Tagveto referendum

Utah governor signs bill for new state flag, veto referendum filed to stop it

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed Senate Bill 31, a bill to establish a new state flag, on March 21, 2023. The new flag will go into effect on March 9, 2024.

The current state flag, which was adopted on March 9, 1911, will be referred to as the historic state flag.

Cox said, “As governor, I am proud to issue today an executive order requiring that the current state flag be flown at the Capitol at all times and at all state buildings on certain holidays and special occasions. I am further requesting that, during an upcoming session, the Legislature amend SB 31 to require the historic state flag be flown above the new state flag when the two flags are flown together. This will ensure that the historic flag will remain a symbol of our history and strength.”

The campaign 2023 Utah Flag Referendum filed a veto referendum targeting Senate Bill 31 on March 6, 2023. To put the measure on the 2024 ballot, signatures from 8% of active voters as of Jan. 2023 (134,298 valid signatures) are due on April 12, 2023. If enough signatures are submitted, the bill will be on hold and the question of whether or not to adopt a new state flag will be decided by voters on Nov. 5, 2024.

Chad Saunders, the lead sponsor of the referendum, said, “I feel that sometimes legislators stop listening to the citizens that voted them into office. I feel that happened with SB31. They made a mistake. We’re here to remind them of that.”

Four veto referendums have appeared on the ballot in Utah: two in 1954, one in 1975, and most recently in 2007. In all cases, the referendum efforts resulted in the targeted law being repealed.

In 2020, voters in Mississippi decided on a statewide ballot measure to select a new state flag. The measure was placed on the ballot by the Mississippi State Legislature. At the election on Nov. 3, 2020, Mississippi voters were shown a colored picture of the new proposed state flag, named the In God We Trust Flag. Voters approved adopting the new state flag.

Additional reading:

Two veto referendum campaigns and California executive departments disagree on when referendums suspend fast food workers and oil and gas laws

The campaign Save Local Restaurants filed 1 million signatures for a veto referendum to overturn California Assembly Bill 257 (AB 257), also known as the FAST Act, on Dec. 5, 2022. At least 623,212 signatures must be valid. Counties have until Jan. 25, 2023, to check a random sample of signatures. In California, a veto referendum is a type of citizen-initiated ballot measure that asks voters whether to uphold or repeal a law. There are 23 states with a process for veto referendums.

The FAST Act was designed to establish a fast food council, which would be authorized to increase the minimum wage of fast-food workers to $22 per hour and establish working hours and conditions. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the legislation on Sept. 5.

The FAST Act was set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The Save Local Restaurants PAC and California Industrial Relations Department disagree on whether the Fast ACT was suspended when the campaign filed signatures on Dec. 5. While both the campaign and state agree the bill would be suspended ahead of the election on Nov. 5, 2024, the campaign says the bill was suspended upon signature submission and the state says the bill wouldn’t be suspended until and unless enough signatures are verified.

Erin Mellon, a spokesperson for Gov. Newsom, said the bill would be enforced on Jan. 1. Mellon said, “Although industry is backing a referendum measure, the secretary of state has not certified that it has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. The state has an obligation to implement this important law unless and until that occurs. We will, of course, abide by any court order.” According to Mellon, the FAST Act would not be suspended until and unless signatures are verified, which could come on Jan. 25.

The Save Local Restaurants PAC stated that AB 257 became “ineffective and unenforceable in its entirety” when signatures were submitted on Dec. 5. Kurt Oneto, a lawyer representing Save Local Restaurants, said that of the 50 veto referendums that have made the ballot since 1912, “not in a single one of those prior instances did the state ever attempt to temporarily enforce the referred statute while the signature review process was underway.”

Katrina Hagen, director of the California Industrial Relations Department, said there is an “absence of clear authority providing that AB 257 is suspended merely upon submission of unverified signatures.”

The Save Local Restaurants PAC filed a lawsuit to prevent the implementation of the FAST Act. Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang placed an injunction on the bill ahead of a hearing on Jan. 13, 2023. Lawyers for the PAC cited the constitutional amendment from 1911, which created the referendum process, as saying “… no such act or section or part of such act shall go into effect until and unless approved by a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon.” This constitutional language was repealed and replaced in 1966, when voters approved Proposition 1A.

