Kansas voters approved a constitutional amendment ending the state’s practice of adjusting the U.S. Census population regarding military personnel and students when redistricting the Kansas State Legislature. The vote was 60% to 40%.
Going into the election, the Kansas Constitution required the state legislature to apportion state legislative districts based on the most recent U.S. Census, with an adjustment to (1) exclude nonresident military personnel stationed in Kansas and nonresident students and (2) include resident military personnel and resident students in the district of their permanent residence. The ballot measure eliminated the requirement to adjust the census population for state legislative apportionment.
Secretary of State Scott Schwab (R), who supported the ballot measure, said the state would spend an estimated $834,000 to adjust the 2020 U.S. Census. He said the state would have needed to hire a private consultant for the adjustment, who would contact military personnel and students and ask them about their permanent residencies. In 2011, Secretary of State Kris Kobach reported that the adjustment cost $198,928.
Following the 2010 U.S. Census, the state adjusted the population for legislative redistricting. Overall, 15,577 state residents were counted in different counties, and 13,673 people were eliminated from the count. Riley County, Douglas County, and Ellis County saw the largest percentage decreases in population due to the adjustment. Riley County included the U.S. Army’s Fort Riley and Kansas State University. Douglas County included the University of Kansas. Ellis County included Fort Hays State University and North Central Kansas Technical College.
Boise voters approved Proposition 1, with a margin of 69% in favor and 31% opposed, and Proposition 2, with a margin of 75% in favor and 25% opposed. Proposition 1 requires voter approval before the city allocates $25 million or more on library development. Proposition 2 requires majority voter approval in a future election before spending more than $5 million on sports stadium development projects. The election results mean that Boise voters will have to decide in a future election, likely in March of 2020, on proposed spending for the renovation of Boise’s Main Library Campus and creation of the Boise Sports Park.
The estimated cost of the Main Library Campus project is $104 million, which exceeds the city’s budget of $85 million. The estimated cost of the Boise Sports Park is $40 million, which would be publicly and privately funded. Both propositions were placed on the ballot through a citizen initiative petition effort led by Boise Working Together.
Voters in Maine approved both questions on their ballots. Question 1 authorized $105 million in bonds for transportation infrastructure projects. Question 2 amended the state constitution to allow for persons with physical disabilities to use alternative signatures to sign initiative petitions. The vote for both measures was 76% in favor and 24% against.
As of 2019, the Maine State Constitution required people to sign petitions for citizen-initiated ballot measures with their original signature. The state constitution did not have a similar requirement for candidate petitions.
In 2005, the Maine State Legislature passed a law allowing persons with physical disabilities to register to vote and sign candidate petitions using an alternative signature, defined as a signature stamp or having a registered voter sign the petition on the person’s behalf. Melissa Packard, the state director of elections, said, “it was determined that a constitutional amendment would be needed to authorize a similar process for direct initiative and people’s veto petitions.”
On Monday, proponents of two marijuana initiatives in South Dakota submitted a combined 80,000 signatures to the Secretary of State.
One measure would amend the constitution to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana and would require the state legislature to pass laws providing for the use of medical marijuana and the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022. The measure was sponsored by former U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Brendan Johnson and is supported by the committee South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. Proponents reported submitting 50,000 signatures on November 4, 2019. To qualify for the ballot, 33,921 valid signatures are required.
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws is also supporting a measure that would amend state statute to provide for a medical marijuana program. The measure was sponsored by Melissa Mentele, executive director of New Approach South Dakota. Proponents reported submitting 30,000 signatures on November 4, 2019. To qualify for the ballot, 16,961 valid signatures are required.
As of 2019, 11 states and the District of Columbia had legalized marijuana for recreational purposes; nine through statewide citizen initiatives, and two through bills approved by state legislatures and signed by governors. 33 states and Washington, D.C., had passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing medical marijuana. Additionally, 13 states had legalized the use of cannabis oil, or cannabidiol (CBD)—one of the non-psychoactive ingredients found in marijuana—for medical purposes.
