Life, Marriage, Property and Taxes on November Ballots

Voters in states across the nation on November 7 will be asked to vote on ballot initiatives that will decide fundamental issues of law. These initiatives, which could drive voter turnout, include whether abortion should be banned, marriage protected, race and gender discrimination outlawed, private property seized for the benefit of another private owner, and whether there ought to be constitutional limits on how much a state legislature can increase state taxes and spending.

Repeal State Abortion Ban South Dakota Referred Law 6 Last March, South Dakota’s legislature made it a felony for doctors to perform abortions, while excepting normal medical procedures not aimed at killing a baby but necessary to save the life of the mother. Using a state law that allows groups to put laws passed by the legislature up for a referendum, Planned Parenthood gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
Protect Marriage Arizona Prop 107, Colorado Amendment 43, Idaho HJR 2, South Carolina Amendment 1, South Dakota Amendment C, Tennessee Amendment 1, Virginia Question 1, Wisconsin Question 2 Each of these initiatives would define marriage as between a man and a woman and bar the state legislature or courts from creating same-sex civil unions that have the same benefits and privileges as marriage, differing from marriage in name only. So far, voters in 20 states have approved ballot initiatives of this type.
Allow Clone-to-Kill Research Missouri Amendment 2 The ballot will deceptively ask voters to “ban human cloning or attempted cloning” but provides specific statutory protection to “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” which is the clinical description of cloning. The initiative will make it a constitutional right in Missouri to clone human embryos for the purpose of killing them (see “Capital Briefs”).
Create Color-Blind Society Michigan Proposal 2 This initiative would prohibit state and local governments from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the areas of public employment, public contracting and public education. It does not apply to private organizations or businesses, but to the state government and all of its subdivisions. It is modeled after Proposition 209, which California voters approved in 1996 and was upheld by the courts and has been successfully implemented for almost a decade. Ward Connerly, chairman of the American Civil Rights Coalition, author of Proposition 209, inspired Michigan Proposal 2.
Make English Official Language Arizona Proposition 103 This proposed constitutional amendment would require all state and local agencies to take all official, binding actions in English. It provides exceptions for when another language is needed to preserve a person’s right to petition the government, when a foreign language is being taught, and for police work and emergency services. In 1988, the state voted narrowly, 50.5% to 49.5%, to make English the official state language, but the state supreme court struck down that initiative 10 years later.
Deny Tax Deduction for
Illegal Alien Wages
Colorado Referendum H This initiative will deny businesses a deduction from state business income taxes for wages paid to illegal aliens. The deduction will be denied only if the employer knew the employee was an illegal alien when hired and would take effect January 2008. It could lead the way to federal legislation that denies federal tax deductions for wages paid to illegal aliens.
Tax Domestic Oil Production California Proposition 87 This anti-oil-company initiative is designed to raise $4 billion in taxes over 10 years by imposing a new tax on companies drilling and pumping oil within California itself. The bill’s promoters claim it won’t increase the price of gas at the pump and will encourage alternative energy use. In fact, by giving California the highest oil-producing taxes in the nation, it will cause some of California’s domestic oil production facilities to close down for lack of profitability, driving up U.S. gasoline prices and dependence on foreign oil.
Lottery for Voting Arizona Proposition 2000 In order to inspire uninformed and apathetic citizens to actually go out and vote, this Arizona initiative would award $1 million every two years to a single voter, chosen at random, who voted in either the state’s primary or general election.
Limit Eminent Domain Florida Amendment 8, Georgia Amendment 1, Michigan Proposal 4, Nevada Question 2, New Hampshire Amendment 1, North Dakota Amendment 2, Oregon Measure 39, South Carolina Amendment 5 These initiatives bar state and local governments from using eminent domain to seize private property from one owner and hand it over to another private owner. They are inspired by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Kelo v. New London decision that permitted New London, Conn., to seize private homes not for public use but so they could give the properties to private developers who could pay the city more in taxes.
Control Eminent Domain and Regulatory Takings Arizona Prop 207, California Prop 90, Idaho Prop 2, Montana I-154, Washington I-933 In addition to barring use of eminent domain for private purposes, these initiatives require state and local governments to either compensate land owners for regulatory barriers to development or waive those regulations. Backed by libertarian financier Howard Rich and opposed by state governments and environmentalists. Some complain that these initiatives create a stealthy mechanism for eliminating legitimate zoning laws (see page 9).
Raise Minimum Wage Arizona Prop 202, Colorado Amendment 42, Missouri Prop B, Montana I-151, Nevada Question 6, Ohio Issue 2 These initiatives raise the state minimum wage and index it for inflation. After the U.S. Senate twice rejected a hike in the minimum wage, Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.) began reaching out to state coalitions supporting ballot initiatives to do so. The coalitions are largely made up of labor unions and left-wing groups. Raising the minimum wage will kill some entry level jobs and hurt small businesses.
Limit Taxing and Spending Maine Question 1, Montana CI-97, Nebraska Measure 423, Oregon Measure 48 These initiatives create a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), restricting state tax increases and limiting spending growth to the rate of inflation plus the rate of population change. Voters would have to approve any future override of spending limits. Advocates believe TABOR laws are more likely to be approved by the initiative process than by state legislatures. Backed by Americans for Limited Government and coalitions of conservative and libertarian groups.