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California initiative requiring state to adopt regulations on plastic waste certified for 2022 ballot

California initiative requiring state to adopt regulations on plastic waste certified for 2022 ballot

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On July 19, a citizen-initiated measure to require California to adopt regulations designed to reduce the use of single-use plastic packaging was certified for the ballot on November 8, 2022. The ballot initiative would also enact a maximum one-cent per item fee on single-use plastic packaging and foodware, with revenue from the fee distributed to CalRecycle, the California Natural Resources Agency, and local governments. 

The California Department of Resources, Recycling, and Recovery (CalRecycle) would be responsible for implementing the regulations, including:

  1. requiring producers to ensure that single-use plastic packaging and foodware is recyclable, reusable, refillable, or compostable by 2030;
  2. requiring producers to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic packaging or foodware that CalRecycle determines is unnecessary for product or food item delivery;
  3. requiring producers to reduce the amount of single-use plastic packaging and foodware sold in California by at least 25 percent by 2030; and
  4. prohibiting food vendors from distributing expanded polystyrene food service containers.

Clean Coasts, Clean Water, Clean Streets, also known as Plastics Free California, is leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. Through March 31, 2021, the campaign has raised $4.19 million. Recology, Inc. was the largest contributor, providing $3.76 million. Recology, Inc. is a business that provides commercial and residential waste, recycling, and composting services. Linda Escalante, action fund advisor for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “Plastics Free California is an opportunity to increase pressure on the plastics industry to rein in the harmful environmental impacts of their single-use products, and to rebuild and support California’s recycling system.” As of July 20, Ballotpedia has not identified a campaign opposing the ballot initiative.

The campaign filed the ballot initiative in November 2019 and originally intended to place the proposal on the 2020 ballot. Eric Potashner, vice president of Recology, said the campaign had collected more than 800,000 signatures for the ballot initiative before the suggested deadline of April 21, 2020, but wanted to collect between 900,000 to 950,000. Citing the coronavirus pandemic, Potashner said, “Even if I had a million signatures, I don’t know if we’d be submitting this thing till after June anyway. I don’t know if this is the right climate for this measure right now.” Potashner also noted that the ballot initiative’s provisions would not take effect until 2030, “so pushing this issue… to 2022 doesn’t have any practical implications in what we’re trying to do.” 

On August 11, 2020, the campaign filed 871,940 signatures. Counties were not required to report the number of valid signatures according to the random sample until March 9, 2021, due to a coronavirus-related executive order. On March 9, the random sample of signatures did not project that 110% or more of the signatures were valid. Therefore, a full check of the signatures was required. The deadline for completing the full check was set as April 22, 2021, but was later extended to July 19, 2021. The full count of signatures showed that 666,664 signatures were valid, exceeding the requirement of 623,212.

The ballot initiative is the fourth citizen-initiated measure certified for the ballot in California for 2022. Others include an initiative to legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California; an initiative to increase the cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits; and a veto referendum to repeal the ban on flavored tobacco sales. The signature verification deadline for the 2022 ballot is 131 days before the general election, which is around June 30, 2022.

Additional Reading:

California 2022 ballot propositions



New Jersey voters will decide amendment to allow college sports betting on in-state games, New Jersey-based teams

On November 2, N.J. voters will decide at least two constitutional amendments, including an amendment to expand college sports betting. The ballot measure would allow wagering on postseason college sports competitions held in N.J. and competitions in which an N.J.-based college team participates. Currently, the state constitution permits sports betting except on games held in N.J. and on games featuring N.J.-based college teams. Therefore, the ballot measure would expand sports betting to include all postseason college sports competitions, as long as a nonprofit collegiate athletic association sanctions the game.

The state Assembly approved the constitutional amendment on June 24, 2021. The state Senate approved the constitutional amendment 21 days earlier on June 3. Democrats and most (36 of 43) Republicans supported referring the constitutional amendment to the ballot.

