November 4th, 2014 Ballot Measures To Watch

Florida


The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would legalize medical marijuana. Specifically, the measure would guarantee the following:
  • That medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or personal caregiver is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under state law.
  • That a licensed physician is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions for issuing medical marijuana to a person diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition” under state law.
  • That registered medical marijuana treatment centers are not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under state law.
The measure defines a “debilitating medical condition” as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease “or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”[1]
The Florida Department of Health would be responsible for regulating medical marijuana. The department would issue and regulate patient identification cards and personal caregiver identification cards, develop procedures related to medical marijuana treatment centers and institute regulations defining reasonable amounts of marijuana for medical use. 
The constitutional amendment contains six limitations on how the amendment’s language can be construed:[1]
  • The amendment does not “affect laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production or sale of marijuana.”
  • The amendment does not authorize “the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.”
  • The amendment does not allow for the “operation of a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana.”
  • The amendment does not require accommodations for medical marijuana use “in any place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.”
  • The amendment does not require “any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.”
  • The amendment does not require “the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.”
Supporters of Amendment 2 say the measure will help people with debilitating medical conditions. Opponents, on the other hand, argue the amendment is “de facto legalization” of marijuana.
Recent polls suggest that the initiative will not pass. Many voters in Florida believe it will lead to wider recreational use of the drug. 
Alabama


The Alabama Right to Bear Arms, Amendment 3 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Alabama as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.
If approved by voters, the constitution would be amended to explicitly “provide that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny.” Additionally, it would “provide that no international treaty or law shall prohibit, limit or otherwise interfere with a citizen’s fundamental right to bear arms.”[1] The measure was known in the Alabama Legislature as House Bill 8.
If Amendment 3 IS PASSED, the right to bear arms will be elevated under the State Constitution to a fundamental right and given the highest possible protection. This right will also be provided with additional protection from potential interference by international treaty or foreign law.
If Amendment 3 IS DEFEATED, the right to bear arms in Alabama will still exist in the State Constitution, but will not be declared as a fundamental right and may not be subject to the highest possible protection. The right to bear arms will also not be protected from potential interference by international laws and treaties.
No source of funding is required for this law.
The measure will have no impact on taxes.

Arkansas

The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Initiative, Issue 4 is on the November 4 2014 election ballot in Arkansas as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, if approved, would legalize the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol or “intoxicating liquors” statewide. Currently, certain counties in Arkansas are dry and do not sell any liquor. The Arkansas General Assembly would be tasked with regulating the manufacture, sale, distribution and transportation of the alcohol. According to the initiative, “intoxicating liquors” are defined as “any beverage containing more than one-half of one percent (0.5 percent) of alcohol by weight.
As of 2014, Arkansas allows for county control over the prohibition of alcohol. The state is nearly evenly split on a county basis with 37 counties being dry and 38 being wet or mixed. A mixed county is one where the county is wet, but a number of municipalities within the county may be dry. Arkansas is one of ten states that allow dry counties.
Legislation to keep alcohol away from the populous is about as effective marijuana laws. Always let the people decide and use revenue for education and rehabilitation.
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The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment, Issue 3 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Arkansas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.
If approved, the amendment would permit legislators to serve a total of 16 years in the House and Senate – thereby doubling and more than doubling the amount of time a lawmaker can stay in the Arkansas senate and house, respectively – and establish limits on lobbying efforts by former legislators, as well as campaign donations and gifts from lobbyists.
It would further form a separate, seven-member commission to determine state elected officials’ salaries. The seven members of the committee would be appointed, as opposed to elected. Four of the commissioners would be chosen by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate; two more would be selected by the governor and one would be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.[1]
The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-33) in the Arkansas General Assembly, where it was known as House Joint Resolution 1009. If approved, Issue 3 will amend and repeals multiple sections of the Arkansas Constitution.
Hard to say if this bill is good or bad. Longer term limits is never a plus, but limiting campaign donations, lobbying efforts by former legislators and campaign donations, on the other hand, always is. 
Georgia

The Georgia Private College Buildings Tax Exemption, Referendum 1 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Georgia as a legislatively-referred state statute. The measure, upon voter approval, would extend a “public property” ad valorem tax exemption to privately held and operated student dormitories and parking decks that are obliged by contract to serve universities within the University of Georgia system.
The statute is part of a larger legislative package related to the privatization of student dormitories. The package, taken together, would lease dormitories to private firms who would collect revenues from operating the dorms. The package would leave some control of student dorm boarding prices to administrators. The leasing companies would take on any existing debt on leased properties and have the option of building new dormitories. Leases would last from 30 to 65 years, and many would include a renewal option. Private companies would bid on contracts and be selected following the referendum’s approval.
If approved, this bill effectively keeps the state of Georgia from taxing itself and keeps student tuition, housing, etc lower. 
Louisiana


The Louisiana Mandatory Judicial Retirement Age, Amendment 5 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Louisiana as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would eliminate all mandatory age-based retirement requirements for state judges.
The proposed amendment was introduced into the  Louisiana Legislature by State Representative John Bel Edwards (D-72) as House Bill 96.
I can’t imagine why anyone would vote for this, except judges. I can see extending the mandatory retirement age by 2 or 3 years, But doing away with it altogether? Nah…
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The Louisiana Sale of New Orleans Property, Amendment 13 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Louisiana as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would authorize the governing body of New Orleans to sell property in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. The property’s sale price would be fixed by the Louisiana Legislature.
Seems like a no-brainer. The real-estate market in the Lower Ninth Ward could use any sort of a boost it can get.

Tennessee

The Tennessee Legislative Powers Regarding Abortion, Amendment 1 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Tennessee as a  legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would add language to the Tennessee Constitution empowering the legislature to enact, amend or repeal state statutes regarding abortion, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to protect the mother’s life.
Amendment 1 was placed on the ballot by the Tennessee General Assembly in two separate votes. It was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-6), who was a state senator at the time of introduction, and State Sen. Mae Beavers (R-17) as Senate Joint Resolution 127.
In Tennessee, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment must earn a majority of those voting on the amendment and “a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor.”
If passed, this law would remove protections against pregnant women in Tennessee regardless of whether the pregnancy endangered their life or not, and grant “protections” to the unborn.
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There are many more ballot initiatives for these Mid-term elections this coming November 4, 2014. These are just some of the more contentious ones that people will be arguing over and wringing their hands over on both sides of the political spectrum. It’s your choice if you want to vote “yes” or “no” for whichever initiative affects you in your state, but at least get out and make that choice. 

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