Tucson voters rejected a measure that would have made Tucson the first in the state with sanctuary city policies. Over 70% of voters rejected Proposition 205. The citizen initiative would have declared in city code that Tucson was a sanctuary city, restricted law enforcement officers from actions to determine a person’s immigration status under certain conditions, prohibited officers from contacting federal law enforcement agencies to determine a person’s immigration status, and prohibited city employees from inquiring about a person’s immigration status, among other policies.
The initiative was sponsored by Tucson Families Free & Together and supported by, among others, the state and county Democratic parties and the Arizona ACLU. Opponents of the measure included Gov. Doug Ducey (R), U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R), U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly (D), and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (D).
In 2012, the Tucson City Council voted 6-1 to pass a resolution identifying Tucson as immigrant-welcoming and declaring the city’s opposition to provisions of Senate Bill 1070, a bill passed in 2010 that required law enforcement officers to determine the legal status of individuals who are arrested or detained.
Voters also rejected Proposition 409, a measure that would have increased the salaries of the mayor and city council members.
Voters in Boise, Idaho, will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote on two ballot propositions. Proposition 1 would require majority voter approval in a future election for the city to spend $25 million or more on a library development project. In 2018, Boise started plans for the renovation of the Main Library Campus. The plan for the project included space for an expanded library collection, fine arts and history exhibits, and event space. The estimated cost of the project was $104 million. Planning for the project is currently on hold until the election occurs.
Boise Public Library Foundation authored the official opposition arguments for the Boise Voter Guide. The Foundation referenced a third ballot question. The third ballot question, which would have asked voters to approve or reject the specific Maine Library Campus plan, was sponsored by Boise City Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg but ultimately was not put on the ballot. By the time the third question was abandoned, however, it was too late to amend the Boise Voter Guide language to remove reference to a third question.
Proposition 2 would require majority voter approval in a future election to spend $5 million or more on sports stadium development projects. The election will determine the future of the proposed Boise Sports Park—a several-acre development with a multi-use facility that would host sporting events, concerts, and festivals. In 2017, the city estimated the cost of the new Boise Sports Park at $40 million.
Both propositions were placed on the ballot through citizen initiative petitions sponsored by Boise Working Together.
Voters can register online or at their polling places on the day of the election. Polls will be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on November 5.
In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering 141 local measures in jurisdictions within 17 different states for the November 5 election. This includes all local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S, plus all local measures in North Carolina, all local measures in California. Ballotpedia is also covering the 32 Nov. 5 statewide ballot measures on ballots in seven states. Here is a summary of the ballot measures that voters will decide on November 5, 2019.
Ballotpedia is covering 11 local ballot measures in two cities—Tucson and Scottsdale—and five school districts in Maricopa and Pima counties. Tucson Proposition 205 would make Tucson the first city in Arizona to enact sanctuary city policies.
Voters in local jurisdictions in 13 different California counties will decide 45 local ballot measures. Voters in San Francisco will decide five measures, including Proposition C, which concerns the authorization and regulation of e-cigarettes, and Proposition F, which concerns campaign contributions and advertising disclaimers. Voters in Rancho Palos Verdes will decide Measure B, an initiative proposing an increase to the minimum wage for hospitality workers.
Ballotpedia is covering four measures on the ballot in Denver, two measures on the ballot in Colorado Springs, and countywide measures in Arapahoe County and Douglas County. There are also two statewide measures on the ballot.
Voters in Hialeah and St. Petersburg will decide eight local ballot measures.
Ballotpedia is covering two citizen initiatives on the ballot in Boise that would enact voter approval requirements for library and sports stadium development projects.
Ballotpedia is covering an advisory vote on the ballot in Boston concerning whether or not to change the name of Dudley Square to Nubian Square.
Ballotpedia is covering five measures on the ballot in Kansas City. Four concern transferring park property out of the park system for school district or other use. Question 5 is a citizen initiative to rename Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. to The Paseo Blvd.
Ballotpedia is covering a veto referendum on the ballot in Jersey City concerning restrictions and regulations on renting out short-term rental properties. There is also one statewide measure on the ballot in New Jersey.
Ballotpedia is covering 16 measures on the ballot in Albuquerque. Proposition 2 would make Albuquerque the second jurisdiction in the U.S. (after Seattle) to adopt government-disbursed vouchers, known as democracy dollars, that voters could contribute to candidates.