In 2011, voters passed a constitutional amendment to allow sports betting in New Jersey, except on college sporting events involving an N.J. team or taking place in N.J. Betting is permitted in-person, through telephone, or through the internet at racetracks throughout the state and casinos in Atlantic City. The constitutional amendment, however, was blocked after the NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB sued then-Gov. Chris Christie (R) to stop the implementation of sports betting. The NCAA argued that the Sports Wagering Act violated the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibited states from being involved in sports betting. On May 14, 2018, the case surrounding sports betting went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting. In June 2018, sports betting was authorized in New Jersey. 

Since Christie v. NCAA, 30 states and D.C. have passed laws to legalize sports betting. In Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, and South Dakota, sports betting was legalized through ballot measures. Voters in California will decide a ballot initiative on November 8, 2022, on whether sports betting show be legalized at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks.

Between 1995 and 2020, N.J. ballots featured 35 constitutional amendments, and 91% of them were approved by voters. An average of one constitutional amendment appeared on odd-year general election ballots in New Jersey during this period. As of June 24, 2021, the legislature had referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot. The legislature can also refer general obligation bond issues. Legislation for ballot measures must be passed by August 2, 2021, for measures to appear on the ballot for November 2. Legislature passed after that date would place measures on the ballot for 2022. 

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Colorado governor signs transportation bill removing 2021 bond issue from ballot

On June 17, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 260, thereby removing a bond issue that was set to appear on the state’s 2021 general election ballot.

The Colorado State Legislature passed Senate Bill 260 on June 2, 2021. It included a provision to remove the bond issue that was set to appear on the 2021 ballot. The bill was passed largely along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

The bond measure was designed to issue $1.337 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects with a maximum repayment cost of $1.865 billion over 20 years. The measure was originally passed in the state legislature as Senate Bill 1 in 2018. It was placed on the 2019 ballot after two 2018 citizen initiatives designed to authorize bonds for transportation projects—Proposition 109 (“Fix Our Damn Roads”) and Proposition 110 (“Let’s Go Colorado”)—were defeated.

In 2019, the measure was delayed to the 2020 ballot. Legislators had concerns that the bond issue appearing on the 2019 ballot alongside Proposition CC, which was designed to allow the state to retain revenue for transportation purposes, could cause both measures to fail. In 2020, the measure was delayed again to the 2021 ballot due to the economic concerns surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

The new transportation bill provides for $5.4 billion in transportation spending over 10 years. About $3.8 billion of the funds will come from new fees set to take effect in July 2022, including fees on gasoline and diesel purchases, retail deliveries, Uber and Lyft rides, electric vehicle registrations, and car rentals.

The bill was also designed to create four new state enterprises: the Nonattainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation Enterprise, the Clean Transit Enterprise, the Clean Fleet Enterprise, and the Community Access Enterprise.

Enterprises were established through the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment of 1992. Enterprises are government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge that is paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services. This is in contrast to government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue. Enterprise revenue does not count toward the TABOR limit. TABOR limits the amount of money the state of Colorado can take in and spend. Any money collected above the TABOR limit is refunded to taxpayers unless the voters allow the state to spend it.

Proposition 117 of 2020, which was approved by voters, was designed to require statewide voter approval of new state enterprises if the enterprises’ projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges is greater than $100 million within their first five years. Under Proposition 117, revenue collected for enterprises that were created at the same time or that serve substantially the same purpose is aggregated when calculating the application of this restriction. The four enterprises are expected to collect below the $100 million five-year limit.



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.



Federal judge strikes down 5% petition requirement for minor-party and unaffiliated U.S. House candidates in Georgia

On March 29, 2021, Judge Leigh Martin May, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, struck down a Georgia law requiring minor-party and unaffiliated candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives to submit petitions signed by at least 5 percent of the district’s registered voters in order to appear on the ballot. May ruled this requirement “overburdens [voters’ and candidates’] rights to vote and to associate with their preferred political party, and so it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

May contrasted the 5-percent signature requirement for U.S. House candidates with the 1-percent requirement for statewide candidates, “The [Georgia] General Assembly has deemed a 1% petition signature requirement adequate to guard against ballot crowding and frivolous candidacies on a statewide basis. It is not immediately clear why candidates for non-statewide office must clear a proportionally higher hurdle, the 5% petition signature requirement. [The state] has not offered any explanation for this disparity.” 