The California Constitution now says, “If a referendum petition is filed against a part of a statute, the remainder of the statute shall not be delayed from going into effect.” The lawsuit stated that a logical extension of this requirement is that when referendum petitions are filed against an entire statute, the entire statute is delayed from going into effect, and “referendum petition is filed” refers to filing signatures. The lawsuit cites a 2020 stipulated agreement between Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and petitioners behind a flavored tobacco ban referendum. That agreement said the flavored tobacco ban legislation would not take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, while signatures were being verified.

Besides the veto referendum on the FAST Act, signatures are also being verified for a veto referendum on Senate Bill 1137 (SB 1137), which would prohibit new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals and require companies to monitor leaks and emissions and install alarms. Like the FAST Act, SB 1137 was set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) is leading the campaign, Stop the Energy Shutdown, for the veto referendum. Rock Zierman, the CEO of CIPA, said the law should be suspended pending signature verification, but that CIPA decided not to sue as the group expects the law to be suspended when signatures are verified on or before Feb. 7.

In California, voters have voted on 50 veto referendums, upholding laws 21 times (42%) and repealing laws 29 times (58%). The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in Nov. 2022, when voters upheld a bill to ban flavored tobacco products.

Additional reading:

Campaign behind a California oil and gas veto referendum submits nearly 1 million signatures 

On Dec. 13, California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), which is leading the Stop the Energy Shutdown campaign, announced that the campaign to place a veto referendum to repeal recently passed oil and gas regulations on the 2024 ballot had collected over 978,000 signatures. 

The referendum would repeal Senate Bill 1137 (SB 1137), which would prohibit new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. It would also require companies to monitor leaks and emissions and install alarms. SB 1137 passed the California State Senate by a vote of 35-0 with five not voting. It passed the California State Assembly by a vote of 46-24 with 10 not voting. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 1137 on Sept. 16.

Stop the Energy Shutdown filed the veto referendum on Sept. 19 and had until Dec. 15 to submit 623,212 valid signatures. According to the latest campaign finance filings, Stop the Energy Shutdown reported over $20 million in contributions. The top donors to the committee included Sentinel Peak Resources California LLC ($4.5 million), Signal Hill Petroleum, Inc. ($3.2 million), and E & B Natural Resources Management Corp. ($2.9 million).

When announcing the signature filing, California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) tweeted, “If implemented, SB 1137 would increase CA’s already high gas prices by decreasing our energy supply and replacing it with expensive imported foreign oil that tankers must transport from counties that do not uphold the same environmental or labor standards.”

The Sierra Club of California supports the new law. Brandon Dawson, director of the Sierra Club of California, said, “The oil and gas industry knows no bounds when it comes to putting profits over people and subverting the democratic process. California frontline communities have been fighting for protections from toxic oil and gas pollution for decades, and the setbacks mandated by SB 1137 will go a long way towards preserving those communities’ air quality and ecosystems.”

California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), Chevron, and Aera jointly sponsored two local veto referendums during the 2022 election cycle in Ventura County. The referendums, Measures A and B, were on ordinances enacted by the county board of supervisors designed to regulate the exploration and production of oil and gas. The referendums asked voters whether they wanted to adopt the county’s proposed regulations. Both measures were defeated with about 52% of the vote, meaning the ordinances were not adopted.

In 1912, Californians voted on a statewide veto referendum for the first time. The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in 2022, and voters decided to uphold the law. Californians have voted on 50 veto referendums, upholding laws 21 times (42%) and repealing laws 29 times (58%).

Additional reading:

Californians to vote on flavored tobacco ban referendum in 2022

In 2022, Californians will vote on a veto referendum to uphold or repeal a bill to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. On January 22, 2020, the secretary of state’s office confirmed that referendum petitioners submitted more signatures than the minimum requirement of 623,212. SB 793 was written to go into effect on January 1, 2021, but with the veto referendum pending signature verification, the effective date was suspended. As the signatures for the veto referendum were certified, the law is suspended until voters decide the issue at the election on November 8, 2022.

The California Coalition for Fairness is campaigning for the veto referendum to repeal SB 793. Through January 1, 2021, the campaign had reported $21.2 million, including $10.4 million from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and $9.8 million from Philip Morris USA.

The contested legislation, Senate Bill 793 (SB 793), was passed in August 2020, and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the bill on August 28. SB 793 was designed to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and tobacco product flavor enhancers, with exceptions for hookah tobacco, loose-leaf tobacco, and premium cigars. Retailers would be fined $250 for each sale violating the law.

