The first 2019 edition of the State Ballot Measure Monthly covers all six of the 2019 and 2020 statewide ballot measures certified to appear on ballots so far.
Here are the highlights:
- One 2019 statewide measure, a transportation bond issue, is certified for the ballot in Colorado.
- Five measures in four states are certified to appear on the ballot in 2020; these measures concern renewable energy, property taxes and revenue allocation, criminal sentencing and parole, and a constitutional convention question.
- Three of the measures certified for the 2020 election so far are citizen initiatives, two in California and one in Nevada.
- Two measures, the Colorado 2019 bond issue and a 2020 renewable energy initiative in Nevada, were automatically put on the ballot due to outcomes of ballot measures in November 2018.
- The most recent measure to be certified for the ballot was a 2020 constitutional amendment in Michigan concerning the use of state and local park funds.
- Citizen initiative signature requirements increased in 13 states and decreased in five states based on 2018 elections.
- In addition to signature requirements increasing by 35 percent in Michigan due to 2018 turnout, initiative signature petition efforts in Michigan will have to meet a new distribution requirement for signature collection approved by the legislature and signed into law on December 28, 2018.
- an amendment to provide a state right to own and bear firearms, and
- an amendment to allow the governor to appoint a lieutenant governor in the event of a vacant office and revise the gubernatorial line of succession.
January 5 was the first day to file petitions for Initiatives to the People in Washington to start the process; 259,622 signatures are due by July 5 to qualify the initiatives for the 2019 ballot. Ballotpedia checks for new filings daily, so be sure to watch our coverage for updates. As of January 11, no Initiatives to the People had been filed.
The Citizens for Strong Schools v. Board of Education lawsuit was filed on November 18, 2009, in the Leon County Circuit Court alleging the state failed to “make adequate provision for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high-quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high-quality education” as mandated by Amendment 6 of 1998.
On January 4, 2019, the Florida Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit, ruling that the judicial branch lacks the competence or authority to make funding and policy decisions.
Amendment 6 was on the ballot on November 3, 1998, when it was approved by a vote of 71 percent to 29 percent. The measure was referred to the ballot by the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC), which meets every 20 years on the following schedule: 1977, 1997, 2017, 2037, 2057, and so on. Amendment 6modified Article IX of the Florida Constitution to declare it “a paramount duty of the state” to provide for the education of children. Amendment 6 was one of nine ballot measures placed on the 1998 Florida ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, Justice Alan Lawson and Associate Justice Edward LaRose said plaintiffs failed “to present any manageable standard by which to avoid judicial intrusion into the powers of the other branches of government.” Chief Justice Charles Canady said, “The judiciary is very good at making certain types of decisions — that is, judicial decisions— but it lacks the institutional competence — or the constitutional authority — to make the monumental funding and policy decisions that [the plaintiffs] seek to shift to the judicial branch.”
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Pariente wrote, “the majority of this Court fails to provide any judicial remedy for the students who are at the center of this lawsuit […] the citizens of this state intended for compliance — or noncompliance — with that provision to be adjudicated by the judiciary when properly brought to the court. Indeed, the task of construing the Constitution and determining whether the state is fulfilling its express obligations required by the Constitution — and the citizens of this state who approved the relevant constitutional language — is solely the judiciary’s task.”
The Florida Constitution Revision Commission convened in 2017 and referred eight constitutional amendments to the 2018 ballot. One was blocked from the ballot by a Florida Supreme Court ruling. The other seven were approved by voters.
Following is a timeline of the lawsuit from its 2009 filing to the 2019 state supreme court ruling:
- January 4, 2019: Florida Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit on the grounds that the judicial branch lacks the competence or authority to make funding and policy decisions
- November 8, 2018: Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear the case after asked by attorneys for Citizens for Strong Schools
- March 2016: Trial held at the Leon County circuit court, where presiding judge George S. Reynolds, III dismissed the case, ruling that plaintiffs failed to prove that the state failed to meet their obligations mandated by Amendment 6 under Article IX
- September 11, 2012: The Florida Supreme Court declined to accept jurisdiction and sent the case back to the Leon County circuit court
- November 2011: The First District Court of Appeals panel of 15 judges voted 8 to 7 to deny the Writ of Prohibition and certify the suit as a “question of public importance,” which sent the case to the Florida Supreme Court
- June 30, 2011: Hearing took place after the state appealed the denied Motion to Dismiss by filing an Extraordinary Writ of Prohibition, arguing that the courts have no authority to rule on the actions of the legislature
- August 27, 2010: Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford denied the State of Florida’s Motion to Dismiss and ruled that the plaintiffs in the case had standing
- November 18, 2009: Lawsuit filed in Leon County circuit court