May has not yet ordered a remedy. She directed the plaintiffs (the Libertarian Party of Georgia) to submit a brief within three weeks on proposed remedies. The state will then have an opportunity to respond to this proposal before May issues further guidance. 

Under the 5-percent signature requirement, originally enacted in 1943, no minor-party candidate for the U.S. House has qualified for placement on the general election ballot. In 2020, minor-party or unaffiliated candidates would have needed between 19,777 and 26,539 signatures in order to qualify for the ballot (the number varies by congressional district). 

It is not clear whether the state will appeal the decision.

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Changes to ballot access procedures in the 2021 election cycle

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the two states conducting regular state-level elections in 2021—New Jersey and Virginia—have both made temporary modifications to their candidate ballot access procedures.

Ballot access procedures dictate whether a candidate or political party will appear on an election ballot. These laws are implemented and enforced at the state level. A candidate must prepare to meet ballot access requirements well in advance of primaries, caucuses, and the general election.

New Jersey: On January 25, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy (D) issued Executive Order No. 216, which provided that filing officers “allow for any candidate, delegate, recall, initiative, referendum, or other petition required to be filed prior to an election to be submitted by hand delivery and electronically.” The order also allows for petition signatures to be collected electronically.

Virginia: In January 2021, the Virginia Department of Elections settled a lawsuit over ballot access requirements for statewide candidates in 2021. As a result of the settlement, the signature requirement for statewide petitions was reduced from 10,000 to 2,000, with at least 50 signatures from each U.S. House District (as opposed to the statutory requirement of 400 signatures per district). The settlement also provided for petition signers to submit their signatures electronically.

Ballot access changes in 2020: In 2020, at least 20 states made temporary modifications to their ballot access procedures: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

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How can I check the status of my ballot?

As of October 30, voters have cast at least 53.7 million absentee/mail-in ballots according to the New York Times.

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia offer online ballot tracking for all voters. Texas and New York provide online ballot tracking only for military and overseas voters. Four states have no online ballot tracking at the state level. In those states, voters can contact their local elections office to request information on the status of their ballot.

Ballot tracking systems offer different information depending on the state, but many indicate when a ballot is in transit, when it has been received, and when it has been counted.

Some online ballot tracking systems notify voters when there is a problem with their mail ballot, such as a missing signature. Eighteen states are legally required to notify voters of such problems and provide an opportunity to fix them. This notification and correction process is called ballot curing

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More than $80 million raised by campaigns surrounding Illinois graduated tax amendment

There is one state constitutional amendment on the ballot in Illinois for November 3, 2020. The constitutional amendment would repeal the requirement that the state’s personal income tax is a flat rate across income. Instead, the amendment would allow for legislation to enact a graduated income tax. Contributions to the campaigns surrounding the amendment have topped $80 million.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) advocated for a graduated income tax structure for Illinois during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. One of his former staffers, Quentin Fulks, is chairing the campaign Vote Yes for Fairness to support the amendment. Through September 18, the campaign Vote Yes For Fairness, along with allied committees, had received $58.97 million. Gov. Pritzker provided the campaign with $56.5 million, or 96 percent of supporters’ total funds. Other top donors include the AARP ($664,680), Omidyar Network ($500,000), National Education Association ($350,000), and American Federation of Teachers ($250,000).

Opponents of the constitutional amendment have organized four PACs, and two of them have received funds through September 18—the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike and the Say No to More Taxes. Between the PACs, opponents had received $21.65 million. Kenneth Griffin, CEO of the investment firm Citadel, contributed $20.00 million to the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike. The Illinois Opportunity Project, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, donated $550,000. Other top donors—who each gave $100,000—include Richard Uihlein, the Samuel Zell Revocable Trust, and MacNeil Automotive Products.

While the constitutional amendment itself would not adopt a graduated income tax, the Illinois State Legislature passed legislation to go into effect if voters approve the amendment. The legislation would change the state’s income tax from a flat rate to six graduated rates beginning on January 1, 2021. Currently, income is taxed at a flat rate of 4.95% in Illinois. Under the bill, the proposed tax rates would range from 4.75% to 7.99%.

