Tagballot measures

Montana voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to require a search warrant to access electronic data in 2022

On April 22, the Montana State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would require a search warrant to access electronic data or electronic communications. The amendment would also state that electronic data and electronic communications would be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is required in both the Montana State Senate and the Montana House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 203 (SB 203) was introduced on February 9, 2021, by Sen. Kenneth Bogner (R). The state Senate approved the bill on February 23, 2021, in a vote of 50 to 0. On April 22, the state House approved the bill in a vote of 76-23 with one absent. 

Sen. Kenneth Bogner (R) said, “Senate Bill 203 is about updating Montana’s Constitution to reflect life in the 21st Century and make it explicitly clear that our digital information is protected from unreasonable government searches and seizures. Today, so much of our private lives—financial information, communication with family and friends, medical information, and much, much more—is contained on and transferred electronically among many devices and computer systems.”

The amendment is similar to a 2020 Michigan ballot measure that was approved by voters with 88.75% of the vote. Missouri voters also approved a similar ballot measure in 2014 with 74.75% of the vote.

In 2022, Montana voters will also be voting on a law referred to the ballot by the state legislature that would require medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an attempted abortion. Healthcare providers that violate the requirement would be guilty of a felony with a maximum sentence of a $50,000 fine and/or 20 years in prison under the measure.

Between 1996 and 2020, about 64.6% (42 of 65) of the total number of measures that appeared on Montana ballots were approved, and about 35.4% (23 of 65) were defeated.

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Arkansas State Legislature refers two constitutional amendments to 2022 ballot

The Arkansas State Legislature gave final approval to two constitutional amendments on April 22, 2021, sending them to the November 2022 ballot.

One of the amendments would require 60% supermajority voter approval to ratify constitutional amendments (legislatively referred and citizen-initiated) and citizen-initiated state statutes.

Constitutional amendments require approval by voters in a statewide election to become a part of the state’s constitution except in Delaware. As of 2021, 38 states required a simple majority vote (50%+1) for a proposed constitutional amendment to be adopted. In 11 states, voters must approve a proposed constitutional amendment by more than a simple majority or by some rule that combines different criteria. Two other states— Florida and Illinois— require a three-fifths (60%) vote of approval for constitutional amendments.

Currently, none of the 26 states with a process for citizen-initiated ballot measures require a supermajority vote of approval to adopt them. However, three states (Florida, Utah, and Washington) have a supermajority requirement for certain initiatives dealing with specified topics.

As of April 17, 2021, Ballotpedia had tracked 124 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall in 34 states in 2021 legislative sessions. At least 14 had been approved. Legislation to enact or increase supermajority requirements for ballot measures was introduced in 2021 sessions in at least seven states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah legislators have passed restrictions on ballot measure processes in 2021.

The South Dakota State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the state’s 2022 ballot that would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote for the approval of ballot measures that would increase taxes or fees or that would require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.

The other amendment the Arkansas Legislature referred to the ballot would allow the state legislature to call itself into special sessions upon (a) a joint proclamation from the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore or (b) upon a proclamation signed by two-thirds of the members in each chamber. Arkansas is one of 14 states where only the governor can call a special session.

The Arkansas Legislature is able to refer up to three constitutional amendments to the ballot for each general election. As of April 24, 2021, one other constitutional amendment (SJR 14) has passed one chamber. It would prohibit government from burdening the freedom of religion except under certain circumstances. Upon passage by the House, it would be referred to the 2022 ballot.

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Alabama State Legislature refers third 2022 constitutional amendment to prevent voting policy changes six months before general elections

The Alabama State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would require that any legislation changing the conduct of a general election must be implemented at least six months before the next affected general election.

The amendment was introduced as House Bill 388 by State Representative Jim Carns (R). On April 6, 2021, the House approved it in a vote of 75 to 24, with four not voting. The Senate passed the amendment on April 22, 2021, in a vote of 25-4 with five members absent or not voting. In the House, 74 Republicans and one Democrat voted in favor of the amendment, and 24 Democrats voted against it. In the Senate, 24 Republicans and one Democrat voted in favor of the amendment, and two Democrats and two Republicans voted against it.

Carns said, “This would keep the supermajority from passing a law that would benefit the supermajority within six months of an election.”

State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D) said, “I don’t see the need for this bill. You all are going to have a supermajority for a while. I continue to say that we are one second away from Jim Crow.”

Republicans have held a majority in each legislative chamber since 2010.

