By Mark Wolf
Los Angeles—A potpourri of public policy issues ranging from fiscal to social, electoral and much more, await voters in the upcoming elections.
Bond issues, infrastructure, gambling, pensions, marijuana, redistricting, Medicaid, school vouchers, voter ID, ethics, raising taxes, abortion, right-to-work, gender identity and immigration are among the ballot measures that will pass or fail muster this year, Patrick Potyondy, legislative policy specialist and Mellon-ACLS public fellow in NCSL’s Elections and Redistricting Program, told a session of NCSL’s Legislative Summit.
Among the more intriguing issues is Idaho’s attempt to join several other states in offering “historical horse racing,” in which bettors try to pick winners of races already run. The database picks randomly from tens of thousands of races in the archive and the date, location and identifying information on the horses and jockeys aren’t displayed. Several states have used “historical” gambling to shore up revenues at race tracks.
A quick look at some of what voters will be giving thumbs up or down in November.
Early returns: Several states have already approved ballot measures ranging from rainwater capture and a transportation lockbox (California, where a cap-and-trade gas system failed), ranked choice voting (Maine), redistricting commission (Ohio), legalizing medical marijuana (Oklahoma) and a Medicaid tax (Oregon). A measure in Wisconsin to eliminate the state treasurer failed.
Hawaii: a surcharge on residential investment policies to fund public education.
California: repealing the 2017 gas tax (seen in some quarters as a national stalking horse), permanent Daylight Saving Time, paying ambulance employees for on-call breaks and additional training and expanding the required number of square feet for farm animal production.
Oregon: premium tax for Medicaid, banning taxes on groceries, repeal law limiting use of state/local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.
Nevada: sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products, automatic voter registration, 50 percent renewable energy standard by 2030.
Montana: tax for state university system, increase tobacco taxes.
Utah: become 32nd state to legalize medical marijuana, redistricting commission, Medicaid expansion, nonbinding question to raise fuel tax for education and local roads.
Arizona: repeal of school voucher expansion, corrections officer pension, campaign finance reform.
New Mexico: authorize state ethics commission, bond measures for facilities for senior citizens, public libraries, public school buses, high education special schools and tribal school.
Colorado: become 15th state to have age qualification for general assembly, congressional and legislative redistricting commissions, remove forced unpaid labor by prisoners from state constitution.
South Dakota: increase tobacco tax, ban out-of-state contributions to ballot questions, increase to 55 percent to pass constitutional amendments.
North Dakota: ethics commission, foreign contributors ban, lobbying and conflicts of interest amendments.
Michigan: marijuana and hemp legalization initiative, redistricting commission.
Ohio: congressional redistricting reform, drug decriminalization reform.
Indiana: state balanced budget amendment.
Missouri: veto right to work legislation, increase of gas tax, tax emption for Olympic prize money.
Arkansas: photo voter ID, cap attorney’s fees and damage awards in lawsuits.
Alabama: authorize displaying Ten Commandments on public property, state abortion policy amendment.
Louisiana: require unanimous juries for felonies, affordable housing, prohibit felons from public office for five years after completion of sentence.
Georgia: sales tax revenue from school districts, Marsy’s Law (crime victim rights amendment).
Florida: restore voting rights to felons, increase to two-thirds vote to increase taxes.
North Carolina: photo ID to vote, lowering maximum income tax, Marsy’s Law, remove governor’s power to make some appointments.
Kentucky: Marsy’s Law.
Virginia: flood abatement, remove restriction on place of residence for spouse of disabled veteran to receive tax exemption.
Washington D.C.: increases in minimum wage and tipped employees initiative.
Connecticut: transportation lockbox.
Massachusetts: veto of gender anti-discrimination legislation.
Maine: repeal of delay and/or repeal of ranked choice voting; payroll and non-age income tax to fund universal home care.
Be sure to check out NCSL’s elections and redistricting resources.
Mark Wolf is editor of the NCSL Blog.