Issues & AdvocacyState Legislative Tracking
Analyzing the Election’s Ballot Initiatives
By Zachary Hart, Manager, State Relations
On Election Day voters not only choose their government representatives, they also weigh in on ballot initiatives and referenda to approve laws, constitutional amendments, and bond issuances. In 2012, ballot measures that would affect the business and practice of architecture were decided in many states. The most relevant of this year’s ballot measures asked voters to approve government revenue bonds or tax increases to fund, among other things, construction projects in schools and state and municipal buildings. Such measures passed in California, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island but failed in Arizona and Arkansas. Other measures that could have an effect on architects are Oklahoma’s ban of affirmative action which could affect the awarding of state government contracts, and Virginia’s restriction of eminent domain which could halt some public projects in the state. Below, you will find individual summaries of the ballot measures that are most relevant to architecture. The summaries were collected from the National Conference of State Legislatures Ballot Measures Database. Visit the database to see the results of all ballot measures in your state.
Amendment 9 – Corporations
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 58.0% Unofficial)
Summary: Continues the authority of the Alabama Legislature to pass general laws pertaining to corporations and other entities and to regulate and impose a business privilege tax on corporations and other entities.
Proposition 204 – Quality Education and Jobs Act
Status: Fail (Yes votes: 35.1% Unofficial)
Summary: Would have made the temporary state sales tax of 6.6% permanent. The revenue from the tax increase would have been used for educational programs, public transportation infrastructure projects, and human services programs. The proposition would have required that school funding never be lower than funding levels for fiscal year 2011-2012.
The first one billion dollars of additional sales tax revenue would have been distributed to several areas relevant to architects.
1. Ninety million dollars into the "education accountability and improvement fund" to provide performance funding to school districts and charter schools based on performance measures to be adopted by the State Board of Education relating to academic progress, parental satisfaction and student engagement, to provide teacher training and for technology necessary to implement statewide academic standards and assessments. Monies in this fund that remain unspent for three consecutive years would be transferred to the School Facilities Board, first to pay down existing school construction debt and then to fund construction or repair of school buildings.
2. One hundred million dollars into the "state infrastructure fund", to be used by the state Department of Transportation for costs associated with a variety of transportation infrastructure projects, the acceleration of highway improvement projects, for public-private partnerships relating to transportation projects, to fund environmentally sensitive designs and to fund transportation-related wildlife improvement projects and pay for bonding and other finance costs related to transportation projects.
3. Fifty million dollars into the "university scholarship, operations and infrastructure fund", to be distributed according to rules adopted by the Board of Regents. Between fifty and sixty per cent of the fund monies must be used to provide university scholarships to resident students based on financial need or academic achievement, and the remaining fund monies would be allocated to the three state universities for operating and infrastructure expenses based on performance in meeting goals set by the Board of Regents.
Issue 2 – An Amendment Concerning Municipal and County Financing of Sales Tax Anticipated Revenue Bond Projects, Unfunded Liabilities of Closed Local Police and Fire Pension Plans, and Real and Tangible Personal Property
Status: Fail (Yes votes: 43.5% Unofficial)
Summary: Permits a city or county to form one or more districts for the purpose of financing sales tax anticipated revenue bond projects within the district. A city or county which has formed such a district may issue bonds for the purpose of financing certain costs related to a sales tax anticipated revenue bond project within the district, as determined by the General Assembly. For purposes of this section, the term “sales tax anticipated revenue bond project” means an undertaking, including without limitation the acquisition, development, redevelopment, and revitalization of land within the district, for eliminating or preventing the development or spread of slums or blighted, deteriorated, or deteriorating areas, for discouraging the loss of commerce, industry, or employment, for increasing employment, or any combination thereof, as may be defined by the General Assembly.
Proposition 30 – Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 53.9% @ 8:20am MST, 98.5% of precincts reporting)
Summary: Increases taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales taxes by ¼ cent for four years, to fund schools. Guarantees public safety realignment funding. Fiscal Impact: Increased state tax revenues through 2018–19, averaging about $6 billion annually over the next few years. Revenues available for funding state budget. In 2012–13, planned spending reductions, primarily to education programs, would not occur.
The revenue generated by the measure’s temporary tax increases would be included in the calculations of the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee—raising the guarantee by billions of dollars each year. A portion of the new revenues therefore would be used to support higher school funding, with the remainder helping to balance the state budget. From an accounting perspective, the new revenues would be deposited into a newly created state account called the Education Protection Account (EPA). Of the funds in the account, 89 percent would be provided to schools and 11 percent to community colleges. Schools and community colleges could use these funds for any educational purpose. The funds would be distributed the same way as existing unrestricted per-student funding, except that no school district would receive less than $200 in EPA funds per student and no community college district would receive less than $100 in EPA funds per full-time student.
Proposition 39 – Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 60.1% @ 8:20am MST, 98.5% of precincts reporting)
Summary: Requires multistate businesses to pay income taxes based on percentage of their sales in California. Dedicates revenues for five years to clean/efficient energy projects. Fiscal Impact: Increased state revenues of $1 billion annually, with half of the revenues over the next five years spent on energy efficiency projects. Of the remaining revenues, a significant portion likely would be spent on schools.
Eliminates Ability of Multistate Businesses to Choose How Taxable Income Is Determined. Under this measure, starting in 2013, multistate businesses would no longer be allowed to choose the method for determining their state taxable income that is most advantageous for them. Instead, most multistate businesses would have to determine their California taxable income using the single sales factor method. Businesses that operate only in California would be unaffected by this measure.
This measure also includes rules regarding how all multistate businesses calculate the portion of some sales that are allocated to California for state tax purposes. These include a set of specific rules for certain large cable companies.
