CategoryBallot measures

Alabama bond question, Atlanta and Little Rock local measures on Tuesday ballot

On May 24, Alabama voters will decide Amendment 1. The measure would amend the state constitution to issue up to $85 million in bonds for improvement, renovation, acquisition, construction, and maintenance of state parks.

Of the bonds, $80 million would be used for state parks managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and $5 million would be used for historical sites managed by the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC). The ACDNR manages 21 state parks spanning a total of approximately 45,300 acres of land and water. The AHC owns and manages 15 historic sites in Alabama including forts, battlefields, and archaeological sites, historic houses, and museums. The commission’s mission statement is to “protect, preserve, and interpret Alabama’s historic places.”

Under the amendment, bond proceeds could not be used for improvement, acquisition, provision, construction, equipping, or maintenance of the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama. If bond proceeds exceed $85 million for any reason, additional proceeds would be allocated to the Alabama Forestry Commission for capital improvements and maintenance of state forests.

Under the amendment, no bond proceeds could be expended for maintenance or improvements to the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama. The home that exists at the park was constructed in 1902 as a care facility for Confederate veterans in Alabama. The last Confederate veteran living on the site died in 1934. The Alabama State Legislature created the Confederate Memorial Park in 1964 as “a shrine to the honor of Alabama’s citizens of the Confederacy.” The Confederate Memorial Park has been managed by the Alabama Historical Commission since 1971.

The amendment is supported by Governor Kay Ivey (R), who said, “It’s just real important that we all vote ‘Yes’ on that amendment on the ballot. We have so much natural beauty here, and it’s important that we offer our citizens and tourists the great opportunities to experience and enjoy them. With your support of the State Parks bond issue on May 24th, we will soon have ribbon-cuttings on several renovated campgrounds, cabins and improved day-use areas in our 21 State Parks.”

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Christopher Blankenship said, “As we’ve seen this past year with COVID, state parks and outdoor recreation have been extremely important to people for their physical and mental health. We saw great increases in usage at our parks, and also the federal wild properties in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.” Blankenship also said attendance to state parks was up by about 1.2 million visitors in 2020 and the amendment would bring the state parks “up to a standard that people have come to expect now and as the landscape is changing with motor homes and they’re becoming more advanced and require more from our campground.”

In Alabama, a constitutional amendment must be passed by a 60 percent vote in each house of the state legislature during one legislative session.

Amendment 1 was sponsored by Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R) and Rep. Wes Kitchens (R) as House Bill 565. On April 13, 2021, the House approved it in a vote of 97-1, with five absent or not voting. On April 29, the Senate passed an amended version of HB 565 in a vote of 29-0, with five absent or not voting. The House concurred with the amendments on the same day in a vote of 98-0, with five absent or not voting.

A total of 78 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot during even-numbered election years in Alabama from 2000 to 2020, of which, 62 were approved (79.49%), and 16 were defeated (20.51%). From 2000 to 2020, the number of measures on statewide ballots during even-numbered years ranged from four to 15.

Voters of Alabama cast ballots on five bond issues, totaling $535.2 million in value, since 1998. All were approved. The most recent bond issue decided by voters was on the ballot in 2000.

Also on May 24, voters in Little Rock Arkansas will decide a question reducing the existing capital-improvement millage from 1.8 to 1.3 mills, equal to $130 per $100,000 of assessed property value, and dedicating funds to a future issuance of bonds not to exceed $42 million for capital improvements to the Central Arkansas Library System.

Voters in Atlanta will decide two bond measures and a sales tax increase measure on May 24. The bond issues would authorize $213.01 million in general obligation bonds for constructing, improving, and repairing public safety facilities and parks and recreational facilities and $192.99 million in general obligation bonds for acquiring, planning, constructing, and maintaining roads, bicycle and transit lanes, sidewalks, pathways and trails, parks and playgrounds, and other related projects. The sales tax increase measure proposes to enact a sales tax of 0.4 percent for no more than five years to provide funding for transportation and congestion reduction projects.

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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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Colorado legislature refers school meal program funded by tax deduction cap and ballot law measures to voters before adjourning

The Colorado Legislature put two statutory measures on the Nov. 8 ballot before adjourning on May 11.

