster County District Court against the ballot language drafted by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson (R). She argued that the term “payday lenders” was not in the statute that the initiative would amend and was “deceptive to the voters as it unfairly casts the measure in a light that would prejudice the vote in favor of the initiative.” In the press release by the state announcing the certification, it acknowledges the lawsuit and says the attorney general will be defending the ballot language in court and the case outcome will be determined soon.

Four other initiative campaigns in Nebraska submitted signatures by the July 3 deadline. Three initiatives concern gambling at licensed horse racetracks, and the other initiative would legalize medical marijuana.

In Nebraska, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 7% of registered voters as of the deadline for filing signatures, which was 85,628 signatures. The requirement is 10% for initiated constitutional amendments or 122,326 signatures.

Between 1996 and 2018, Nebraska voters approved 53% (39 of 73) and rejected 47% (34 of 73) of ballot measures. An average of six measures appeared on statewide general election ballots during that period.

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