Major Statewide Ballot Measures and How They Fared November 2

Medical Marijuana
In Alaska, Montana and Oregon, supporters of legalized marijuana proposed measures that would relax restrictions and make marijuana more accessible for medicinal purposes. Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2, which would have outright legalized pot for adults 21 and over, was defeated by 57% to 43%. The Montana Medical Act (I-148), which would allow qualified patients to possess and cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes under their physician’s authorization, passed by 63% to 37%. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA2) would have amended the state’s existing medicinal marijuana law to allow qualified patients to legally possess up to ten marijuana plants at any one time and one pound of usable marijuana. Voters defeated it by 58% to 42%.

Stem Cell Research
Perhaps the most publicized of statewide initiatives last week, California’s Proposition 71 earmarks $3 billion in state revenue for embryonic stem cell research. California voters passed it by 59% to 41%. The measure gained national attention because of the strong support of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and equally outspoken opposition from Mel Gibson.

Medical Liability
Voters in four states–Oregon, Florida, Nevada, and Wyoming–considered ballot initiatives to reform the broken medical liability systems in their states. In Oregon, Ballot Measure 35, which would have amended the constitution to establish a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical liability cases, lost by 50.53% to 49.47%. In Florida, Ballot Measure 3 to amend the state constitution and limit contingency fees attorneys receive in medical liability cases passed 63.5% to 36.5%. In Nevada, Ballot Measure 3, which would amend Nevada’s existing medical liability reform law by deleting exceptions to the $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases, passed by 58.72% to 40.14%. In Wyoming, Amendment D, which would amend to the Constitution to allow the state legislature to enact caps on noneconomic damages, failed by a 2-to-1 margin.

‘Louisiana-Style Primary’
California’s Proposition 62 and Washington State’s I-872 would have changed the primaries for office that are now limited to voters registered with a particular party to a Louisiana-style “jungle primary.” Under this system, candidates regardless of party would compete on the same ballot and, if no one pulls a majority, the top two vote-getters would then meet in a run-off to determine the winner. Californians rejected the measure 54.3% to 45.7%, but Washington State voters supported it by a 3-to-2 margin.

Illegal Immigration
Proposition 200, the so-called Protect Arizona Now measure, would require all Arizonans to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote and show ID when voting in person. It also called for state and local government employees to check the immigration status of anyone applying for non-federally mandated public benefits and spelled out jailtime and a fine for failure to report suspected violaters of the law seeking public benefits. Heavily outspent by opponents, Protect Arizona Now nevertheless was enacted by a 3-to-2 margin.

Same Sex Marriage
Measures amending state constitutions to define marriage only as the union of a man and a woman were on the ballot in 11 states November 2. All passed handily: Arkansas (75% to 25%), Georgia (77% to 23%), Kentucky (75% to 25%), Michigan (59% to 41%), Mississippi (86% to 14%), Montana (66% to 34%), North Dakota (73% to 27%),Ohio (62% to 38%), Oklahoma (76% to 24%), Oregon (57% to 43%), and Utah (66% to 34%). This brings to 17 the number of states whose voters have enacted a constitutional definition of marriage.

Pay Raise for Legislators
Arizona’s Proposition 300 would have increased the pay of state legislators from the present $12,000 to $36,000-a-year. It was turned down 61% to 39% by Arizonans.

Higher Taxes
By a vote of 53.4% to 46.6%, Californians defeated Proposition 63, a proposed 1% tax on incomes reported at more than $1 million a year. The proposed “millionaires’ tax” would have been dedicated to mental health services. In Washington State, voters considered I-884 to require a one-cent increase in the sales tax, with the additional revenue earmarked for education. They turned it down 60% to 40%.

Alloting Electoral Votes
By a margin of 66% to 34%, Colorado voters said no to the much-publicized initiative that would have divided electoral votes according to which candidate for President carried the congressional district rather than the present winner-take-all statewide system. (Currently, only Maine and Nebraska apportion their electoral votes by congressional district.)