In the state Legislature, SB 793 received support from most Democrats (84 of 89) and a quarter of Republicans (8 of 30). One legislator voted against the bill, and the remaining legislators were absent or abstained. State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-13), the sponsor of SB 793, said, “Using candy, fruit and other alluring flavors, the tobacco industry weaponized its tactics to beguile a new generation into nicotine addiction while keeping longtime users hooked. SB 793 breaks Big Tobacco’s death grip.” The California Fuels & Convenience Alliance, which opposed SB 793, described the flavored tobacco ban as “misguided policy that will do more harm than good” and “hurt small businesses, eliminate necessary tax revenue, and perpetuate dangerous and avoidable police interactions in our communities.”

If SB 793 had gone into effect on January 1, California would have been the second state, after Massachusetts, to ban all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. California would have been the fifth state to ban flavored e-cigarettes. 

The ballot measure is not the first flavored tobacco ban veto referendum in California. In 2017, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that banned the sale of flavored tobacco. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company launched a veto referendum campaign to repeal the ordinance. The signature drive was successful, placing the ordinance on the ballot as Proposition E. Voters approved Proposition E, thus upholding the board’s ordinance; 68.4% voted to adopt the ordinance. R.J. Reynolds provided $12.9 million to the campaign to overturn the ban. The campaign to uphold the ban received $3.2 million, including $2.3 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The ballot measure is the 50th veto referendum in California since the veto referendum process was adopted in 1911. Of the 49 veto referendums that Californians have voted on, voters upheld 20 (41%) of the laws and repealed 29 (59%) of the laws. Voters last decided a veto referendum in 2020, when they repealed a law to replace cash bail with risk assessments for detained suspects. 

Additional Reading:

Voters will decide a vaccination requirements referendum in Maine on March 3

On March 3, 2020, Maine voters will decide Question 1, a veto referendum that would repeal legislation related to vaccine requirements and have the effect of reinstating religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccination requirements. In 2019, the state legislature passed Legislative Document 798 (LD 798), which was designed to eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions for students to attend schools and colleges and for employees of healthcare facilities. The legislation is scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2021, unless voters approve Question 1.

Question 1 is the 31st veto referendum on the ballot in Maine. The first one was on the ballot in 1910. Of the 30 veto referendums that have been decided, voters approved 18 (60 percent) of them, repealing the targeted legislation. The last time that voters rejected a veto referendum, thus upholding the targeted legislation, was in 2005.

Besides Maine, four states—California, Mississippi, New York, and West Virginia—did not provide for non-medical exemptions from vaccination requirements for students to attend schools. West Virginia has never provided non-medical exemptions. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that non-medical exemptions violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in 1979. Like Maine, California and New York repealed non-medical exemptions in 2015 and 2019, respectively.

Yes on 1 Maine to Reject Big Pharma is leading the campaign in support of a “yes” vote, which would repeal LD 798 and reinstate religious and philosophical exemptions. An associated PAC, Mainers for Health and Parental Rights, collected 79,056 valid signatures to place the veto referendum on the ballot. At least 63,067 signatures needed to be valid. Yes on 1 and Mainers for Health and Parental Rights raised a combined $602,428 as of February 21, 2020. The largest donor was the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which contributed $50,000. OCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that, according to the group’s website, “educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers.” The second-largest contribution was $27,020 from Stephanie Grondin, the office manager at Capital City Chiropractic.

Maine Families for Vaccines is leading the campaign in support of a “no” vote, which would uphold LD 798. Maine Families for Vaccines and the allied Maine Street Solutions – Protect Schools PAC received $822,256. The pharmaceutical companies Merck, Sharp & Dohme, and Pfizer were the largest donors, each contributing $250,000.

Question 1 is the only Maine measure on the ballot for March 3, 2020. The election on November 3, 2020, could feature additional citizen-initiated measures and legislative referrals. The deadline for initiated statutes passed on February 3, 2020, and proponents of one initiative filed signatures, which are under review. The legislature can refer bond measures and constitutional amendments during the legislative session, which is expected to adjourn around April 15. Campaigns for referendums to repeal legislation passed in the 2020 session must submit signatures within 90 days after the legislative session ends.

Click here to learn more.

Related pages: