Our Newsbeats:

  • The Wednesday Vacancy Count

    April 16, 2014

    The vacancy warning level remained at blue this week after one new vacancy and no new confirmations. The vacancy percentage rose to 9.9%. There were no new nominations this week, which allowed the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation to remain at 50. The number of vacancies of Article III judges rose to 86 out of 865. A breakdown of the vacancies on each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, see our Federal Court Vacancy Warning System.…

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  • Recall petition filed against Arizona legislator

    April 14, 2014

    This week’s tracker includes a look at the recall attempt against an Arizona lawmaker.

    Weekly highlight

    Last week, Maryland adjourned its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

    • Arizona: Senator Kimberly Yee (R) has become a target for recall by supporters of medical marijuana research after she refused to hold a committee hearing on HB 2333, effectively killing the bill in the Senate. Because she blocked the bill, Yee is being accused of a “callous abuse of power” in the recall statement. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ethan Orr (R), would allow for some of the revenue from medical marijuana users and dispensaries to partially fund a study at the University of Arizona on the use of the drug to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans. The bill passed the House in a 52-5 vote on March 10. Secretary of Arizona Veterans Assistance Committee, Kathy Inman, said that Yee killed the measure by using her position as chair of the Senate Education Committee and refusing to give it a hearing. Yee said that she is “not opposed to university research to assist veterans” but disagrees with any state money
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  • Pension Hotspots: Pacific Grove, CA, Ventura County, CA, and Phoenix, AZ

    March 31, 2014

    As of March 28, 2014, five pension related measures have been proposed. One of these has been approved, and the remaining four are pending.

    This edition of the Pension Hotspots report contains the latest information on pension initiatives in Phoenix, AZ, and Ventura County, CA. It also covers the resurgence of an initiative in Pacific Grove, CA, that was originally planned for the November election in 2013.

    Phoenix, AZ

    On March 11, 2014, just three days before the deadline, the Phoenix group Citizens for Pension Reform submitted over 54,000 signatures; more than double the required 25,480 to qualify its initiative for the ballot. This means that even if only half of the submitted signatures are found to be valid, the proposed pension reform initiative will still go before voters. Moreover, the committee double checked the signatures with the city of Phoenix’s own voter lists to help ensure the validity of the submitted signatures. The city clerk has until April 15, 2014, to certify the petitions.[1][2]

    Pacific Grove, CA

    A 2013 initiative petition that sought to rollback generous pension increases enacted in 2002 has resurfaced this year and could appear on the November election ballot

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      Pension Hotspots Report
  • Michigan initiatives seek to expand initiative and referendum power

    March 26, 2014
    Ballot law
    BallotLaw final.png

    State laws
    Initiative law
    Recall law
    Statutory changes
    Court cases
    Lawsuit news
    Ballot access rulings
    Recent court cases
    Petitioner access
    Ballot title challenges
    Superseding initiatives
    Signature challenges

    In 2014 legislative sessions so far, there are 71 pending laws concerning ballot measures, of which 67 were carried over from 2013 and 4 were proposed this year. Two have been defeated and one has been approved. The Ballot Law Update is released on the last Wednesday of each month.

    Two groups of activists in Michigan seek initiatives to expand initiative and referendum powers:

    The group called Voters for Fair Use of Ballot Referendum is collecting signatures for an initiative that seeks to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow the referendum power to apply to laws that require or contain revenue appropriations. Currently, Article 2, Section 9, of the Michigan Constitution specifies that the referendum power “does not extend to acts making appropriations for state institutions or to meet deficiencies in state funds.” According to the Fair Use of Ballot Referendum website, “Lately this protection has been interpreted to apply to any law that has any appropriations. The result has been the passage of laws with token amounts of appropriations …

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      Ballot Law Update
  • Illinois 2014 ballot: Double the measures, double the fun

    April 15, 2014

    Illinoisans will have at least two measures to cast votes on come November, which is twice the average number over the past five years. The approval of two legislatively-referred constitutional amendmentsone addressing the right to vote and the other the rights of crime victims – are the first measures on what could be a crowded ballot, by Illinois’ standards. Since 2008, only one measure has appeared on the ballot per even-numbered election year; there have been no measures featured on odd-year ballots. If approved by voters, the Right to Vote Amendment would provide that no person shall be denied the right to register to vote or cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, language, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation or income.[1] Proponents and opponents have suggested that the amendment is meant, in part, to discourage a voter identification card law.[2] House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-22), who was the amendment’s primary sponsor during its time in the legislature, said, “The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that all citizens have an opportunity to register and vote and to prevent the passage of inappropriate voter-suppression laws and discriminatory voting procedures.”…

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  • Candidate Controversies

    April 17, 2014

    Political strategy has become the name of the game as judicial candidates search for ways to win over voters. Issues related to everything from fraud to qualifications are being decided by the courts as filing deadlines pass and campaigns kick into high gear.

    In California and Oklahoma, a few candidates got good news. Meanwhile, a race in Nevada took an ugly turn after allegations of bribery emerged. Judicial candidates in one Texas county face lawsuits over alleged illegal voting in the state’s primary. Candidates in Arkansas are breathing a sigh of relief after learning they’ll likely qualify to remain on the ballot. Campaign finance reports indicate candidates are starting to raise the funds they’ll need to run for seat on courts in Florida. Those running for judge in one Indiana county also took the opportunity to get to know voters.…

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      JP Election Brief

Press Release

Incorrect Projections Cause Campaign Costs to Skyrocket
Ballotpedia announces the real battlegrounds of 2014 There is a gap between the projected competitiveness of congressional races and their actual competitiveness. To combat the phenomenon of overstated competitiveness, Ballotpedia recently published a list of the 29 Most Competitive Districts in 2014. Ballotpedia, a project of the non-profit, non-partisan Lucy Burns … Read More