As we set our sights on the future, we think it’s important to begin taking stock of potential ballot initiatives which will affect Fire & EMS services around the country as Election Season 2022 begins to wind up. While it is still early in the game, there are already initiatives beginning to take root at both the state and local level.
Here are four proposed measures of note which voters may have the opportunity to vote on in 2022:
On October 5th, the organization Support Arizona Fire Districts filed a ballot initiative to collect at least 237,645 valid signatures to get their proposed referendum on the 2022 statewide ballot, according to Ballotpedia. The proposed ballot would “enact a 0.1% (one-tenth of 1-cent) sales tax for 20 years to provide additional funding for fire districts.” Read the full text of the initiative here. The organization must collect the minimum required valid signatures by July 7th, 2022 for the initiative to be considered. The Arizona Secretary of state would then verify the signatures through a random 5% sampling to confirm whether this ballot measure is included in 2022.
2. California (Napa County)
One issue which is near and dear to this organization is the support of our nation’s wildland firefighters. The people fighting the massive blazes in California and elsewhere in the American West put their lives on the line year in and year out, but often don’t get the support and resources they need. We hope that a proposed ballot measure making its way through Napa County will help get these firefighters the funding they need. WineBusiness.com reports that, “The Napa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to explore the placement of the tax proposal on the ballot to fund long-term fire prevention measures estimated to cost $42.4 million over the next five years. The supervisors’ vote to explore a possible sales tax was unanimous.” This measure is still in the exploratory phase and the Napa Board of Supervisors must gauge public opinion before drafting a draft of the measure which could find its way on the ballot next year.
A ballot going to voters statewide in Illinois in 2022 would effectively ban “right to work” in the state of Illinois and enshrine the right to collective bargaining in the state’s constitution. The measure, in part, states: “Employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work. No law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and work place safety.” The Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois have come out in support of the measure, noting that “Bargaining is the single most important function of a Local when it comes to securing Wages, Benefits and Conditions of Employment. The AFFI provides Locals with numerous resources to accomplish this task.”
4. California (Statewide)
While the measure in Illinois would further empower collective bargaining, a proposed initiative gaining steam in the state of California would weaken collective bargaining for state employees, including some fire fighters. Billionaire venture capitalist, Tim Draper, has proposed a ballot initiative which if passed would alter the state’s Constitution to include: “No public employee shall have the right to form, join, or participate in the activities of a public employee labor organization for the purpose of representing said employees on matters of employer-employee relations.” While the measure would not prohibit unions “from representing employees during disciplinary hearings, engaging in political speech or advocating for employees in general,” it would prevent them from negotiating pay and working conditions for state employees, according to The Sacramento Bee. Draper must collect one million verifiable signatures by next spring to see his initiative on the ballots.
Image Credit: Photo by Mateus Maia on Unsplash
Where a ballot measure can be a positive when citizens choose to increase revenues, they can also be devastating to fire services when local government fails to provide for them, and voters decline to pick up the slack. Here are six measures which failed at the ballot boxes this year, leading to decreased revenues for things such as Fire.