Ballotpedia is covering the five proposed charter amendments combining 19 proposals on the ballot in New York City. Question 1 includes a proposal to establish ranked-choice voting for primary and special elections in the city. Question 2 contains five proposals concerning the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Voters in local jurisdictions in seven different North Carolina counties will decide 11 local ballot measures.
Ballotpedia is covering 11 local measures on the November 2019 ballot in jurisdictions within four counties. These include citywide measures in Cleveland and Cincinnati, community college and school district measures, and countywide measures.
Ballotpedia is covering four local measures on the ballot in Portland, the Portland Metro area, and Portland Public Schools.
Voters in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will decide three local ballot measures. There is also one statewide measure on the ballot.
Ballotpedia is covering eight local ballot measures on the ballot in jurisdictions within five counties. Irving, El Paso, Harris County, Arlington and Tarrant County, and Austin and Travis County fall within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope for 2019. There are also 10 statewide measures on the ballot.
Ballotpedia is covering one tax measure on the ballot in Vineyard.
Ballotpedia is covering one local measure on the ballot in King County on November 5, 2019. The measure concerns a property tax levy renewal to fund emergency medical services. There are also 15 statewide measures on the ballot.
On November 5, Pennsylvanians will consider a constitutional amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, on their ballots. However, voters shouldn’t expect to find out the amendment’s fate on election night. Judge Ellen Ceisler of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court enjoined Acting Secretary of State Boockvar (D) from counting and certifying votes on the constitutional amendment, pending a final ruling. According to Judge Ceisler, the action appears to be the first time that a state court has delayed certification of a constitutional amendment.
Marsy’s Law would add a section addressing crime victims’ rights to the Pennsylvania Constitution Declaration of Rights. Judge Ceisler said she issued the preliminary injunction because approval of the constitutional amendment would have “immediate, profound, and in some instances, irreversible, consequences on the constitutional rights of the accused and in the criminal justice system.” While Judge Ceisler enjoined certification of the amendment due to the possible consequences of the law, the case itself addresses a different question—Does the ballot measure for Marsy’s Law violate the state constitution’s requirement that separate amendments receive separate votes?
The League of Women Voters (LWV) and Lorraine Haw challenged Marsy’s Law as violating the separate-vote requirement for constitutional amendments. Article XI of the Pennsylvania Constitution says, “When two or more amendments shall be submitted they shall be voted upon separately.” LWV and Haw argued that the ballot measure proposes several amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution and, therefore, violates Article XI. Judge Ceisler said, ” Petitioners [LWV and Haw] have raised substantial questions as to the constitutionality of the Proposed Amendment in terms of both a violation of Article XI, Section 1’s separate vote requirement, and its facial impact on other articles and sections of the Constitution.”
Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, which opposes Marsy’s Law, responded, “This ruling reaffirms the importance of following the constitution. Despite the heated rhetoric, rather than help crime victims, the Legislature failed them in this process. They did not hold a single hearing over two legislative sessions, and they ignored the law in proposing this massive constitutional amendment. They knew better, and they should have done better.” Jennifer Riley, state director for Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, also responded, “We are dismayed by the decision of the Commonwealth Court to grant the injunction request. We maintain our position that the proposed amendment for Marsy’s Law satisfies the single-subject rule, and remain confident that the court will ultimately rule in favor of certifying the election results.”
The outcome of Pennsylvania Marsy’s Law could be unknown until the question is appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which the plaintiffs or defendants will have the option to do after the state Commonwealth Court issues a ruling. In 2018, certification of the Kentucky Marsy’s Law Amendment was blocked, pending a court ruling, but votes were counted. The amendment was approved, but the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the votes could not be certified. In Pennsylvania, votes will not be counted or certified unless a court rules that the amendment is constitutional.
Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash file California ballot initiative to define their drivers as independent contractors and enact labor policies
Representatives of DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber filed a ballot initiative in California for the election on November 3, 2020, in response to the passage of Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5). The ballot measure would consider app-based drivers to be independent contractors and not employees or agents. Therefore, the ballot measure would override AB 5, signed in September 2019, on the question of whether workers are employees or independent contractors.
