Ballot Initiatives

  • July 5, 2011

    An Ohio law aimed at greatly curtailing the rights of public workers has sparked massive protests and what appears to be a successful drive to place it before voters this fall. Opposition has also formed against similar anti-collective bargaining laws in Michigan and Wisconsin.  

    More than a million Ohioans recently signed a petition to put  the law, Senate Bill 5, on the November ballot, in hopes of repealing it, The Plain Dealer recently reported. The signatures, the newspaper added, were “ceremoniously” delivered to the Secretary of State’s office in Columbus by more than 6,000 marchers. The newspaper said the more than 1 million signatures “are the most in more than a decade at least,” to be submitted to state officials.

    Melissa Fazekas, a spokeswoman for We Are Ohio, a group that launched the petition drive to repeal the anti-collective bargaining law, also lauded the large number of marchers involved in submitting the signatures, saying they “are proof that while our campaign may be out spent, we will never be out worked, or out volunteered or out supported by hard working Ohioans.”

    Like his counterparts in Wisconsin and Michigan, Gov. Kasich argued that Senate Bill 5, which The New York Times noted could cut public sector jobs in parts of the state where the private sector has long stopped producing opportunities, is necessary to help local officials overcome budget shortfalls.

    In a guest post for ACSblog, Ohio State University law school professor James J. Brudney, said the claims in both Ohio and Wisconsin that fiscal conditions are the reasons to limit collective bargaining have been “exposed as a smokescreen.”

    Brudney continued:

    Fiscal crises are occurring in states like Texas and Virginia that bar collective bargaining. And 2010 budget deficits are as high in the nine states that banned collective bargaining for most all public employees as in the fifteen states that allowed it for theirs. Tellingly, leading proponents of Senate Bill 5 asserted as their core justification for the bill not money but flexibility. The Senate bill author and Ohio’s governor talked constantly about the need for flexibility to manage Ohio’s public workforce. Yet Ohio’s experience since collective bargaining became lawful in 1983 makes it very hard to make a case for inflexibility.

  • November 15, 2010

    In a surprise ballot-count turnaround, a law to legalize medical marijuana use in Arizona has passed by a narrow margin, The Associated Press reports.

    Arizona is the fifteenth state to have approved a medical marijuana law. The new law allows those deemed by their doctor to be suffering from "chronic or debilitating" diseases, including cancer, AIDS and hepatitis C, to grow plants or to buy two and a half ounces of marijuana every two weeks. The law limits the number of dispensaries in the state to 124.

    "The measure was opposed by all of Arizona's sheriffs and county prosecutors, the governor, the state attorney general and many other politicians," AP reports. Following initial counts on election day, the measure appeared poised to fail, but when all the ballots were counted Saturday, Proposition 203 won by 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million ballots counted.

    Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, said he believes Arizona's program is "an opportunity to set an example to the rest of the country on what a good medical marijuana program looks like."

    In a recent guest post for ACSblog, Alex Kreit discusses how marijuana legalization has become a mainstream political issue.

  • November 5, 2010
    Guest Post

    By Alex Kreit, assistant professor of law and director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. Kreit is author of the ACS Issue Brief, "Toward a Public Health Approach to Drug Policy."

    Now that California's Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana, has gone down in defeat, those who follow drug policy issues are beginning to reflect on why the initiative failed to pass and what the result might mean for marijuana policy going forward.

    As someone who researches and writes about controlled substances laws, I'm happy to have the opportunity to share a few preliminary thoughts of my own.

    With regard to why Proposition 19 faltered, there are a number of individual factors that likely cost the measure a few percentage points of support, such as insufficient funds for a statewide television ad campaign and running the measure in a midterm where youth turnout was much lower than in a presidential cycle. But, it is also important to keep in mind that passage was always something of a long shot.

    Although polling showed the initiative with support in the low 50-percent range for much of the campaign, conventional wisdom holds that measures polling below 60 percent going into a campaign are unlikely to pass. This is because most ballot initiatives tend to lose support over time, particularly in the home stretch of the campaign. Simply put, it's easier to convince someone to vote against something than for it. A vote against a ballot measure preserves the status quo. As a result, sowing one or two doubts about an initiative in a voter's mind is usually enough to get that person to oppose it, even if he or she is generally supportive of the aims of the initiative.

    The "No on Prop.19" campaign smartly played on this dynamic. Their campaign slogan, for example, did not even mention marijuana legalization but instead called on voters to reject the initiative because it was "a jumbled legal nightmare" regardless of their views on legalization. The Chamber of Commerce's advertisement against the measure likewise ominously warned voters that "Prop. 19 would do more than simply legalize marijuana," and focused on the supposed adverse effects of an employment provision contained in the initiative.