Our Newsbeats:

  • “Clean Elections” initiative on path to 2015 ballot in Maine

    February 24, 2015

    Voters in Chicago, Illinois, are not just voting for mayoral and city council candidates today, but on three citywide advisory referendums and a few ward-specific questions. While one of the non-binding questions focuses on campaign finance reform in Chicago, a binding initiative on the same topic was recently confirmed as having more than enough signatures to make the ballot in Maine.

    Maine “Clean Elections” initiative one step closer to the ballot:

    Following a successful petition drive, the Maine “Clean Elections” Initiative, an indirect initiated state statute, now goes to the Maine Legislature. About 80,000 valid signatures were collected, reported Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D), roughly 18,900 more than the 61,123 required signatures.[1] Legislators will now have the opportunity to adopt the initiative into law and avoid an election on the issue, to pass an alternative measure to compete with the initiative, or to do nothing. The latter option would see the initiative placed on the ballot alone in the election on November 3, 2015.

    The initiative is sponsored by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, a group contending that the Maine Clean Elections Act needs to be strengthened.[2]

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  • The Federal Vacancy Count

    February 26, 2015

    This week’s Federal Vacancy Count includes nominations, confirmations and vacancies from February 18, 2015, to February 24, 2015. Nominations, confirmations and vacancies occurring on February 25 will be reflected in the March 4 report. The number of vacancies continued to grow this week, as there was one transition to senior status and no other changes in the federal judiciary. The vacancy warning level remained at blue this week after one new vacancy, no new nominations and no new confirmations. The vacancy percentage rose to 5.6 percent, and the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation remained at 13. The number of vacancies of Article III judges rose to 49 out of 874. 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.

    Vacancies by court

    New vacancies

    Seventh Circuit

    John Tinder

    New confirmations

    There were no new confirmations in the past week.

    New nominations

    There were no new nominations in the past week.

    Current judicial nominee statuses

    The following chart shows the number of nominees in any given step in the nomination process.


    Weekly map

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  • Pension Hotspots: 2014 Year in Review

    February 19, 2015
    The Pension Hotspots Report is a monthly publication about local pensions and pension reform efforts.

    Ten pension-related measures were proposed for 2014 elections. Five of these were approved and two were defeated. Court decisions removed the initiatives in Pacific Grove, California, and Ventura County, California, from the ballot. A measure in San Jose seeking to alter previously approved reform was also ultimately not put on the ballot.

    This edition of the report serves as a year-end review and summary of all 2014 pension related measures covered by Ballotpedia.

    2014 local pension measures


    All of the pension-related measures below were put on local ballots in 2014 and were approved by voters.

    a City of Yorba Linda Elimination of Pension and Health Care Benefits for City Council Members, Measure JJ (November 2014):

    Upon approval, Measure JJ eliminated the pension and healthcare benefits for city council members going forward.[1]

    a City of Oakland Municipal Retirement System Termination, Measure EE (November 2014):

    Measure EE authorized the city council to approve, given a 4/5 majority vote of council members, the elimination of the Oakland Municipal Employee’s Retirement System (OMERS). The city

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      Pension Hotspots Report
  • Legislators try more subtle restrictions on initiatives in Arizona and Washington

    February 25, 2015

    As of February 25, at least 72 bills concerning ballot measure law were proposed or reconsidered in the 2015 legislative sessions of 21 states. Of the total, 66 were introduced this year and the other six were carried over from the 2014 legislative session in New Jersey. So far, two bills were defeated, being abandoned by their sponsors to die in committee.

    The changes in law proposed this year range from efforts to make the initiative and referendum process more difficult or regulate campaign contributions to bills that would establish the power of initiative in non-I&R states or make the power more accessible. This edition focuses on failed efforts to impose initiative and referendum restrictions in Arizona and Washington and the softer bills proposed by legislators instead.

    See “Changes in 2015 to laws governing ballot measures” for a periodically updated list of proposed ballot measure law changes organized by state. This page also includes a brief summary of each proposed bill, the status of the bill and links to more information.

    Arizona legislators take piecemeal approach to more strict election laws after last year’s veto referendum petition:

    Since their last attempt at comprehensive election law reform was …

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      Ballot Law Update
  • Controversial legislation continues to flow

    February 25, 2015

    This week’s tracker includes a look at an indecency law in Montana, a concealed carry at universities bill in Nevada and Oklahoma‘s possible elimination of AP U.S. history courses.

    • Montana: A Montana lawmaker has made international headlines after introducing a bill to expand the definition of indecency in the state. Rep. David Moore (R) introduced Bill 365 on February 10, 2015, which would expand the state’s current indecent exposure law to include any exposure of men or women’s nipples, “and any garment that ‘gives the appearance or simulates’ a person’s buttocks, genitals, pelvic area or female nipple.”[1] Also included, according to Moore, would be tight-fitting beige-colored clothing.[1] While the bill itself sparked controversy, it is the lawmaker’s statements to the Associated Press that have caught the most attention: “Yoga pants should be illegal in public anyway.”[1][2][3] The bill, which was drafted by Moore and retired professor Walt Hill in response to a nude bicycle ride through Missoula, does not actually reference yoga pants.[4] But, news articles across the country, and even some international publications, feature the quote heavily, and many headlines say that the lawmaker was specifically attempting to ban
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Press Release

Ballotpedia to absorb Judgepedia
Sister sites will merge to provide optimum reader experience Madison, Wisconsin - February 25, 2015: This week, the Lucy Burns Institute (LBI) announced the merger of its two flagship websites, Ballotpedia and Judgepedia. All articles from Judgepedia will be transferred to Ballotpedia.org, adding to its already extensive encyclopedic database. The merger will provide … Read More