News Clips from America Votes
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
COLORADO: Pot, booze analogy sparks CO ballot complaint
DENVER—Should a question on 2012 ballots about legalizing marijuana compare pot to alcohol? A state title board is deciding the question Wednesday.
A marijuana activist challenging proposed language for the ballot measure says it's a flawed description because there's no limit on how much alcohol people can buy, but the ballot proposals suggest a marijuana possession limit. The objector says pot should be compared to medical marijuana already in Colorado, not alcohol.
Other legalization supporters argue it's too much of a stretch to think Colorado voters would approve pot with no limits.
The state title board is charged with clearing language for possible ballot measures before supporters can start gathering enough signatures to make the ballot.
FLORIDA: Gov. Rick Scott's net worth drops by $115 million
Michael Bender and Adam Smith for the St. Petersburg Times
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's net worth dropped by $115 million in 2010, but his income soared nearly 40 percent in the sluggish economy.
The hospital executive-turned-investor earned $11.5 million from investment income, interest and consulting fees, according to a recently filed financial disclosure form.
That's more than the $8.3 million he reported in 2009 and the $3.7 million he earned in 2008.
MICHIGAN: State to fight ruling against ban on race in college admissions
Jennifer Chambers, Robert Snell and Oralandar Brand-Williams for the Detroit News
Detroit— Michigan's voter-approved ban on race and gender preferences in college admissions and government hiring was overturned by a federal appeals court Friday, a ruling the state quickly vowed to appeal.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he will fight the decision that struck down the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative by making a formal request for a rehearing with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It's a move that will keep the initiative in place — at least temporarily.
In a 2-1 decision, an appeals court panel ruled that the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The judges, in their 59-page ruling, in particular objected to the inclusion of the voter-approved ban in the Michigan Constitution.
"Proposal 2 reorders the political process in Michigan to place special burdens on minority interests," said Judges R. Guy Cole Jr. and Martha Craig Daughtrey.
MICHIGAN: Booze, cigarette tax targeted
Paul Egan for the Detroit News
Lansing — Now that the state budget is balanced, some Michigan lawmakers say it's time for tax cuts, including cuts to the "sin taxes" on booze and cigarettes.
"It's amazing to me that government thinks that alcohol and tobacco are so bad, but government is so tied to the revenue," said Sen. Joe Hune, R-Whitmore Lake.
In a 38-0 vote, the Senate recently approved Hune's bill to repeal a 1.85 percent tax on the sale of liquor for off-premises consumption.
The bill is now before the House.
MINNESOTA: 'Same gulf' divides Dayton, GOP
Rachel Stassen-Berger, Eric Roper and Mike Kaszuba for the Star Tribune
Hopes for a deal to end the state budget stalemate dimmed Tuesday, with Republicans saying they have reverted to a $34 billion, no-new-revenue budget proposal.
"That's the only thing that we have on the table right now," House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said after emerging from a brief resumption of negotiations after the holiday break.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton confirmed that after meeting with GOP leaders, "We've got the same gulf between us that we've had all along." Dayton has repeatedly said that a $34 billion budget is "draconian" and wants to spend about $2 billion more.
NEVADA: Nevada Supreme Court rejects open ballot in special election in 2nd Congressional District
Anjeanette Damon for the Las Vegas Sun
One Republican and one Democrat will vie in the September special election to replace U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, under a ruling today by the Nevada Supreme Court that rejected Secretary of State Ross Miller’s open ballot rules.
In a 6-1 decision, the court agreed the state law governing the special election for the U.S. House is ambiguous. But the court decided that if the 2003 Legislature had intended the special election be a free-for-all, it would have explicitly said so when it originally wrote the law.
In the absence of a strong legislative record, the court deferred to past practice and other state statutes that allow political parties to nominate their candidates. The court also cited the fact the secretary of state’s office never wrote the required regulations for conducting a special election.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: City tax caps back in place as Lynch signs new law
Tom Fahey for the Union Leader
CONCORD - Manchester's tax cap, rejected by the New Hampshire Supreme Court in early 2010, is back in place.
Gov. John Lynch signed a bill Tuesday that clears the way for cities, towns and school districts to adopt caps on local tax increases, and restores caps that may have had legal problems.
Senate Bill 2, which took effect immediately, states that any tax cap that voters elected to make part of their charter is now valid, whether or not it was legal to adopt the cap at the time it passed.
NEW MEXICO: Susana Poll Numbers Looking Good
Steve Terrell for the Santa Fe New Mexican
In the most recent numbers released by PPP, Gov. Susana Martinez is enjoying a 52 percent approval rate, with 37 percent of those polled disapproving.
In the PPP blog, poll honcho Tom Jenson says, "Most of the Republicans elected Governor in Obama states last November have quickly become very unpopular. Not so in the case of New Mexico's Susana Martinez ... A female Hispanic Governor who's maintaining her popularity as she governs a blue state? Martinez would be at the top of my VP list for next year if I was a Republican strategist."
Of course, Jenson is not a GOP strategist. PPP is a Democratic polling firm.
Read More: http://roundhouseroundup.
OHIO: New lobbyists in Ohio have strong Republican ties
Mark Naymik for the Plain Dealer
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When Republicans swept Democrats from office in Columbus last November, they triggered a political ritual among the Capitol Square crowd.
