By Al Ortiz
LOUISIANA and MAINE, United States: This week’s Ballot Measure Breakdown magnifies yet another state that did not have any measures on the ballot in 2009. The previous breakdown featured the states of Arkansas and Colorado, both with empty ballots for ballot measures two years ago. Now, we magnify the next two alphabetically-ordered states: Louisiana, absent of ballot measures in 2009, and Maine.
Both states have measures on the ballot that garnered much attention, with issues such as taxes, gambling and redistricting daring voters to make a decision.
While all measures in Louisiana are legislative referrals, Maine, an initiative and referendum state, will see three citizen initiatives out of four ballot proposals.
|| Number of measures in 2009
|| Number of measures in 2011
|| Change between the two years
Magnifying the states
The election for five out of the six measures on the ballot in Louisiana is coming fast. The election is set for October 22, 2011, where residents will have a chance to vote on three state budget measures, one health care proposal and one tax question.
Amendment 1 would redirect Tobacco Settlement Proceeds to the TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) scholarship program once the balance in the Millennium Trust reaches $1.38 billion. Amendment 2 would allow for a minimum of 10% of nonrecurring revenue to be applied toward the state retirement systems. The lone health care measure, Amendment 3, would authorize the Louisiana Legislature to establish a private custodial fund.
To read the last two measures that will be on the October ballot, click here.
Jumping to the November 19 statewide election, voters will get to decide on one constitutional amendment. Amendment 1 would prohibit levying new taxes or fees upon the sale or transfer of immovable property.
The 2011 legislative session began April 25 and convened on June 23. Of the approximately 31 proposals, only the above six were certified for ballot access.
All six proposals are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. If 2/3rds of the members of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature vote in the affirmative, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment can be placed on a statewide ballot.
Impacts of 2011 measures:
- Louisiana TOPS Scholarship Program, Amendment 1 (October 2011) – Article VII, Section 10.8 and more
- Louisiana Public Retirement System, Amendment 2 (October 2011) – Article VII, Section 10 (D)(2)(b)
- Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund, Amendment 3 (October 2011) – Article XII, Section 16
- Louisiana Budget Stabilization Fund, Amendment 4 (October 2011) – Article VII, Section 10.3(C)(5)
- Louisiana Property Tax Sales, Amendment 5 (October 2011) – Article VII, Section 25A
- Louisiana Immovable Property Tax, Amendment 1 (2011) – Article VII, Section 2.3
“We have met with the Taylor Foundation over the last few weeks to discuss how we can continue to protect the program even during times of budget reductions. This amendment will be very important to protecting the future of the TOPS program because it constitutionally protects more TOPS dollars. Currently, about $15 million is protected through the TOPS Fund –and under this constitutional amendment – that will increase to about $58 million.”
“The TOPS program is established in statute, and it is up to the Legislature to fund it each year. The governor opposed renewing the cigarette tax, calling it a tax increase. Funding for TOPS should be made available by the Legislature as money is available, and the Legislature should renew the cigarette tax statutorily and override a gubernatorial veto to maintain it.”
The Louisiana State Legislature is set to start legislative session on March 25, 2012, where legislative referrals can be placed on the 2012 ballot.
Maine voters are no strangers to seeing ballot measures in odd-numbered years. In the last decade, Maine saw ballot questions on each odd-numbered year’s ballot. More recently, the 2009 ballot was filled with 7 statewide proposals. In fact, Ballotpedia was even in the state two years ago reporting on the most notable 2009 measures.
Although 2011′s ballot is three questions smaller this time around, controversy continues to hover around the election. Two measures dealing with gambling have gained the most attention in the state, one relating to racinos, another regarding slot machines. Question 2 would allow a racino facility at a harness racing track in Biddeford and at a harness racing track in Washington County. Question 3 would allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Lewiston, Maine.
The other two questions on the ballot don’t exactly pale in comparison to the other two measures. Another controversial measure on the ballot, Question 1, was placed on the ballot by way of People’s Veto, a process in the state where voters decide on a piece of approved legislation by gathering signatures and placing it on the ballot. The measure would overturn a same-day election registration repeal signed by the governor on June 21, 2011. The veto effort was led by Engage Maine, which is directed by Ben Dudley, executive director. The law that the referendum is seeking to overturn is LD 1376.
Finally, Question 4 would would amend the Maine Constitution to change the years of redistricting the lawmaking body, congressional districts and county commissioner districts after 2013 from 2023 and every 10th years after that to 2021 and every 10th year after that.
Impacts of 2011 measures:
- Edward McColl, the attorney for Scarborough Downs and for the Biddeford Downs project arguing for Question 2:
“I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that racinos have been a tremendous boon to harness racing everywhere they’ve been tried.”
- Dennis Bailey, president of the media relations firm Savvy Inc., and leader at the CasinosNO! advocacy group, writing his opposition against Question 2:
“…our major point still stands – now that the ballot question has been changed, voters will know that they are potentially voting for a racetrack casino in communities within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs, not just Biddeford. That’s important. What this episode really illustrates is that Maine now has such a confusing mishmash of laws and regulations regarding slot machines, casinos and racinos — most of them written by the proponents of these facilities — that it’s a wonder anyone really knows what we’re voting on. Our view is when in doubt, just say no.”
The following measure has been proposed for the Maine 2012 ballot:
Next week’s Breakdown: Mississippi and New Jersey
Last week’s Breakdown: Arkansas and Colorado