By Bailey Ludlam, Johanna Herman and Al Ortiz
MIDWEST REGION, United States: In the third part of Ballopedia’s five part series of regional breakdowns, the Midwest region of the country presents 14 total ballot measures, which is the exact number of measures those six states had back in 2008. Two states had no changes to their count from 2008 to 2010 and one state, Ohio, had the biggest decrease of measures on the ballot from 5 to 2. Missouri had the most measures of the six states, with 6 proposals on the ballot. The most notable measures this region boasts include issues such as recall, health care, and 2 constitutional convention questions that automatically appear once every decade or more in those states for voters to decide.
The states that Ballotpedia has included in the Midwest region are: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. Below is a breakdown of how many statewide measures are on the ballot in the Midwest and how that compares to 2008, followed by summaries of each state. The information was compiled by Ballotpedia’s analysis of the 2010 ballot measures.
Magnifying the states
Only one measure is scheduled to appear on the statewide ballot in Illinois this year. Although two citizen initiatives were filed and proposed for 2010, both failed to meet the state’s requirements to qualify. Following in the state’s usual pattern, the one measure certified for the ballot is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.
In the last decade, only one measure has appeared on the ballot. In 2008, voters were asked if they wanted to hold a constitutional convention. The automatically referred question appears on the ballot every 20 years. The measure was rejected in 2008 by a vote of 67%.
In 2010, however, the Illinois Governor Recall Amendment asks voters if an amendment should be made to the state constitution to allow for the recall of the state governor. Specifically, the proposal would allow voters to recall the governor and require that at least 20 state representatives and 10 state senators, equally balanced from each party in each chamber, sign a notice of intent to recall the governor before a petition can begin to be circulated.
Should Illinois voters approve the proposed amendment, it would become the 19th state to implement this process. The latest state to adopt a recall amendment was in 1996 in Minnesota. Supporters argue that the measure is necessary due to Illinois’ “long record of malfeasance” and has been described as the “ultimate way to get ethics in Illinois.” Opponents, however, argue that the measure doesn’t truly represent a citizen recall and that the requirements to execute the proposed recall are steep.
Indiana It’s slim pickings as far as 2010 ballot measures go in Indiana, but the lone ballot question scheduled to appear on the November ballot is causing quite a stir in the Hoosier State. Public Question 1 would add property tax caps to the Indiana Constitution, and groups on both sides of the argument are making sure they voice their opinions before voters flock to the polls next month.
One of the supporters of the amendment is Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who argued that the proposal would lead to a 2 percent increase in net household income as well as creating 97,000 new jobs. Daniels cited a Ball State University study that backed these assessments. Indiana Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman echoed the governor’s arguments, stating that adding tax caps to the Indiana Constitution “assures families their property taxes will be low and predictable forever.”
On the opposing side is the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, who argued that the proposal sets different property tax limits on different categories of property. Residential taxes will be capped at 1 percent, rental property in residential areas will be capped at 2 percent and taxes for business will be capped at 3 percent. As a result, the Chamber of Commerce gave the example that it wouldn’t be far-fetched that a $200,000 residence would have a lower yearly property tax bill than a $100,000 business.
Iowa Iowa is one of two states in the Midwest region to have a constitutional convention on the November ballot. Iowa is also one of five states to have this question appear on the ballot every 10 years. The last time the measure was placed on the ballot was in 2000, when voters rejected the proposal.
The other measure on the ballot, Measure 1, would allow 3/8ths of one cent to be used in support of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund the next time the state legislature approves a sales tax increase. This would establish permanent revenue for natural resources and outdoor recreational programs in the state.
The low number of measures in 2010 shouldn’t come as a shock to the voters of the state, as only two previous questions have appeared on the state ballot in the last decade. 2008 yielded one measure, and before that, the only other question to appear on the ballot was the previously mentioned constitutional convention question in 2000.
Michigan Like Iowa, Michigan voters will see a question that asks if voters want a constitutional convention. In the Midwest state, the measure appears on the ballot at 16-year intervals. The last time the question was asked was in 1994, when voters rejected Proposal A by 72%. Voters similarly rejected the idea of calling a convention by 77% in 1978.