The Alabama State Legislature has so far referred two other constitutional amendments to the 2022 ballot. One measure would amend the Alabama Constitution to allow the legislature to enumerate offenses for which bail may be denied. The measure is referred to as Aniah’s Law. The other measure would remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts. County probate courts would continue to be responsible for adoptions, guardianships, and granting letters of testamentary.



The Florida Supreme Court blocks marijuana legalization initiative from 2022 ballot

On April 22, 2021, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that a marijuana legalization initiative backed by Make It Legal Florida could not appear on the 2022 ballot. The court wrote, “A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law. And a ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.” Justices Jorge Labarga and Alan Lawson dissented. Lawson said, “Because the ballot summary in this case complies with the constitutional and statutory requirements by which we are to judge ballot summaries, I would apply our precedent and approve this measure for placement on the ballot.”

The measure would have added a section to the Florida Constitution that legalized the personal possession, use, and purchase of 2.5 ounces of marijuana and allowed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to sell marijuana for personal use to adults 21 years or older.

Make It Legal Florida filed the initiative in September 2019 targeting the 2020 ballot. Proponents submitted 76,632 valid signatures on November 19, 2019, thereby qualifying for a ballot language review by the Florida Supreme Court. On January 13, 2020, Make it Legal Florida announced that it would attempt to qualify the measure for the 2022 ballot rather than the 2020 ballot.

To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, proponents must collect signatures equal to 8% of the total number of votes cast in the last presidential election. In 2020, this number was 766,200, with 76,632 required for a ballot language review. Based on the 2020 elections, the requirements increased to 891,589, with 89,159 required for a ballot language review. Signatures must be verified by February 1, 2022, to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.

Make it Legal Florida had submitted 556,049 valid signatures according to the Division Elections Website as of April 22, 2021.

Fourteen initiative campaigns are actively circulating targeting the 2022 ballot according to the Division of Elections website as of April 22, 2021. No campaigns besides the marijuana legalization initiative had yet collected enough signatures to qualify for a ballot language review.

On April 8, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed Senate Bill 1794, which, among other things, required the Florida Supreme Court to review whether a proposed amendment is “facially invalid under the United States Constitution” in addition to existing requirements for reviewing the ballot title and reviewing the initiative for compliance with the state’s single-subject rule. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R), the Florida House and Senate, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce filed briefs with the state supreme court arguing that the marijuana legalization measure is invalid because it violates federal law. The Florida Supreme Court, however, declined to rule on the issue of whether the measure is valid under the US Constitution under SB 1794 because it blocked the measure based on the ballot summary.

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Highlights from April’s edition of Ballotpedia’s State Ballot Measure Monthly newsletter

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Nineteen statewide measures were certified for the 2022 ballot from March 16 through April 22 in 11 states. This brought the total number of 2022 statewide measures certified so far up to 28 in 16 states. An average of 22 measures were certified for even-year ballots by this point from 2011 through 2019. No new 2021 measures were certified.

The April edition also covers a significant initiative process restriction passed in Idaho and gives an update on ballot measure law changes in 2021.

Below are some highlights of the certifications and ballot measure news covered in this edition of the State Ballot Measure Monthly:

• After gaining the supermajority required in November 2020, Republican lawmakers in West Virginia put a constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot that would say that no state court has any authority over impeachment proceedings or judgments. The amendment is in response to impeachment proceedings against supreme court justices in 2018 that temporary supreme court justices blocked from going to trial.

• In Idaho, the legislature passed and Gov. Brad Little (R) signed Senate Bill 1110 to increase signature distribution requirements for ballot initiatives.

• Arkansas, South Dakota, and Utah legislators have also passed ballot measure restrictions. Arkansas voters will decide a constitutional amendment in 2022 that would require 60% supermajority voter approval for any future constitutional amendments or initiated state statutes.

• Arkansas, Idaho, and Kentucky voters will decide in 2022 whether to give their legislatures the power to call themselves into special session. These measures were proposed partially in response to COVID-19.

• Ballotpedia is tracking seven certified statewide measures and seven potential statewide measures proposed in response to COVID-19.



Montana legislature sends law to require medical care for infants born alive after an attempted abortion to 2022 ballot

The Montana State Legislature put a measure on the November 2022 ballot that would require medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an attempted abortion by classifying them as a “legal person” with “the right to appropriate and reasonable medical care and treatment.” The healthcare provider that violates this requirement by not providing care could be convicted of a felony with a maximum sentence of a $50,000 fine and/or 20 years in prison under the measure. The law would take effect on January 1, 2023.

In Montana, a simple majority is required in both chambers of the state legislature to place a proposed change to statute on the ballot. The governor’s signature is not required for legislatively referred state statutes.

