Tagconstitutional amendment

Tennessee legislature sends right-to-work amendment to voters in 2022

On April 29, the Tennessee General Assembly voted to refer a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would make it illegal for workplaces to require mandatory labor union membership as a condition for employment. This type of policy is known as right-to-work. Tennessee enacted a right-to-work statute in 1947.

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R), the sponsor of the amendment, said, “The Tennessee right-to-work law states that workers cannot be hired or fired, or in any way discriminated against based on whether or not they are a member of a union. I think that this right is an important enough civil right that it belongs in our state constitution.”

Sen. Sara Kyle (D), who voted against the measure, said, “Right-to-work is a false slogan. The true effect of this legislation is to destroy the freedom and power of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining has lifted millions of workers out of poverty and provided families with health care and dignity in retirement. That gives big corporations the upper hand.”

The Tennessee State Legislature can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot for gubernatorial general elections. The Tennessee Constitution requires the legislature to approve a constitutional amendment during two successive legislative sessions with an election in between. There are two different vote requirements for the first session and the second. During the first session, the legislature must approve a constitutional amendment by a simple majority (50%+1) vote in each legislative chamber. During the second legislative session, the legislature must approve a constitutional amendment by a two-thirds (66.67%) vote in each chamber. In the state Senate, that amounts to 17 votes during the first session and 22 votes during the second session, assuming no vacancies. In the state House, that amounts to 50 votes during the first session and 66 votes during the second session.

The amendment was first introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 648 (SJR 648) during the 2020 legislative session. On February 10, 2020, the state Senate passed SJR 648 in a vote of 24-5. Of the 25 Republicans in the Senate, 24 voted in favor of SJR 648, and one voted against it. All four Democrats voted against it. On June 17, 2020, the state House passed SJR 648 in a vote of 68-22. The vote was along party lines with Republicans in the majority and Democrats in the minority.

During the 2021 legislative session, the amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2). The state Senate passed the amendment on March 8, 2021, by a vote of 24-7. The vote was along party lines with one Republican joining the minority. On April 29, the state House passed the amendment in a vote of 67-24 with one present and not voting. One Republican joined the Democratic minority.

Twenty-seven states have enacted right-to-work statutes. In 2018, Missouri voters decided Proposition A, a referendum to repeal the state’s recently enacted right-to-work statute. The vote margin was 67.47% in favor of repealing the law and 32.53% in favor of upholding the law. Nine states have adopted right-to-work constitutional amendments. Virginia was the last state to vote on a right-to-work constitutional amendment in 2016. It was defeated with 53.62% opposing the measure.

The Tennessee amendment will be the first amendment certified for the ballot in the state since 2014. Tennessee voters approved 100% of the 11 statewide ballot measures appearing on ballots between 1995 and 2014.

Additional Reading:



Florida to vote in 2022 on abolishing the Florida Constitution Revision Commission

The Florida State Legislature gave final approval to SJR 204 on April 27, 2021. The measure, which will appear on the November 2022 ballot in Florida, would abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission if approved by 60% of voters.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a 37-member commission provided for in the state constitution that convenes every 20 years to review and propose changes to the Florida Constitution. The CRC refers constitutional amendments directly to the ballot for a public vote. Florida is the only state with a commission that can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot. The CRC convenes every 20 years on the following schedule: 1977, 1997, 2017, 2037, 2057, and so on. Beyond what is required in Section 2 of Article XI of the Florida Constitution, the CRC sets its own rules and procedures.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) of 2017-2018 proposed changes to the state constitution for voters to approve or reject in the November 2018 general election. The CRC received 2,013 proposals from the public and 103 from the commission’s members. The CRC referred eight measures to the 2018 ballot. All of the amendments were approved except for Amendment 8, which was blocked from appearing on the ballot by a court ruling.

Plaintiffs argued that the measure combined three separate and unrelated measures and that the ballot language was misleading. The court ruled that the measure’s ballot language was misleading and the measure was kept off the ballot. Seven of the eight CRC referrals had been targeted in lawsuits with plaintiffs alleging that the amendments combined multiple subjects and/or had misleading or unclear ballot language.

The amendment to abolish the CRC was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 204 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) on December 7, 2020. On March 25, 2021, the state Senate passed the measure in a vote of 27-12. All 24 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the measure. Of the 16 Senate Democrats, 12 voted against, three voted in favor, and one did not vote but voted against the measure after the official vote was tallied. The measure was passed in the House on April 27, 2021, by a vote of 86-11 with six members not voting. Of House Republicans, 75 voted in favor, none voted against, and three did not vote. Of House Democrats, 11 voted in favor, 28 voted against, and 11 did not vote.

In 1980, the legislature referred to the ballot a constitutional amendment to abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. Voters rejected the amendment by a vote of 56.5% to 43.5%.

In 1988, the legislature referred a constitutional amendment to create a Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC), which voters approved. Like the Constitution Revision Commission, the TBRC meets every 20 years and has the power to refer constitutional amendments to voters. However, the TBRC only addresses issues related to taxation and the budgetary process.

The legislature also referred a constitutional amendment to the ballot that would authorize the state legislature to pass laws prohibiting flood resistance improvements to a home from being taken into consideration when determining a property’s assessed value for property tax purposes.

A total of 78 measures appeared on the Florida ballot between 2000 and 2020, including six measures that appeared on the statewide ballot in odd-numbered years. From 2000 to 2020, an average of about seven measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Florida. Between 2000 and 2020, 71.79% (65 of 78) of statewide measures were approved by voters, and 28.21% (22 of 56) were defeated.

Additional Reading:



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.

Additional Reading:



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.

Additional Reading:



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.

Additional Reading:



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.

Additional Reading:



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.

Additional reading:



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.