On a completely different topic, legislators referred a constitutional amendment to the ballot to bar any officeholder convicted of a felony involving deceit and fraud from holding public office for 20 years. Proposal 2 would extend an existing 20-year ban on election of legislative officials who have been convicted of felonies involving “breach of public trust.” The proposed amendment would broaden the ban to local and state elective offices and would specify “break of public trust” as including dishonesty, deceit and fraud.
One measure has already appeared on Missouri ballots this year but before the year is over, voters will face five more statewide questions. Of the five questions, three are citizen initiatives and three aim to change the state constitution.
In 2010 four initiatives submitted signatures. Two of those four measures were certified for the November 2 ballot. A third measure, known as the “real estate taxation amendment,” was referred to the ballot following a Cole County Circuit Court ruling on August 31.
At least nine legislative referrals were proposed for the 2010 ballot, however, as of the end of the legislative session on May 17, 2010 only three were certified for the 2010 ballot. One appeared on the August 3 ballot as Missouri Health Care Freedom, Proposition C. The measure was approved by 70%.
In November, however, voters will vote on taxes, election reform and animal rights. All three certified citizen initiatives have become some of the most discussed measures of the year.Amendment 3 proposes prohibiting the tax of real estate sales or transfer of real estate. The campaign effort in support of the proposed measure has drawn in more than $3 million dollars as of early October. A similar measure is scheduled to appear on the Montana ballot.
Another tax related issue that has raised a large amount of campaign funds is Proposition A. If approved by voters in November, voters in Kansas City and St. Louis would hold a referendum on keeping the levy in 2011 and every five years thereafter. If the levy is rejected by voters the tax would be phased out and could not be reinstated. The campaign has raised more than $7 million for the proposition. The opposition has raised an estimated $400,000.
Similarly Proposition B has raised more than $1 million in support of the proposed measure. Proposition B, also known as the “Puppy Mill Initiative” would adopt new rules for dog-breeders. Proposed changes include capping the number of dogs that are used for breeding purposes, require resting periods between breeding and establish other requirements.
Ohio Contrary to Ohio’s historical trends, absolutely no measures will appear on the November 2010 ballot. However, two measures were already voted earlier this year. On May 4 voters approved two legislatively-referred measures: Issue 1 which renewed the state’s Third Frontier Bond and Issue 2 which relocated a Columbus-area casino previously approved in 2009 to a new location.
Despite no measures on the fall ballot, earlier this year, a veto referendum was certified for November 2. The measure, also known as the Ohio Slot Machines Referendum called for asking voters to cast their ballots on Gov. Ted Strickland’s plan for video slot machines. After filing signatures and questions raised about allowing the referendum to advance to the ballot, supporters withdrew the measure on June 28. The withdrawal cleared the way for Strickland’s video slot machines and reduced the total Ohio 2010 ballot count to two.
Local measure activity
Note: Research for local ballot measures in the Midwest region is currently ongoing in the weeks leading up to the 2010 general election.The figures below reflect the research concluded so far by Ballotpedia.
In Illinois, so far 30 counties have local issues on their ballots, totaling 81 measures. Of those 81, six deal with school bond issues and ten deal with school taxes of some kind. Many local ballots will also carry an advisory question asking the State Assembly to take steps to reform the public pension system.
In Ohio, so far 34 counties have local measure and due to the large amount of issues covered on the ballots, staff just lists School and County wide issues, unless significant news is given to other issues in the county. Taking that in to consideration, 148 measure are listed on the November ballot so far. Of those, 35 deal with school taxes of some sort, 8 deal with school bonds and 10 deal with income tax raises which go towards school fundings.
In Michigan, 23 counties so far have local measures on their ballots with a total of 110 measures. 14 of those deal with school taxes and 8 deal with school bonds.
In Missouri only 17 counties have listed issues on their ballots with only 41 total measures. A low amount of school issues, with only 5 school tax issues and 4 school bond issues.
Next week’s Regional Breakdown: Northeast ballot measures.
Last week’s Regional Breakdown: Southwest ballot measures