One measure—House Bill 1414—would create a new Healthy School Meals for All Program and fund the program through (a) reducing income tax deduction caps from $30,000 for single filers and $60,000 for joint filers to $12,000 for single filers and $16,000 for joint filers and (b) decreasing the income threshold at which the caps apply from $400,000 to $300,000. The program would reimburse participating schools for free meals provided to students and provide schools with local food purchasing grants and school food-related funding. State officials estimated these deduction cap changes would increase state revenue by $100.7 million per year.

The other measure—Senate Bill 222—would require the ballot titles and fiscal impact summaries for citizen initiatives that affect income taxes to include a table showing the changes the initiative would make in average income taxes owed for different income brackets.

Both measures were passed largely along partisan lines. Democrats in the Senate and House supported both measures. All voting Republicans opposed SB 222, and 34 of 39 Republicans opposed HB 1414. Any bills that the legislature refers to voters do not need to be signed by the governor and cannot be vetoed in Colorado.

These measures join three constitutional amendments the legislature referred to the ballot. The legislature must submit all constitutional amendments to the ballot for voter approval. Most changes to statute do not require voter approval.

House Bill 1414, however, requires voter approval because it would increase state tax revenue, and Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires voter approval of any increases to taxes or changes to tax policy that result in increased state revenue. The state’s TABOR law was approved by voters in 1992 through a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment.

The provisions of Senate Bill 222 do not require voter approval under the state constitution. Sponsors of Senate Bill 222 decided to refer it to the voters so that it would not require Gov. Jared Polis’ (D) signature. State Rep. Chris Kennedy (D) said, “There are a number of components (last year) where we reached agreement with the governor. But he expressed some concern about the idea of printing a table where it breaks down the value of the tax benefit or the tax increase to different income brackets … on the ballot itself. So, this year, what we’ve introduced is a bill that’s going to refer this question to the voters so that the governor doesn’t have to weigh in on it.”

Currently, under bills the legislature passed and Gov. Polis signed in 2020 and 2021, Colorado law requires fiscal impact statements for initiatives increasing or decreasing taxes to specify services that might be affected and requires a table showing the tax burden change to be included in the state’s ballot information booklet. This 2022 measure would require the table to be included within the ballot title of the initiative in addition to the information booklet and would specify that the table must show the amount owed by taxpayers in each bracket.

Kara Powell, a spokeswoman for Polis, said, “Gov. Polis believes that voters should decide how issues are presented on the people’s ballot because it is their ballot, not the state legislature’s ballot. That includes whether or not to approve requiring a table in the fiscal summary for any ballot initiative that would increase or decrease the tax rate.”

One citizen initiative to reduce income tax rates from 4.55% to 4.40% has also qualified so far. The signature submission deadline for citizen initiatives to qualify for the 2022 ballot is Aug. 8.

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Georgia voters to decide timber equipment tax exemption on Nov. 8

Georgia voters will decide whether to exempt timber equipment from property taxes on Nov. 8

The measure would exempt any equipment owned by a timber business and used in the production or harvest of timber from ad valorem property taxes. The House approved House Bill 997, which proposed the measure, on March 15 by a vote of 171-0. The Senate approved it on March 30 by a vote of 50-1. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed House Bill 997 on May 10, sending the measure to the ballot for voter approval.

The Georgia Constitution requires legislation exempting property from taxes to be approved by a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the legislature, signed by the governor, and approved by a majority of voters at a statewide election.

In addition to HB 997, Kemp signed multiple bills on May 10 concerning conservation, natural resources, hunting, and fishing. Kemp said, “The bills I signed into law will help us treat the forestry industry the same way that we do agriculture as well as protect hunting, fishing, and conservation land, and more.” Agriculture equipment is currently exempt from property taxes.

This measure was the fourth statewide measure certified for the Nov. 8 ballot. Voters will decide another legislatively referred state statute to expand the existing agriculture equipment tax exemption to include merged family farms and to extend the exemption to dairy products and eggs. Voters will also decide two constitutional amendments:

  • an amendment to suspend pay for certain public officials if they are suspended from office for being indicted for a felony and
  • an amendment to allow local governments to grant temporary tax relief to certain properties that are damaged or destroyed due to a disaster.

Georgia voters decided 84 statewide measures from 1996 through 2020, averaging seven per election and ranging from two to 12. Voters approved 71 (84.5%) and defeated 13 (15.5%).