At the election on November 3, the constitutional amendment needs to receive either (a) 60 percent of votes cast on the ballot measure itself or (b) a simple majority of all of those voting in the election. Since 1996, voters have approved 83 percent of the constitutional amendments put on the ballot by the legislature. The last amendment that was rejected would have required a three-fifths approval by the General Assembly, city councils, and school districts to increase the pension benefits of their employees.

The Illinois constitutional amendment is one of three income tax-related ballot measures in 2020. In Arizona, Proposition 208 would enact a 3.50% income tax, in addition to the existing income tax (4.50% in 2020), on income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). Proposition 208 would distribute the revenue from the 3.50% income tax to teacher and classroom support staff salaries, retention programs, and career and technical education programs. In Colorado, Proposition 116 would decrease the state’s flat income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%.

Additional reading:
Illinois 2020 ballot measures
Ballot measure campaign finance, 2020



Where electoral systems are on the ballot in 2020

Voters in five states will decide ballot measures related to electoral systems on November 3, 2020. Policies that are on the ballot include ranked-choice voting, top-two and top-four primaries, the national popular vote interstate compact, and runoff elections. Most (4 of 5) of the ballot measures came through the citizen-initiated petition process.
 
In Colorado, Proposition 113 asks voters whether to uphold or repeal legislation to add the state to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). The NPVIC was designed to give the state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the nationwide popular vote. It would take effect is states representing at least 270 electoral votes join the NPVIC. In 2019, the Democratic-controlled Colorado State Legislature passed a bill to join the NPVIC. Two Republicans— Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and Monument Mayor Don Wilson—filed a veto referendum on the bill resulting in Proposition 113. Currently, 14 states and Washington, D.C., (representing 187 electors in the Electoral College) have adopted legislation to join the compact.
 
In Massachusetts and Alaska, voters will decide ranked-choice voting ballot initiatives. Massachusetts Question 2 would enact ranked-choice voting for federal, state, and some local primaries and general elections. Alaska Ballot Measure 2 would use ranked-choice voting for general elections but not primaries. Instead, Ballot Measure 2 would adopt top-four primaries in which all candidates run on the same ballot regardless of partisan affiliation, and the four who receive the most votes move on to the general election.
 
Massachusetts and Alaska could be the second and third states to adopt ranked-choice voting for at least some statewide elections. In 2016, Maine became the first state to enact a state system of ranked-choice voting after voters approved a ballot measure. In both Massachusetts and Alaska, the top donors behind the measures are the Action Now Initiative and Unite America.
 
While Alaska Ballot Measure 2 would adopt top-four primaries, Florida Amendment 3 would replace the state’s closed primaries with top-two open primaries for elected state offices. Florida would join California and Washington in using top-two open primaries. Miguel Fernandez, a businessman and investor, is funding the campaign.
 
Voters in Mississippi will decide a legislative referral to change how the governor and state officials are elected. Heading into November, the Mississippi Constitution requires that gubernatorial and state official candidates receive the most votes statewide and the most votes in a majority of the 122 state House districts to win the election. If no candidates win a majority of the state House districts, then state representatives decide the election. The ballot measure would repeal the majority-of-House-districts requirement and, instead, require candidates to win a majority of the vote. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, then a runoff election would be held between the top two candidates under the measure.
 
This year’s electoral system ballot measures would—or in the case of Colorado, could—impact how candidates are elected in the future.

Additional reading:


Final filing deadlines for independent presidential candidates

Although there is no formal, national deadline to file to run for president of the United States, independent presidential candidates must keep a close eye on the election calendar as each state has its own filing requirements and deadline to qualify to appear on the general election ballot.

These requirements may include submitting a petition with a certain number of signatures or paying a filing fee.

Filing deadlines for independent presidential candidates have already passed in 43 states.

In the week of August 31, the final seven filing deadlines will pass:
• North Dakota (August 31)
• Delaware (September 1)
• New Hampshire (September 2)
• Arizona (September 4)
• Kentucky (September 4)
• Mississippi (September 4)

• Rhode Island (September 4)

The following chart shows how many days are left until each remaining state’s filing deadline passes:

Additional reading: