Many States Considering Ballot Initiatives Affecting Local Governments

Today is election day in many states across the country.  Some of these voters going to the polls in other states, will be considering a number of ballot initiatives, many of which affect local governments.  An overview of these ballot initiatives can be found on the National Association of Counties websiteBallotwatch, a publication of the Initiative and Referendum Institute, provides a more comprehensive overview.  A summary of initiatives of interest to local governments is below.

Ohio

One of the three ballot questions (Issue 2) asks whether an amendment — Senate Bill 5 — passed earlier this year that repeals many collective bargaining rights should itself be repealed.Among the amendment’s changes are that public employees would be prohibited from striking, and their employers would be required to dock twice the employee’s pay for each day that employee strikes, and it expands the list of subjects that are inappropriate for collective bargaining.

Colorado

Colorado voters will go to the polls Nov. 1 to decide Proposition 103, whether to raise taxes for five years to generate $3 billion for education.

If approved, the state’s income tax would increase from 4.63 percent to 5 percent for five years. It would also raise the state’s sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent for five years.

In the City and County of Denver, voters will decide Initiative 300, requiring employers to provide sick time for all employees, full-time, part-time and temporary, employed within Denver’s geographic boundaries. It would grant one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked — up to 72 hours per year — for businesses with at least 10 employees, and up to 40 hours for employers of fewer than 10 people.

Larimer County voters will consider Issue 1A, which replaces two sales taxes set to sunset in 2012 with a single tax (0.35 percent) “devoted primarily to the operations costs of public safety programs.” The expiring taxes, approved by voters in 1997, are 0.2 percent for courthouse renovation and other county building construction, and 0.2 percent for county jail operation and infrastructure.

Louisiana
Amendment 1. Property tax. Legislative measure prohibiting new taxes on sale or immovable property.

Mississippi

Initiative 27 asks whether the Mississippi Constitution should be amended to require a person to submit government-issued photo identification in order to vote. It lets any voter lacking government photo ID obtain one without charge from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety; and exempts certain residents of state-licensed care facilities and religious objectors from being required to show photo identification in order to vote.

On Initiative 31,  voters are asked to decide if government should be prohibited from taking private property by eminent domain and then transferring it to other persons. This would amend the state constitution to bar state and local governments from taking private property and then conveying it to other persons or private businesses for a period of 10 years after acquisition.

Exceptions from the prohibition include drainage and levee facilities, roads, bridges, ports, airports, common carriers and utilities. The prohibition would not apply in certain situations, including public nuisance, structures unfit for human habitation or abandoned property.

Maine

Maine voters will consider a constitutional amendment to change the years of redistricting the state legislature, congressional districts and county commissioner districts, after 2013, from 2023 and every 10th year thereafter to 2021 and every 10th year after that.

Regarding gaming, this is the seventh time since 2000 that Mainers are being asked to approve referenda related to casinos and racinos at race tracks. The electorate will get to weigh in on whether to allow a casino with table games or racinos in three localities.

Two counties, Cumberland and Somerset, will, as a result of charter changes approved last year, expand their county commission from three members to five. Two new county commissioner districts in each county become effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Texas

Prop 1. Property tax exemption for surviving spouse of disable veteran.
Prop 5. Local government. Reduces restrictions on intergovernmental contracts.

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