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  • The Wednesday Vacancy Count

    April 9, 2014

    The vacancy warning level remained at blue this week after no new vacancies and no new confirmations. The vacancy percentage remained at 9.8%. There were two new nominations this week, which allowed the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation to rise to 50. The number of vacancies of Article III judges remained at 85 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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  • The “E” word in judicial elections: Ethics

    April 10, 2014

    Judicial candidates in California and Georgia are busy letting voters know why they’re the most qualified. Many races have multiple candidates eager to don a black robe and ensure that justice is served in their communities.

    Ethics issues have come up in several judicial races recently. Voters expect judges to act with integrity and judicial codes. Many states emphasize the need for judges and judicial candidates to behave in an ethical manner, before and after they are elected. A county in Indiana may have to change their approach to elections to conform with ethics requirements in that state. Meanwhile, one candidate’s overdue tax bill has become an issue that could cause voters concern in Tennessee. And candidates in Arkansas are waiting to see if a higher court will overturn a decision that could disqualify them from running for election because they failed to pay their attorney license fees on time.…

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      JP Election Brief
  • 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
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    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
  • Gambling measure makes 2014 ballot in Nebraska

    April 8, 2014

    Another legislatively-referred constitutional amendment has been certified for a November 4, 2014 statewide ballot, this one asking voters to weigh in on gambling. If approved in the general election, the Nebraska Horse Race Wagering Amendment would allow for wagering or gambling on live, delayed or replayed horse races at licensed racetracks. The amendment would also require local voter approval for any new racetrack facilities in a given municipality. A tax, to be determined by the legislature, would be placed on wagering at racetrack facilities, and revenues from this tax would be allocated as follows: 49% to elementary and secondary education statewide, 49% to property tax reductions statewide and 2% to a Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund.[1] The Nebraska Legislature approved the measure, known as LR 41CA, by a vote of 30 to 17 on April 7, 2014, though it fell short of the required supermajority approval just three days prior.[2][3]Some senators, such as Rick Kolowski (NP-31), changed their votes from “reject” to “approve” during the second round of voting, not because they agreed with the measure, but because they wanted constituents to have an opportunity to vote on the issue. Kolowski said he will …

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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