Green Parties in Two States Qualify Local Ballot Initiatives

From Ballot Access News, June 14th:

This month, Green Parties in Portland, Maine, and Arlington County, Virginia, successfully qualified local initiatives for the ballot. See this story about the Virginia initiative petition that asks voters if they wish to establish a local housing authority, and this story about the Maine initiative petition for marijuana reform.

An excerpt from the article about the initiative in Arlington, Virginia, written by Patrick Sullivan and published in The Washington Post:

Arlington County residents will vote once again this fall on whether to create a government housing authority to address the persistent problem of lack of affordable housing in one of the country’s most affluent areas.

A six-month petition drive by the local Green Party collected 2,845 signatures, or 2 percent of active voters, which is enough to start the process to get the question on the ballot, said Linda Lindberg, the county’s registrar of elections. It will be the third time Arlington voters have weighed in on the question. The last time they voted, in 2008, the request went down on a 2 to 1 vote, Lindberg said.

“The difference this time is that people have recognized this is a problem,” said Steve Davis, chairman of the Arlington Green Party. “The current policies haven’t worked. It’s time to try something different.”

The article about the Portland marijuana initiative, published in the The Portland Daily Sun website on June 11th:

The question of whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Portland is poised to appear on the November ballot now that the signatures submitted to the city have been verified.

The city clerk’s office verified that the Citizens for a Safer Portland Coalition had 2,508 valid signatures on a petition that aims to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults who are 21 years of age or older, according to a press release. The signatures and petitions were submitted with the goal to place the question on the November ballot to let city residents decide if marijuana should be decriminalized in Portland.

“Portland voters will get the chance to make history this November through adopting this ordinance,” said Tom MacMillan, chair of the Portland Green Independent Committee, in a statement. “The Maine Legislature failed again this year to end marijuana prohibition and this ordinance begins that process. The Green Independent Party did not expect the Legislature to be able to reform our marijuana laws, so we did the hard work of collecting thousands of signatures to put this to a citywide vote.”

The group needed to turn in 1,500 signatures that will be verified by the clerk’s staff to qualify for being placed on the ballot but submitted 3,229 to the clerk for verification.

The City Council will now need to set a public hearing on the ballot question that must take place within 30 days, according to a press release, and decide whether to adopt the ordinance or leave it to the voters to make that choice.

The Portland referendum initiative, which launched in March, came on the heels of Maine Rep. Diane Russell’s bill in the Maine Legislature that aimed to create a taxation and regulatory structure around the decriminalization of marijuana. Russell’s bill would have left it up to Maine voters to make the final decision on the legalization of marijuana through a state-wide referendum.

The bill has since been voted down by both the Maine House and Senate.

 

Green Party of Virginia website:

http://www.vagreenparty.org/

Maine Green Independent Party website:

http://www.mainegreens.org/

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