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Colorado voters to decide constitutional amendment to remove certain restrictions on charitable gaming on Nov. 8

Colorado voters will decide a constitutional amendment on Nov. 8 that would lift some restrictions on charitable gaming activity.

If approved by 55% of voters, the amendment would:

  • repeal the existing ban on paying managers and operators of charitable gaming activities and limit compensation to the applicable minimum wage until July 1, 2024;
  • reduce from 5 years to 3 years the length of time an organization must exist before obtaining a charitable gaming license through Jan. 1, 2025; and
  • after Jan. 1, 2025, allow the legislature to determine in statute how long an organization must exist before obtaining a charitable gaming license.

Currently, the state constitution bans any payment of the managers and operators of charitable gaming activities and requires that an organization must exist continuously for five years before obtaining a charitable gaming license.

The House approved the amendment by a vote of 57-8 on May 2, and the Senate approved it by a vote of 33-1 on May 10. Legislatively referred constitutional amendments in Colorado require a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the legislature.

A similar measure, Amendment C, was on the ballot in 2020. Amendment C was approved by 52.35% of voters. It did not meet the 55% majority threshold required to pass.

This amendment was the fourth statewide measure to be certified for the Nov. 8 ballot in Colorado. The legislature has referred two other constitutional amendments:

  • an amendment to provide for designating judges to the newly created 23rd judicial district and
  • an amendment that would extend an existing homestead tax exemption for qualifying seniors and disabled veterans to the surviving spouses of military personnel and certain veterans.

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.

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Michigan legislature puts legislative term limits, financial disclosure amendment on November ballot

Thirty years ago, Michigan voters approved an initiated constitutional amendment, Proposal B, that enacted term limits on state legislators, as well as other elected officials. This November, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to modify the state legislative term limits. The Legislature passed House Joint Resolution R (HJR R) on May 10, placing the new constitutional amendment on the ballot. House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-97) introduced HJR R earlier in the day. 

In Nov. 1992, 58.7% voted to approve Proposal B, which was designed to limit the number of times that a person could be elected to congressional, state executive, and state legislative offices in Michigan. In the Michigan State Senate, members were limited to two 4-year terms. In the Michigan House of Representatives, members were limited to three 2-year terms.

This year’s ballot measure would replace Proposal B’s state legislative term limits with a new requirement: a combined 12 years in the state Legislature. Under Proposal B, an individual could serve 14 years in the state Legislature–6 in the House and 8 in the Senate. The 2022 ballot measure would allow for 12 years, which is less than Proposal B; however, a legislator could serve that entire time in one legislative chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-16) said, “In my view, Michigan’s current term limits discourage good people from running for office, shifting the power from the people to the bureaucracy and interest groups, which negatively impacts the legislative process.”

The ballot measure contains a second provision on financial disclosure statements for elected state legislative and state executive officials. Under the proposal, they would be required to file annual financial disclosure reports on their income, assets, liabilities, gifts from lobbyists, positions held in certain organizations, and agreements on future employment beginning in April 2024. 

A political action committee, Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, was collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to change the term limits and require financial disclosure statements. The group called on the Legislature to act sooner. “We’re gaining momentum, and we are determined to get this proposal on the ballot in November. The sooner we can start a healthy debate between Michiganders about amending our state constitution, the better off we will be,” said Rich Studley, a former Michigan Chamber of Commerce CEO and co-chairperson of Voters for Transparency and Term Limit.

Patrick Anderson, one of the principal authors of Proposal B, responded to the legislative process, which saw the amendment introduced and passed on the same day. He said, “Not a single citizen in the entire state has had a chance to take a look at the resolution they passed, ambushing the voters before noon. The stench of this will last all the way to November.” 

The constitutional amendment is the first ballot measure certified for the 2022 ballot in Michigan. Voters could see additional legislative referrals, along with citizen-initiated ballot measures. The deadline to file signatures for initiated statutes is June 1, and the deadline for initiated constitutional amendments is July 11. 

Michigan voters have approved most (10 of 11) constitutional amendments put on the ballot by the Legislature since 1985. The last time voters rejected a legislatively referred constitutional amendment was in 2015, when 80% voted against a proposal to increase the fuel excise tax, eliminate the sales tax on fuel, increase the earned income tax credit, and make other tax and spending changes.

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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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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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