AB 5 established a three-factor test to decide a worker’s status as an independent contractor. The three-factor test requires that (a) the worker is free from the hiring company’s control and direction in the performance of work; (b) the worker is doing work that is outside the company’s usual course of business; and (c) the worker is engaged in an established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.
Responding to AB 5, Tony West, the chief legal officer for Uber, stated, “”Because we continue to believe drivers are properly classified as independent, and because we’ll continue to be responsive to what the vast majority of drivers tell us they want most—flexibility—drivers will not be automatically reclassified as employees … We expect we will continue to respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court as necessary, just as we do now.”” On September 11, 2019, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Uber, which said, “”Uber has stated that it will not reclassify its drivers [as employees], even though the legislature has clearly intended for Uber to be covered by [AB 5].””
The ballot measure would also enact labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies, including a net earnings floor based on 120 percent of the state’s or municipality’s minimum wage and 30 cents per mile; a limitation on the hours a driver is permitted to work during a 24-hour period; healthcare subsidies; occupational accident insurance; and accidental death insurance. The proposal would require the companies to develop anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies. The proposed net earnings floor and healthcare subsidies would be based on a worker’s engaged time, which is defined as the time between accepting a request and completing the request. Asm. Lorena Gonzalez (D-80), who authored AB 5, criticized the concept of engaged time, saying, “”Their wage floor suggests if If I’m a cashier, I’m only paid while there’s a customer in my line, not when I’m waiting for the next customer.”” She also said the benefits of being considered an employee outweigh what the initiative would provide to app-based drivers.
DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber have each placed $30 million into campaign accounts to fund the ballot initiative campaign. Brandon Castillo, a spokesperson for the campaign supporting the initiative, stated, “”We’re going to spend what it takes to win. It’s been widely reported that three of the companies already shifted $90 million, but we’re still in the early phases. The bottom line is: We’re committed to passing this.””
The next step for the campaign is to receive ballot language from Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D). He is expected to release language on January 2, 2020, which would allow the campaign to begin collecting the 623,212 valid signatures needed. The deadline for signature verification is June 25, 2020; however, the recommended deadline to file signature petitions for verification using a random sample is April 21.
There are no statewide offices on the ballot in Texas this November, but there are 10 state constitutional amendments. The editorial boards of the state’s five largest newspapers gave unanimous endorsements to five of the constitutional amendments and were divided on the remaining amendments. According to Statista, the state-based newspapers with the largest circulation in 2016 were (1) The Dallas Morning News, (2) Houston Chronicle, (3) San Antonio Express-News, (4) Forth Worth Star-Telegram, and (5) Austin American-Statesman.
The five constitutionals that received unanimous support from the five-largest newspapers were Propositions 2, 6, 7, 8, and 10. On Propositions 3 and 5, one newspaper editorial board opposed the measure. On Proposition 1, two newspaper editorial boards opposed the measure. Proposition 4 was the one measure on this year’s ballot to receive an endorsement from just one—Fort Worth Star-Telegram—of the five-largest newspapers. The other four newspapers—The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, and Austin American-Statesman—each opposed Proposition 4.
Proposition 4 would add an amendment to prohibit the state from levying an income tax on individuals to the Texas Constitution, which requires a two-thirds legislative vote and a statewide referendum to amend. The current requirement to enact an income tax is a simple majority legislative vote and a statewide referendum. In other words, one of the practical effects of Proposition 4 is increasing the legislative vote requirement to enact an income tax.
The Texas State Legislature placed Proposition 4 on the ballot in one of the narrowest votes of the past 25 years. In Texas, a two-thirds vote is required to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, which is equal to 100 votes in the state House and 21 votes in the state Senate, assuming no vacancies. The constitutional amendment received 100 in the state House and 22 votes in the state Senate. Most legislative Democrats (65 percent) opposed Proposition 4. Legislative Republicans, along with 29 percent of legislative Democrats, supported the constitutional amendment.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board wrote, “The bar to a major new tax should be high.” The Austin American-Statesman and Houston Chronicle opposed the measure’s wording, contending that the wording could lead to legal challenges against the state’s business franchise tax. The Dallas Morning News andSan Antonio Express-News both described the amendment as unnecessary.
Below is an image of the stances that Texas’ largest newspapers have taken on this year’s constitutional amendments, along with other editorials that Ballotpedia has identified.