Utah governor signs law changing Proposition 3, the Medicaid expansion initiative approved in November 2018
Arizona Appeals Court rules that a bill preempting local benefits ordinances violated the Voter Protection Act
The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that a state law, passed as HB 2579 in 2016, violated the Voter Protection Act, Arizona’s restriction on legislative alteration. The Voter Protection Act requires voter approval of substantive changes made by the legislature to ballot initiatives. HB 2579 was designed to preempt local governments from requiring nonwage benefits above the state requirement. The three-judge panel concluded that HB 2579 contradicted Proposition 202, which voters approved in 2006. Proposition 202 increased the minimum wage and provided that local governments can enact ordinances to regulate the minimum wage and benefits.
HB 2579 defined benefits to include fringe benefits, sick and vacation days, retirement plans, child or adult care plans, and welfare benefits. Proposition 202 did not define benefits.
The appeals court’s ruling said, “H.B. 2579 explicitly prohibits what the Minimum Wage Act permits, and thus, the two statutes cannot be harmonized. Because H.B. 2579 impliedly amends and repeals a portion of the Minimum Wage Act, it violates the VPA’s express limitations on legislative changes to voter-approved laws.”
The state government, represented by Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), has the option of appealing the case to the Arizona Supreme Court, which would have final jurisdiction on the issue. If the state does not appeal the case, or the state Supreme Court sides with the appeals court, the Arizona State Legislature could pass the same bill to preempt local benefits ordinances; however, an additional provision referring the bill to the ballot for voter consideration would need to be added to meet the requirements of the Voter Protection Act.
Due to the Voter Protection Act, which was passed as a ballot initiative in 1998, Arizona is one of two states—the other is California—that requires voter approval to make substantive changes to voter-approved ballot initiatives.
Initiative to allow affirmative action in Washington certified to the legislature, may appear on November 2019 ballot
- The legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people.
- The legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.
- The legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the legislature’s alternative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.
- California Proposition 209 (1996)
- Michigan Proposal 2 (2006)
- Nebraska Measure 424 (2008)
- Oklahoma State Question 759 (2012)
Lawsuits filed over citizen tax initiative vote requirement in California
Idaho Supreme Court upholds Medicaid expansion initiative, dismissing legal challenges
Albuquerque Public Schools district voters defeat all three tax and bond measures in Tuesday’s special election
Albuquerque Public Schools district voters in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, defeated three school funding measures on February 5, 2019. With 99 percent of precincts reporting on election night, a capital improvements property tax received 36 percent approval, while a property tax for school buildings received 31 percent approval, and a bond issue for capital and equipment received 42 percent approval. Had the measures passed, the combined increase in annual property taxes would have been $2 per $1,000 in assessed property value.
New Jersey governor signs $15 minimum wage legislation
Four 2019 initiative signature deadlines passed, three remain
- No signatures were submitted
- No signatures were submitted
- Signatures for two Washington Initiatives to the Legislature were submitted
- No signatures were submitted
- There is one pending potential 2019 initiative left in Ohio – an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana and authorize the state legislature to enact a marijuana sales tax.
- Proponents need to collect 442,958 signatures by the July 3 deadline to qualify the initiative for the November 2019 ballot. They must also meet Ohio’s signature distribution requirement by gathering signatures equal to at least 5 percent of votes cast for governor in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
- In 2018, voters approved a recreational marijuana legalization initiative in Michigan (the first to be approved in the Midwest) and defeated a recreational marijuana legalization initiative in North Dakota.
- Voters in Ohio rejected a marijuana legalization initiative in 2015 (Issue 3) that was designed to give exclusive rights for commercial marijuana production to 10 facilities.
- Unlike Initiatives to the Legislature, these initiatives go directly to the ballot without consideration by the state legislature if the required 129,811 signatures are submitted before the July 5 deadline.
- Proponents of 11 distinct initiative efforts filed Initiatives to the People with the Washington secretary of state. Some proponents submitted multiple versions for the same initiative effort.
- Two distinct initiatives have been filed with the secretary of state, although proponents of one effort filed multiple versions. One would change the tax structure for oil and gas severance taxes and the other would amend or repeal (depending on the version) Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
- Proponents must submit 124,632 signatures by the August 5 deadline and meet the state’s distribution requirement to qualify for the November 2019 ballot.
Voters to decide in May whether to make Denver the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms
Denver voters will decide a citizen initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms at the election on May 7, 2019. The initiative would make the enforcement of any criminal laws regarding the possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms by anyone 21 years old or older the lowest law enforcement priority of the city. It would also prohibit any city officers, agencies, or employees from using city funds or resources to enforce laws with criminal penalties for the possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms by adults.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), psilocybin is a “chemical obtained from certain types of fresh or dried mushrooms.” The mushrooms containing psilocybin are also known as magic mushrooms, hallucinogenic mushrooms, or shrooms. Psilocybin is considered a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act and the state Controlled Substances Act.
The group behind the initiative, Decriminalize Denver, submitted over 8,000 signatures to place the initiative on the ballot with the Denver Elections Division on January 7, 2019. A total of 4,726 valid signatures were required to qualify the initiative for the ballot. In Denver, signatures equal to 5 percent of the votes cast for mayoral candidates in the preceding mayoral election are required to put an initiative before voters. On February 1, 2019, the Denver elections office announced that enough signatures had been validated to qualify the initiative for the May 2019 ballot.
No state or city has legalized or decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms. An initiative effort is ongoing in Oregon targeting the 2020 ballot to reduce some criminal penalties for possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms and create a regulated program to provide psilocybin mushrooms to certain adults. An initiative effort to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms last year in California reported making it a quarter of the way to the state’s signature requirement but ultimately did not qualify for the 2018 ballot.