Provides Funding for Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy Projects. This measure establishes a new state fund, the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund, to support projects intended to improve energy efficiency and expand the use of alternative energy. The measure states that the fund could be used to support: (1) energy efficiency retrofits and alternative energy projects in public schools, colleges, universities, and other public facilities; (2) financial and technical assistance for energy retrofits; and (3) job training and workforce development programs related to energy efficiency and alternative energy. The Legislature would determine spending from the fund and be required to use the monies for cost-effective projects run by agencies with expertise in managing energy projects. The measure also (1) specifies that all funded projects must be coordinated with CEC and CPUC and (2) creates a new nine-member oversight board to annually review and evaluate spending from the fund.
The Clean Energy Job Creation Fund would be supported by some of the new revenue raised by moving to a mandatory single sales factor. Specifically, half of the revenues so raised—up to a maximum of $550 million—would be transferred annually to the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund. These transfers would occur for only five fiscal years—2013–14 through 2017–18.
Amendment 8 – Authorizes the Granting of ad Valorem Tax Exemption Contracts by the Board of Commerce and Industry for Certain Businesses
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 52% Unofficial)
Summary: Do you support an amendment to authorize the granting of ad valorem tax exemption contracts by the Board of Commerce and Industry for businesses located in parishes which have chosen to participate in a program established for the granting of such contracts? (Effective January 1, 2013) (Adds Article VII, Section 21(L))
House Bill No. 674, Regular Session, 2012
Question 2 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Higher Education
Status: Undecided (Yes votes: 49.3% @ 8:00am MST, 91% of precincts reporting)
Summary: Do you favor an $11,300,000 bond issue to provide funds for capital to build a diagnostic facility for the University of Maine System; for capital improvements and equipment, including machine tool technology, for the Maine Community College System; and for capital improvements and equipment at the Maine Maritime Academy?
Question 4 – An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Invest in Transportation Infrastructure to Meet the Needs of the Business Sector and to Create Jobs
Status: Passed 71.7%
Summary: This Act authorizes $51.5 million to improve highways and bridges, local roads, airport and port facilities, as well as funds for rail access, transit buses and the Life Flight Foundation. This issuance will also make the state eligible to receive at least $105.6 million in federal and other matching funds.
Proposal 3 – A Proposal to Amend the State Constitution to Establish a Minimum Standard for Renewable Energy
Status: Failed (Yes – 36.9%)
Summary: The proposal would have required that by 2025 utilities in the state provide at least 25% of retail sales from renewable energy sources. It would limit the rate increase per year to 1% that utilities could pass to consumers to comply with the change. In order to meet that 1% rate limit increase annual extensions to meet the 25% renewable goal would be granted. Also, the proposal would have required the legislature to pass laws encouraging Michigan made equipment.
Question 1 – Building Our Future Bond Act
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 83% Unofficial)
Summary: Approval of this act will allow the State to issue bonds in the total principal amount of $750 million. Proceeds from the bonds will be used to provide grants to New Jersey's public and private colleges and universities to construct and equip higher education buildings to increase academic capacity. Bond proceeds will be allocated as follows:
• $300 million for public research universities;
• $247.5 million for State colleges and other State universities;
• $150 million for county colleges; and
• $52.5 million for private institutions with an endowment of $1 billion or less.
Public and private colleges and universities which receive grants will be required to provide funds to support 25% of a project.
Bond Question A – Senior Citizen Facility Improvement, Construction and Equipment Acquisition Bonds
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 62.8% Unofficial)
Summary: Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $10,335,000 to make capital expenditures for certain senior citizen facility improvement, construction and equipment acquisition projects and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?
Bond Question B – Library Acquisition and Construction Bonds
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 62.5% Unofficial)
Summary: Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $9,830,000 to make capital expenditures for academic, public school, tribal and public library resource acquisitions and construction and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?
Bond Question C – Higher Education and Special Schools Capital Improvement and Acquisition Bonds
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 61.1% Unofficial)
Summary: Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $120,000,000 to make capital expenditures for certain higher education and special schools capital improvements and acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?
State Question 759 Affirmative Action
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 59.2% (unofficial))
Summary: Prohibits the state from granting preferential treatment to or discriminating against any individual or group on the basis of race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
Question 3 – Higher Education Facilities Bonds
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 66.3% Unofficial)
Summary: Approval of this question will allow the State of Rhode Island to issue general obligation bonds, refunding bonds, and temporary notes in an amount not to exceed fifty million dollars ($50,000,000) for renovations and modernization of academic buildings at Rhode Island College including renovation, upgrade and expansion of health and nursing facilities on the campus of Rhode Island College.
Question 4 – Veterans' Home Bonds
Status: Pass (Yes votes: 77.2% Unofficial)
Summary: Approval of this question will allow the State of Rhode Island to issue general obligation bonds, refunding bonds, and temporary notes in an amount not to exceed ninety-four million dollars ($94,000,000) for the construction of a new Veterans’ Home and renovations to existing facilities. Any funding amount from federal sources received for these purposes will be used to reduce the amount of borrowed funds.
Question 2 – Eminent Domain
Status: Passed (Yes – 82%)
Summary: This Constitutional Amendment provides curbs on the use of eminent domain in the state. The state legislature passed a law, in light of the Supreme Court Kelo decision on eminent domain, and this Amendment enshrines that law in the state Constitution. Six key areas are focused on in regards to “private property being a fundamental right,” the taking of private property must be for a clear public use, no more property can be taken than needed for public use, defines public use versus private gain, just compensation is expanded, and the burden for proving public use is placed on the entity condemning property.
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