Ballot Issues Range from Cockfighting to Gay Marriage

On Election Day, Oklahomans will decide whether to ban cockfighting, North Dakotans will choose whether to pay young adults to live in their state, and Oregon voters will decide whether to allow non-dentists to install partial dentures.

Over 200 ballot questions will be resolved in 40 states-53 from citizen initiatives and 149 in referenda placed on the ballot by state legislatures and governors.

This year’s ballot initiatives generally lean left. Conservatives, however, have gotten some proposals on the ballot to, for example, limit bilingual education and ban homosexual "marriage." Here is a very brief survey of some of the more significant proposals.

Health Care

Oregon’s Measure 23 would abolish private health insurance in the state in favor of a statewide single-payer public health system, much like Hillary Clinton’s socialized health care plan defeated in 1994. Measure 23 is even more radical, though, because nearly every conceivable form of care-including marriage counseling-would be included under state-reimbursed coverage. Both public- and private-sector unions have come out against Measure 23, as has the state’s leading daily, the Oregonian.

Measure 23 could cost as much as $20 billion per year-more than the state’s current total budget of $16 billion. A recent poll for the Portland Tribune nonetheless found a tight race: 39% opposed, 36% in favor, and 25% undecided.

Homosexual Marriage

Nevada’s Question 2 says, "Only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state." This measure is expected to pass for the second time (it passed with more than 70% of the vote in 2000), making it a permanent part of the state constitution.

Massachusetts’s voters were denied a chance to vote on a similar referendum. Although all the legal requirements had been fulfilled to put the measure on the ballot, Senate President Tom Birmingham deliberately blocked it by ending the legislative session prematurely.

Save North Dakota

North Dakota Measure 1 would repay up to $5,000 of student debt for employed state residents under age 30, and provide up to $5,000 more in tax credits over five years. It is designed to attract young people to a state losing population.

School Spending

Florida Measure 8 would mandate pre-kindergarten programs and Measure 9 would mandate public school class sizes of 25 or less. It is estimated the latter would cost $27 billion over 10 years. Gov. Jeb Bush (R.), in a tough re-election battle, opposes Measure 9. Nonetheless, polls suggest that both measures will pass.

Terminator’s Travesty

California’s Proposition 49 would mandate $400 million in new spending every year on before- and after-school programs. Kindergarten Cop star, and aspiring Republican politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger has put all of his influence and $1 million of his money behind it. California sources tell HUMAN EVENTS he has chosen an easy ballot winner to boost his profile for a 2006 Republican gubernatorial campaign.

Bilingual Education

Colorado and Massachusetts voters will consider a ballot measure that passed in California in 1998 and Arizona in 2000: the rejection of so-called "bilingual education" for foreign-born students, in favor of English immersion, unless parents request an exemption. The Massachusetts measure, Question 2, is expected to pass overwhelmingly.

A new poll shows Colorado’s measure, Amendment 31, trailing, 37% to 43%. This is partly because conservative Republican Gov. Bill Owens has come out in opposition. Owens objects to a provision in the Colorado version of the initiative that allows students to be waived into bilingual education and then gives parents broad rights to sue school officials if they are dissatisfied with the results. "It’s a shame that such a worthy goal to help Colorado’s children is being sidetracked by unnecessary language that, ultimately, is a fatal flaw," Owens said October 2.

Pothead Proposals

Nevada Question 9 would legalize possession of marijuana in quantities of three ounces or less for adults over age 21. The so-called "reefer-endum" is running neck and neck in the polls. Arizona Proposition 203 would legalize "medical" marijuana. It is expected to pass over objections from federal Drug Czar Asa Hutchinson.

South Dakota Measure 1 would legalize industrial hemp, giving legal cover to thousands of pot growers. Amendment A would allow defendants to contest "the merits, validity, and applicability of the law" in court, tempting jurors to nullify drug laws.


Missouri voters will consider a 50-cent tax hike on cigarettes and a 20% increase on other tobacco products. This cleverly-worded amendment is likely to pass, since it claims the funds will be used for "prescription drug assistance for seniors and health care initiatives for low-income citizens, women, minorities and children," as well as a host of other compassionate-sounding causes.

Washington State voters are weighing several tax hikes. Measure 53 would shift the income tax schedule and impose new fees on employers and taxpayers. Measure 776 would replace local car taxes with a state car tax of $30 per year, and Referendum Bill 51 would increase weight fees on trucks and large vehicles, fuel excise taxes, and sales taxes on vehicles.

In the suburbs of Washington, D.C., nine northern Virginia jurisdictions will vote on a half-cent sales tax hike, supposedly to fund transportation projects in the area.


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