The measure was introduced as House Bill 167 (HB 167) on January 14, 2021, in the Montana House of Representatives. On January 26, 2021, the state House passed the measure in a vote of 68-32. All 67 Republicans voted in favor of it, and all but one Democrat, Rep. Dave Fern, voted against it. It was sent to the Montana State Senate on January 26. On February 26, the state Senate passed an amended version in a vote of 30-20. The vote was largely along party lines, except for Senator Jeffrey Welborn, who was the sole Republican to vote against the measure. On April 22, the state House concurred with the amended version in a vote of 66-34. The vote was also along party lines, except for Rep. Edward Buttrey, who was the sole Republican to vote against the measure.

Representative Lola Sheldon-Galloway, the sponsor of the bill, said, “I stand today as a witness that this practice of infants dying because they are not wanted or not planned is an abomination in God’s eyes, and I will continue to fight for the most invulnerable.”

Representative Kathy Kelker (D), who voted against the bill, said, “This one size fits all legislated standard of care not only interferes with medical practice, but denies physicians the ability to provide care that is necessary, compassionate, and appropriate to an individual woman’s circumstances.”

The measure is the third ballot measure related to abortion sent to 2022 ballots. Voters in Kentucky and Kansas will be deciding on constitutional amendments to add language to their respective state constitutions to state that nothing in the constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion.

In 2022, Montana voters will also be voting on a constitutional amendment to require a search warrant to access electronic data or electronic communications.

Between 1996 and 2020, about 64.6% (42 of 65) of the total number of measures that appeared on Montana ballots were approved, and about 35.4% (23 of 65) were defeated.

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Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signs bill increasing initiative signature distribution requirements

On April 17, Gov. Brad Little (R) signed Senate Bill 1110. The bill changed the state’s distribution requirement for ballot initiative and veto referendum signature petitions to require signatures from 6% of voters from all 35 legislative districts instead of the previous requirement of 6% of voters from 18 of the state’s legislative districts.

With SB 1110 signed into law, Idaho joined Utah and South Dakota in passing bills restricting the states’ initiative processes so far in 2021.

Ballotpedia has tracked 124 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall in 34 states in 2021 legislative sessions. Approved bills include significant changes that would make it harder to qualify or pass ballot measures in Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah. Notable topics among bills introduced in 2021 sessions include supermajority requirement increases, signature requirement or distribution requirement increases, single-subject rules, and pay-per-signature bans.

In 2019, the Idaho Legislature passed, but Gov. Little vetoed, a pair of bills that were designed to increase the state’s initiative signature requirement and its distribution requirement, among other changes. The legislature did not override Gov. Little’s vetoes in 2019.

In 2021, both chambers of the legislature passed SB 1110 by more than the two-thirds majority required to override a veto: 26-9 in the Senate and 51-18 in the House.

Reclaim Idaho filed a lawsuit against SB 1110 and filed an initiative designed to repeal the bill. Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, said, “This makes citizen initiatives virtually impossible in Idaho. Under this legislation, we’re not likely to see another initiative like Medicaid expansion from 2018 or like the term limits initiative from the 1990’s. So we are very disappointed with Governor Little. […] This fight is not over because this legislation is clearly unconstitutional, and our organization, Reclaim Idaho, has decided to file a lawsuit and to ask the courts to strike down this legislation and to protect the citizen initiative rights of all the people of Idaho.”

Representative Sage Dixon (R) supported SB 1110. Dixon said, “Every district in Idaho should be represented in that process. This is an effort to protect the voice of everybody in Idaho in the lawmaking process, very similar to what we do here as representatives, and what the senators do as well.”

Governor Little’s statement on SB 1110 wrote, “whether senate bill 1110 amounts to an impermissible restriction in violation of our constitution is highly fact-dependent and, ultimately, a question for the Idaho judiciary to decide. I also expect the federal courts may be called to determine whether senate bill 1110 violates the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”



New York voters will decide $3 billion environment and climate change projects bond measure in 2022

On April 19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed Senate Bill S2509C, which referred a $3 billion bond measure to the November 2022 ballot. The bill was part of the state budget and contained multiple other provisions.

The ballot measure would issue $3.00 billion in general obligation bonds for projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure, and climate change, according to the bond legislation.

