More than 159 statewide measures will be on the ballot tomorrow in 36 states. Although many of the initiatives and referenda have to do with taxes and other issues in respective states, voters will also be giving their voice to some key national issues as well.
Among the measures on various statewide ballots are initiatives about stopping the Democratic-passed health-care initiative, affirmative action, and delaying state cap-and-trade regulations.
In Massachusetts, voters will decide on a measure that would cut the sales tax from 6.25% to 3% by January 1 and thus force the next governor and state legislature to make major spending cuts. Both Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick and GOP opponent Charles Baker oppose the measure.
In the State of Washington, a ballot measure would place a new income tax on individuals making more than $200,000 per year and couples whose combined annual income exceeded $400,000.
California’s Proposition 19, opposed by both major parties, would permit anyone over the age of 21 to have, grow, and transport marijuana for personal use. Attorney General Eric Holder has already announced that even if the measure passes, the U.S. Department of Justice will continue to enforce federal laws banning possession of marijuana.
Arizona’s Proposition 203 would permit ownership, growth, and transportation of marijuana for patients diagnosed with specific illnesses.
Similar ballot measures in Oregon and South Dakota would ease restrictions for ownership and transportation of marijuana by private individuals.
With the resounding passage in Missouri earlier this year of an initiative making it illegal for government to require that everyone own health insurance, Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma will have similar measures on their state ballots. Enactment by voters puts the state in line against the most noted feature of the federal health care legislation enacted by Congress earlier this year and sets the stage for a legal challenge to mandates by the state.
Delaying “Cap and Trade”
California’s Proposition 23 would suspend the state’s A.B. 32 (cap-and-trade-style limits on emissions) signed by outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger until the Golden State’s double-digit unemployment is down to 5.5%. Where Schwarzenegger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and most Democratic officials oppose the proposal, it is championed by most conservatives—among them Rep. Tom McClintock (R.–CA) and GOP Senate nominee Carly Fiorina.
Arizona is the latest site for the anti-affirmative action ban first pushed in California in the 1990’s by UC Regent and nationally known quota-opponent Ward Connerly. Like similar measures passed in other states, the Arizona ban would prohibit the state from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, or ethnic background in education or in state contracting or hiring.
California’s Proposition 20 would end the drawing of U.S. House districts by the state legislature and give the power to an independent citizens’ commission selected by the state auditor. A similar measure passed in 2008 that gave the power of legislative redistricting to a citizens’ commission.
In Florida, voters will decide on Amendment 5, a ban on state legislators’ drawing congressional and state legislative districts to favor a political party or incumbent official.
Four states—Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah—have ballot initiatives that would place amendments in state constitutions to make the secret ballot in union elections the law of the state. The measures are a response to the controversial “card-check” proposal, a pivotal goal of organized labor and most Democrats, that opponents say would end the secret ballot in union elections. Efforts to enact “card check” in Congress have so far been thwarted.
There are various kinds of budget reform proposals on state ballots.
In Colorado, a constitutional amendment to ban state borrowing as of 2011 will be decided upon. Proponents say the measure would force the state to live within its means and to make necessary budget cuts. Critics say this enactment would severely tie the hands of a debt-wracked state, as it would also ban the issuance of bonds to fund infrastructure projects and would limit the borrowing ability of municipal governments as well.
California’s Proposition 25 would end the requirement of a two-thirds majority in the legislature to adopt a budget and replace it with a simple majority. Critics say it would make it easier for lawmakers to raise taxes, but opponents say that the two-thirds rule forced a record 100-day delay in approval of the budget earlier this year.
In Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia, voters will decide on ballot measures that would enlarge their state’s “rainy-day funds” for fiscal emergencies.