Special interests -- from business associations to gaming companies -- rushed to hire lobbyists with ties to the new government. Lobbying firms beefed up their rosters to feature GOP players. And political operatives in the winning party set out their shingles.
More than 375 new lobbyists have registered with the state since Republican John Kasich defeated Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland and the GOP regained control of the House and improved its grip on the Senate, according to a comparison of 2010 and 2011 lobbying registration rolls.
PENNSYLVANIA: Another Republican Passes on Casey Challenge
Thomas Fitzgerald for the Philadelphia Inquirer
I'm just back from a camping trip to Paradox Lake, N.Y., and am catching up on emails and news that I missed while out of range of cellular networks and, for that matter, electricity.
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. continues to look even more like a bright spot for Democrats in 2012 as they struggle against an unkind map to keep control of the U.S. Senate, as another leading Republican decided not to challenge the freshman.
That's despite the recent GOP-red trends in the state, a putrid economy and Casey's close association with some of the Obama administration policies that have proved unpopular here. Top Republicans, led by state chairman Rob Gleason, continue to argue that the race is winnable, though the party has not been able to find a top-tier challenger to Casey, who is personally popular, polls say.
WISCONSIN: State budget cuts transit funding, but it could have been worse
Larry Sandler for the Journal Sentinel
Less bus service. Higher fares. No more regional transit authorities. No more planning for new commuter rail lines. And dim prospects for new public transit funding.
That's what the new state budget could mean for transit systems across Wisconsin.
By this time next year, hundreds of thousands of Summerfest patrons may no longer be able to ride buses to the festival grounds. The rest of the year, many more area residents could have a harder time getting to work and school.
MONTANA: Hill, Bullock have biggest campaign war chests
Charles Johnson for the Billings Gazette
HELENA — Former former Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Hill and Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock have stockpiled the most money of any 2012 gubernatorial candidates, although Bullock hasn't said whether he'll run for that office or for re-election.
Campaign reports filed Tuesday with the state political practices commissioner's office showed Hill had more money left in the bank than any candidate for governor, but only slightly more than Bullock.
Hill's cash-on-hand balance — the total amount raised minus the money spent — as of June 30 was $197,634 to Bullock's $196,439.
Since his entry into the race last fall, Hill has raised $285,686 to lead the pack, while Bullock, who has not announced for any office yet, has raised $230,554.
WASHINGTON: Sonntag stays put — won’t run for governor
Staff for the Seattle Post Intelligencer
Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag is staying put. The Democrat who sometimes endorses Republicans announced Monday that he will not run for governor.
“The Office of State Auditor continues to be a good fit and the place where I can best contribute and focus on my values: Advocating for open and accessible government; holding government accountable to citizens; valuing public employees as a primary resource,” Sonntag said in a statement.
Sonntag has long indicated interest in the state’s top executive position and put his name in the running when it was speculated that Gov. Chris Gregoire would be named solicitor general in the Obama administration.
OREGON: Oregon businesses join with unusual allies to press for comprehensive immigration reform
Charles Pope for the Oregonian
WASHINGTON - With Congress edging back into the battle over immigration reform, the leading House proposal is drawing opposition from a surprising place - Oregon businesses.
The Coalition for a Working Oregon, an organization of 22 Oregon business groups is fighting the proposal, putting members at odds with both Republicans and some other business groups.
One of the leaders, Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, calls the legislation introduced by House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Tex., "a recipe for disaster, not only for agriculture but for the national economy."
FLORIDA: Florida Watch Action ties Haridopolos to Scott in new video clip
Casey Levey-Baker for the Florida Independent
In a new YouTube clip titled “Mike Haridopolos–Pink Slip Puppet,” the progressive group Florida Watch Action uses a series of short sound bites to tie Florida Senate President and U.S. Senate hopeful Haridopolos to Gov. Rick Scott, specifically highlighting his positions on education funding, offshore drilling and high-speed rail. Check it out here: http://floridaindependent.com/
MICHIGAN: Glenn: Companies Shouldn’t Hire Gays
Ed Brayton for the Michigan Messenger
Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, not only doesn’t think that gays and lesbians should be protected from discrimination, he thinks that companies should not hire them at all.
In an interview with Linda Harvey of Mission America, Glenn makes his argument on the basis of alleged health concerns…
MINNESOTA: The politics of the anti–gay marriage amendment: A primer
Andy Birkey for the Minnesota Independent
Activists on both sides of Minnesota’s anti–gay marriage amendment battle have made claims about the politics of the ballot initiative that don’t square with recent research on the issue. For example, conventional wisdom and assertions by DFLers that marriage amendments bolster Republican chances at the ballot box are not borne out by the data. On the other side, Claims that 31 states have passed marriage amendments by anti-gay marriage activists are also overblown. Here’s a primer on the political issues surrounding the proposed constitutional amendment.
Legalizing same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Minnesota. In 1971, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that Minnesota marriage laws, though not explicitly barring same-sex marriage, could be interpreted as limiting marriage to one man and one woman. In 1997, the DFL-controlled Minnesota Legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act which said “lawful marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex” and explicitly bans “marriage between persons of the same sex.” Republican Gov. Arne Carlson signed it into law.