Revenue from the bond issue would be distributed as follows:

• not less than $1.00 billion for flood risk reduction, coastal rehabilitation, shoreline restoration, and ecological restoration projects;

• up to $700.00 million for projects designed to mitigate the impacts of climate change, such as those related to green buildings, carbon sequestration, urban forest and habitat restoration, reduce the urban heat island effect, reduce and eliminate air pollution in environmental justice communities, and reduce and eliminate water pollution in environmental justice communities;

• up to $550.00 million for land conservation and recreation plans, programs, and projects, and fish hatcheries; and

• not less than $550.00 million for projects related to wastewater, sewage, and septic infrastructure, lead service line replacement, riparian buffers, stormwater runoff reduction, agricultural nutrient runoff reduction, and addressing harmful algal blooms.

The ballot measure would define environmental justice communities as “minority or low-income [communities] that may bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies.”

This bond measure was originally put on the 2020 ballot but was withdrawn in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between 1990 and 2020 in New York, statewide ballots featured seven bond issues. Voters approved three (43 percent) of the bond issues. Voters rejected four (57 percent) of the bond issues. Two of the bond issues were for projects related to the environment. One of them, a $1.975 billion bond in 1990, was defeated. The other, a $1.75 billion bond in 1996, was approved.

Twenty-four statewide ballot measures have been certified in 14 states for the 2022 ballot so far. From 2012 through 2020, the average number of statewide measures certified for the ballot by the third week in April of the previous year was 21.

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Idaho voters to decide in 2022 if the legislature can call itself into special session

The Idaho State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would allow lawmakers to call a special legislative session. The measure would authorize the president pro tempore of the state Senate and the speaker of the state House to convene a special session of the Idaho State Legislature upon receiving a joint written request from 60% of the members of each chamber. The special session called by the state legislature would have to start no later than 15 days after a written request is received. The special legislative session would be restricted to the subjects specified in the written request from legislators. The amendment would also require organizational legislative sessions on the first Thursday of December following a general election.

Currently, only the governor is authorized to call the state legislature into a special session regarding a specified subject.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states authorize the governor or the state legislature to call a special session, and 14 states authorize only the governor to do so.

Kentucky voters will be voting on a similar ballot measure in 2022 that would extend the power to call a special legislative session from solely the governor to the House speaker and the Senate president.

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before Idaho voters, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is required in both the Idaho State Senate and the Idaho House of Representatives.

This amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 102 on Feb. 26, 2021. On March 3, the state Senate passed SJR 102 in a vote of 24-11. On April 20, the state House approved the amendment in a vote of 54-15 with one absent. All but seven Republican legislators voted in favor of the amendment, and all Democratic legislators voted against the change.

The amendment is the first ballot measure certified in Idaho for the 2022 ballot. Between 1996 and 2020, 27 of the 37 ballot measures appearing on Idaho ballots were approved by voters.

So far, 25 statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 15 states.

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Alabama legislature sends two constitutional amendments to 2022 ballot

On April 15, 2021, the Alabama State Legislature gave final approval to two constitutional amendments that will appear on the 2022 ballot.

One measure would amend the Alabama Constitution to provide that the legislature may enumerate offenses for which bail may be denied. The measure is referred to as Aniah’s Law. The legislature also passed House Bill 130 which would take effect if the amendment is approved. House Bill 130 sets the specific offenses for which bail may be denied by a court, including murder, kidnapping, rape, assault, and more. For individuals charged with listed offenses under the bill, bail could be denied “if the prosecuting attorney proves by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably ensure the defendant’s appearance in court or protect the safety of the community or any person.”

The bill is named after Aniah Blanchard who was murdered in 2019 in Alabama after the suspect was released on bond after being charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, and robbery. Amendment sponsor Chip Brown said “too many of those who are accused of violent crimes are bonding out of jail and committing even more serious offenses, and it is time for law-abiding Alabamians to start fighting back. Denying bail to those accused of violent offenses is a commonsense answer to a dangerous societal problem.” The measure was passed by a vote of 30-0 in the Senate with four members not voting and 92-0 in the House with 11 members not voting.

The other measure would remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts. County probate courts would continue to be responsible for adoptions, guardianships, and granting letters of testamentary. The measure was passed by the Senate in a vote of 28-0 with seven members not voting and by the House in a vote of 90-0 with 13 members not voting.

Three other constitutional amendments have passed one chamber of the Alabama state legislature and will appear on the November 2022 ballot if they pass in the second chamber. The amendments would

  1. require changes to laws governing the conduct of a general election to be implemented at least six months from the general election;
  2. authorize $85 million in bonds for state parks improvement; and
  3. create the Alabama Education Lottery, authorize sports betting, and authorize casino-style games in certain facilities in specific counties.

A total of 102 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama from 1998 to 2020, of which 80 were approved and 22 were defeated. Between 1998 and 2020, an average of eight measures appeared on the ballot in Alabama during even-numbered election years.